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353rd Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 353rd Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Today’s poem is from Mary Oliver:

The Journey

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
‘Mend my life!’
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.

You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations – – –
though their melancholy
was terrible. It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.

But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – – – determined to save
the only life you could save.

What are your thoughts?

341st Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 341st Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

This poem is from Mary Oliver:

White-Eyes

In winter
    all the singing is in
         the tops of the trees
             where the wind-bird

with its white eyes
    shoves and pushes
         among the branches.
             Like any of us

he wants to go to sleep,
    but he's restless—
         he has an idea,
             and slowly it unfolds

from under his beating wings
    as long as he stays awake.
         But his big, round music, after all,
             is too breathy to last.

So, it's over.
    In the pine-crown
         he makes his nest,
             he's done all he can.

I don't know the name of this bird,
    I only imagine his glittering beak
         tucked in a white wing
             while the clouds—

which he has summoned
    from the north—
         which he has taught
             to be mild, and silent—

thicken, and begin to fall
    into the world below
         like stars, or the feathers
               of some unimaginable bird

that loves us,
    that is asleep now, and silent—
         that has turned itself
             into snow.

What do you think?

Who Are Your Auto-Buy Authors?

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Hello everyone! The holidays are nearly here, but I have a treat for you! If you haven’t liked the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page yet, go do it now.

Beginning Dec. 12 (sometime this afternoon the first pick will be revealed), I’ll reveal one of the books on my Best of 2014 book list, through Dec. 24.

That’s one book from the list per day, with a tidbit about why I loved the book and a link to where you can buy it.

Today, I wanted to talk about those authors we love so much that we buy their books automatically no matter what the subject.  I used to have just a few of those authors, but my list is now growing!  I thought today would be a good day to share not only the older ones on the list, but also the newer ones that have joined the ranks.

My previous list:

  1. Yusef Komunyakaa
  2. Tim O’Brien
  3. Stephen King
  4. Anita Shreve
  5. Amy Tan
  6. Isabel Allende
  7. James Patterson
  8. Anne Rice
  9. Mary Oliver
  10. Billy Collins

My additions to the list:

  1. Beth Kephart
  2. Jeannine Hall Gailey
  3. Jane Odiwe
  4. Syrie James
  5. Abigail Reynolds
  6. Karen White
  7. Beth Hoffman
  8. Jill Mansell
  9. Janel Gradowski
  10. Diana Raab
  11. C.W. Gortner
  12. John Shors

I find it interesting that there are many more female authors being added to my auto-buy list. 

I’m not really sure why so many great female authors are being added to my auto-buy list these days.  It isn’t that I haven’t read some great male authors, but perhaps I need to read more of them to get a true sense of their work and whether I want to buy it automatically no matter the subject.

Do you have auto-buy authors? Who are they?  What attracts you to their work?

Don’t forget to like the Savvy Verse & Wit Facebook page to find out over the next 12 days which books made the 2014 Best list.

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver

Source: Purchased at Novel Books
Hardcover, 144 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver is a collection of poems about her dogs and her relationship with those dogs, but it also is about the human condition and what our relationships with these animals means to us and to them.  Oliver is known as a dog lover, but she’s also known as a poet that takes the most average moments and things in life and enlarges their scope and their meaning through her poems.  While in this collection that are moments of this extrapolation — such as when Percy gazes up into her face as if she were a full moon in “The Sweetness of Dogs” or when Sammy consistently breaks free of his ropes to roam through town in “Ropes” — many more of these poems are simply homages to the dogs she has known and loved.

While this collection is not as deep as some of her other collections may be, there are moments of pure joy, deep sadness at the dog’s passing, and hilarity when dogs are being just that — dogs.  People who love dogs, and even just love animals, will enjoy these poems, nodding their heads about the truthful honesty in Oliver’s lines.  We and our dogs lean on and learn from one another, and these poems clearly illustrate those moments shared with our canine friends.  Although it is not the same many readers will expect from Oliver, readers will find some of the same universality that is found in her other poems.  In many ways, these poems are even more of the heart, more about the poet and her life, opening her up to the emotions she may not express publicly as much.

