Posts Tagged ‘poetry’
‘Stained ‘Glass’ is a great title for this collection by a bruised ex-convent girl, now a graceful Shropshire poet whose voice has been silenced more than once by the emotional trammels of life along the way. To borrow a stanza from the book…
She’s been through a lot
been shut down,
lost the plot
lost some of her hair
down the plug.
But these days, the introduction to this book tells us, ‘the fragments are coming back together’.is very much a product of the rich and beautiful landscape she grew up in and is known in Shropshire for her poetic treatments of favourite natural landmarks. Her work has appeared in a variety of regional publications and on local radio. I think of her work as ‘delicate’ and ‘light’ but there is nothing frivolous or superficial about it. She has the ability to weave words, with minimal punctuation, in a way that seems weightless on the eye, on the page – but the message they carry is as clear as cold steel. In this collection a narrator tells us that…
Just as the softness of reflected trees
begins to lull her into a painless place
dark descends, a different light calls
This poet’s love of landscape is both lusty and intimate – almost confidential. The poems are more often conversations with natural features than descriptions of them. I really enjoyed the suggestions of leaping and tumbling in her treatment of ‘The falls: Pistyll Rhaeadr’ which ends up, as anything touching that water would have to do, in the pool beneath the falls:
energy spent, quelled; now submissive
but the reader is not to be left in peace. The poem ends:
eyes travel upwards with the sound of you
constant, defiant, relentless.
The book isn’t all natural landscapes though – many issues, human and otherwise are represented. My favourite – the poem that first brought’ power to my attention, is ‘The Journey’ but I’m not going to tell you what it’s about. It is such a pleasure to read it and work it out as you follow the ancient and magical pathways of the lines. I will end my review with a recommendation, again in Richards’ words. This from ‘Shell’…
Listen, you may hear the soulful melody
lala la la lala la la winding upwards
lala la la tormented notes
from a different place, another time.
- but don’t run away with the idea that Richards is overly lost or distressed: She has a keen eye and a sharp pen which will give you pause for thought on many topics. If the joy of your favourite landscape or the tingling excitement of personal love fill you with trepidation as well as joy, try ‘’ and let Richards guide you along the paths of the human heart.
writes lucidly and simply about the chaotic over-stimulation that we human beings must attempt to live with. The pages of plummet and soar between visions of the numinous and a humiliating close up of a bathroom floor. Mann strikes me as the victim of an avalanche, unselfishly providing reassuring flashes of intelligence and humour to his peers as they tumble and roll through life.
Maybe the key to the book is in indecent exposure which paints a picture of one who is terrifyngly left to do what he can, finding himself ad-libbing into…. indecent exposure, craving a McCarthy or a Robespierre to silence him – but then on the next page, a humble and appreciative ode to the variety of birds that appear in the course of a day in rural England. Romance, but still bearing signs of tragedy dashed with humour – the knock of a woodpecker on a tree is interpreted as come out, be eaten, now! and as the heron sweeps towards the river, her supper waits for life’s cycle fully turning.
The message I found in this book is the startling contrast between the chaos we find when we thrash around within our thoughts, and the peace that can be experienced when
quiet opens to the out-
side world the window
We are offered a tiny hero in Waiting for Gulliver. Facing the enemies who stalk through this book, from psychiatrists wielding drugs and shocks to serial child killers, and the plentiful proud who excrete bio-live yogurt Against enemies such as these, our hero is an
in the boils
of the overboiled
The poems address figures of the past, famous and unknown – the man in the hands of archaeological researchers, known only by such things as the type of pollen in his colon. We talk to dragons, to Gellert the faithful hound, to Nietzche, and to the hills of Shropshire: All with a wink and a smile, and an acceptance of life’s wonder and terror.
Despite the baffling range of vocabulary, despite the frequent allusions to sickness and death, Mann’s poems are neither difficult nor depressing. I am reminded of a writer on a workshop forum, exasperated by the complications of someone’s lines, exclaiming ‘it’s not supposed to be a crossword puzzle!’ Mann is never complicated in that manipulative way. The stream of references and verbal acrobatics serves to confound the intellect and cast it aside, thus revealing ‘the royal road’ to the heart of things. The only thing that’s complicated is trying to talk about the poems, which caused me to think, cui bono? – despite the fact that I’m a bit vague about what it means. I didn’t bother to go look it up. I just carried on and enjoyed the poems. And they are extremely enjoyable. This book is a treasure – go read!
