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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: The Darcy Monologues

I know everyone has been excited to see the cover of this May release in the Jane Austen Fan Fiction community, and I cannot wait to show it to you today.  The anthology itself will be released on May 22.

From Christina Boyd:

The amazing cover art is the genius of Shari Ryan of MadHat Books. She took the cover concept and created exactly as I envisioned. Shari professionally, quickly, and concisely handled my countless questions, suggestions, and “just one more tweak” in the challenging format of the print interior—even had a special script code written to make it happen. And then when the original concept had to be scrapped because of the print-on- demand company’s limitations that were beyond our control (long, convoluted story only to be shared over strong cocktails), Shari AGAIN created the present cover and interior for both print and e-book. I could not recommend her expertise more!

Multi-talented author Beau North designed the individual fantastic short story graphics for our social media promotions. I think each gives a lovely overall feel for each story. And the color concept I think works well with #TheDarcyMonologues branding, too!

About the Book:

“You must allow me to tell you…”

For over two hundred years, Jane Austen’s Mr. Darcy has captivated readers’ imaginations as the ultimate catch. Rich. Powerful. Noble. Handsome. And yet, as Miss Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” is established through Elizabeth Bennet’s fine eyes, how are we to know what his tortured soul is indeed thinking? How does Darcy progress from “She is tolerable: but not handsome enough to tempt me” to “I thought only of you”?

In this romance anthology, fifteen Austen-inspired authors assemble to sketch Darcy’s character through a series of re-imaginings, set in the Regency through contemporary times—from faithful narratives to the fanciful. Herein “The Darcy Monologues”, the man himself reveals his intimate thoughts, his passionate dreams, and his journey to love—all told with a previously concealed wit and enduring charm.

Stories by: Susan Adriani * Sara Angelini * J. Marie Croft * Karen M Cox * Jan Hahn * Jenetta James * Lory Lilian * KaraLynne Mackrory * Beau North * Ruth Phillips Oakland * Natalie Richards * Sophia Rose * Joana Starnes * Melanie Stanford * Caitlin Williams

Pre-order here on Amazon.

Before we get to the giveaway, I have another surprise for you. I get to share an image for Karen M Cox’s story in the anthology!

Here’s a little teaser from her story, too:

“You seem to know a lot about this book.”

“You would too if your last name was Darcy.” I mimicked an affected tone. “So, you’re Mr. Darcy. Ha-ha-ha-ha. I’ve been looking for you all my life.” With a grim shake of my head, I took a sip of my bourbon and branch. “His first name was even Fitzwilliam.”

“That sounds a lot like William.”

“Yep. My mother’s little joke–English lit major that she was. Bought me a lifetime of misery with that name.”

About Karen:

Karen M Cox is an award-winning author of four novels accented with romance and history: 1932, Find Wonder in All Things, At the Edge of the Sea, and Undeceived. She also wrote “Northanger Revisited 2015”, which appeared in the anthology Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer. Originally from Everett, Washington, Karen now lives in Central Kentucky with her husband, works as a pediatric speech pathologist, encourages her children, and spoils her granddaughter. Like Austen’s Emma, Karen has many hobbies and projects she doesn’t quite finish, but like Elizabeth Bennet, she aspires to be a great reader and an excellent walker.

International Giveaway:

One winner will be selected to win a Kindle Fire with Alexa, and a 7” display.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017.

The second giveaway is for a $25.00 Etsy gift card.

To enter this giveaway, readers will create a Pinterest Board named The Darcy Monologues and post all fifteen story images from the cover reveals, one per each author included in the anthology, and Tweet the board on Twitter. The Tweet must include the hashtag, #TheDarcyMonologues.

This giveaway will take place from March 27 – April 21, 2017. The winner will be announced on April 22, 2017.

All entries will be entered through the Rafflecopter links shown below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

***Please stop by on July 3 for my review of The Darcy Monologues***

National Poetry Month 2017 Blog Tour Sign-Up

National Poetry Month 2017 is around the corner.

I’m looking for some great bloggers to join the annual National Poetry Month blog tour.

Some posts we’ve seen in the past include:

  • original poetry
  • reviews of poetry books
  • sharing of favorite poems
  • activities where we add one line to a poem in the comments to create a community poem
  • blackout poetry activities
  • interviews and guest post from poets
  • information about local poetry events
  • sharing local poetry event experiences, and more.

If you’d like to participate, leave a comment below with a valid email and date you’d like to post about poetry in April.

Grab the image above for your own blog, and let’s get the poetry party started!

Happy National Poetry Month!

Discussion of Ulysses by James Joyce Week #2

Today is the online discussion of Part 2 of James Joyce’s Ulysses, but alas I may have bitten off more than I can chew in the last two months. I’m about 200 pgs. into the book, and I am going to finish it.

For the good news: Ti has finished the entire book! Kudos!

Please check out her Part 2 discussion post here.

Join us anytime today on Twitter and follow and tag with #ulyssesRAL2017

WWII Read-a-Long: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

In March, Anna and I will begin the read-a-long for All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr at War Through the Generations.  We hope that you will join us.

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

From the highly acclaimed, multiple award-winning Anthony Doerr, the beautiful, stunningly ambitious instant New York Times bestseller about a blind French girl and a German boy whose paths collide in occupied France as both try to survive the devastation of World War II.

Marie-Laure lives with her father in Paris near the Museum of Natural History, where he works as the master of its thousands of locks. When she is six, Marie-Laure goes blind and her father builds a perfect miniature of their neighborhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. When she is twelve, the Nazis occupy Paris and father and daughter flee to the walled citadel of Saint-Malo, where Marie-Laure’s reclusive great-uncle lives in a tall house by the sea. With them they carry what might be the museum’s most valuable and dangerous jewel.

In a mining town in Germany, the orphan Werner grows up with his younger sister, enchanted by a crude radio they find. Werner becomes an expert at building and fixing these crucial new instruments, a talent that wins him a place at a brutal academy for Hitler Youth, then a special assignment to track the resistance. More and more aware of the human cost of his intelligence, Werner travels through the heart of the war and, finally, into Saint-Malo, where his story and Marie-Laure’s converge.

Doerr’s “stunning sense of physical detail and gorgeous metaphors” (San Francisco Chronicle) are dazzling. Deftly interweaving the lives of Marie-Laure and Werner, he illuminates the ways, against all odds, people try to be good to one another. Ten years in the writing, a National Book Award finalist, All the Light We Cannot See is a magnificent, deeply moving novel from a writer “whose sentences never fail to thrill” (Los Angeles Times).

Here is the read-a-long schedule, with discussions here on each Friday.

  • Discussion of Sections Zero and One on Friday, March 3
  • Discussion of Sections Two and Three on Friday, March 10
  • Discussion of Sections Four and Five on Friday, March 17
  • Discussion of Sections Six and Seven on Friday, March 24
  • Discussion of Sections Eight and Nine on Friday, March 31
  • Discussion of Final Sections on Friday, April 7

We hope that you will join us for the first discussion this Friday!

Discussion of Ulysses by James Joyce Week #1

Feel free to sign up here.

As you may have guessed, today’s the day for our Twitter discussion of part one of Ulysses by James Joyce! Part one has three episodes as Ti gathered in her reading and research.

From Wikipedia:

 

Join us anytime today on Twitter and follow and tag with #ulyssesRAL2017

Transforming the Virtual Poetry Circle

It has been a joy to share poems with everybody each week and to have discussions about them. The Virtual Poetry Circle has been a staple here on the blog for many years, but I’ve been looking for ways to change it and incorporate greater audience participation.

To that end, I’m no longer going to showcase work found across the web from published poets.

Instead, I want to put out a call to readers and their friends who write their own poems.

I would love for anyone interested to submit a poem about resistance (broad term and doesn’t have to be about the current administration, etc.) for posting on Saturday, Feb. 4. Send 1 poem per person to savvyverseandwit AT gmail [dot] com by Wednesday, Feb. 1.

Include a short 50 word bio with any social media links you want included.

I will choose one poem to feature. Happy writing.

Spotlight & Giveaway: The Riverman by Alex Gray

Synopsis:

Fans of atmospheric police procedurals will love watching Glasgow vividly come to life with the shocking twists and turns that have made Alex Gray an international bestseller

When a dead body is fished out of Glasgow’s River Clyde the morning after an office celebration, it looks like a case of accidental death. But an anonymous telephone call and a forensic toxicology test give Detective Chief Inspector William Lorimer reason to think otherwise. Probing deeper into the life and business of the deceased accountant, a seemingly upright member of the community, Lorimer finds only more unanswered questions.

What is the secret his widow seems to be concealing? Was the international accounting firm facing financial difficulties? What has become of the dead man’s protégé who has disappeared in New York? And when another employee is found dead in her riverside flat these questions become much more disturbing. Lorimer must cope not only with deceptions from the firm, but also with suspicions from those far closer to home . . .

Genre: Police Procedurals
Published by: Witness Impulse
Publication Date: January 10th 2017
Number of Pages: 368
ISBN: 0062659138 (ISBN13: 9780062659132)
Series: A DCI Lorimer Novel, #4
Purchase Links: Amazon ? | Barnes & Noble ? | Goodreads ?

Excerpt | The Riverman by Alex Gray

PROLOGUE
April

THE RIVERMAN

The riverman knew all about the Clyde. Its tides and currents were part of his heritage. His father and others before him had launched countless small craft from the banks of the river in response to a cry for help. Nowadays that cry came in the form of a klaxon that could waken him from sleep, the mobile phone ringing with information about where and when. It wouldn’t be the first time that he’d pulled someone from the icy waters with only a hasty oilskin over his pajamas.

This morning, at least, he’d been up and doing when the call came. The body was over by Finnieston, past the weir, so he’d had to drive over the river towing a boat behind him on the trailer. He was always ready. That was what this job was all about: prompt and speedy response in the hope that some poor sod’s life could be saved. And he’d saved hundreds over the years, desperate people who were trying to make up their mind to jump off one of the many bridges that spanned the Clyde or those who had made that leap and been saved before the waters filled their lungs.

George Parsonage had been brought up to respect his river. Once it had been the artery of a great beating heart, traffic thronging its banks, masts thick as brush-wood. The tobacco trade with Virginia had made Glasgow flourish all right, with the preaching of com-merce and the praising of a New World that was ripe for plucking. The names of some city streets still recalled those far-off days. Even in his own memory, the Clyde had been a byword for ships. As a wee boy, George had been taken to the launch of some of the finer products of Glasgow’s shipbuilding industry. But even then the river’s grandeur was fading. He’d listened to stories about the grey hulks that grew like monsters from the deep, sliding along the water, destined for battle, and about the cruise liners sporting red funnels that were cheered off their slipways, folk bursting with pride to be part of this city with its great river.

The romance and nostalgia had persisted for decades after the demise of shipbuilding and cross-river ferries.Books written about the Clyde’s heyday still found readers hankering after a time that was long past. The Glasgow Garden Festival in the eighties had prompted some to stage a revival along the river and more recently there had been a flurry of activity as the cranes returned to erect luxury flats and offices on either side of its banks. Still, there was little regular traffic upon its sluggish dark waters: a few oarsmen, a private passenger cruiser and the occasional police launch. Few saw what the river was churning up on a daily basis.

As he pushed the oars against the brown water, the riverman sent up a silent prayer for guidance. He’d seen many victims of despair and violence, and constantly reminded himself that each one was a person like himself with hopes, dreams and duties in different measure. If he could help, he would. That was what the Glasgow Humane Society existed for, after all. The sound of morning traffic roared above him as he made his way downstream. The speed of response was tempered by a need to row slowly and carefully once the body was near. Even the smallest of eddies could tip the body, filling the air pocket with water and sending it down and down to the bottom of the river. So, as George Parsonage approached the spot where the body floated,his oars dipped as lightly as seabirds’ wings, his eyes fixed on the shape that seemed no more than a dirty smudge against the embankment.

The riverman could hear voices above but his eyes never left the half-submerged body as the boat crept nearer and nearer. At last he let the boat drift, oars resting on the rowlocks as he finally drew alongside the river’s latest victim. George stood up slowly and bent over, letting the gunwales of the boat dip towards the water. Resting one foot on the edge, he hauled the body by its shoulders and in one clean movement brought it in. Huge ripples eddied away from the side as the boat rocked upright, its cargo safely aboard.

The victim was a middle-aged man. He’d clearly been in the water for some hours so there was no question of trying to revive him. The riverman turned the head this way and that, but there was no sign of a bullet hole or any wound that might indicate a sudden, violent death. George touched the sodden coat lightly. Its original camel colour was smeared and streaked with the river’s detritus, the velvet collar an oily black. Whoever he had been, his clothes showed signs of wealth. The pale face shone wet against the pearly pink light of morning. For an instant George had the impression that the man would sit up and grasp his hand, expressing his thanks for taking him out of the water, as so many had done before him. But today no words would be spoken.There would be only a silent communion between the two men, one dead and one living, before other hands came to examine the corpse.

George grasped the oars and pulled away from the embankment. Only then did he glance upwards, nodding briefly as he identified the men whose voices had sounded across the water. DCI Lorimer caught his eye and nodded back. Up above the banking a couple of uniformed officers stood looking down. Even as he began rowing away from the shore, the riverman noticed a smaller figure join the others. Dr. Rosie Fergusson had arrived.

‘Meet you at the Finnieston steps, George,’ Lorimer called out.

The riverman nodded briefly, pulling hard on the oars, taking his charge on its final journey down the Clyde.

Excerpt from The Riverman by Alex Gray. Copyright © 2017 by Alex Gray. Reproduced with permission from HarperCollins | WitnessImpulse. All rights reserved.

About the Author:

Alex Gray was born and educated in Glasgow. After studying English and Philosophy at the University of Strathclyde, she worked as a visiting officer for the Department of Health, a time she looks upon as postgraduate education since it proved a rich source of character studies. She then trained as a secondary school teacher of English.

Alex began writing professionally in 1993 and had immediate success with short stories, articles, and commissions for BBC radio programs. She has been awarded the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies for her crime writing.

A regular on the Scottish bestseller lists, she is the author of thirteen DCI Lorimer novels. She is the co-founder of the international Scottish crime writing festival, Bloody Scotland, which had its inaugural year in 2012. Connect with Alex Gray on her Website ? & on Twitter ?.

Giveaway!

This is a rafflecopter giveaway hosted by Partners In Crime Virtual Book Tours for Alex Gray and William Morrow. There will be 3 US winners of one (1) PRINT copy of The Riverman by Alex Gray. The giveaway begins on January 9th and runs through February 23rd, 2017.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

February-March Read-a-Long: Ulysses by James Joyce

I’ve read a great many classics, but Joyce was an author I never read in college. I’m not sure if I just didn’t pick the right classes or my teachers shied away from him. I’m eager to get to my bucket list classics, and Ulysses was at the top of the list, just ahead of Joyce’s Dubliners.

Ti from Book Chatter and I are hosting a read-a-long for James Joyce’s Ulysses Feb. 1, 2017, to March 17, 2017.

This is a big boy at about 800 pages, but we’re going to read it in three parts and discuss via Twitter using #ulyssesRAL2017. We’d love for you to join us!

The second part is the longest, so you’ll have a longer period of time to read that section!

If you’ve read it before, we’d love to have you join the discussion too!

Here’s the informal schedule:

Discussion of part 1 on Feb. 10
Discussion of part 2 on March 10
Discussion of part 3 on March 17

Grab the button and join us Feb. 10 for part one on Twitter #ulyssesRAL2017

Sign-up so we know who to look for:

Coming Soon: The Darcy Monologues

Coming soon to shelves is The Darcy Monologues, a collection of Regency, contemporary, and modern-day short stories inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice. The stories are written by Austenesque authors Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, J. Marie Croft, Karen M. Cox, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, Judy-Lynne, Beau North, KaraLynne Mackrory, Ruth Oakland Phillips, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Joana Starnes, Melanie Stanford, and Caitlin Williams, and the collection has been edited by Christina Boyd.

Interview with Christina Boyd

There are many well-known names behind today’s exciting announcement in the JAFF community and the one person at the center of it all is here today to share this news with us; the lovely Austenesque editor, Christina Boyd.

Christina, there’s a buzz going around the JAFF community that you are heading a new project and it’s a pleasure to have you visit so many Austenesque blogs today to share your big news!

Can you share with us what you’ve been working on behind-the-scenes?

Thank you for hosting and shining your light on this project. I am excited and not a little proud to announce “The Darcy Monologues”—a short story anthology with sixteen of my very favorite Austenesque writers. I doubt anyone will be surprised by my list—authors I’ve either enjoyed working with and admire their work or authors I have simply fan-girl’d over for years: Susan Adriani, Sara Angelini, Karen M. Cox, J. Marie Croft, Jan Hahn, Jenetta James, Lory Lilian, Judy-Lynne, KaraLynne Mackrory, Beau North, Ruth Phillips Oakland, Natalie Richards, Sophia Rose, Melanie Stanford, Joana Starnes, and Caitlin Williams.

Wow, that is an exciting line-up of talent!

“The Darcy Monologues” sounds like such a fitting title for this anthology. Would you share with us how it was selected as the title, especially with so many authors involved in this project?

This project is collection of stories all told from Fitzwilliam’s point-of- view—set in Regency, contemporary, as well as other eras. Because the stories are strictly from his eyes, I felt it imperative we find a title that clearly illustrated the book would be more than one tale but all from his point-of- view. In an e-mail from “The Trials of the Honorable F. Darcy” author, Sara Angelini, she mentioned how she had long wanted to write a story titled “The Darcy Monologues” or something like… So, in presenting the idea to the group, other ideas were thrown about. After a quick Google search, we learned there was a short story on Derbyshire Writer’s Guild by Judy-Lynne with the same title. She had written a short story described as six “extemporaneous rants” expressed by Fitzwilliam Darcy. Not one to be a copycat, we moved on to other names. But as time passed, nothing resonated with me as much so I felt incumbent to ask Judy-Lynne if she would be offended if we used the same title. Unfortunately, she is rarely on the fanfiction sites anymore and everyone I asked claimed they did not know how to get in touch with her. Finally! Finally, I connected with her through “A Happy Assembly” and asked her about the title use, she accepted, and I asked her if she was still writing and would she be interested in writing a short for the anthology. She said she wasn’t writing but agreed to the challenge. And that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.

How does this project differ from anything you’ve worked on before?

I’ve worked on two other anthologies, published in 2015 by Meryton Press: “Sun-Kissed: Effusions of Summer” and “Then Comes Winter.” Both were set-up as writing contests with a panel of judges reading and selecting the submissions. This project, I am self-publishing and have assembled my own dream team.

At this point, what can you share about your experiences working with so many talented Austenesque writers?

I feel lucky! Blessed. Not only that these talented writers have all graciously committed to this project—some having not written anything Austenesque in years—but have over a short period of time become so dear to me on a personal level.

What can readers expect from this anthology?

The authors have all committed to write a short piece from Darcy’s point-of- view, between 5000-15,000 words, and must have romance—but no scenes that I wouldn’t be able to share with my teenage daughter or eighty-year- old mother-in- law. Even with that last tenet, I am amazed how these writers can turn up the heat in a room. Have your fans handy—and even a few tissues!

It seems like we just can’t get enough of Mr. Darcy! What’s his appeal, Christina, 200 years later?

“Pride and Prejudice” is told in the third-person narrative, limited omniscient, from Elizabeth Bennet’s point-of- view. In my fiction, I have always had a weakness for the rich, powerful, noble, and handsome man who changes his ways for love, and a woman worthy of his efforts. I’ve long dreamt of putting together a collection of stories all from my favorite Austen hero’s eyes. Yes, “Pride and Prejudice” has been told before from Darcy’s point-of- view by the talented Pamela Aidan, Stanley Hurd, Amanda Grange, Janet Aylmer, and Mary Street, to name a few—but with all the amazing “Pride and Prejudice” re-imaginings out there, I wanted to read alternate stories in his own words.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us today about The Darcy Monologues?

The anthology is scheduled for release May 22, 2017 and we have a few promotions planned in the coming weeks as we finish the editing process to spit and polish the collection.

Before we part, Christina, I hear you have some rather thrilling news to share with us on a personal level, which was just announced early this week. Care to divulge the details here too?

Well… I can barely believe it myself but…I won—I WON, the Omaze “Champagne Toast with Henry Cavill on the London Eye” experience! (Fundraiser to benefit the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund.) You read that right. I won. I’m flying to London to meet my all-time favorite book boyfriend, the very talented British actor, Henry Cavill. I have never been to England, except layovers in Heathrow—which doesn’t count—so I feel like the French teacher who has never been to France. And here I get to go, stay in a luxury hotel, explore London, and have a champagne toast with Henry Cavill. Pinch me! And yes, if he is willing, I do hope to have him sign some swag for “The Darcy Monologue” giveaways—after all, he is my book boyfriend.

About Christina Boyd:

Christina Boyd wears many hats as she is an editor, a contributor to Austenprose, and a ceramicist under her own banner, Stir Crazy Mama’s Artworks. A life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, Christina lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her dear Mr. B, two busy teenagers, and a retriever named BiBi. Visiting Jane Austen’s England remains on her bucket list.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We are giving away some really fun prizes to three lucky winners! One winner will receive a stash of gifts to enjoy with his/her own significant other. These treats include assorted British food and beverage snacks and a Mr. Darcy quote mug.

(This prize is open to a winner with a U.S. mailing address only)

Another winner will receive two stories from the anthology; a Regency story and a contemporary or alternate era short story. The winner will choose his/her prize stories based on the authors in this anthology. These stories will be distributed to the winner on March 15, 2017.

Our third prize winner will receive a walk-on role in one of the stories in this anthology. That’s right…This winner will have a piece of the action in one of our stories, which means having a character in one of these stories in the anthology named after her/him.

This is something every JAFF reader dreams about, isn’t it? These giveaways are open for entries from Friday, January 20 until midnight, ET, on Saturday, January 28, 2017.

The winners will be announced on Sunday, January 29, 2017.

Most Anticipated Poetry of 2017

Normally, I don’t have time to check out the upcoming books for the year, but I made a conscious effort to do so — at least for poetry.

Below are the books I’m looking forward to this year:

Whereas by Whiting Award winner Layli Long Soldier, published by Graywolf Press in March 2017.

WHEREAS her birth signaled the responsibility as mother to teach what it is to be Lakota therein the question: What did I know about being Lakota? Signaled panic, blood rush my embarrassment. What did I know of our language but pieces? Would I teach her to be pieces? Until a friend comforted, Don’t worry, you and your daughter will learn together. Today she stood sunlight on her shoulders lean and straight to share a song in Diné, her father’s language. To sing she motions simultaneously with her hands; I watch her be in multiple musics.

Afterland by Mai Der Vang, also published by Graywolf Press in April 2017.

Afterland is a powerful, essential collection of poetry that recounts with devastating detail the Hmong exodus from Laos and the fate of thousands of refugees seeking asylum. Mai Der Vang is telling the story of her own family, and by doing so, she also provides an essential history of the Hmong culture’s ongoing resilience in exile. Many of these poems are written in the voices of those fleeing unbearable violence after U.S. forces recruited Hmong fighters in Laos in the Secret War against communism, only to abandon them after that war went awry. That history is little known or understood, but the three hundred thousand Hmong now living in the United States are living proof of its aftermath. With poems of extraordinary force and grace, Afterland holds an original place in American poetry and lands with a sense of humanity saved, of outrage, of a deep tradition broken by war and ocean but still intact, remembered, and lived.

Said Not Said by Fred Marchant, from my mentor and friend who was recently honored by the city of Boston, and it is also from Graywolf Press in May 2017.

In this important and formally inventive new poetry collection, Fred Marchant brings us into realms of the intractable and the unacceptable, those places where words seem to fail us and yet are all we have. In the process he affirms lyric poetry’s central role in the contemporary moral imagination. As the National Book Award winner David Ferry writes, “The poems in this beautiful new book by Fred Marchant are autobiographical, but, as is always the case with his poems, autobiographical of how he has witnessed, with faithfully exact and pitying observation, the sufferings in the lives of other people, for example the heartbreaking series of poems about the fatal mental suffering of his sister, and the poems about other peoples, in Vietnam, in the Middle East, written about with the noble generosity of feeling that has always characterized his work, here more impressively even than before.”

Said Not Said is a poet’s taking stock of conscience, his country’s and his own, and of poetry’s capacity to speak to what matters most.

Incendiary Art: Poems by Patricia Smith, published by Triquarterly in February 2017.

ne of the most magnetic and esteemed poets in today’s literary landscape, Patricia Smith fearlessly confronts the tyranny against the black male body and the tenacious grief of mothers in her compelling new collection, Incendiary Art. She writes an exhaustive lament for mothers of the “dark magicians,” and revisits the devastating murder of Emmett Till. These dynamic sequences serve as a backdrop for present-day racial calamities and calls for resistance. Smith embraces elaborate and eloquent language— “her gorgeous fallen son a horrid hidden / rot. Her tiny hand starts crushing roses—one by one / by one she wrecks the casket’s spray. It’s how she / mourns—a mother, still, despite the roar of thorns”— as she sharpens her unerring focus on incidents of national mayhem and mourning. Smith envisions, reenvisions, and ultimately reinvents the role of witness with an incendiary fusion of forms, including prose poems, ghazals, sestinas, and sonnets. With poems impossible to turn away from, one of America’s most electrifying writers reveals what is frightening, and what is revelatory, about history.

Cold Pastoral: Poems by Rebecca Dunham from Milkweed Editions in March 2017.

A searing, urgent collection of poems that brings the lyric and documentary together in unparalleled ways—unmasking and examining the specter of manmade disaster.

The explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig. Hurricane Katrina. The Flint water crisis. Thousands dead, lives destroyed, and a natural world imperiled by human choices. This is the litany of our time—and these are the events that Rebecca Dunham traces, passionately and brilliantly, in Cold Pastoral. In poems that incorporate interviews and excerpts from government documents and other sources—poems that adopt the pastoral and elegiac traditions in a landscape where “I can’t see the bugs; I don’t hear the birds”—Dunham finds the intersection between moral witness and shattering art.

Hard Child by Natalie Shapero from Copper Canyon Press in April 2017.

Thought-provoking and sardonically expressive, Shapero is a self-proclaimed “hard child”—unafraid of directly addressing bleakness as she continually asks what it means to be human and to bring new life into the world. Hard Child is musical and argumentative, deadly serious yet tinged with self-parody, evoking the spirit of Plath while remaining entirely its own.

My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet from Haymarket Books in May 2017.

Textured with the sights and sounds of growing up in East New York in the nineties, to school on the South Side of Chicago, all the way to the olive groves of Palestine, My Mother Is a Freedom Fighter is Aja Monet’s ode to mothers, daughters, and sisters—the tiny gods who fight to change the world. Complemented by striking cover art from Carrie Mae Weems, these stunning poems tackle racism, sexism, genocide, displacement, heartbreak, and grief, but also love, motherhood, spirituality, and Black joy.

Eat This Poem: A Literary Feast of Recipes Inspired by Poetry by Nicole Gulotta from Roost Books in March 2017.

Inspired by her popular blog by the same name, the Eat This Poem cookbook features more than 75 new recipes paired alongside verse from 25 of America’s most beloved poets. Forage mushrooms with Mary Oliver, then wander into your kitchen to stir creamy truffle risotto. Study the skin of a pear with Billy Collins while you bake a warm vanilla-pear crumble. And honor the devoted work of farmers with Wendell Berry while snacking on popcorn dusted with rosemary and drizzled with brown butter.

Beating the Graves by Tsitsi Ella Jaji from University of Nebraska Press in March 2017.

The poems in Tsitsi Ella Jaji’s Beating the Graves meditate on the meaning of living in diaspora, an experience increasingly common among contemporary Zimbabweans. Vivid evocations of the landscape of Zimbabwe filter critiques of contemporary political conditions and ecological challenges, veiled in the multiple meanings of poetic metaphor. Many poems explore the genre of praise poetry, which in Shona culture is a form of social currency for greeting elders and peers with a recitation of the characteristics of one’s clan. Others reflect on how diasporic life shapes family relations.

The praise songs in this volume pay particular homage to the powerful women and gender-queer ancestors of the poet’s lineage and thought. Honoring influences ranging from Caribbean literature to classical music and engaging metaphors from rural Zimbabwe to the post-steel economy of Youngstown, Ohio, Jaji articulates her own ars poetica. These words revel in the utter ordinariness of living globally, of writing in the presence of all the languages of the world, at home everywhere, and never at rest.

The Thin Wall by Martha Rhodes from University of Pittsburgh Press in February 2017.

Past Praise for Mother Quiet:
“The aim of poetry (and the higher kind of thriller) is to be unexpected and memorable. So a poem about death might treat it in a way that combines the bizarre and the banal: the Other Side as some kind of institution—a creepy hospital, an officious hotel or retirement home. Martha Rhodes takes such an approach in ‘Ambassadors to the Dead,’ from her abrupt, unsettling, artfully distorted, indelible new book Mother Quiet. Blending the matter-of-fact with the surreal, as a way of comprehending the stunning, final reality, Rhodes is an inheritor of Emily Dickinson’s many poems on the same subject.”
—Robert Pinsky, Washington Post

Chiapas Maya Awakening: Contemporary Poems and Short Stories by Nicolás Huet Bautista (Editor), Sean S. Sell (Translator), Inés Hernández-Ávila (Introduction), Marceal Méndez (Foreword) from University of Oklahoma Press in January 2017.

Mexico s indigenous people speak a number of rich and complex languages today, as they did before the arrival of the Spanish. Yet a common misperception is that Mayas have no languages of their own, only dialectos, and therefore live in silence. In reality, contemporary Mayas are anything but voiceless. Chiapas Maya Awakening, a collection of poems and short stories by indigenous authors from Chiapas, Mexico, is an inspiring testimony to their literary achievements. A unique trilingual edition, it presents the contributors works in the living Chiapas Mayan languages of Tsotsil and Tseltal, along with English and Spanish translations.
As Sean S. Sell, Marceal Mendez, and Ines Hernandez-Avila explain in their thoughtful introductory pieces, the indigenous authors of this volume were born between the mid-1970s and the mid-1990s, a time of growing cultural awareness among the native communities of Chiapas.

Although the authors received a formal education, their language of instruction was Spanish, and they had to pursue independent paths to learn to read and write in their native tongues. In the book s first half, devoted to poetry, the writers consciously speak for their communities. Their verses evoke the quetzal, the moon, and the sea and reflect the identities of those who celebrate them. The short stories that follow address aspects of modern Maya life. In these stories, mistrust and desperation yield violence among a people whose connection to the land is powerful but still precarious.
Chiapas Maya Awakening demonstrates that Mayas are neither a vanished ancient civilization nor a remote, undeveloped people. Instead, through their memorable poems and stories, the indigenous writers of this volume claim a place of their own within the broader fields of national and global literature.”

What books are you looking forward to in 2017?

War Through the Generations Reading Challenge 2017

After our one-year hiatus, Anna and I have resurrected the War Through the Generations blog with the 2017 reading challenge.

We’ll be revisiting WWII books, and we’ll hold an end-of-challenge giveaway for the participants that read the most books — fiction, nonfiction, poetry, children’s books, etc.

We hope that you’ll join us, sign up in the comments and link your reviews in Mr. Linky throughout 2017.

We’ll also be announcing three read-a-longs for March, June, and September 2017 soon, so stay tuned for that as well.

Have a great year of reading!

The First Book of 2017 and One Word

Sheila at Book Journey has been doing this for a long time, and I always seem to jump on the bandwagon late.

I had thought I would be absorbed in a short story collection, Sandlands by Rosy Thornton, but it turns out that I’m too absorbed in the audio of Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run.

Sheila also has become a powerhouse supporter of the One Word resolution, and if you read her entries and how she comes up with her word, you’ll know why. There is a certain serendipity to her selection process.

I have tried to come up with a word before and failed to do so due to commitments and other issues that end up taking over. This year, however, my word is DELIBERATE.

  • Adjective: done consciously and intentionally
  • Verb: engage in long and careful consideration

I’ve had a rough year of over-committing myself, and it led to a lot of disappointments. I want to take more time to consider the opportunities before me before I commit to them. If I take too long to think and miss out on something, so be it. It was probably not right for me.

I love to help people. It’s part of who I am, but it shouldn’t be all I am. I need to do things that make me happy, too. One of those things is a renewed focus on finishing writing projects (I may not finish them all, but finishing one would be a huge step forward).

I also need to be more deliberate in my word choices and actions. I need to mean what I say and practice what I mean. I need to do this for myself and my family. It’s going to be a hard road this year, but I’m up for the challenge, so long as I carefully weigh all that is before me.

What’s your first book and one word this year?