Dog Songs by Mary Oliver becomes a large ode to the symbiotic relationship we have with our dogs, a relationship that tries us and rewards us based upon how willing we are to accept it for what it is.  Beyond the freedom these dogs have to be as they are and to succumb to their own wildness, there is still that deep loyalty to their person — do not dare say owner.  There’s also a little bit of Oliver’s own opinion here, in that dogs off leashes are preferable to those constrained by them because dogs loyal to their owners merely because of the leash could be considered mere property.

About the Poet:

A private person by nature, Mary Oliver has given very few interviews over the years. Instead, she prefers to let her work speak for itself. And speak it has, for the past five decades, to countless readers. The New York Times recently acknowledged Mary Oliver as “far and away, this country’s best-selling poet.” Born in a small town in Ohio, Oliver published her first book of poetry in 1963 at the age of 28; No Voyage and Other Poems, originally printed in the UK by Dent Press, was reissued in the United States in 1965 by Houghton Mifflin. Oliver has since published many works of poetry and prose.  Visit her Website.

Book 1 for the Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge 2014.

235th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 235th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s book suggested.

Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2014 Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge because there are several levels of participation for your comfort level.

For more poetry, check out the stops on the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour and the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.  And think about participating in the 2014 National Poetry Month Blog Tour — signups will begin in March.

Today’s poem is from Mary Oliver’s Dog Songs — Check out the cool illustration from The Penguin Press:

Also, hear her read this poem:

Mary Oliver reads a poem from Dog Songs from The Penguin Press on Vimeo.

What do you think?

Mailbox Monday #245

Mailbox Monday (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  November’s host is I Totally Paused!.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  The Queen of Bad Decisions by Janel Gradowski, which I received from the author for review.

Daisy’s life is sliding downhill at breakneck speed. Leaving her worthless boyfriend lands her back at her parents’ home, sleeping on the couch. After only a few days she is tired and annoyed. Her parents give new meaning to the term “early riser” and she can’t avoid unpleasant encounters with her obnoxious brother. The only escape from the familial torture is at her job in a book store. Mary, her boss finds a solution to the housing dilemma, but Daisy will need to change more than her address labels to make the arrangement work.

2.  Undressing Mr. Darcy by Karen Doornebos for review from the publisher in December.

Thirty-five-year-old American social media master Vanessa Roberts lives her thoroughly modern life with aplomb. So when her elderly Jane Austen–centric aunt needs her to take on the public relations for Julian Chancellor, a very private man from England who’s written a book called My Year as Mr. Darcy, Vanessa agrees. But she’s not “excessively diverted,” as Jane Austen would say.

…Until she sees Julian take his tight breeches off for his Undressing Mr. Darcy show, an educational “striptease” down to his drawers to promote his book and help save his crumbling estate. The public relations expert suddenly realizes things have gotten…personal. But can this old-fashioned man claim her heart without so much as a GPS? It will take three festivals filled with Austen fans, a trip to England, an old frenemy, and a flirtatious pirate re-enactor to find out.

3.  Dog Songs by Mary Oliver, purchased from Novel Books.

Beloved by her readers, special to the poet’s own heart, Mary Oliver’s dog poems offer a special window into her world. Dog Songs collects some of the most cherished poems together with new works, offering a portrait of Oliver’s relationship to the companions that have accompanied her daily walks, warmed her home, and inspired her work. To be illustrated with images of the dogs themselves, the subjects will come to colorful life here.

These are poems of love and laughter, heartbreak and grief. In these pages we visit with old friends, including Oliver’s well-loved Percy, and meet still others. Throughout, the many dogs of Oliver’s life emerge as fellow travelers, but also as guides, spirits capable of opening our eyes to the lessons of the moment and the joys of nature and connection.

4.  NOS4A2 by Joe Hill from Novel Books.

Victoria McQueen has a secret gift for finding things: a misplaced bracelet, a missing photograph, answers to unanswerable questions. On her Raleigh Tuff Burner bike, she makes her way to a rickety covered bridge that, within moments, takes her wherever she needs to go, whether it’s across Massachusetts or across the country.

