Wednesday, February 27, 2019

February News

Hello, everyone! This month, I have publications, reviews, poetry readings and interviews to share:

The Inverse Journal out of Kashmir just accepted four of my poems, with this beautiful note from the editor, Amjad Majid: "I find your poems to possess a certain indescribable power, with subtlety in violence and tenderness spread through the four you sent our way. I especially appreciate how the American suburban space turns to a silent realm of magic. Your verses communicate silence and presence through their words. It takes me back to the Midwest for some reason. The first poem is absolutely haunting and makes for an intense start, creating the right amount of anticipation for the poems that follow."

Thank you so much, Amjad! The poems published in that journal were: “Rorschach,” “Evacuation,” “Tiny Effigies,” and “Sunday.” Read them here.

Three poems appeared in Unlikely Stories Mark V (editor Jonathan Penton). You can read “Amen,” “Exit 74 to Richmond” and “The God of Elephants” here.

Duane’s PoeTree Blog later reprinted “Exit 74 to Richmond.” 

Editor Duane Vorhees has a new book of poetry out, Love’s Autobiography: The End of Love, and it’s very fine. Check out my review of it here, along with links to purchase.

Two poems appeared in the Dissident Voice’s Sunday Poetry section (editor Angie Tibbs), “Our Song” appeared on Feb. 10, and “We were in the corner, away from the windows” appeared on Feb. 17.  

A series of six poems has been selected to appear on Stanzaic Stylings, an ezine edited by Joanne Olivieri. So far, three have appeared, “Destin,” “Litter,” and “World Tree.” The remaining three will be released over the next few weeks.

Finally, I am thrilled to be included in the inaugural issue of the Pika Journal (Mauritius). Read my poem, “Freshwater” here.

The folks over at Voice of Eve Magazine, (which published some of my poetry this past fall), gave my collection, West Side Girl & Other Poems, a five-star review. "These lyrical poems have a strong sense of story-telling to them and are rich with empathy, character, and insight." Thank you so much!

The poems they published were "Hirsute Woman," "High Water Lines," and "Varanasi," in Issue 5, available here.

This month, I was also interviewed by Jason E. Foss over at A Dreamer’s Blog about The Orderof the Four Sons. Thank you, Jason-- we writers love nothing more than a chance to talk about our work. 

I’ve been attending open mic night at the Corbin Theatre in Liberty, MO, which are on the first Tuesday of the month. It’s sponsored by the Corbin Theatre and the Liberty Arts Commission. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to check out all the wonderful poets, storytellers and musicians who attend.

Here's a just ICYMI: I published a flash fic piece earlier this month called "Mouse House." It's gotten a very positive response from the social media community, so if you haven't already, I hope you give it a read. 

Thank you, as always, for reading! Please be sure to check back, as I have more poetry book reviews planned for the next few months, as well as some short essays and flash fic.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Love's Autobiography: The Ends of Love

Let's just get this out of the way right now: these are some good poems. Like, really, really good poems. If you appreciate good poetry and are not prudish about subject matter, you should read this collection. Period. If you take nothing else away from this review, take away that. The pieces in Love’s Autobiography: The Ends of Love are playful, erotic, insightful, and above all, smart.

First, the language employs some truly masterful wordplay: “whizzdizzyingly,” “hamhamhammers,” “infinite minute,” “briefly eternally.” The majority of the poems are free-verse, but some have structures that suggest classic influences, such as the rondel-like “Francis Drake” and “Jennifer in Two Voices,” with their rhymes and repetitions. (Interestingly, “Jennifer,” at a glance, looks more like a prose-poem.) There are some experimental pieces as well, such as “Savanna,” which does interesting things with capitalization. In fact, “Savanna” made me think there is an encoded message in the poem that I am not smart enough to get, but I had fun trying to figure it out. (If someone else manages to crack it, please inbox me.) The variety of styles is unified by the overarching theme of love and relationships, as well as by Vorhees’ poetic persona (they are all told from a decidedly male POV). And, of course, they are unified by his use of language.

These lines are onomatopoeic, alliterative, and everything in between. I had to read each poem at least twice (not that I’m complaining), just to get at all the richness on offer. As with “Savanna,” each poem feels like a unique puzzle box, a treasure trove. But past the linguistic razzle-dazzle, there’s some real substance here. Vorhees can get right to the point when he needs to, with to-the-bone lines like:

“The ends of love
are but two.”

I am generally not a fan of love/relationship poems simply because they have been done to death. Breakups are almost invariably the muse of every newbie poet with an Instagram account. Love’s Autobiography, however, is the real deal: stunningly original, ardent, innovative, and borne of decades of experience, (both as a writer and as a lover). These poems explore both the literal and metaphorical crevices of love: sex, marriage, beginnings and endings, the stale and the exciting.

Normally, if a poetry collection has even one poem that really knocks my socks off, I am probably going to give it a five-star review. To me, poetry collections are like albums. I’ll buy the whole thing just to listen to my favorite song over and over. But with this collection, I can hardly choose a favorite. The poems are divided into sections, so it’s easier for me to choose favorite sections, (Beth and Jenny), but “Don’t Get Me Wrong” is a strong contender for a favorite. “Atoll” is also delightful.

My favorite aspect in this collection, though, is the way Vorhees marries nature and man, and the historical with the modern. Herein, you will find: Francis Drake, Bedouins, bees, farmers, mushrooms, Solzhenitsyn, Bubbas with pickup trucks, highways, hotels, gods, butchers, Eskimos, Einstein, atoms, jizzum, and even the occasional flash of mysticism (the Zodiac and geomancy). These poems are both cynical and romantic. “Don’t Get Me Wrong” likens a lover’s smile to a swastika, her closed eyes to “tiny Chinese twats.” I find these contrasts to be utterly fitting for the message: Love is ancient. Love is eternal. Love is a collision. Love is nourishment. Love is a glorious mess. Love is a wound we keep inflicting on ourselves. These poems, like love, make me want to come back for more.

Purchase Love's Autobiography: The Ends of Love on Amazon

Check out Duane Vorhees' site dedicated to literature and other creative arts: Duane's PoeTree Blog

Monday, February 4, 2019

Flash Fiction: Mouse House

My husband, Stephen, was lizard-sitting in the afternoons for some friends of ours. Of course, he picked up the mail and made sure their condo hadn’t burned down and all the stuff you do when your friends are out of town, too. But mainly, he was there to feed Murray, their bearded dragon. Our friends traveled a lot, so Stephen had lizard-sat several times before, he knew the drill. He’d make sure Murray’s heat lamp was on, refill the water bowl, dump a bag of crickets into the tank and wish Murray bon appetit. The thing was, Murray was ancient, as far as bearded dragons go. He was fifteen years old, which meant he wasn’t chasing much these days. Plus, his eyesight was going. Now, the only way he caught crickets was if one happened to hop right in front of his maw.
During this particular lizard-sitting engagement, Stephen was working an evening shift, which meant he was taking care of Murray in the afternoons. He also frequently came and had lunch with me-- well, lunch for me, breakfast for him.
Stephen picked me up at the office, as usual. When I slid into the passenger seat, I noticed a brown paper bag on the floorboard. I assumed he had packed himself a lunch for work and didn’t think any more about it. We went to the restaurant and had a pleasant meal, (tuna with baby artichokes and lemon oil vinaigrette on ciabatta for me, a meatball grinder for him). Afterwards, Stephen dropped me back at the office. As I started to get out of the car, I brushed the paper bag with my foot. Something squeaked and rustled inside. I jumped. “What’s that?” I asked.
“Oh, those are baby mice for Murray,” Stephen said nonchalantly.
“What?” I asked, horrified.
“He can’t catch crickets anymore, so now he eats baby mice.”
“They’re still alive?”
“Well, sure. You didn’t have a problem with me feeding him live crickets.”
I found this in no way reassuring. “And you just left them in here while we were eating lunch?” Snatching up the bag, I peeked inside. In the bottom were the two ittiest, bittiest, pinkest baby mice I had ever seen. They were no bigger than the tip of my finger, eyes closed, tiny paws curled up. Apparently sensing the light on them, they wiggled their noses and mewled pitifully. “You’re really going to feed these to him?”
Stephen shrugged. “He’s gotta eat something.”
Setting the bag quickly back down, I scrambled out of the car. “Don’t tell me. I don’t wanna know.”
I tried not to think about it for the rest of the day. That evening, when I got home from work, I was surprised to find Stephen was there. I was even more surprised to find a new cage sitting on the kitchen table with shredded paper already in the bottom. There was a plastic bag with more supplies from the pet store. One of the baby mice was resting on a folded dish cloth. Stephen was feeding the other with a small nursing bottle. He looked up at me and smiled sheepishly, “You’re right. I couldn’t do it.”

Enjoy this post? Check out other short story/flash fic pieces here. As always, please feel free to leave comments below!