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2010 Green Books Campaign: Crazy Love by Pamela Uschuk

Created by Susan Newman

Welcome to the 2010 Green Books Campaign, sponsored by Eco-Libris!  The campaign is in its second year and aims to promote “green” books being published today. Last year for the first campaign, I read Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah.

Crazy Love by Pamela Uschuk is just one of 200 books you’ll see reviewed or highlighted throughout the day on over 200 blogs.  Those books range from nonfiction and historical to poetry and fiction — and everything in between.  Crazy Love, a collection of poems, is printed with 50 percent recycled fiber.  The publisher, Wings Press, says, “Wings Press is committed to treating the planet itself as a partner.  Thus the press uses as much recycled material as possible, from the paper on which the books are printed to the boxes in which they are shipped.”

Pamela Uschuk uses melodious language in Crazy Love to drawn in her readers, sucking them into the depths of each poem and churning them in a tumbler.  The collection is broken down into four sections and each appears to deal with a different aspect of love whether it’s the passion of “Crazy Love” or the eternal connection of love in “Hit and Run.”

From “The Horseman of the Cross and Vulnerable Word:” (page 3)

I was young and fell in love
with your wounds, your tongue,
half-song, half-glands,
strong as the Calvinist hands
that whacked and fed your swampy youth.
I was young and drank vermouth
while you fell to your knees

Beautifully, Uschuk demonstrates human love through bird and nature imagery, but she also draws parallels between the destructive nature of grasshoppers on crops to that of humans on the overall environment.  There is a light and dark side to love and when love is too intense it can be destructive.

Feeling the Kitchen (page 25)

Talk about exfoliation.  This archaeology will
take weeks.  First comes the ripping, then
total destruction.
+++++++ Wrenching out
nails with screeching crow bars,
we pry huge sheets of cheap paneling
from the old walls to reveal
the smoky history of paint, and under
+++++++ that, a century of wallpapers shed
like snake skins embossing rough sandstone.

Who chose the bottom pattern tattooed
with blue and red flowers or the pink sky
spackled with gold stars, tiny and multitudinous as fleas?
Beneath everything, the harsh ash-smeared
plaster is the logic that holds.

Like an argument that spirals out of control,
my husband and I cannot stop tearing.
+++++++++++ The white celotex ceiling
we’ve despised for years must go, so
with our bare fingers, we yank it
crashing, with its load of coal soot, onto our heads.

When the ceiling lies at our feet, what is there
but more dingy ochre paint, stars
blurred dusty as the distant Pleiades, a silver filigree
some wife may have chosen to mimic moonlight
bathing her spinning head while she sweated
over meals and dishes, waddled with her pregnant belly
between woodstove and table, where
her silver miner sat to slurp her rich soup.

Day after day, I mount the rickety ladder
to avoid my computer, where I should compose
poems that shake their fists at stars or hold
the fevered heads of children in distant warring lands.

It is comforting this peeling back,
the scraper prying up paint chips
the size of communion wafers
while I balance on precarious steps abrading,
the motion repetitive as prayer.

Where all the sweet conformity of yellow
+++++++ once soothed our kitchen, strange maps
of foreign planets bloom, a diasphora of galaxies
blasted into the variegated watershed of hearts
we can never really know.

Perhaps, this simple work is poetry, to strip
chaotic layers revealing the buried patterns
of our stories, charting
love’s labyrinth, the way betrayal,
faith and fear spin us
in their webs, awful and light.

In this poem, Uschuk reminds us of the gems beneath the surface, like those that hover beneath the surface of words and phrases in stories and poems. The editing process fine tunes and refines the lines to reveal those underlying truths. Many of the poems read like folklore and myths from Native American stories. Overall, Crazy Love by Pamela Uschuk is a collection of poems that explores love and human connection and reminds us that we need to reconnect with nature and the planet, as well as one another.

About the Author:

Pamela Uschuk’s work has appeared in over 200 journals and antholgies worldwide, including Poetry, Parnassus Review, Ploughshares, Nimrod, Agni Review, Calyx, and others. Her work has been translated into nearly a dozen languages, including Spanish, Russian, Czech, Swedish, Albanian, and Korean.

Her Wings Press titles include Finding Peaches in the Desert (book and CD), (out of print), Scattered Risks and , which won the American Book Award (Sept. 2010).

Among her other awards are the Dorothy Daniels Writing Award from the National League of American PEN Women, the Struga International Poetry Prize, and the ASCENT, IRIS and King’s English prizes.

Uschuk also writes and publishes nonfiction articles and has been a regular contributor to journals such as PARABOLA and INSIDE/OUTSIDE. In 2005 she gave up her position as Director of the Salem College Center for Women Writers in North Carolina to become Editor In Chief of Cutthroat, A Journal of the Arts and to conduct poetry workshops at the University of Arizona Poetry Center. In 2006, Uschuk was a featured writer at the Prague Summer Writers Workshops, the Meacham Writers Conference and the Southwest Writers Institute. She makes her home in Tucson, Arizona, and outside of Bayfield, Colorado, with her husband, poet William Root.

