Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘poetic book tours’

Today I am delighted to share an excerpt from Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s memoir, The First Signs of April. The following excerpt is a scene taken from a day early in the caregiving experience of the author with her dying aunt.

Aunt Pat was in her chair on the back porch when I arrived the next morning. The warm sun through the porch window fell on her, illuminating her fragility. She was smiling and her eyes sparkled when she looked at me. “Such a beautiful day. Listen to those birds, and just look at the roses, Mary. They’re really coming along, aren’t they?”

Despite the horror that was now her life, she was still able to sit in the summer sun and enjoy the birds and her flowers. “Yes, and there are so many of them, too.” My eyes filled with tears I wouldn’t dare shed, as I stood beside her in quiet awe while Aunt Pat relished the moment.

“Well,” she put her hands on the arms of the chair, “are you ready for the day? I’ve got some things I’d like to get done.”

She pushed herself up, her tiny arms shaking under the little weight her body held, and stood as straight as she could. Locking her arm in mine, accepting the tiniest bit of assistance, we slowly walked into the house together. Our time on the porch was like being in a different world to the one we encountered within the walls of the house. Inside were the disease, the pain, the fear, and the lifetime of memories she and Uncle Roger shared. This house held the story of their lives, good and bad. Now it served as the stage for the last act of her life.

I think perhaps we were both thinking the same thing as we entered the back hall, and she gently squeezed my hand as if to reassure us both. “Now,” she said once inside the kitchen, “I want you to take down the curtains in the living room and wash them today, all right?”

“Sure, I can do that. How about I get them in the wash now, before Uncle Roger gets up and needs his breakfast?”

Aunt Pat nodded then sighed, I assumed in relief that this direction had been given. It seemed like she’d mustered all of her strength to get to this moment with me today and now she could relax. “I’ll just rest here a minute, before I get Rog’s morning meds.” Once again, the sounds of pain escaped her cracked lips as she awkwardly lowered herself to the couch.

If only there was some way to raise the couch so she wouldn’t have quite so far togo, I thought, watching out of the corner of my eye. She landed in a heap, with a yelp of pain, and I was certain she was broken. I couldn’t help but imagine her frail bones compressing together, grinding to dust with the impact. She held her hand over her eyes and her breath steadied some.

Climbing up the stepladder, I began taking down the nearly threadbare lace patterned sheer curtains. They were, or rather had once been, white, before the yellowing from age and cigarette smoke had coated them. They were so thin and delicate that I wasn’t sure they would survive a spin through the washing machine, let alone a heated tumble through the dryer. It’s what she wants, I reminded myself. I stood at the washing machine and turned the dial to the gentle cycle, silently acknowledging the need of this not only for the curtains, but for the three of us as we made our way on this journey together.

Uncle Roger was sitting at the table waiting for me to get his breakfast for him when I returned from the laundry room. Aunt Pat was back at the counter sorting through his medication.

“Good morning.” I placed the cereal box in front of him. “I brought the Stewart’s Root Beer you like. You can have it with your lunch later.”

He smiled, “Thank you, Mary.”

These words would be practically the only words spoken between us except for my “You’re welcome,” in the weeks that followed.

“Here are your pills, Rog. I’m going to lie down on the couch. I have an awful headache.”

Aunt Pat once again painfully made her way to the living room couch, stopping only to lay her hand gently on his shoulder as she passed. Uncle Roger shook his head as he watched her. The sorrow and helplessness in his eyes softened his otherwise harsh features. She never rested in her bed, only on the couch, perhaps knowing that if she were in bed she’d be acknowledging how sick she was and she wasn’t ready to succumb to that. Not yet.

After breakfast, Uncle Roger went to his recliner in the dining room. He was asleep in his chair when I came through with the laundry basket full of what I hoped were intact clean curtains.

Aunt Pat turned her head toward me as I set the basket down. “How’d they come out?”

I wondered why this one thing in particular seemed so important to her. Maybe she wanted things to look nice, knowing that with her decline in health people would be coming to the house. She was proud, even as she was preparing for her death.

A sigh escaped me as I reached into the basket and lifted one of the curtain panels up for her to see. “Looks like they came out pretty good. Look how white they are,” I said, relieved that the curtains had survived their journey and could now be hung with pride again. I can’t imagine what would’ve happened if they’d been ruined in the cleaning process.

She smiled, laid her head back down, and closed her eyes.

I lifted each sheer and carefully slid them onto the old white metal curtain rods, climbed the ladder then delicately placed the rods onto their hooks. Stepping back, I noticed how much the stark white curtains stood in contrast to the dark stained trim, built-in cabinets and nooks and crannies of the gloomy room. They looked almost bright and beautiful enough to cheer the whole place up. This was as good as it was going to be for them now.

Aunt Pat moaned. I turned to see her struggling to get up. This time I offered my hand and she took it. Our eyes met. She looked dejected, as though she had just lost some part of this battle. By accepting my help she was letting go of her independence and acknowledging some defeat. We both understood the significance of that gesture and we let it fill the space between us, but just for a moment.

Once she was up, we stood, arm in arm, looking at the cleaned curtains before us. Suddenly, as if from nowhere, it started: a low, humph, humph, that warned of the laugh to come. Aunt Pat’s rumble built to a crescendo full-on laugh that I’m sure would’ve knocked her down had she not had her arm linked to mine. I couldn’t help but laugh with her, although I had no idea why we were laughing.

“Oh, Mary,” she said, still giggling.

“What?”

“They’re inside out! How can you have a master’s degree and not know how to hang curtains? They’re all inside out,” she exclaimed.

Slightly embarrassed, I apologized for the mistake but she just laughed. “I don’t remember the last time I had such a good laugh.” She let go of my arm, turned, and headed out to the kitchen while I set off to right the wrong.

“Inside out.” I heard her laughing from the kitchen.

I could still hear Aunt Pat giggling as I made my way out to her chair on the back porch. She could’ve been angry or upset over the curtains, but instead she chose to laugh, as though she hadn’t a care in the world. The stench of stale cigarettes wafted up from the ashtray beside me, and the hot sun was so bright that I had to squint to look out the window into the garden. I tried to feel what she felt in those moments on the porch, when she seemed to take everything in with such joy. Her body was always so relaxed and her smile came from deep in her heart. She was truly alive, in spite of the dying.

Watching the sunlight falling on the roses, I tried again to feel something, but an invisible veil was separating me from the world. It was something I’d never been conscious of before, but it dawned on me that this veil had fallen around me many years ago. Since then, I had been living in silence, unwilling to reach out for life, love, or connection. The danger was just too great. I looked again at the roses but all I could feel was sad. Could it really have been so very long ago since I felt happy and able to connect with the world?

Wow, what a beautiful scene! Thank you for sharing this with me and my readers, Mary-Elizabeth!

****

About The First Signs of April

Wounds fester and spread in the darkness of silence. The swirling reds, oranges, and yellows of fall’s foliage dance alongside Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe like flames as she tears through the winding back roads of the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont. Desperate to outrun memories that flood her mind, no matter how hard she rolls her motorcycle’s throttle, she cannot escape them.

Shut down and disconnected, Briscoe has lived her life in silence in order to stay alive. Her grief is buried, and shame is the skin that wraps around her bones—but then, following the brutal murder of a local teacher, she is forced as a grief counselor to face her lifetime of unresolved sorrow. Will she finally be able to crack the hard edges of her heart and allow in the light of truth so real healing can occur?

Goodreads | Amazon

****

About the Author

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe is a licensed mental health counselor currently on sabbatical from her private psychotherapy practice in northeastern Vermont. She currently spends her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. She has a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling from Lesley University and is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and a Certified Trauma Professional. She has been a lecturer for Springfield College School of Professional and Continuing Studies St. Johnsbury, Vermont campus. She has contributed to Cape Woman Online and Sweatpants and Coffee magazine. This is her first book. 

Visit her website, her Facebook, and on Twitter.

****

Giveaway

As part of the blog tour, the publicist is offering one print copy of The First Signs of April to my readers, U.S. addresses only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address and your thoughts on the excerpt. This giveaway will close on Wednesday, October 11, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

****

Follow the Blog Tour

Sept. 7: Teddy Rose Book Reviews and Plus More (Book Spotlight/Giveaway)
Sept. 20: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom (Review)
Sept. 28: Debra Smouse (Review)
Oct. 3: Soapy Violinist (Review)
Oct. 4: Diary of an Eccentric (Guest Post)
Oct. 18: The Book Connection (Guest Post)
Oct. 24: Bibliotica (Review)
Nov. 2:: Modern Creative Life (Interview)
Nov. 3: Life’s a Stage (Guest Post)
Nov. 4: Readaholic Zone (Review)
Nov. 15: Donna’s Book Reviews (Review)

Follow the tour with the hashtag #MaryBriscoe

Read Full Post »

Today I get to share with you Diana Raab’s latest book, Writing for Bliss, and there’s a copy up for grabs for my U.S. readers (stay tuned for the details).

About Writing for Bliss

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Those who can benefit from writing a life narrative may have been exposed to early-life trauma, loss, or addiction. Writing your story is a way to reclaim your voice, reveal a family secret, or simply share your story with others. Journaling is a cathartic and safe way to work through your feelings and “direct your rage to the page.”

With the help of this indispensible guide to therapeutic writing, you’ll understand yourself better and be able to deal with various challenges in your life, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, loss of loved ones, diseases, and life transitions.

Offering step-by- step practical exercises for journaling your thoughts, emotions, and memories, along with techniques to jump-start your writing, Writing for Bliss will help you achieve the therapeutic results of writing for healing, and provides essential information for using this technique to transform your life in a meaningful way.

Goodreads | Amazon

****

Advance Praise:

“Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab’s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need ‘permission to take… a voyage of self-discovery.’ The book’s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to ‘read like a writer,’ on practicing mindfulness meditation, and on addressing readers as if ‘seated across the table from [your] best friend.’ Raab covers big topics such as the ‘art and power of storytelling’ and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of ‘finding your form’” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Writing for Bliss brims with the truths of Raab’s life, as well as that of other established and beloved authors and philosophers. Writing for Bliss is far more than a “how-to-manual”; it enlightens the creative process with wisdom and a delightful sense of adventure.  Bravo to Bliss!’   —LINDA GRAY SEXTON, author of Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back To My Mother, Anne Sexton and Bespotted: My Family’s Love Affair With Thirty-Eight Dalmatians

****

About the Author

Diana Raab

 

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge. Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust. As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self. Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara. 

Visit her on Twitter and on Facebook.

****

Giveaway

Diana is generously offering a copy of Writing for Bliss to one of my readers. This giveaway is open to readers with U.S. addresses only. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. We’d love to hear what intrigues you most about the book. This giveaway will close on Tuesday, September 26, 2017. The winner will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

****

Click the button below to follow the Writing for Bliss blog tour

Read Full Post »

To celebrate the release of the latest poetry collection from Erica Goss, I have a video reading of the poem “Night Court,” from the collection of the same name. But first, a little about the book:

Night Court leaves us hungry for more of the poet’s open, probing, leaping intelligence, her ‘wild associations’ and surprises in the unexpected ‘shivering’ sweetness of a love story where ‘joy scrambles sadness.’ We hear ‘the clatter of souls entering bodies’ and experience ‘spring’s lizard stealth’ as sadness, longing and reluctance are transformed by breath-stopping beauty. Like a creature in the forest, the poet will ‘rub my cheek against the night.’ And she reminds us a prince waits, perhaps for centuries, until we wake.”
—Susan G. Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words

“’No more / mindless syrup blunting / raw edges, // no more disguising things / with bland counterparts.’ The poems in Night Court are often starkly rendered, tough yet sensitive. Deeply imaginative, the poems describe a feral world also experienced by children, a world of hungry ghosts, magic, beasts and violence. ‘There’s a crack at the edge / of the world where the dark // and comic leak through’ Goss takes us to this illuminating place.”
— Robert S. Pesich, President, Poetry Center San Jose

Check out Night Court on Amazon

****

Please give a warm welcome to Erica Goss:

“Night Court” is the first video from my poetry collection of the same name, which has just been published by Glass Lyre Press. I used new footage as well as some older video I’d shot while on vacation at the beach in Santa Cruz. I like the jerky, unpolished look of the older video, and I think it’s interesting when juxtaposed against the new, smoother video. For video editing, I used Adobe Premier Pro.

I animated the title using newspaper cut-outs, which I distorted with video effects in Premiere Pro. For music, I used royalty-free sound effects (the whispering you hear at the beginning and end) and music by Podington Bear, with permission.

“Night Court” is my nickname for insomnia, a condition I have endured all my life. The poem represents the many nights I’ve lain in my bed, wondering why I was awake when the rest of the world slept. One night the idea came to me that I was being tried in a court of law. Bored, awake, and lonely, I imagined having to testify about my “tragedies” – i.e., the fact that I can’t sleep like normal people – in front of a judge and jury at a real night court, a criminal court that holds sessions at night.

I recently learned that New York City’s night court is a popular tourist attraction, and that until a few years ago, the court was open until 1:00 a.m. I’m often awake at 1:00 a.m. Coincidence?

A weird kind of honesty pervades the sleepless brain. In the poem, I write that “(my tragedies) have sworn to tell the truth / and nothing else” and that after midnight, “I am never more awake.” Perhaps there is some wisdom in holding court at 1:00 a.m.

I was a fan of the TV show Night Court, starring Harry Anderson and John Larroquette, which ran on NBC from 1984-1992. Memories of the show influenced the poem, especially the random, sometimes funny, sometimes dangerous nature of things that happen late at night.

To view my videos, please visit my Vimeo channel: https://vimeo.com/ericagoss I will be adding more videos based on poems from the book soon.

****

About the Poet

Erica Goss

Erica Goss is a poet and freelance writer. She served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, CA from 2013-2016. She is the author of Night Court, winner of the 2016 Lyrebird Award, Wild Place and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets. Recent work appears in Lake Effect, Atticus Review, Contrary, Eclectica, The Red Wheelbarrow, Main Street Rag, Pearl, Rattle, Wild Violet, and Comstock Review, among others. She is co-founder of Media Poetry Studio, a poetry-and-film camp for teen girls: . Please visit her website, Facebook page, LinkedIn, and Vimeo.

****

Follow the blog tour

Click the button below to check out the other stops on the Night Court blog tour!

Read Full Post »

My guest today is Raymond Aherns, author of True East, who is kindly sharing his writing space and routine with us. Please give him a warm welcome:

The 39 steps I hike each morning to my third-floor den, are the same number of steps found in Hitchcock’s 1935 spy thriller. Similar to the lead character in Hitchcock’s movie, these 39 steps transform me from an ordinary person to someone whose genre of Mythic-realism adheres to the scientific truism: anything possible is probable. I might not write about British espionage, but my latest novel, True East, weaves a suspenseful tale of Indigenous migration, the limits of American exceptionalism, and a fortuneteller whose cards challenge the basic tenets of science. One’s life is rarely a thriller, but one’s story can be.

Although there are quirks and goblins that inhabit my writing space, my den is relatively benign and centers my creativity by providing a shelter from the distractions the world hurls at me. Hikes in the White Mountains are stimulating and can tweak a story, yet the Yeoman’s work of a novel is done in my room, sitting in front of a computer surrounded by my art. These old buddies battle the monsters that ravage my brain with doubts, while fostering the inspiration needed to create a book. There’s an African bronze of three riders on horseback next to an Arts and Craft dish of a naked woman protected by an owl, above which a photograph hangs of a monument cloistered deep in the woods of Gettysburg: a reminder of the horrors of war and that my unfinished novel Requiem in Granite still needs a proper ending. There are more, many more: a faded wedding picture of my wife, an antique butter stamp found in D. H. Lawrence’s The Rainbow, a reproduction of a Dürer woodblock entitled, “Knight, Death, and the Devil,” and a lithograph of Native American warriors standing around a bonfire, whose sorrow haunts each page of True East. Stare at art long enough and it will motivate—stare at it longer and a story will appear.

I write on a desk crafted by a cabinetmaker friend of mine and have a spectacular view of a 19th century farmhouse, over which an immense Gingko tree hovers. This tree is rumored to have been brought back as a seedling by a whaling captain from China over 150 years ago and its mystical powers are not lost on me or my writing. The Gingko leaf was a symbol of nature’s primacy during the Arts and Craft period and has been found in fossils over 250 million years old; and my lure to foliage in Requiem in Granite can be linked to this tree. Years ago its leaves magically turned yellow overnight and started to drop. I woke my daughter and together we danced and laughed beneath the tempest of falling leaves till the mightily tree was bare.

My house was built in 1897 and as I climb past the quartered-oak paneling, the Richardson window seat, the stained glass bowed with age, and my eclectic art, my mind expands. Call it Pavlovian, but by the time I reach the third floor I am ready to write, although it might be an aversion to heading back down all those stairs. Either way it’s my space, carved out by master carpenters some 125 years ago.

My writing routine is simple: I wake early, around 6 AM, and while sipping a caffeinated cup of tea, I edit what I wrote the day before. Since my first draft is barely legible, this usually takes a few hours, but it keeps me in touch with the “yesterdays” of my story. Does my den help? Could I write in a different setting? Is the silence that envelopes me something akin to reverence?

Much of English law can be traced to, “A man’s home is his castle.” Ignoring the obvious misogyny of the quote, I would alter it slightly to, “A writer’s den is a fortress from which their creativity blooms.” As for goblins, every house this old has them—you just have to know where to look—and the 39 steps; it’s probably just a coincidence or possibly the ending to my next novel.

****

About True East

Katy Givens, thirty and brilliant, learns in a static-filled phone call that her husband Andrew is missing in the Amazon and possibly dead. Although still mourning the death of their infant son, Katy flies to Brazil in search of Andrew, discovering that the man she married has secrets. As the mysteries surrounding Andrew’s disappearance mount, so does the list of shadowy forces benefiting from the recent discovery of oil in the Amazon.

Katy’s field of genetic anthropology proves useful when accounts of the Unnamed Ones, a primitive and possibly pre-human tribe, are rumored to exist in the same valley as the oil reserves. Katy tracks Andrew through the jungle, deciphering riddles he left before disappearing. Along the way, she barters with a Jewish coin merchant, challenges chance with a fortune teller, and argues the merits of prayer with a Jesuit priest, before placing her faith with the indigenous Tadi.

Check out True East on Goodreads | Amazon

****

About the Author

Raymond Ahrens is curious. As a scientist, father, and novelist, he peers under the surface to discover what contradictions lie beneath. His genre of “mythic-realism” synthesizes both the rational and the mythic to arrive at a different way of seeing. His first novel, Drive, explores an old man’s perspective in both a real and imagined world filled with mysteries, myths, and memories. He lives in Newton, MA, and Del Ray Beach, FL.

****

Giveaway

The publicist is kindly offering 3 copies of True East to my readers. This giveaway is open only to readers with U.S. addresses. To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. This giveaway will close on Sunday, August 13, 2017. The winners will be chosen randomly and announced in the comments section of this post. Good luck!

****

Click the button below to follow the True East blog tour!

Read Full Post »

IMG_3840

One year ago, Sweta Srivastava Vikram’s most emotional poetry collection Saris and a Single Malt was on tour with Poetic Book Tours.

Chick with Books said of the collection, “Heartfelt, raw, honest and thought-provoking.”

Jorie Loves A Story said, “Vikram bleeds her emotions through words.”

Diary of an Eccentric said, “Saris and a Single Malt is a touching tribute to Vikram’s mother, a love song from a grieving daughter.”

This is a poetry collection that is raw and beautiful. And as part of the celebration, Vikram is offering 4 copies of the book to some lucky U.S. residents.

SARIS AND A SINGLE MALTAbout the book:

Saris and a Single Malt is a moving collection of poems written by a daughter for and about her mother. The book spans the time from when the poet receives a phone call in New York City that her mother is in a hospital in New Delhi, to the time she carries out her mother’s last rites. The poems chronicle the author’s physical and emotional journey as she flies to India, tries to fight the inevitable, and succumbs to the grief of living in a motherless world. Divided into three sections, (Flight, Fire, and Grief), this collection will move you, astound you, and make you hug your loved ones.

IMG_2240About the Poet:

Sweta Srivastava Vikram, featured by Asian Fusion as “one of the most influential Asians of our time,” is an award-winning author of 11 books, five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, mindfulness writing coach, and wellness columnist. Sweta’s work has appeared in The New York Times and other publications across nine countries on three continents. Louisiana Catch (Modern History Press, 2018) is her debut U.S. novel.

Born in India, Sweta spent her formative years between the Indian Himalayas, North Africa, and the United States collecting and sharing stories. A graduate of Columbia University, she also teaches the power of yoga, Ayurveda, and mindful living to female trauma survivors, writers and artists, creative types, busy women, entrepreneurs, and business professionals in her avatar as the CEO-Founder of NimmiLife. You can find her on: Twitter (@swetavikram), Instagram (@SwetaVikram), and Facebook.

Enter to win 1 signed copy and a $15 Amazon gift card or 1 of 3 other signed copies of Saris and a Single Malt.

Entrants must be U.S. residents.  Giveaway ends on Aug. 28, 2017, at 5 p.m. EST

Click to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

IMG_3916

Sweta Vikram and her father

Read Full Post »

I am pleased to welcome poet Diamante Lavendar to Diary of an Eccentric today to share a poem from her latest collection, Poetry and Ponderings, and her inspiration for writing it. Please give her a warm welcome:

Please Do Not Weep

Do not fret
For your grievous loss;
Do not feel
Like a wave that is tossed;
Do not weep
By yourself, so alone;
For I am with you,
Soon you will be home.
The things of this world
Are transient and brief;
I will be your comfort,
Your ease and your peace;
Notice the good
And perceive not the bad;
Observe what you’ve learned,
The lessons you’ve had;
For everything you’ve been through
Has come at a cost;
There is good in the bad,
You have won and not lost.
I have set you here, love,
And you shall I keep;
Do not lose hope,
And please do not weep.

-Diamante Lavendar

What prompted me to write this poem?  My past and all the cumulative experiences I’ve had in life.  I’ve been hurt so many times that it became something I expected.  The people I was supposed to be able to trust the most were some of the most UNtrustworthy people I’ve known.  It has taken me a very long time to come to the point of making peace with my past.

After I wrote Breaking The Silence, the book about my life (which won 5 awards for Inspirational Fiction), I put together Poetry and Ponderings.  I was still working through some of the issues I had been plagued with during my lifetime.  Right before Poetry and Ponderings was published, my eighteen-year-old daughter died.  She was my hope and inspiration in life.  Now I find myself revisiting the agony of losing a child since it has happened to me three times.  Although my experiences have been stark and devastating, my writing is sparked with hope and love.  Because I have come to know that the spirit realm is alive and well, I believe I will be reunited with my children again and I look at God as the father I’ve always wanted.  It’s been rough, that’s no lie, but I believe I came here for some spiritual graduate work….and I got it.  It is my wish that I pass all the tests and graduate well.  It is also my wish that the books I write help others to learn and grow and spark a relationship with spirit.

Thank you, Diamante, for sharing your poetry and your story with me and my readers. Congratulations on the publication of your book!

****
About Poetry and Ponderings

In this rare collection of nonfiction Christian poetry and prose based on real life experiences, Diamante Lavendar, a victim of abuse, shows the reader the raw emotions of pain, hate, and denial that occur before a victim of abuse can find a way to heal from the pains of assault. Knowing herself the very difficult journey of being a victim, Diamante was abused as a child, and turned to alcohol and drugs to numb the pain. Many years later, she started to heal under God’s watchful eyes and was able to find love in her life again. She shares these truly inspiring, religious poems in the hopes that it may help other victims heal their hurts, as she did while writing the poetry collection.

Check out Poetry and Ponderings on Goodreads | Amazon

****
About the Author

Diamante Lavendar has been in love with reading since she was a child. Diamante believes that everyone should try to leave their own positive mark on the world, and to make it a better place for all. Writing is her way of leaving her mark—one story at a time. She began writing in college and has published poetry in anthologies over the years. Most of her writing is very personal and stems from her own experiences, and those of her family and friends. She writes to encourage hope and possibility to those who read her stories. To learn more about Diamante Lavendar and her books, please visit her website.

****

For more about Diamante Lavendar and Poetry and Ponderings, and to follow the blog tour, click the button below

Read Full Post »

Source: Cedar Forge Press
Rating: ★★★☆☆

Robbie reached across and touched my arm. When he didn’t draw his hand back, I told him about my frights. “Maybe,” he said, “we all practice our dying, in different ways, at different times, but there’s no way to avoid the thought. Write it if you can.”

(from The Belle of Two Arbors)

The Belle of Two Arbors is a sweeping historical novel that takes readers on a journey between Glen Arbor and Ann Arbor, Michigan, and sometimes beyond, from 1913 to 1978. The book is presented as a memoir of the fictional poet Martha “Belle” Peebles, whose entire collection of poems, or “songs,” are found in a trunk, along with the memoir, after her death. The novel chronicles Belle’s life, from her mother’s tragic death when she was 14 until the end of her life and beyond.

Belle’s mother was a fan of Emily Dickinson and encouraged Belle to write. Although devoted to her younger brother, Pip, and her Papa, Belle decides to leave Glen Arbor to attend college in Ann Arbor, where her lifelong friendship with Robert Frost begins. Her friendships with Robbie, Ted Roethke, and Wystan Auden enrich her life and inspire her work, and they share their poems and letters over the span of many years. Dimond chronicles Belle’s work, her role as a caregiver, her complicated love life, her desire to preserve the natural habitat in Glen Arbor and expand the family’s stove works, her battle with sexism in academia, and more.

The Belle of Two Arbors is an ambitious novel that was just a bit too long for me at nearly 700 pages. Dimond’s prose is great, and Grimes’ poems (Belle’s poems for the purpose of the novel) are well done, but it felt like there were a lot of scenes and details that, though well written, just did not further the plot.

Nevertheless, I enjoyed the novel overall because of Belle. What a fantastic heroine! She was brave, strong-willed, ahead of her time, a pillar of strength among her friends and family, a source of encouragement and love. She had dreams and figured out ways to achieve them. She managed the ups and downs of love without being overly romantic or dramatic. Her interactions with historical figures were fascinating. If it weren’t for the extraneous details that hindered the flow in certain places, I would have loved this novel, but even so, I think it is worth giving a try for Belle alone.

Check out The Belle of Two Arbors on Goodreads and Amazon, and click the banner above for more details about the book and to follow the blog tour.

Disclosure: I received The Belle of Two Arbors from Cedar Forge Press for review.

Read Full Post »

I’m delighted to welcome Laura Foley to Diary of an Eccentric today to share the inspiration behind “Prayer, 1943,” a poem in her new collection, WTF.

Prayer, 1943

Dad and his fellow prisoners
crouched under a shed,
its roof a sieve
of shrapnel holes
allowing rain
they didn’t notice
any more than hunger,
in their concentration
on pawns, queens, bishops,
rooks they carved
from discarded
toothbrush handles-
from their mouths,
to God’s ears.

Please give a warm welcome to Laura Foley:

My dad described in his recollections the event that I have put into this poem. The date comes from his time as Prisoner of War under the Japanese, in occupied China and Japan. I have tried to imagine what it was like for him.

I was touched by the detail he gives of the chess pieces carved from toothbrush handles, the sense of deprivation and boredom this conveys, as well as the camaraderie with the other men. Also the constant danger from American bombings as the Americans came closer to winning the war, how the American and other European prisoners were afraid of being mistakenly bombed as well as being cheered by the sight.

I have read many books about the war and the Japanese prisons, most notably Unbroken, which depicts a sadistic Japanese guard eerily similar to the one who tortured my father. Throughout my childhood, his imprisonment was a source of conversation, even though I was born more than a decade after his release. I wrote a poem about him being in prison camp when I was in Kindergarten.

Prayer 1943 comes from my collection WTF which is a tribute to my father, whose initials were WTF, as well as a working-through of my relationship to him, decades past his death.

Thank you so much, Laura, for sharing a little of your father’s story and the inspiration for the poem with me and my readers!

About WTF

Laura Foley’s “WTF” refers to her father’s initials and, slyly, to the abbreviated colloquial exclamation, in a pun that laughs and cuts, in this reckoning with a fraught father-daughter relationship. These spare poems communicate more like snapshots than narrative lyrics, beginning with sympathy and gratitude, moving through disappointment, anger and resentment, without ever losing compassion, as Foley examines her father’s formative WWII experiences and, consequently, how he shaped her experience and character, ending with a positive recognition of her father in herself.

Read sample poems here: https://www.readcwbooks.com/foley_poems.html

Check out WTF on Goodreads | Amazon

About the Author

Laura Foley

Laura Foley is an internationally published, award-winning poet, author of six collections. She won the Common Goods Poetry Contest, judged by Garrison Keillor; and the National Outermost Poetry Prize, judged by Marge Piercy. Her poetry collections include: WTFNight Ringing, The Glass Tree, and Joy StreetThe Glass Tree won a Foreword Book of the Year Award; Joy Street won the Bisexual-Writer’s Award. Her poems have appeared on The Writer’s Almanac, in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Atlanta Review, Lavender Review, The Mom Egg Review, in the British Aesthetica Creative Writing Anthology, and many other journals.

A certified Yoga Instructor and creative arts facilitator in hospitals, she is the mother of three grown children, grandmother to two granddaughters. She and her partner Clara Gimenez live among the hills of Vermont with their three big dogs.

Follow her on Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

Click the banner below to follow the tour:

Read Full Post »

I’m pleased to welcome Ellen Meeropol to Diary of an Eccentric today to celebrate the release of her latest novel, Kinship of Clover. As a writer myself, I’m always curious about the writing process and where authors pen their books, so I was thrilled when Ellen agreed to share her writing space with me and my readers. Please give a warm welcome to Ellen Meeropol:

img_1321My writing desk is in a book-stuffed room where a small electric heater hums at my feet. Looking to my left is a stand of sumac trees out the window; to my right is a large bulletin board. It holds bits of literary inspiration for when I flounder, a few favorite family photos, chocolate bar covers matching my three novels (a wonderful marketing gimmick my publisher creates to delight readers), and folded origami cranes that figure in my work in progress.

fullsizeoutput_826fThe most important item on the board is a long piece of newsprint with a six-generation family tree. Members of the oldest generation escaped the pogroms of Eastern Europe in the early years of the twentieth century and came to New England to make new lives. They built a cluster of homes on a rocky island in the middle of Penobscot Bay and their descendants multiplied over the next century. Some offspring left to find work and adventure elsewhere, but the islands are still populated by these folks and their made-up history.

fullsizeoutput_826dYes, made-up. These people live only in my imagination. My own immigrant grandparents settled far from Maine in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and the wilds of Brooklyn. I have never lived in Maine but I feel very connected to the rocky island and its inhabitants who, over two decades, have populated a dozen short stories, three published novels and one still in progress.

Staring at that family tree recently, I realized that this imaginary world-making was similar to a favorite childhood game my sister and I called Neighborhood. In our grade school years, we arranged blank sheets of 8 ½ by 11 paper along imaginary streets on our bedroom floor, then filled the houses with families cut out of the old Montgomery Ward and Sears mail-order catalogs our mother gave us each year when the new one arrived.

fullsizeoutput_8265We played with these cutout people for hours. We didn’t care that the scale of family members was often mismatched, so the baby might be bigger than the grandma. It didn’t matter that the father’s legs might end at the knees if he had been modeling a flannel shirt, or that his right arm had been amputated by the edge of the page. We had those store-bought paper dolls with their irritating tabbed outfits, but preferred to sit cross-legged on the floor among households of homemade families, making up stories of school and sleepovers, of friendship and disappointments and dramatic calamities, for our imperfect and mismatched characters.

fullsizeoutput_8264These days I use words instead of scissors, and my made-up families migrate from pencil on the bulletin board into my manuscripts. I still value the imperfect characters; one is missing a sense of humor, another’s compassion is atrophied, and a third has never forgiven her cousin for something he said at Aunt Sophie’s Seder in 1956. I work at writing characters who don’t look or live like me or the folks on Saperstein Neck. There’s something compelling about creating neighborhoods of characters who are luminous in their variety, their imperfection and their essential connections to each other.

Writing is often lonely work, but it opens the world. My job is to sit in this chilly book-stuffed room, spin stories made from generations of characters who are as abundant as the oceans, as real as kin. I believe that in terrifying times, in our separate rooms of writing and reading, characters can connect us to each other by propinquity and geography, by empathy and kindness, by imagination and utter necessity.

Ellen Meeropol
February 20, 2017

fullsizeoutput_826b

Thank you, Ellen, for such a fascinating and thoughtful post. And congratulations on your new release!

****

About Kinship of Clover

kinshipclover

He was nine when the vines first wrapped themselves around him and burrowed into his skin. Now a college botany major, Jeremy is desperately looking for a way to listen to the plants and stave off their extinction. But when the grip of the vines becomes too intense and Health Services starts asking questions, he flees to Brooklyn, where fate puts him face to face with a group of climate-justice activists who assure him they have a plan to save the planet, and his plants.

As the group readies itself to make a big Earth Day splash, Jeremy soon realizes these eco-terrorists devotion to activism might have him and those closest to him tangled up in more trouble than he was prepared to face. With the help of a determined, differently abled flame from his childhood, Zoe; her deteriorating, once rabble-rousing grandmother; and some shocking and illuminating revelations from the past, Jeremy must weigh completing his mission to save the plants against protecting the ones he loves, and confront the most critical question of all: how do you stay true to the people you care about while trying to change the world?

Check out Kinship of Clover on Goodreads | Amazon

****

About the Author

Ellen Meeropol is fascinated by characters on the fault lines of political upheaval. Previous work includes a dramatic script telling the story of the Rosenberg Fund for Children which has been produced in four U.S cities, most recently in Boston. Elli is the wife of Robert Meeropol, youngest son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg. Elli is a former nurse and independent bookstore event coordinator and the author of two previous novels, House Arrest and On Hurricane Island. She is a founding member of Straw Dog Writers Guild. Short fiction and essays have appeared in Bridges, DoveTales, Pedestal, Rumpus, Portland Magazine, and the Writer’s Chronicle.

Connect with Ellen on Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

****

To follow the tour for Kinship of Clover, click the button below:

PoeticButton

Read Full Post »

among-the-lostToday’s guest is Seth Steinzor, author of Among the Lost (In Dante’s Wake: Book 2), who is here to discuss his inspiration for the poem about giving birth and how it serves as an opening for his take on Dante’s Purgatorio. Please welcome Seth Steinzor:

Fresh in my mind when I began writing Among the Lost was something that W.S. Merwin had pointed out in the Foreword to his translation of Purgatorio. I’m sure he’s far from the first to have noticed this, but it made a forceful impression on me: of Dante’s three canticles, Purgatorio is the only one to take place on earth. Inferno trudges through an idealized subterranean environment; Paradiso flies through the heavens; Purgatorio climbs a mountain.

Another thing sets Purgatorio apart from the first and third books of Dante’s trilogy. Each of the characters in Inferno and Paradiso has reached an ultimate end point in his or her personal development, and exists in a state of stasis. Unlike them, the denizens of Mount Purgatory continue to work through the moral muddles that were produced by their manners of living. The ones who were angry in life are still plagued by anger. The ones who were apathetic still have to overcome that. And so on. Admittedly, in Dante’s view, the Mount Purgatorians possess the certainty of salvation, not only the hope, and so might be said to have reached a sort of fruition; but they haven’t actually found it yet. Their experience of their own sure perfectability is frustrated temporarily by themselves. That’s pretty much my experience of life, in a nutshell, although I tend towards a somewhat less optimistic view of the overall human condition. (There’s a buddha within, but nobody’s sure of realizing it.) So add to the idea that the book takes place on earth, the idea that it depicts a state of being unfinished, unclear.

Also in my mind was the means whereby Dante escaped to Purgatory from the underground Inferno. He clung to the back of his guide, Virgil, as Virgil climbed up Satan’s enormous body and then through a tunnel to a sunlit beach at the foot of the mountain. So…our hero enters this earth through a narrow dark tunnel, from which he emerges unfinished and unclear. What else could one think of but a birth canal?

When I put it this way, it sounds rather more consecutively thought out than it was. I was fortunate enough to have attended the births of both my children. There is no more meaningful event than that, except perhaps one’s own coming and going. I knew as soon as I began to contemplate writing Among the Lost that the book would begin in a birthing room. And yet, at the same time, the rationale for doing so, which I have outlined above, accompanied this undeliberated intention fully formed.

****

About Among the Lost

Among the Lost, set in the modern American rust belt, is a meditation drawn from Dante’s Purgatorio. To Dante, Purgatory was the mountain where souls not damned went after death to cleanse themselves of sin in preparation for entering Paradise. What, Steinzor asks, are we preparing ourselves for, having lost the fear of hell and the hope of heaven, in the course of our daily urban existence? And whatever that is, how do we go about preparing for it?

Check out Among the Lost on Amazon | Goodreads

****

About the Poet

Seth Steinzor protested the Vietnam War during his high school years near Buffalo, New York, and his years at Middlebury College, advocated Native American causes after law school, and has made a career as a civil rights attorney, criminal prosecutor, and welfare attorney for the State of Vermont. Throughout he has written poetry. In early 1980s Boston he edited a small literary journal. His first, highly praised book, To Join the Lost, was published in 2010.

To follow the tour for Among the Lost, click the button below:

PoeticButton

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »