Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘poetic book tours’

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming AE Hines to the blog to share a poem from his new collection, Any Dumb Animal, and a little about its inspiration. Please give him a warm welcome.

My Father’s Son

If my father was ever tender, I don’t remember.
By the time I could forge memories, he’d grown
hard, cold like the hood of his Pontiac
on a January morning. Surely he must have changed
my diaper or offered me a bottle when my mother’s milk
ran dry. Held me when I cried.

Biology has blessed us with the strongest recollection
for what to avoid, so I don’t know if he ever lifted
my little body to the sky, or carried me on his shoulders.
Instead I’m left with random sensations — the burn
of the electric fence on my uncle’s farm,
how my father told me to grab hold of the naked wire,
so that I might remember, he said, so that I could learn.

I can still make out my uncle’s orchard, the sun glinting
off the silver leaves, but not the first time I crushed
a grape between my teeth or tasted the juices straight
from my fingers. Perhaps there’s simply too much good
to remember, too little space in our brains to hold
both the good and bad.

When I was sixteen, overtaken by desire, I first
understood what my father thought of me.
He said the saddest son-of-a-bitch he ever knew
lived out in the woods with a daughter who longed
to be a son, and a son who chased every boy in town.

It was the same year he left our family, the year
I discovered in his belongings a picture he had taken
of me when I was four. All cherub smile, the sun ablaze
in my hair — a photo he must have treasured
since he said he’d kill me before he let me have it.

Which is really something when you think about it —
the memory of the boy he had seen through the lens
so much better than the real thing standing
right there before him.

AE Hines

On “My Father’s Son”

Like much of the collection, this poem explores human relationships through the faulty lens of memory and one’s own personal history. “My Father’s Son,” did originate from actual incidents in childhood, just as the narrative describes. But as I explored these memories, I found myself more interested in what wasn’t there, particularly in relation to my own father. Surely, there were moments of tenderness hidden in there, even if obscured by time and the grooves that trauma and conflict etch into our brains. I wanted a true and compassionate rendering, but there were holes. Those gaps became an organizing theme for the piece. Interestingly, my own son is the same age as the speaker at the end of this poem, and I am roughly the same age as the father. I can’t help but wonder what, in thirty or forty years, my son will remember most about his childhood, particularly in relation to me. So many of our memories seem colored by what we want to see, what we wish was there, in a sort of magical thinking that people and circumstances – even in the past – will conform to our demands. The father at the end of this poem seems unable to see his own son, as he is, standing right there. Instead, he prefers the memory (symbolized by a picture) he has created in his mind of who he had hoped his son would be. I only hope I’ve done better than this as a father, myself. Time, as they say, will tell. Or, it won’t. That’s the thing, isn’t it?  This poem is an acknowledgment that none of us has the full story. Human memory is there for our evolutionary survival, not our pleasure. And every story we tell ourselves about our past is, at least partially, a lie.


Thank you so much for being my guest today and sharing your work with my readers. Congratulations on your new release!

For more on Any Dumb Animal, and to follow the blog tour, please click the button below.

Read Full Post »

Coming in Fall 2021

Any Dumb Animal (Main Street Rag, 2021), the debut poetry collection by AE Hines, presents a memoir-in-verse as told by a gay man raised in the rural South who comes of age during the AIDS crisis. Flashing back and forth in time, a cast of recurring characters and circumstances are woven into a rich tale of survival and redemption, exploring one man’s life as a queer son, father, and husband, over a span of more than thirty years.

Preorder at Main Street Rag


Early reviews

“This compellingly candid work speaks the language of
courage, of breath-taking transcendence. Finely crafted, it is a
remarkable debut collection. Take note, world: a powerful
lyric poet has emerged. Take note and rejoice!” ~ Paulann
Petersen, Oregon Poet Laureate Emerita

“I was amazed over and over at the bravery of these poems,
never shying from the difficult moments in life, and all the
while staying true to the clear-eyed, fearless vision of their
author.” ~ James Crews, Editor of How to Love the World:
Poems of Gratitude and Hope

“With a strong gift for storytelling and an eye attuned to
detail, Hines ultimately shows us the beauty and knowledge
made of experience.” ~Richie Hofmann, Author of Second
Empire


Read Full Post »

Hello, friends! My guest today is Ren Powell, who is here to share a poem from her new collection, Impermanence, and a little about how it came to be. Please give her a warm welcome!