To check out the rest of the Green Books, please visit the campaign Web site beginning at 1 p.m. EST. I’m a rebel, what can I say!

This is my 54th book for the 2010 New Authors Reading Challenge.

This is my 13th book for the Clover Bee & Reverie Poetry Challenge.

It’s That Time Again, Time to Think Green!

Created by Susan Newman

It’s November; Veterans Day is coming; It’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo); and it’s time for the Green Books Campaign.

I’ve tried to keep track of the “green” books I’ve been reading and disclosing that to all of you.  Hopefully, that helps you add to the list of books I know you all keep.

This year, I’ll be participating again with a poetry book, Crazy Love by Pamela Uschuk.  On Nov. 10, at 1 PM, I’ll be posting about the book, its “green” qualities, the author, and my thoughts on Uschuk’s poems, along with 199 other bloggers who will be discussing 199 other books.

The Eco-Libris Green Books Campaign also made a new announcement about the participation of large Canadian book retailer Indigo Books & Music.  There is a list of great supporters to the campaign on the collaborators page, including BookMooch, Strand, and many others.

See you all next week!

Green Books Campaign Recap

I read an enjoyable work of fiction for Shaila Abdullah (click here for my review) for the Green Books Campaign on Nov. 10 when 100 bloggers joined hands to post 100 reviews on the same day.

But I wanted to highlight some of the other great reviews from the campaign and some of the great books I found.

Air Pollution Revolution Campaign reviewed Greening Your Small Business by Jennifer Kaplan, and here’s what captured my attention about the review and the book:

“This encyclopedia of green tips should be found in the desk drawer of every entrepreneur looking to reduce his business’ carbon footprint and/or trying to appeal to an environmentally concerned clientele.”

At Home With Books reviewed Art and Upheaval by William Cleveland, and here’s what Alyce had to say: 

If you would have asked me those questions prior to reading Art and Upheaval I would responded hesitantly, saying that art is beautiful, but I’m not sure if it is something that can change lives. After reading this book though, I have been convinced of the importance of art and its power when it is used by citizens of a community to communicate ideas that will foster healing and unity.”

LilianaLand! reviewed The Dead Can’t Dance by Pam Calabrese MacLean, a collection of poems, and here’s what she had to say:

You’d have thought that it’d be weird reading stories written in the form of poems, but it’s not. They evoke such contrasting emotions in the different stories: joy and amusement, and in the next instance, sorrow.”

The Not so Closet Geeks reviewed Only Milo by Barry Smith, check out these comments:

Completely unpredictable, Only Milo is a highly shocking and enjoyable read. The novel is simple to read, but has enough surprises and thrills to keep any reader enthralled. Readers gain insight into the twisted mind of a murderer through a riveting and brilliantly executed plot.”

Bookstore People reviewed From Green to Gold by Harold Enrico, a book of poetry:

This poetry collection is not only printed in a green manner, the poems themselves evoke an awareness of the beauty of nature and life.  . . .  Even more poignant for me was “Marston-Bigot, Somerset” which describes the antics of WWII soldiers on New Years Eve at a temporary encampment juxtaposed with the animals (badger, mole) that will continually be present in an ongoing cycle of life.”

Click on the above links for full reviews.  There were so many great books reviewed during the campaign, but if you missed it, you can always check out the list of over 100 reviews, here.

What books did you find during the campaign?  And have you entered my giveaway for Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah?

Green Books Campaign: Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah


Welcome to the Green Books Review Campaign, sponsored by Eco-Libris — logo was created by the talented Susan Newman.  100 bloggers, 100 books, 100 reviews — today at 1 PM EST.

We’re here to shed light on the publishers and books available on the market using recycled products and “green” practices.  If you missed my initial post about the campaign, check it out now.  For updates on the campaign, visit Eco-Libris’ blog.

Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah is printed on 30 percent post-consumer waste and Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified book paper.  It is also one of the best books I’ve read in 2009.  Stay tuned for giveaway information.

“Summer in Houston tastes like dirt, thick bellowing mounds of dust piling on and on until you can’t breathe anymore.  Sometimes a squalling wind arrives, pressing its puckered lips to the window panes.  Whooooo, it shrieks, whooooosh, and then it cavorts over the pile of dust, depositing it evenly in our miracle-less world.  The rain that follows washes it all away, leaving behind an acerbic mustiness that lingers until September brings in the moldiness that I associate with loss, the dull snicker of an autumn past.”  (Page 178)

A somber tone permeates Saffron Dreams from Arissa Illahi’s childhood to her present in 2006-2007, weaving in and out through her past and present.  Abdullah’s narrative technique will hook readers and carry them alongside Arissa on her journey from Pakistan to America as she matures, marries, gives birth, and reconciles her culture and her religion with her new homeland — a homeland that has grown wary of Muslims following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

“With every horn or commotion guilt-ridden with sins they did not commit.  They walked faster when alone.  Some women took down their hijabs, afraid of being targeted, and adopted a conservative but Western style of dressing.  Men cut their beards.  Many postponed plans to visit the country of their origin any time soon.  Those who did travel preferred to remain quiet during their journey and chose not to converse in their native language even among family members.”  (Page 60)

Saffron’s bitter taste is present throughout the novel as Arissa is steeped in grief and guilt, but the fragrance of hay often associated with saffron lulls her character with memories.  Ami, Arissa’s mother, was absent for much of her upbringing and her father allowed her to find love on her own terms.  It is this family life that shapes her ideas about love, marriage, and family.  Once married to Faizan Illahi, she finds happiness and revels in it, until her life is obliterated in 2001.

Abdullah delves deep into a wife’s guilt, particularly a wife who has adopted a nation as her home that would rather root her out and label her as the enemy.  The dichotomy between religion and culture, mother and daughter, grief and survival are tangible and heart-wrenching.  Some of the best elements in the story include parallels between art and writing and those two talents suffuse the narrative with a dreamlike quality.

Readers will get lost in Arissa’s grief and her confusion about starting anew.  They will cheer her on as her determination takes over.  Each chapter provides a date stamp to orient readers, but Arissa’s narrative shifts easily from past to present on more than one occasion as memories take over.  Saffron Dreams is more than just an emotional journey of perseverance amid the most trying circumstances and tragic events, it is an evolution of one Muslim woman into a whole self, strong enough to stand alone and blossom.

Please check out the rest of the stops in the Green Books Campaign blog tour; there are a wide range of books from fiction to nonfiction and poetry to sustainable living guides. 

I want to thank Shaila Abdullah and her publisher Modern History Press for sending along a free copy for me to review.  Clicking on book titles and covers will bring you to my Amazon Affiliate page; no purchases are necessary.

Photo by Galina Stepanova   

About the Author:

Shaila Abdullah was born in Karachi, Pakistan in 1971. She has a bachelors degree in English literature and a diploma in graphic design. She also has a diploma in freelance writing. She has written several short stories, articles, and personal essays for various publications, such as Maybe Quarterly, Damazine, Women’s Own, She, Fashion Collection, Dallas Child, Web Guru, About Families, Sulekha, Pakistaniaat, and a magazine of the Daily Dawn newspaper called Tuesday Review, etc. She is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas.

Also, please view her literature blog, her art blog, and her design blog.

Giveaway information:  1 copy, autographed for U.S. residents only

1.  Leave a comment about what books you’ve found during the Green Books Campaign that you would buy.

2.  Spread the word about the campaign and the giveaway via Twitter, Facebook, Blog, etc., and leave a comment with a link.

3.  Followers receive five additional entries and new followers receive three extra entries.

Deadline is Nov. 17, 2009, at 11:59 PM EST

Green Books Campaign, Nov. 10

Design credit: Susan Newman 

Avid readers need to create the demand necessary to spur publishers to use “green” publication methods and materials.  Readers encourage publishers to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint simply by purchasing books made from “green” materials and through environmentally friendly practices.

As part of this effort, 100 online book reviewers — including Savvy Verse & Wit and Diary of an Eccentric — and 35 publishers from the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom have come together for one day — November 10, 2009 — to celebrate “green” books at the behest of Eco-Libris.  The goal of the campaign is to encourage readers and publishers to ensure that books are printed responsibly and book purchases are “greener.”

Only 0.23 percent of publishers are committed to increasing the number of books made on recycled paper, according to Eco-Libris. Moreover, only about 5 percent to 10 percent of paper used by book publishers is recycled.  Meanwhile, the Book Industry Environmental Council announced that it was committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the publishing industry by 20 percent or to a 2006 baseline by the year 2020, and an 80 percent reduction by 2050.

“Although there’s so much hype around e-books, books printed on paper dominate the book market, and we want them to be as environmentally sound as possible,” explains Raz Godelnik, co-founder and CEO of Eco-Libris. “Very few books are currently printed responsibly and we hope this initiative will bring more exposure to “green” books. Through this campaign we want to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books.”

Julie Christopher, Senior Marketing Manager at Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing — one of the participating publishers– says, “The mission of the Little Green Books series is to plant the seeds of earth-friendly living at an early age, and we were delighted to work with Eco-Libris on the campaign to help to spread this important message.”

As environmental issues continue to make headlines and paper-based books remain the dominant form on the market, Eco-Libris and online book reviewers want to call attention to those books that are made from recylced materials and FSC-certified paper.  Books reviewed on Nov. 10, 2009, at 1 p.m. Eastern Standard Time by the online bloggers range from nonfiction and fiction to poetry and cookbooks.

For more information and a list of participating blogs, please visit the Web site for the Green Books Campaign.  See you on Nov. 10, 2009, at 1 p.m. EST.