22 Betterton Street
If you’ve ever had anything to do within the UK you’ll probably recognize this address. It’s the home of the Poetry Society in Covent Garden. I’ve written it on envelopes stuffed with my hopeful submissions so many times. Never having visited, I developed a strangely romantic idea of what must be there, at the centre of all things poetic.
So when I received an invitation to a Survivorslaunch at that magic address, what did I expect? A high altar? Purple curtains? Nope, it’s a funny little back-street café that would seat twenty at a push and, like venues the world over, the café-bar is run like the refreshments stall at a church bazaar. They’d actually run out of ingredients for meals by the time we arrived and Sally’s friends from Shrewsbury had to make do with bread and cheese for their long-awaited supper. Downstairs, an odd assortment of chairs and some cobbled together curtains have been employed to make the basement into a performance area and again, like poetry venues the world over, they haven’t yet learned that you shouldn’t stomp around upstairs collecting crockery when people are trying to read downstairs.
Am I complaining? No! It’s a warm, friendly, quirky place and the poetry and the company, on this evening at any rate, were superb.
Sally Richards Well I already knew I liked Sally’s poetry and I’ve read ‘’ about 15 times now but I’m still really glad I attended the launch. I’ve said recently that I’m not that mad about poetry readings but I can now qualify that statement: I prefer readings by poets who are good at reading. Sally brought the poems to life, really seemed to be living them rather than reciting them. Totally absorbing and I wish she’d had time to read the whole book.
Catherine Tate Who the heck is Catherine Tate you may be saying. Well, here’s why I know the answer to that:’s reading was the first one I’ve ever seen where the reader begins, having never seen his book before, by stepping up to the mike, turning the book over and over in his hands with an air of Christmas morning in his expression, grins at the audience and says ‘it’s green!’ then looks at his publisher and says, ‘it’s a nice book, thanks.’
The publisher is the first I’ve ever seen who, when thanked from the stage at a reading can only grunt in reply. He’s still in shock and whimpering to himself having emerged from the printers with a box of, leapt into a taxi and yelled ‘get me to the Poetry Café by nine o’clock or else!’ and then suffered a taxi ride so hair-raising that the driver banged his own head on the windscreen several times.
Anyway, singer-songwriter Catherine Tate was launching her CD ‘Leaky Umbrellas’ that night, and kindly did a set that started when Steve had been due to read, entertained us with sweetly finger-picked guitar, a good voice and some quirky lyrics, and stepped down with good grace the moment thearrived. So…
Steve Mann The launching of ‘cui bono?’ took us all rather by surprise, Steve being a modest type who didn’t say an awful lot about it before hand and his publisher doing a hell-for-leather run to get the book out in time for the Betterton Street launch. Nevertheless it’s a well-produced book and Steve’s an accomplished reader. His work can be difficult to take in at first read but his placid, good-natured delivery brings it alive. An enjoyable performance, and one that left me delightedly reading snatches of the work out loud on the train all the way home. Excellent!
Find out more about Sally and Steve at here.
Whispering Hope – An Anthology of Verse is aof mostly written by residents of Africa. This is one of several books published by Whisper from the Heart Poetry Club, which encourages poets and artists from South African and around the globe to express themselves with freedom and confidence. Founded by Stan Almendro and currently operated with Stan’s Daughter, Giselle Visser, this club works to build a stronger economy and recognition for the literary talent presented in their books.
Readers will discover poets of all ages, from adults to young scholars. These poets are actually winners of the various contests the club has hosted in 2005. While some of the poets have multiple entries, others have single poems in the 222-page paperback book. Readers will notice that there are a few poems in the Afrikaan language.
Thecovers sincere heart-felt moments in life, children, the joys of birth, the pain of grief, learning from mistakes, effects of disease and the power of hope. There are also a few religious and patriotic pieces presented in Whispering Hope as well.
Rather than attempt to describe to you the immense variety and interesting pieces in the book, let me show you some excerpts from some of my favorite pieces:
Denial, by Sumari Harmse is a poem about one’s legacy and complacency in life.
“…Caught in a world where people see
Only that which they want to
We are blinded
And do not wish to see the truth…”
“…A torn blindfold reveals that
Which I do not want to see
And bloodstained hands…”
Maria Grech Ganado’s Cracked Canvas tells a story of being scared by the people around us:
“…The time has come when you must trace the scars
Which cross your body like patches of sewn leather
Once your flesh, now just a metaphor for spirit
You’re only a cracked canvas for the sketches
Of hands around you, a scroll for the religious
A parchment where cartographers chart their maps…”
Annette Hunter’s poem, Into the Night, depicts finding strength in the face of adversity through the power of love in those around us.
“…Though when there seems to be no hope left
When destitution and failure belong to every day
It is the ones who truly hold our hearts
That with no reflection and no trepidation
They throw themselves around us
They protect us with their cloak of love
As a shield to a warrior…”
I was genuinely moved by the imagery in Goodbye Yellow Sky by Daniel Wilkens –
“…Past screamers and barkers, grabbing for the money
Selling penny perversions
Peek into dancing fan box fantasy
Lurid lechers, leering wretches
Hands out, reaching, clutching
Resolutely shrug them off…”
Nozuku Mtshali’s poem Superficial, is one of my favorites. It paints a vivid scene of a married couple, who are doing all the things society depicted for them, but their lives are not genuine and because of this, the couple is rotting inside.
“…Together they produce unhappy clones
For that perfect family portrait…”
“…She attends tea parties
Passing around shallow compliments
And returns fake smiles
In-between mouthfuls of revolting
S. Miller’s poem Ravaged is simply stunning with tense emotion and clarity. And finally, the one poem that is untitled is made even more stunning without a name… this poem by Chris-Fick van Niekerk provides an inside view of how Aids affects young people.
I am truly impressed with the quality of work presented in Whispering Hope – An Anthology of Verse. The poets should be very proud of their work, as it is some of the bestI have read in several years.
Everyone is talking about the new HBO miniseries The Pacific. While it is well scripted, brilliantly performed, and visually realistic, what really has critics’ attention is its jumbled storyline. Herein, they say, lies the series’ real strength. So why is it that when we have no overarching narrative, we get bad marks in creative writing, but when Tom Hanks does it, he gets his own miniseries?
Historically, war stories have been told from a zoomed-out perspective that focuses on major events and overall movements. This is a tidy, logical, and totally misleading way of representing war. Just ask any veteran. With time, however, war stories have become increasingly fragmented, switching from the historian’s perspective to the combatant’s. With this trend comes a heightened awareness of – and ambiguity toward – the morality of individual actions during war.
With technological developments immensely increasing our capacity for destruction, the last century has forever changed the way the world looks at combat. WWI started with the assassination of one man and spiraled out of control into a thirty/plus-nation massacre. WWII had an unprecedented fifty million civilian casualties – many of whom were not simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. It’s no wonder that the way war stories are told increasingly reflects a frustrated, absurdist point of view.
Joseph Heller’s 1961 novel,, is one of the finest examples of war satire. It follows – if you can justify using that word – a Captain Yossarian, who is hell-bent on getting out of fighting in WWII because he thinks “every one of them” is trying to kill him. Every one of whom? Them. His dream is to get discharged on grounds of insanity, but obviously he can’t request to leave outright. After all, only sane people would want to stop fighting, which means the only people qualified to leave are the ones who want to be there in the first place. Now you see why the novel coined the term “catch-22″.
Heller’s novel is filled with enough circular reasoning to give Lewis Carroll a run for his money. If the idiocy of the plot itself isn’t enough to drive the point home, the plot structure certainly will: its forty-two chapters shuffle through time unannounced and incessantly, leaving us readers just as disoriented as the soldiers themselves. Mercifully,is hilarious, which seems to suggest that sometimes, there’s really nothing you can do but laugh.
Another WWII novel in this vein is Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, which he published in 1969 based on his experience as a prisoner of war during the Allied bombing of Dresden. Its protagonist, Billy Pilgrim, is an optometrist who is woefully unprepared for the war. At one point, he is saved from extremely friendly fire by the fortuitous arrival of German soldiers, who take him and his would-be assassin prisoner. Because they are locked safely away in a Dresden slaughterhouse, Billy and the other prisoners miraculously survive the demolition of the city.
If this all sounds unsatisfactorily straightforward to you, you’ll be happy to hear that Billy is also involuntarily time-tripping between different moments in his life, taking you, the reader, along for the ride. Among these moments is his future life as an abductee on the planet Tralfamadore, where he lives in captivity with another abductee, also from Earth, who happens to be a female porn star. Living with the Tralfamadorians teaches Billy that because there’s no such thing as linear time, there’s also no free will, which keeps Billy from getting too worked up about the whole thing.
So, the next time you sit down to watch a dizzying installment of The Pacific, keep in mind that it’s books likeand Slaughterhouse-Five that inspired its unusual piecemeal structure. After all, who wants to stay focused on the big picture when there doesn’t seem to be one.
Award winning landscape photographer, John Parkinson released his first picture book this year (October 2006). Unusually large, at 10.2 by 11.8 inches, this book comes in hardcover format with a protective slipcover.
John’s appreciation of nature began when traveling though the Colorado Plateau and Rocky Mountains with his family while young. Though he tried many other careers, he eventually found his bliss and became a professional photographer as a full-time career in 1976. John Parkinson’s work has appeared on product labels, screen savers, calendars, Visa Credit cards, and some of his images also grace the walls of the US Congress building. John has also had several juried art shows held for his work.
John contributed six originalof his own along with nineteen s and from well-known writers throughout history. One hundred , twenty-five of which are accompanied by , are placed on glossy black pages, which makes the colors in the photos prominent. The author enhances this effect by creating the image border color and title in the same color.
The author uses some time-lapsand concentrates solely on nature and landscape, which is virtually free of humans or man-made materials. Rock formations, shocking bright fall colors, amazing waterfalls and a colorful rainbow – notoriously difficult to capture on film – are all here for viewing.
The picture book’s 94 pages are filled with shots from areas across the globe including the Yukon, Canada, Hawaii, New Zealand and the Mid-Western States. The pictures are so incredible that readers will want to sit and look at for a long time, getting lost in their awesome beauty.
I noticed that Mr. Parkinson used Photoshop techniques on the cover image, by comparing to the original inside the book. One can see where the road and building were taken out of the original, which was interesting to compare.
I thought it was particularly interesting to discover small write-ups about the photos later on in the book. These mini-articles describe what John was thinking of when he took the photo, why it was chosen for the book and the techniques involved (technical, mood enhancement or Photoshop manipulations)
This book deserves a rating of 4 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Authors: John Parkinson
Publisher: Synergy Books
This Book of Poetry was printed in 1936. Bear with me as I describe what our country was like at that time. It was in the middle of the last great depression, and so a very bad economic time. However it was purchased and read by many folks for the same reasons that I have read it many times. Tom Brokaw called it “The Greatest Generation”.
The book was dedicated to Adolph S. Ochs publisher of the New York Times, who died in 1935. Ochs was a lover ofwho began his career as a newsboy in Tennessee. While we now can “Google” information about most anything, at that time the radio and newspaper were our main source of information for those that could afford them.
Felleman worked for the Times, in the Question and Answer section of the Book Review area. She had received more requests for information about Poems, than any other items that showed her which ones were the public’s favorites. The Times was the “Google” for those times and requests were mailed in from all over the nation. As Edward Frank Allen states in the introduction this book was edited by the American People. His introduction is well enough written and interesting that it will merit you reading it.
In that wise let me quote a few sentences from the introduction. I think what he says in 1936 is still fitting for today’s society. Allen stated: “Todayis an absolute necessity. The world needs it for it’s vitalizing strength. Poetry has nearly everything that music can give-melody, rhythm, sentiment-but it has this advantage: it can come closer to the heart. It satisfies a hunger for beauty that is a part of nearly every normal person’s make-up.
The book is organized quite well. Reading Poetry is a personal thing and we like different types or even individual poems in different categories. Therefore the book is divided into 12 sections based on the subject of the poems. From Love and Friendship to Various Themes. Humor, patriotism, poems that tell a story and more. The first poem is by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and the last by Robert Browning. You will find an index listed by Authors, First Lines, and Titles. The 670 pages are well set up for easy access to all content by all readers. It is a very good book for all people of a wide range of age.. It has Poems by many famous Poets and others less known. Felleman includes some poems by Unkown Poets, whose poems were well liked but the authorship was not known.
You will find, as Hazel Felleman relates, all the poems are not necessarily her favorites but they were included because they were the favorites of the American People. A few of my favorites are not in this book but many are there.
I “Googled” and found that it is still in print and is available both new and used at most Book Stores. I find prices from 25 cents to 17.00. Quite a bargain for the bookshelf and your pleasure.
Turn off the TV, toss the Newspaper, find your quiet nook and enjoy. I am sure you will enjoy it.