This/that now has already
flowed like a river around your waist
and into your hands
– you caught what you could and braided it

like water flowing into the patterns
     of fish bones
like mycelium routing nitrogen
     favoring a sapling

you created one identifiable
                    X
from the infinite possibilities

But it spilled from of your tongue
slipped through your fingers

the X you wove into the world
warping and shapeshifting
so inevitably, incrementally
that you look up day after day
surprised by the foreign landscapes
of your own making

The poems from Impermanence aren’t easy to tease apart. They speak to one another. All of them grew out a year of daily meditations on the theme of inevitable change, and how we suffer when we resist it.

This was one of the first poems I wrote for the collection. The morning I began the draft, I’d run along the trail by the lake and I stopped to watch a small creek flowing into it. I noticed how the water mimicked a fish’s soft skeleton in the shape it formed. I loved the parallel realities – it was more than a metaphor. The idea that this is like this in fact, not in concept.

The water-skeleton disappears instantly if I step in the stream. The fish bones will decay over time. I think it’s an illusion that one is more real than the other. We give time too much importance when we make our value judgements. Especially when we consider that every moment is already over by the time we’ve acknowledged its existence. We work so hard to make sense of things that we want them to stay as we’ve determined they “are”.

The trail around the lake also has groves of trees. The trees with the saucer-like mushrooms wedged in the bark are dying. I can’t see it, but I know the network of mycelium under the ground is already moving the nutrients from the dying trees to the new trees. The fungi don’t recognize ownership over the requirements of life. The shape of the forest shifts so slowly that we think we see trees dying instead of a forest growing.

We impose our will on the world every moment. We tell ourselves a story about every passing instance: an X of meaning.

I think of the pride of a small child finally getting the family dog to “stay”, and then the frustration and anger they experience when the dog runs off.

I think we contribute to the world, but we don’t shape it as we think we do. We might set something in motion, but the river of time – like the dog – doesn’t “stay”. 


About Impermanence

The poetry collection is actually a conceptual poetry book. The artwork in the hand-bound and paperback versions aren’t illustrations. They are integral to the book. The bust in the photographs is covered with lines of poems found as text in the book. The handwriting on the photographs present erasures of the same poems.

The bust was filmed disintegrating under a waterfall once the book was finished. It was a practice in the kind of attitude I was exploring in the book: letting go is a healthy thing.

The book (both hand-bound and paperback versions) can be purchased at renpowell.com.


About the Author

Ren Powell is a writer and teaching artist. She is a native Californian – now a Norwegian citizen settled on the west coast of Norway. Ren has been a member of The Norwegian Author’s Union since 2005 and has published six full-length collections of poetry and more than two dozen books of translations with traditional publishing houses. Her poetry collections have been purchased by the Norwegian Arts Council for national library distribution, and her poems have been translated and published in eight languages. Ren is currently focusing on handbound poetry collections and mixed media experimentation as Mad Orphan Lit. Learn more about Ren Powell. Follow her on Facebook.


For more about Impermanence and to follow the blog tour, click the image above.

Thank you, Ren, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your latest book!

Read Full Post »

Hello, friends! Today I have the pleasure of welcoming Sherry Quan Lee to the blog to celebrate the release of her new poetry collection, Septuagenarian. Sherry is here today to share a poem and its inspiration. Enjoy!


The World Is Heavy

One doesn’t have to imagine good and evil amidst

all this terror.

Sadness, the bones and the blood surrender

but, we can make a difference we are all somebody

we are not on the backs on the backs on the backs

of sorrow

that preceded

head separated from body

body separated from country

family separated

love guarantees memory    

guns in white rooms the ghost

of a man an unholy ghost trying to rewrite the story

what if what if what if asking the questions is [not] enough?

sometimes madness

I feel like a boxer punching  the world

is heavy that’s when the silence is broken

not with words but with images  children

didn’t know what to make of the bickering

children got lost in the silence suffering;

the father the mother the siblings gone

a newspaper headline.