Charles Talent Manx has a way with children. He likes to take them for rides in his 1938 Rolls-Royce Wraith with the NOS4A2 vanity plate. With his old car, he can slip right out of the everyday world, and onto the hidden roads that transport them to an astonishing – and terrifying – playground of amusements he calls “Christmasland.”

5. Night Film by Marisha Pessl from Novel Books.

On a damp October night, beautiful young Ashley Cordova is found dead in an abandoned warehouse in lower Manhattan. Though her death is ruled a suicide, veteran investigative journalist Scott McGrath suspects otherwise. As he probes the strange circumstances surrounding Ashley’s life and death, McGrath comes face-to-face with the legacy of her father: the legendary, reclusive cult-horror-film director Stanislas Cordova—a man who hasn’t been seen in public for more than thirty years.

For McGrath, another death connected to this seemingly cursed family dynasty seems more than just a coincidence. Though much has been written about Cordova’s dark and unsettling films, very little is known about the man himself.

6.  I’ll Be Seeing You by Suzanne Palmieri-Hayes and Loretta Nyhan from Novel Books.

It’s January 1943 when Rita Vincenzo receives her first letter from Glory Whitehall. Glory is an effervescent young mother, impulsive and free as a bird. Rita is a sensible professor’s wife with a love of gardening and a generous, old soul. Glory comes from New England society; Rita lives in Iowa, trying to make ends meet. They have nothing in common except one powerful bond: the men they love are fighting in a war a world away from home.

Brought together by an unlikely twist of fate, Glory and Rita begin a remarkable correspondence. The friendship forged by their letters allows them to survive the loneliness and uncertainty of waiting on the home front, and gives them the courage to face the battles raging in their very own backyards. Connected across the country by the lifeline of the written word, each woman finds her life profoundly altered by the other’s unwavering support.

7.  The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black from Novel Books.

Tana lives in a world where walled cities called Coldtowns exist. In them, quarantined monsters and humans mingle in a decadently bloody mix of predator and prey. The only problem is, once you pass through Coldtown’s gates, you can never leave.

One morning, after a perfectly ordinary party, Tana wakes up surrounded by corpses. The only other survivors of this massacre are her exasperatingly endearing ex-boyfriend, infected and on the edge, and a mysterious boy burdened with a terrible secret. Shaken and determined, Tana enters a race against the clock to save the three of them the only way she knows how: by going straight to the wicked, opulent heart of Coldtown itself.

8.  A Spider in the Cup by Barbara Cleverly from Novel Books.

At dawn one morning in 1933, an amateur dowsing team digging the banks of the Thames for precious metals unearths the body of a young woman with a priceless gold coin in her mouth and a missing toe. The case falls on Assistant Commissioner of Scotland Yard Joe Sandilands’s turf, but he’s been given another assignment—and a very high-profile one. London is hosting a historic global economic conference to try to solve the global Depression, and political tensions are running very high, as very influential participants are starting to take positions allied with or staunchly against the rapidly militarizing Germany. Sandilands’s job is to protect and keep an eye on the visiting American senator Cornelius Kingstone, right-hand man to President Roosevelt, throughout the conference. When a strange set of coincidences link the river bank body to the senator, Joe realizes his assignment is much bigger than he’d thought, and that Senator Kingstone is caught up in a very dangerous game—one that might cost not just one but thousands of lives.

What did you receive?

190th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 190th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2013 Dive Into Poetry Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please visit the stops on the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is from Mary Oliver’s A Thousand Mornings (page 47):

Was it Necessary to Do It?

I tell you that ant is very alive!
Look at how he fusses at being stepped on.

What do you think?

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver is meditative observance, but also a collection of poems full of praise not only of the natural order but of humanity’s place in that order.  In “And Bob Dylan Too,” she talks of how the shepherds sing as the sheep praise the grass by eating it and how the bees’ hum signals the opening of spring blossoms.  And in many ways, nature comes to life, becomes anthropomorphized in conversation with a narrator, allowing for the unspoken rules to be broken and/or expanded.  Oliver has a deep sense of connection to the natural world that shines through in each line of each poem, and yet, there is a bit of rebellion in her poems that points to a time when breaking free of the natural order is not only OK, but unexpected and inspiring.

From "Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness" (page 27):

to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married

to the vitality of what will be?
I don't say
it's easy, but
what else will do

What readers will love about Oliver’s poetry is the homage she pays to the natural world in all its beauty, but also the connect we have to it. In “The Moth, the Mountains, the Rivers,” the narrator of the poems asks that we each take the time to live in awe of the wonders around us, to truly sit without worry about the busy schedule and to just be and observe. It is almost a plea of sorts.  In other poems, the narrator simply marvels at nature and even decides to take her home to a mountaintop for silence and reflection and invites the reader along.  But one of the most descriptive and captivating poems in the collection was “Tides,” about the movement of the ocean and the only purpose it has: to be.  Unlike those who talk of its erosion of beaches and its awesome power, Oliver focuses in on its rhythmic movement, its constancy, and its beauty and in this way draws a parallel to how the narrator casually, calmly walks the beach.

A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver is reflective of the past, of youth, and of wilder days, but it also is about recapturing that youth, if only in the mind, remembrance, and observance of nature.  But there are moments of distinct action and conviction that the past can be recaptured even if it is at the end of life.  For those looking for Oliver’s traditional poetry, this collection is ripe with observation of the natural world, but it also offers a deeper look at aging and longing for things that have passed.

About the Poet:

Mary Oliver was in Maple Heights, Ohio.  As a teenager, she lived briefly in the home of Edna St. Vincent Millay, where she helped Millay’s family sort through the papers the poet left behind.  In the mid-1950s, Oliver attended both Ohio State University and Vassar College, though she did not receive a degree.

Her first collection of poems, No Voyage, and Other Poems, was published in 1963. Since then, she has published numerous books, including Thirst (Beacon Press, 2006); Why I Wake Early (2004); Owls and Other Fantasies : Poems and Essays (2003); Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems, and Poems (1999); West Wind (1997); White Pine (1994); New and Selected Poems (1992), which won the National Book award; House of Light (1990), which won the Christopher Award and the L. L. Winship/PEN New England Award; and American Primitive (1983), for which she won the Pulitzer Prize.

This is my 4th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.

Mailbox Monday #205

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch. This month’s host is Suko’s Notebook.

The meme allows bloggers to share what books they receive in the mail or through other means over the past week.

Just be warned that these posts can increase your TBR piles and wish lists.

Here’s what I received:

1.  After the Rain by Karen White for review in January.

Freelance photographer Suzanne Paris has been on her own since she was fourteen—and she has no intention of settling down, especially not in a tiny town like Walton, Georgia. She’s here to hide out for a little while, not to form connections. Her survival depends on her ability to slip in and out of people’s lives, on never staying in one place for too long.

But no one in Walton plans on making things easy for Suzanne. For one thing, it’s a town where everyone knows everyone else—and they all seem intent on making Suzanne feel right at home. For another, Suzanne can’t help but feel drawn to this tight-knit community—or to the town’s mayor, Joe Warner, and his six kids. But Suzanne can’t afford to stick around, even if she’s finally found a place where she belongs. Because someone is looking for her—someone who won’t stop until her life is destroyed.

2. A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver, which came via SantaThing.

In A THOUSAND MORNINGS, Mary Oliver returns to the imagery that has come to define her life’s work, transporting us to the marshland and coastline of her beloved home, Provincetown, Massachusetts. In these pages, Oliver shares the wonder of dawn, the grace of animals, and the transformative power of attention. Whether studying the leaves of a tree or mourning her adored dog, Percy, she is ever patient in her observations and open to the teachings contained in the smallest of moments.

3. The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie, which came via SantaThing.

The Enchantress of Florence is the story of a mysterious woman, a great beauty believed to possess the powers of enchantment and sorcery, attempting to command her own destiny in a man’s world. It is the story of two cities at the height of their powers–the hedonistic Mughal capital, in which the brilliant emperor Akbar the Great wrestles daily with questions of belief, desire, and the treachery of his sons, and the equally sensual city of Florence during the High Renaissance, where Niccolò Machiavelli takes a starring role as he learns, the hard way, about the true brutality of power. Profoundly moving and completely absorbing, The Enchantress of Florence is a dazzling book full of wonders by one of the world’s most important living writers.

4. The Ingredients of Love by Nicholas Barreau, unexpectedly from the publisher.

Cyrano de Bergerac meets Chocolat and Amélie in this intelligent, charming, and entertaining publishing sensation from Europe.
While in the midst of a breakup-induced depression, Aurélie Bredin, a beautiful Parisian restaurateur, discovers an astonishing novel in a quaint bookshop on the Ile Saint-Louis. Inexplicably, her restaurant and Aurélie herself are featured in its pages. After reading the whole book in one night, she realizes it has saved her life—and she wishes more than anything to meet its author. Aurélie’s attempts to contact the attractive but shy English author through his French publishers are blocked by the company’s gruff chief editor, André, who only with great reluctance forwards Aurélie’s enthusiastic letter. But Aurélie refuses to give up. One day, a response from the reclusive author actually lands in her mailbox, but the encounter that eventually takes place is completely different from what she had ever imagined. . . . Filled with books, recipes, and characters that leap off the page, The Ingredients of Love by Nicolas Barreau is a tribute to the City of Light.

5. Garden of Stones by Sophie Littlefield for review in February.

Lucy Takeda is just fourteen years old, living in Los Angeles, when the bombs rain down on Pearl Harbor. Within weeks, she and her mother, Miyako, are ripped from their home, rounded up—along with thousands of other innocent Japanese-Americans—and taken to the Manzanar prison camp.

Buffeted by blistering heat and choking dust, Lucy and Miyako must endure the harsh living conditions of the camp. Corruption and abuse creep into every corner of Manzanar, eventually ensnaring beautiful, vulnerable Miyako. Ruined and unwilling to surrender her daughter to the same fate, Miyako soon breaks. Her final act of desperation will stay with Lucy forever…and spur her to sins of her own.

6. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, which was from our book club gift exchange.

In The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, author Stephen R. Covey presents a holistic, integrated, principle-centered approach for solving personal and professional problems. With penetrating insights and pointed anecdotes, Covey reveals a step-by-step pathway for living with fairness, integrity, service, and human dignity–principles that give us the security to adapt to change and the wisdom and power to take advantage of the opportunities that change creates.

What did you receive?

Twelve Moons by Mary Oliver

Twelve Moons by Mary Oliver is her fourth collection and as always nature is front and center.  But above all this collection is about transformation and by extension the journey of life.  Parallels are drawn between the grief humans feel and the changing seasons and the self-confidence of nature as it is seen in humans as mere glimpses or slivers of the moon.

“And sometimes, for a moment,/you feel it beginning — the sense/of escape sharp as a knife-blade/hangs over the dark field/of your body, and your soul/waits just under the skin/to leap away over the water./”  (From At Blackwater Pond, page 49)

Oliver’s love of nature and awe of it transcends her lines and these pages, tapping into readers’ sense of childlike wonder about the world.  It reminds us that there is a greater world beyond the meetings, the email, and the stress of our lives — a world where things can just be and live.  Beyond the sense of wonderment is an air of caution about how we interact with this natural world and how we are at times the enemy.

From Mussels (page 4), “In the riprap,/in the cool caves,/in the dim and salt-refreshed/recesses, they cling/in dark clusters,/in barnacled fistfuls,/in the dampness that never/leaves, in the deeps/of high tide, in the slow/washing away of the water/in which they feed,/ . . . Even before/I decide which to take,/which to twist from the wet rocks,/which to devour,/they, who have no eyes to see with,/see me, like a shadow,/bending forward.”

Like the mysterious phases of the moon, Oliver’s poems often take on a mystical quality, blurring the lines between reality and dreams.  Is her father the explorer he always dreamed he would be?  Do the fish feel the same way about children that humans do?

Twelve Moons is a collection dealing with immortality, nature, and our place in and against it.  Oliver’s poetry is enjoyable on the surface and as deeper meanings are sought upon multiple readings and even immediately.  Beginning readers of poetry would have little trouble understanding her lines and easily find correlations to their own lives.  An excellent collection, and one of the best I’ve read this year.

***I purchased my copy of Twelve Moons by Mary Oliver at a local library sale.***

This is my 11th book for the Clover Bee & Reverie Poetry Challenge.