To the wicked and the wise there is a difference

between opinion and truth, a space where

freedom is clearly not where in the world  we are

divisive and our lives are at risk.

Tolerate is a difficult word. Racism, white men

with assault rifles. Death

is temporary.

History implodes on a regular irregular heartbeat

like a sorcerer reads palms this is love choking on air

ready to survive   pedestals 

collapse amidst a pandemic       

as I sip my morning coffee the heart/broken

is what saves us. The charade is over

this year. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!


How “The World is Heavy” Came to Be” and a Challenge to the Reader

January 6, 2021, insurrection at the Capitol, death—lies. A culmination of four frightful years. How, as a poet, can we respond? We could use the fast and flowing media coverage to write a found poem rearranging and reformatting what has already been written by journalists, by reporters, by politicians. Or, we can turn to our own writing.

Using only text from Septuagenarian: love is what happens when I die, I randomly chose words and phrases and strung them together. What might be hidden if we break apart the whole? Have I, unknowingly, moved beyond the personal—have I entered the world?

I discovered within my memoir of verse that I was saying more than I had said, that for me the personal continues to be political, and all things are temporary. The memory of what has preceded me implodes and love is my act of survival.

Use words and phrases from what you have previously written and find a poem. Perhaps you will discover what you didn’t know you knew. It may not, at first, make sense, yet it will.


About Septuagenarian

Septuagenarian: love is what happens when I die is a memoir in poetic form. It is the author’s journey from being a mixed-race girl who passed for white to being a woman in her seventies who understands and accepts her complex intersectional identity; and no longer has to imagine love. It is a follow-up to the author’s previous memoir (prose), Love Imagined: a mixed-race memoir, A Minnesota Book Award finalist.

Buy on Amazon


About the Author

Sherry Quan Lee, MFA, University of Minnesota; and Distinguished Alumna, North Hennepin Community College, is the editor of How Dare We! Write: a multicultural creative writing discourse. Her most recent book, Love Imagined: a mixed race memoir, was a 2015 Minnesota Book Award Finalist. Previous books include: Chinese Blackbird, a memoir in verseHow to Write a Suicide Note: serial essays that saved a woman’s life; and a chapbook, A Little Mixed Up.

Quan Lee was a selected participant for the Loft Literary Center Asian Inroads Program, and later was the Loft mentor for the same program. Previously, she was the Writer-to-Writer mentor for SASE: The Write Place, at Intermedia Arts. Also, she was the 2015-2016 Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series poetry mentor. Visit her blog.


To learn more about Septuagenarian or to follow the tour, please click the button above.

Thank you, Sherry, for being my guest today, and congratulations on your new release!

Read Full Post »

Last month, I read and reviewed Cheryl Wilder’s new poetry collection, Anything That Happens (click the link to read my thoughts), and I’m delighted to have her as a guest today. Cheryl is here to read a poem from the collection and share her inspiration. Please give her a warm welcome!


Inspiration for “As We Believe”

I worked for North Carolina architect Ligon Flynn (1931-2010) from 2007-2009. Ligon was at the end of his career, and my job was to help him write his architectural philosophy. But, the ideas expanded, and the project became more in-depth. At the same time, I went to graduate school at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Poetry and architecture became my passion.

Ligon’s architecture firm was a large open workspace. I listened to the sounds of design: shuffling of blueprints, tapping on keyboards, squeaking of chairs—the “work” of art and engineering. My workspace was full of books. I was studying architectural space, beginning with the first Ziggurat in Mesopotamia. It got me thinking about human evolution. We became emotional animals that are vulnerable in ways other animals aren’t. That’s how the poem starts:

                                    I’m hunched over, hairless,

                                    nails short, teeth dull,

                                    a delicate creature 

                                    in work boots—

The delicate creature—the artist—needs protection. The work boots allow her to begin working. And the first thing she does is compare her body to that of a building—her self compared to her art. The poem then moves into the work of the artist and architect, excavating and exploring, making something out of nothing.

The penultimate stanza introduces “God’s Architect,” Spanish architect Antoni Gaudí (1852-1926). When Gaudí was alive, his contemporaries gave him that nickname. Gaudí believed he was serving God through architecture. He was deeply devoted to his last project, La Sagrada Familia.

Gaudí’s death fascinated me as much as his architecture. He was on his daily walk to the Saint Felip Neri church for prayer. A tram hit him, and he lost consciousness. The famed and beloved architect, having devoted day and night to his work, looked haggard. People who walked by him on the street thought he was a beggar and didn’t stop to help. By the time he was recognized and brought to the hospital, it was too late.

Artists are relatively unrecognizable. What the public sees and knows is the art. Most artists prefer it this way. At the same time, Gaudí’s story highlights the solitary nature of being an artist. I knew this from my own experience. I also witnessed it in Ligon’s firm—everyone working quietly on their own.

So, what do we believe in? How do we spend our time? What will we leave behind? (Gaudí believed his architecture served a greater purpose. He knew his “soft tissue” wouldn’t outlast a “load-bearing wall.”) None of the questions are new. And an artist is confronted with them at some point. Some struggle with it throughout their lives, a nagging voice in their heads, “Is all the work worth it?”


For more about the book and to follow the blog tour, visit Poetic Book Tours.

Thank you, Cheryl, for being my guest today and sharing a poem with my readers!

Read Full Post »

Source: Review copy from author

Book Blurb:

At the age of twenty, Cheryl Wilder got behind the wheel when she was too drunk to drive. She emerged from the car physically whole. Her passenger, a close friend, woke up from a coma four months later with a life-changing brain injury. Anything That Happens follows her journey from a young adult consumed by shame and self-hatred to a woman she can live with…and even respect. Along the way, Wilder marries, has a son, divorces, and cares for her dying mother. Anything That Happens examines what it takes to reconcile a past marked by a grave mistake, a present as caregiver to many, and a future that stretches into one long second chance.

A debut poetry collection that examines how to reconcile a past grave mistake and a future that stretches into one long second chance. Cover art, “In bloom” by Coleen Tagnolli.


I am two people now —

the before and the after; one I’ve already

forgotten the other I have not met.

(from “Bailed Out”)

What is

left but a future where I am not worth saving.

(from “For What It’s Worth”)


My thoughts:

Cheryl Wilder’s poetry collection, Anything That Happens, is a poetic memoir that details a drunk driving accident that leaves a friend with brain damage and all that guilt and blame that accompanies it. The poems make you ask: How does one come to terms with a bad decision with life-changing consequences? How does one move on from that and live a full life when burdened by questions about what they deserve? And is it wrong to find love and have a child, and how does guilt affect those relationships?

Wilder also delves deep into the emotional turmoil of being abandoned by her father and the weight of caring for a dying parent. These poems are heavy, they are hard to read, but at the same time, they pull you in and make you think. There is something real in these poems, in Wilder’s search for “home,” something that is both haunting and cathartic.

Anything That Happens prompts you to remember a time in your own life when you were young and foolishly believed, like Wilder says in the title poem, that “anything wouldn’t happen to me.” Maybe that “anything” is a traumatic crash that leaves you questioning how much guilt one should shoulder for an “accident.” Maybe your “anything” is a lot less devastating, but still it is the turning point, where there is only “the before and the after.” That is what Wilder explores in these poems, bravely sharing her story and laying bare the conflicting emotions of getting a second chance.


For more about the book and to follow the blog tour, visit Poetic Book Tours.

Read Full Post »

I’m delighted to welcome Rojé Augustin to Diary of an Eccentric today as part of the blog tour for her poetry collection Out of No Way, which has received rave reviews. She is here to share a guest post, but before I have Rojé take over, here’s a little about the book:

Author, producer and emerging poet Rojé Augustin has written a groundbreaking debut collection of dramatic poems about hair care entrepreneur Madam C.J. Walker and her daughter A’Lelia Walker. Out of No Way: Madam C.J. Walker & A’Lelia Walker, A Poetic Dramatracks Walker’s phenomenal rise from penniless orphan to America’s first self-made female millionaire in dramatic verse.

Born Sarah Breedlove to former Louisiana slaves in 1867, Madam C.J. Walker was orphaned at seven, married at 14, became a mother at 17, and was widowed at 20. After the death of her first husband, Sarah moved to St. Louis with her daughter where she earned $1.50 a day as a washerwoman. When her hair starting falling out she developed a remedy and sold her formula across the country. In the process she became the wealthiest Negro woman in America. Rojé’s highly original and accomplished poetry is written through the lens of the mother/daughter relationship via different poetic forms — from lyric poems to haikus, blackout poetry to narrative (one poem takes its inspiration from Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Raven’) — with each chapter addressing issues relevant to their lives at the time.

Written against the backdrop of the Jim Crow era, Out of No Way is ultimately an examination of what W.E.B Du Bois called “conflicting identities.” Sarah was a proud African American on the one hand and a woman seeking America’s acceptance on the other. She was a pauper who achieved the American Dream while denied the rights and protections of the American Constitution. She was a wife, mother, and businesswoman who juggled the demands of family with the demands of career. And she was an orphan who had to transcend a brutal childhood in order to be a loving mother to her child. As Du Bois stated at the time, “One ever feels a two-ness. An American, A Negro…Two warring ideals in one dark body.” Indeed Madam C.J. Walker/Sarah Breedlove was an American and a Negro, as was her daughter, A’Lelia Walker, both of whom likely viewed herself through their own conflicting identities. What did they see?

Out of No Way tells Walker’s remarkable rags-to-riches story by exploring thoughtful questions — What impact did Sarah’s busy work life have on A’Lelia? What was the bond between a mother orphaned so young and the daughter who might wait days or weeks for her return? Could the death of her parents when she was a child have compromised Sarah’s nurturing instincts? How did A’Lelia feel about their newfound wealth? What, if any, were the drawbacks of that wealth?

Amazon | Goodreads

****

I’ve asked Rojé to address the following: Explore how your research into the mother-daughter relationship informed your poetic work, and has it given you greater insights into how you, as a working mother, tackle your responsibilities? Please give her a warm welcome!

As a working mom, you often feel torn between giving your all at work and giving your all at home, particularly where your children are concerned.  You feel torn because you quickly realize that being a great mom and being a great (insert profession here) cannot happen simultaneously, the two goals are mutually exclusive.  In other words, you can’t give your all at work, while also giving your all at home because doing so only supplies divided attention, which causes both work and home to ultimately collapse, not to mention you.  At some point, you start to feel you have to make a choice or else risk losing it all — work, family, sanity.  But even when you do choose one, assuming you have a choice, there is always a sacrifice.  Always.  I think this is true for most working parents.

Having experienced this conundrum myself, I wondered quite a lot about Madam C.J. Walker.  Here was a woman who, like the vast majority of her peers, actually had no choice.  She had to work and she had to raise her child.  What then were her particular sacrifices?  What were her sufferings as a result?  It occurred to me that family is often the first sacrificial lamb for any parent who has no choice but to work fifty, sixty, or seventy hour work weeks, as Madam C.J. Walker had when she was Sarah Breedlove, washerwoman & cook.  And children especially are the frontline.  The first to feel the gaping hole left by a parent’s absence.  A’Lelia must have felt this, too.  What did that look like?

Filtering my research through this line of inquiry informed my work tremendously because it offered emotionally rich possibilities with which to write the poems.  The mother-daughter relationship is an inherently complex and poignant affair often explored in the novels of black authors — take the works of Jamaica Kincaid for example — but less so in poetry.  I wanted to convey a sense of what their dynamic might have been given their unique set of circumstances.  Madam Walker was orphaned at age seven, a mother at seventeen, a widow by twenty.  She was only one generation removed from slavery, she had to navigate life through the whip of Jim Crow, and the lynching of black people carried out with impunity.  And yet she had the awesome resilience to raise herself and her child out of poverty and into prosperity in less than ten years, by working really hard and working all the time.  One goal was very clearly achieved.  What of the other?

As for myself, I discovered through this creative exercise that I am guilty of tackling my working-mom responsibilities with the pressure of perfection weighing heavily on my psyche.  But it never works.  I inevitably spin myself into exhaustion.  Best to just strive for balance and hope for the best.  Which, I guess, for me is perfection.

Thank you for sharing your story and Madam Walker’s with us, and thank you for my guest today!

****

About the Author 

Rojé Augustin

Rojé Augustin is a native New Yorker who grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Her first novel, The Unraveling of Bebe Jones, won the 2013 National Indie Excellence Award in African American fiction. She wrote the novel while living in London and Sydney as a stay-at-home-mom. She established Breaknight Films shortly after her move to Sydney in 2009 to develop and produce television projects across a range of formats, including television, web, and audio. Her first Sydney based project was a podcast and visual web series called The Right Space, which explores the relationship between creatives and their workspace. Rojé continues to work as a television producer while also writing in her spare time. She is an Australian citizen who currently lives in Sydney with her Aussie husband and two daughters.

****

Giveaway

As part of the blog tour, there are two copies of Out of No Way up for grabs (digital for international entrants; print for U.S./Canadian entrants). This giveaway ends Oct. 31, 2020, and you must enter through Rafflecopter. Good luck!

****

Click the button for more about Out of No Way and Rojé Augustin, including video readings of her work, and to follow the blog tour.

Read Full Post »

My guest today is poet Jessica Goody, whose latest collection is Phoenix: Transformation Poems. Jessica is kindly sharing a poem from the collection: “Jazz.” Please give her a warm welcome!

Transforming Pain into Poetry

Because I tend to think in images, a lot of my poetry is ekphrastic–inspired by artwork.

I am endlessly inspired by the lives and exploits of artists, like the Beats, the Harlem Renaissance, and the Bloomsbury Group. My poetry collection Phoenix: Transformation Poems features numerous odes to artists of every stripe–writers, actors, painters and musicians.

The opening poem, “Jazz,” is about Henri Matisse. Confined to a wheelchair following major surgery, he could no longer climb ladders to paint murals, so he covered the walls of his studio with butcher paper and drew with extra-long pencils. When arthritis left him unable to continue sculpting, he switched to collage, cutting shapes out of colored paper and arranging them in patterns to create Jazz, a book of decoupage art.

I believe that well-chosen words are the greatest agents of change; they provide hope to the suffering and clarity to the misguided. Phoenix offers glimpses of meaningful lives and explores what it means to be fully human. These poems cover a wide variety of subject matter, including beauty, creativity, and courage, but the main theme is transformation–the triumph over pain and trauma and the resilience of the human spirit.

Jazz

Patterns catch the eye, crawling along wallpaper

and upholstery in a melange of colors and textures,

rendering the room as exotic as a harem, draped with

vivid slipcovers of Moroccan arabesques and damasks.

 

The wallpaper blooms humid tropical foliage,

blood-red blossoms unfurling behind the heads

of odalisques reclining on striped pillows, the divan

curving beneath them like the body of a lover.

 

A backdrop of vibrant fabrics curtain the room like a seraglio.

Oushaks and kilims burn underfoot as the light shines

through the lacework windows and shuttered doors,

where beaded lamps drip crystals atop runner-draped tables.

 

Orchids and potted plants crowd every surface, swarming

the carved mantel and bowlegged iron tables. Lovingly arranged

into precisely disheveled still-lifes, the palm fronds spread their graceful

green arms to the sun, tendrils inching upward like ivy.

 

Joyful nudes dance along the walls. Cobalt blue outlines

like police silhouettes stretch and tumble, leap and caper.

Tinted ultramarine, the color of distant horizons,

they resemble woad-stained Celts, rangy of limb and sinew.

 

Matisse lies abed in his atelier, industrious as Proust,

surrounded by a sea of colored paper, scattered leaves

and whimsical shapes that might be flowers or flames,

strewn petals drifting to the floor like shards of glass.

 

****

Jessica Goody

Jessica Goody is the award-winning author of Defense Mechanisms: Poems on Life, Love, and Loss (Phosphene Publishing, 2016) and Phoenix: Transformation Poems (CW Books, 2019). Goody’s writing has appeared in over three dozen publications, including The Wallace Stevens Journal, Reader’s Digest, Event Horizon, The Seventh Wave, Third Wednesday, The MacGuffin, Harbinger Asylum and The Maine Review. Jessica is a columnist for SunSations Magazine and the winner of the 2016 Magnets and Ladders Poetry Prize. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

****

To follow the blog tour for Phoenix: Transformation Poems and for more about the collection, click the button below

Read Full Post »

My guest today is Diamante Lavendar, who is celebrating the release of her newest poetry collection, Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief. I’ve asked Diamante to share a poem from the collection and its inspiration, and I’m hoping you all find it as moving as I did. Please give her a warm welcome!

****

You Shone Like The Sun On Autumn Leaves

You shone like the sun on autumn leaves,
Their remaining life brief before they fell from the trees.
The sun’s light was strong, the warmth intense,
Just as your heart:  loving, immense.
But the leaves shriveled up and neared their end,
Just as you when you left, my child, my friend.
Your meaning lives on in every new day;
I begged God for time to extend your stay.
It’s a hard lesson to learn that you have no control
Over life, over love, over a darling child’s soul;
All we can do is sift through the hours
And beg for provision, mercy and power
To experience life’s sentence of lessons and fate
Before we, too, find ourselves in heaven’s estate.
Love us and guide us from your ethereal view,
Until one day we are reunited with you.

I wrote this for my daughters who passed away.  One only after ten hours’ time and the other after nearly nineteen years.  Both heartbreaking.  Devastating.  But I know that they are still alive and well beyond heaven’s veil.  They visit me and make themselves known not only to help me write so that I can help others but also to let me know they’re okay so that my heart doesn’t break beyond repair.  They gift me with a sense of purpose and meaning, with the understanding that heaven is real, it’s not just a wish or a fantasy.  Because of them I know that this life is a learning ground that leads to bigger and better things.  And I am exceedingly grateful for that knowledge and to be able to pass it along to others who are embattled and mourning.  We all need to know why we’re here and what our actions will lead to in the future.  And we all need to be comforted and to know that beauty is looming on the horizon no matter how much pain we’ve encountered on planet earth!

Thank you, Diamante, for sharing your poem and story with me and my readers. I hope that it helps others find comfort and healing.

****

About Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief

Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief is a winner of a Pinnacle Achievement Award for Spirituality.  It is also the recipient of a Silver Medal from Mom’s Choice Awards!

This earthly plane offers much for us to learn: happiness, wisdom, loss, heartbreak, and enlightenment. It is a Pandora’s box of emotions, situations, opportunities, and failures, all wrapped into a package we call life. Nobody is immune, but everyone has the opportunity to grow tall or wither like a flower in harsh light. It’s completely up to us how we choose to respond.

Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief is a gleaning of insights from artist Diamante Lavender. For her, life has been a long, difficult road, but it has taught many poignant lessons. Her poetry collection is an exploration of the human soul, a traversing of situations that life throws at us. Diamante has always been intrigued by the ability to overcome and move on to bigger and better things.

She writes to encourage hope and possibility in those who read her stories. If she can help others heal, as she has, then Diamante’s work as an author and artist will have been well spent. She believes that everyone should try to leave a positive mark on the world, to make it a better place for all. Writing is the way that she is attempting to leave her mark–one story at a time.

Find the book on Goodreads and Amazon

****

Click the button below to learn more about Diamante Lavendar and follow the blog tour for Finding Hope in the Darkness of Grief

Read Full Post »

I’m pleased to welcome Nancy Richardson, author of the poetry collection An Everyday Thing, to Diary of an Eccentric today to share a poem from the book and the inspiration behind it. Please give her a warm welcome!

Notes on a Poem

     by Nancy Richardson

 An Everyday Thing

 notes of the students’ lawyers, Kent State Trial

 

one round was fired on the hill.

what did they say?

you can see smoke in the pictures.

good hair, the jury likes him.

find the impeaching part.

cause she’s so pretty

watch out for hearsay and conclusions.

did you see anyone carry any bodies?

he put the blame on me for his fuck-up.

you have any phenobarbital?

he gave the order to kneel and take aim.

if he hadn’t heard the order to fire.

he’s getting scattered, tell him to sit down.

can you help me cash my paycheck?

one person in troop G emptied their whole clip.

he’s been ineffective lately.

the net gain is clearly worth the cost.

he had his hand on his holster.

Bill was not dead there.

I yawn to mask my true sentiments.

when you play in the mud you get dirty.

say thanks to Charlie.

isn’t death an everyday thing for everyone?

he said if they rush us shoot them.

how come you’re saving all the notes?

This poem is a found poem constructed from the real notes of the students’ lawyers in the Kent State civil trial of 1975. I moved to Kent in the summer of 1970, three months after 13 students had been shot by the National Guard. Four students died and one was paralyzed. Others had significant wounds.  The campus was swarming with undercover agents from various organizations and a large number of student resistors. Students and several organizations that promoted justice began the process of sorting through the various theories of what had occurred in order to bring the shooters to justice. This turned out to be an arduous and unsuccessful process in Ohio, where support for the Vietnam War was strong and suspicion of student activists was high.  The students lost the civil trial of 1975 and later received a pittance of a settlement from the State of Ohio.

My sister, Galen Lewis, was the chief researcher and paralegal for the trial.  She and her partner, Joseph Lewis, Jr., who had been shot at Kent State, moved from Ohio to Oregon in 1975. Both became active in social justice causes.  Galen became ill and died in 1990.  Although many of the documents from the Kent State shooting were given to Yale University, these notes remained in her possession and she gave them to me.

In sorting through them, I began to realize that the notes told a story and that the story would make a poem.  I struggled a bit to select the important notes and to arrange them in an order which would require the reader to develop a sense of the background theme of the trial without having that theme explained in the poem. The notes would also provide a sense of how the lawyers felt about themselves and the defendants in the charged atmosphere of the trial.  The question “isn’t death an everyday thing for everyone?” is a striking statement, both philosophical and surprising.  I assume that this was a statement characterizing the strategy of the defendants lawyers in minimizing what had occurred and in characterizing the shootings as accidental. This poem was the beginning of a series my poems on the Kent State shootings and illustrates how little progress we have made over 48 years in coming to terms with our propensity for guns and violence.

****

About An Everyday Thing

Richardson’s poems concern coming of age in the rust-belt of Ohio during a period of decay of the physical and political structures that made the region once solid and predictable. Her poems chart the shifting of the foundations upon which a life is built and the unpredictability of events that have profound personal and political consequences, including the shootings at Kent State University.

Buy here

****

About the Poet

Nancy Richardson

Nancy Richardson’s poems have appeared in journals anthologies. She has written two chapbooks. The first, Unwelcomed Guest (2013) by Main Street Rag Publishing Company and the second, the Fire’s Edge (2017) by Finishing Line Press concerned her formative youth in the rust-belt of Ohio and the dislocation, including the Kent State shootings that affected her young adulthood. In An Everyday Thing, she has included those poems and extended the narrative to memories of persons and events and the make a life.

She has spent a good deal of her professional life working in government and education at the local, state, and federal levels and as a policy liaison in the U.S. Office of the Secretary of Education and for the Governor of Massachusetts. She received an MFA in Writing from Vermont College in 2005 and has served on the Board of the Frost Place in Franconia, NH. Visit her website.

****

Click the button below to follow the blog tour

Thank you, Nancy, for being my guest today, and congratulations on the release of An Everyday Thing!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »