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Dopamine Blunder by Lori Cayer

Source: Tightrope Books
Paperback, 100 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Dopamine Blunder by Lori Cayer explores our emotional responses, particularly what it means to be happy and how we account for happiness. This is Cayer’s third collection of poetry, and while I haven’t read others, it is clear that Cayer views the world in complex and unusual ways.  She looks at emotions with a practical and razor-sharp precision.

In “Acts of Confiscation,” the narrator commits new crimes to fill the emotional gaps left when the high from the previous ones wears off.  “I commit new crimes      to push/down the line     the unbearable ones/” she says, noting “I’m going in the red     direction/commit acts the size of ( )    always/some hole with fallen edges/a same-shaped desire waiting to fill it/” (pg. 23)  Cayer uses each poem to illustrate a different kind of happiness, and if readers look closely, they will see the happiness tied to mental illness or instability in some cases.  For instance, “Travelling without Moving” seems to illustrate an obsessive-compulsive who always works in a particular way — rearranges things to relax — and does these actions in a way that they are routine and unrecognizable as his/her own actions.  “it relaxes me to sort and rearrange, I’m pretty sure it was me/in the cupboards and boxes,”  (pg. 28)

Through the lenses of psychology and other sciences, Cayer looks at what it means to emote, to feel, and to strive to recreate those moments of happiness.  And beneath these studies is a certain trepidation about the future and whether the happiness will run out or be lost.  Dopamine Blunder by Lori Cayer is a complex collection that requires rumination and exploration beyond the page into the self and the world around us.

RATING: Tercet

About the Poet:

Lori Cayer is the author of two volumes of poetry: Stealing Mercury and Attenuations of Force. She serves as co-editor of English poetry for CV2 and is co-founder of the Aqua Books Lansdowne Prize for Poetry/Prix Lansdowne de poésie. Lori works by day as an editorial assistant for a scientific research journal.

Mailbox Monday #371

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Dodgers by Bill Beverly, which I received from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Dodgers is a dark, unforgettable coming-of-age journey that recalls the very best of Richard Price, Denis Johnson, and J.D. Salinger. It is the story of a young LA gang member named East, who is sent by his uncle along with some other teenage boys—including East’s hothead younger brother—to kill a key witness hiding out in Wisconsin. The journey takes East out of a city he’s never left and into an America that is entirely alien to him, ultimately forcing him to grapple with his place in the world and decide what kind of man he wants to become.

Mata Hari’s Last Dance by Michelle Moran, a surprise from Simon & Schuster.

Paris, 1917. The notorious dancer Mata Hari sits in a cold cell awaiting freedom…or death. Alone and despondent, Mata Hari is as confused as the rest of the world about the charges she’s been arrested on: treason leading to the deaths of thousands of French soldiers.

As Mata Hari waits for her fate to be decided, she relays the story of her life to a reporter who is allowed to visit her in prison. Beginning with her carefree childhood, Mata Hari recounts her father’s cruel abandonment of her family as well her calamitous marriage to a military officer. Taken to the island of Java, Mata Hari refuses to be ruled by her abusive husband and instead learns to dance, paving the way to her stardom as Europe’s most infamous dancer.

From exotic Indian temples and glamorous Parisian theatres to stark German barracks in war-torn Europe, international bestselling author Michelle Moran who “expertly balances fact and fiction” (Associated Press) brings to vibrant life the famed world of Mata Hari: dancer, courtesan, and possibly, spy.

Tomorrow’s Bright White Light by Jan Conn, a surprise from Tightrope Books.

Acclaimed poet Jan Conn’s latest book, Tomorrow’s Bright White Light, offers poems as phenomenological guides to an approximation of a future “truth.” The collection includes poems about odd, secretive childhood events and poems that visit the badlands of adolescence from both male and female viewpoints. Some poems deal with the struggles of contemporary life in its many guises, while others derive from Conn’s time in Latin America. Obvious or not, all of the poems in this stunning collection are linked, creating a personal mosaic of the poet’s many lives and experiences.

Tourist by Lara Bozabalian, a surprise from Tightrope Books.

Opening with an aubade for the labyrinthian corners of Bombay’s largest slum, Tourist is a collection that is unafraid of shadows, and aims to unearth the unseen. Set across time and landscape—modern day Michigan, 1970’s Cambodia, WWI England, the kaleidoscopic mindscape of an Alzheimer patient – these poems draw us into lives that, initially, seem foreign, yet provoke our solidarity in the face of disorientation—a boy facing his first bankruptcy, an Elephant facing destruction at the hands of poachers. The book culminates in ‘Beethoven Walks’, an elegiac war cry from a man who wades in and out of darkness like a modern day Odysseus, and the churning resilience that sets him free.

Dopamine Blunder by Lori Cayer, a surprise from Tightrope Books.

In her astounding third collection, poet Lori Cayer takes on the juggernaut role of steward of human nature and subsequently explodes the myth of happiness through a multi-faceted lens of anthropology, socio-biology, sociology, psychology, archaeology, medicine and philosophy. Hinging on erasure and found material, Dopamine Blunder investigates these fundamental questions as our millennium enfolds with equal uncertainty and trepidation.

Photographs from the Edge: A Master Photographer’s Insights on Capturing an Extraordinary World by Art Wolfe, Rob Sheppard from NetGalley for review.

Legendary photographer Art Wolfe presents an intimate behind-the-scenes guide to the experiences, decisions, and methods that have influenced forty years of stunning images captured around the world. Wolfe and co-author Rob Sheppard transport readers on a global journey, while carrying on a dialog about photography, tools and process, world travel, close calls, and photographic opportunities both taken and missed. From the rich sights and smells of the Pushkar Camel Fair to the exact moment when a polar bear and her cubs leave their arctic den, Photographs from the Edge represents the instances when circumstance, light, and subject miraculously collide to form an iconic image. Many of these photographs can never be duplicated as cultures and landscapes are transformed and wildlife diminishes or disappears all together. No matter his subject, Wolfe regales us with the stories behind the photographs and helps us experience life on the world’s most unique photo safari. Photographs from the Edge is a lifetime of experience distilled into a rich photographic education.

Radio Girls by Sarah-Jane Stratford for review from NetGalley.

London, 1926. American-raised Maisie Musgrave is thrilled to land a job as a secretary at the upstart British Broadcasting Corporation, whose use of radio—still new, strange, and electrifying—is captivating the nation. But the hectic pace, smart young staff, and intimidating bosses only add to Maisie’s insecurity.

Soon, she is seduced by the work—gaining confidence as she arranges broadcasts by the most famous writers, scientists, and politicians in Britain. She is also caught up in a growing conflict between her two bosses, John Reith, the formidable Director-General of the BBC, and Hilda Matheson, the extraordinary director of the hugely popular Talks programming, who each have very different visions of what radio should be. Under Hilda’s tutelage, Maisie discovers her talent, passion, and ambition. But when she unearths a shocking conspiracy, she and Hilda join forces to make their voices heard both on and off the air…and then face the dangerous consequences of telling the truth for a living.

Straight James / Gay James by James Franco for review from NetGalley.

Actor James Franco’s chapbook of poems explores the different personas he uses in his writing, art, acting, and filmmaking. The poetry varies from the imagistic to the prosaic. Franco’s poems delve into issues of identity, sexuality, private and public life, being a brother, a son, an artist and actor. The chapbook also contains an interview of Gay James conducted by Straight James. Yes, Straight James asks the overwhelming question: Are you gay?

What did you receive?

Ghost Sick by Emily Pohl-Weary

Source: Tightrope Books
Paperback, 150 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Ghost Sick by Emily Pohl-Weary is a collection of poems that witness. They are testimony, commentary, and emotional responses to the crime, drugs, loss of innocence and more in a Toronto neighborhood and other places where lives are wasted and lost too easily. In “World of Sorrow,” the narrator says, “I had no way of comprehending/it only takes a second to tear/the spirit from a young body//” More often than not, young people believe they are invincible, and it is this naivete that leaves them especially vulnerable to waste, decay, and death. Pohl-Weary laments these losses, and she struggles to come to terms with those who have been lost and the potential they may have had under different circumstances.

Her images are playful, but then turn sinister, like in “Falling Angel,” where the narrator says, “Our honey gigolo, haloed, wary/Smiling at women, the boy who would kill//Carried disaster in the tilt of his chin/tightness of his shoulders, heavy droop of eyelids//”  What causes this young man to become a murder, and what does it mean for those around him.  Growing up in this neighborhood, the young must be forever watchful of how they are perceived by others and ensure that their actions cannot be the cause of another’s death or harm.  As the narrator in “Never Say Goodbye” indicates, “life is a process of hardening//” and it can even happen when you’re young and having a good time.

Nearly a third of the way through the volume, the poet asks, “How many candlelight vigils/will it take to light the sky/with grief?” (“The Gentle Giant”)  But in the same section, the narrator says in “Those Who Died,” “Remember that you live where they did not./You are the survivor and the advocate./You must live for those who died.//”  It is the pressure many surviving family members and friends place on themselves — to advocate for those who can no longer speak for themselves.  In many ways, these are the people who are “ghost sick” because they are the most haunted by those they have lost, and they are unable to escape that pressure.

Craft Supplies (pg. 51)

a wise woman once told me
you can't expect miracles
from dollar store markers
though they're often realized
in the most unusual, tawdry places
like the bottom of a bin

Readers will find that not all is dreary in Pohl-Weary’s world, as hope remains an eternal spring even in the darkest places. It can be held by a child with potential, a community that listens and acts, or even in the depths of a dream resurfacing for someone who has been lost. We, the living, are the ones that are haunting the dead with our emptiness at their leaving. We need to fill those holes and move on, so that they may do the same, as the narrator in “Meaning” suggests.

Ghost Sick by Emily Pohl-Weary is a profound collection that will have readers looking at their own losses to determine if they have filled those empty holes.

Rating: Cinquain

About the Poet:

Award-winning author, editor, and creative writing instructor Emily Pohl-Weary has published seven books, a series of girl pirate comics, and her own literary magazine.

She was the 2015 writer-in-residence for Queen’s University, where she mentored students and facilitating a workshop for people affected by incarceration. She has also been the University of the Fraser Valley’s Kuldip Gill Writing Fellowship Writer in Residence in B.C., and the Toronto Public Library system’s eWriter-in-Residence for Young Voices. She was also fortunate to be Dawson City, Yukon’s writer-in-residence at the Pierre Berton House.

Her most recent book is a collection of poetry, Ghost Sick, which was released in February 2015. Her novel for teens, Not Your Ordinary Wolf Girl, was published by Penguin Razorbill (Canada) and Skyscape (U.S.A.) in fall 2013. Her five previous books include Strange Times at Western High, Girls Who Bite Back, A Girl Like Sugar, Iron-on Constellations, and Better to Have Loved: The Life of Judith Merril.

Emily is also a current creative writing instructor at the University of Dalhousie. For more than a decade she has also facilitated creative writing workshops that focus on advanced writing skills, learning tools for conflict-resolution and processing trauma, and finding your unique voice.

 

 

Mailbox Monday #367

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Democratic Beauties by Glen Downie from Tightrope Books for review.

The latest collection of poetry by award-winning author, Glen Downie, confronts and attempts to decode various commercial artifacts of the twentieth century through the forms of prose poem commentaries and found poems. Democratic Beauties responds to these artifacts from the perspective of our current day, as well as puzzles out what their producers may have intended with them. In so doing, the book touches on a range of issues, including technological change, gender roles, notions of happiness and a society that cannot sustain itself without ever-increasing consumption.

Teeny Tiny Toady by Jill Esbaum, illustrated by Keika Yamaguchi, from Sterling Children’s Books for review.

When a giant hand scoops up her mama and puts her in a pail, a terrified tiny toad named Teeny hops faster than she ever did in her life. “Mama’s stuck inside a bucket! Help me get her out!” she begs her big, clumsy brothers. “Don’t you worry, kid. We’ll save her!” they promise, bumbling and stumbling and jumbling out the door. But as the boys rush headlong to the rescue, pushing their little sister aside, it becomes clear: brawn isn’t always better than brains—and the smallest of the family may just be the smartest one of all.  Written in lilting verse.

What did you receive?

Mailbox Monday #342

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

Water on the Moon by Jean P. Moore for a TLC Book Tour in November.

Early one morning, Lidia Raven, mother of teenage twins, awakens to the sound of a sputtering airplane engine in the distance. After she and her girls miraculously survive the crash that destroys their home, they’re taken in by Lidia’s friend, Polly, a neighbor who lives alone on a sprawling estate. But Lidia has other problems. Her husband has left her for another man, she’s lost her job, and she fears more bad news is on the way when she discovers a connection between her and Tina Calderara, the pilot who crashed into her home. In the months following the crash, Lidia plunges into a mystery that upends every aspect of her life, forcing her to rethink everything she thinks she knows.

Underdays: Poems by Martin Ott, winner of the Ernest Sandeen Prize in Poetry, for review.

Underdays is a dialogue of opposing forces: life/death, love/war, the personal/the political. Ott combines global concerns with personal ones, in conversation between poems or within them, to find meaning in his search for what drives us to love and hate each other. Within many of the poems, a second voice, expressed in italic, hints at an opposing force “under” the surface, or multiple voices in conversation with his older and younger selves—his Underdays—to chart a path forward. What results is a poetic heteroglossia expressing the richness of a complex world.

Mountains Without Handrails by Joseph L. Sax for review.

Focusing on the long-standing and bitter battles over recreational use of our national parklands, Joseph L. Sax proposes a novel scheme for the protection and management of America’s national parks. Drawing upon the most controversial disputes of recent years—Yosemite National Park, the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon, and the Disney plan for California’s Mineral King Valley—Sax boldly unites the rich and diverse tradition of nature writing into a coherent thesis that speaks directly to the dilemma of the parks.

The Kingdom and After by Megan Fernandes for review from Tightrope Books.

From Tanzania to Portugal, from India to Iraq, The Kingdom and After charts the 21st-century imaginative echo of empire and displacement in our current moment of terror and globalization. Sometimes written in frank, shrunken lines and other times exploding with surrealist, jurassic imagery, the poems witness an associative mind leaping from bone temples in Tanga to the pumiced surface of extraterrestrial oceans, from a panic attack in Mumbai to the tumbling spirits of the Big Sur coastline. These poems articulate a complex portrait of female sexuality and personhood. Not only excavating the legacy of empire with philosophical rigor, the speaker also dwells in humiliation and wonder, accusation and regret, while trying to envision what indeed remains after the era of kingdoms and kinghood.

Ghost Sick: A Poetry of Witness by Emily Pohl-Weary for review from Tightrope Books.

When a Christmas Eve shooting devastated Pohl-Weary’s community, she began to hunt through the numbness and grief for some understanding and hopefulness about the future.

In the tradition of Carolyn Forché, Ernesto Cardenal and Shu Ting, Ghost Sick is a poetry of witness. It chronicles the impact of violence on an inner-city Toronto neighbourhood, the power of empathy, and the resilience of the human spirit.

What did you receive?

Teacher’s Pets by Crystal Hurdle

Source: Tightrope Books
Paperback, 150 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Teacher’s Pets by Crystal Hurdle is ripe with innuendo, secrets, and more. Readers will venture into the wilderness with a class training group, as their instructor Cam teaches them about nature and all of its wonders. Through the interplay of free verse, overheard conversations between students and between teachers, as well as classroom assignments, Hurdle creates an absorbing setting in which the laws of the outdoors are internalized and the students learn to engage with the theory of evolution — “survival of the fittest.”

From "Robert Sedaris" (pg. 47)

He says some trees' taproots
probe and probe,
seek out the heat at the centre of the earth.

Man, I had no idea.
It's as if all my life I was underground
and have just now poked through the surface.

Robert Sedaris is a character full of foreshadowing, and he alludes to many events to come throughout the collection, but his lines are just subtle enough that they read like discussions of nature. In “Robert Sedaris” (pg. 83), “You hear the first little pop/and then so many that individuals can’t be heard,//they are all one./It blows up into something bigger/than you thought possible,/” Working on two levels, Hurdle has crafted a complex collection with multiple moving parts within and around it. In many ways, these little solar systems are orbiting one another and informing a larger sense of action and purpose.

Teacher’s Pets by Crystal Hurdle deals with some heavy issues and lines that should never be crossed — though they often are. These poems are by turns sad and will have readers shaking their heads at naive children, as well as shaking a fist at adults who should know better.

About the Poet:

Crystal Hurdle teaches English and creative writing at Capilano University in North Vancouver. She is the author of the poetry collection After Ted & Sylvia and her poetry and prose has been published in many journals, including Bogg, Canadian Literature, the Dalhousie Review, Event, Fireweed, and the Literary Review of Canada.

 

 

 

 

The Uncertainty Principle: Poems by Roxanna Bennett

Source: Tightrope Books
Paperback, 126 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Uncertainty Principle: Poems by Roxanna Bennett is a debut collection of poems in which the observation of events can have an impact on its outcome on the human and atomic level.  It is broken down into five sections — The Dominant O, Come From Away, Symptoms of the Disorder, The November Revolution, and Diminishing Returns — and each section delves deeper into the murk to uncover the momentum or the setting of events in motion.  Was it the abuse in childhood that forced her to be bitter and angry or was it being stood up that made her demand more power over her own life?

From “The Bottle Genie” (pg. 26-8)

I’m the empty window panes in a scissored newspaper, finger
of air beneath the door. I’m the cold chisel killing the torch singer,

the alembic that distills you to vapour. I’m what analyzes your
labelled slides, you in my eyes, magnified. I’m your cellar door.

Observation is not the mere passing of time for these narrating personas; it is an art form and a curiosity seeking to be quenched, even in the darkness of human suffering. There is a deep need to get at the root of a person, a situation, a motivation, a hurt. Beyond those who are observing, there are those who self-reflect, looking at the choices made and the life they live but from the outside — detaching themselves from those lives. Like in “Uprising” (pg. 31), “Limits of middle age fence/her in, a dozen lives ride/on her decisions. Memories,//raw beauty of teenage selves, memories,/youth that saw thoughtless uprising,/” where the woman is a decision-maker for those around her — probably her children and husband — and she is looking back to a time when she was not bound by her constraints and was free to turn on a dime and do something new without fearing the consequences — at least not having to fear how the consequences would impact those who rely on her.

From “Diminishing Returns” (pg. 121)

“We have navigated our worth
by the map of skin worn by another.”

“Hours dark wing-beats over the contours of her face.
We are the sum of all our choices, the origin of grace.”

Bennett also has a great series of poems in different sections of the collection that rely on echo, in which lines or phrases from one poem appear at the start of the next. These also ratchet up the tension in this collection, as readers are taken on a journey through rough waters and the unpredictability of the churning sea keeps them guessing. The Uncertainty Principle: Poems by Roxanna Bennett is a wounded animal howling in the dark, trying to make sense of the harm that has come and laid its insides bear for the alley cats to sneer and pick at, but it also is an examination of those trials and how they can define us or not, depending on the choices we make.

About the Poet:

Roxanna Bennett studied experimental arts at the Ontario College of Art and Design and creative writing at the University of Toronto. She lives in Whitby, Ontario.

 

 

 

 

Mailbox Monday #309

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

1. With Every Letter by Sarah Sundin, free Kindle download.

Lt. Mellie Blake is looking forward to beginning her training as a flight nurse. She is not looking forward to writing a letter to a man she’s never met–even if it is anonymous and part of a morale-building program. Lt. Tom MacGilliver, an officer stationed in North Africa, welcomes the idea of an anonymous correspondence–he’s been trying to escape his infamous name for years.

As their letters crisscross the Atlantic, Tom and Mellie develop a unique friendship despite not knowing the other’s true identity. When both are transferred to Algeria, the two are poised to meet face-to-face for the first time. Will they overcome their fears and reveal who they are, or will their future be held hostage by their pasts?

2.  All God’s Children by Anna Schmidt, free Kindle download.

Beth Bridgewater, a German American, finds herself in a nightmare as World War II erupts—a war in which she takes no side, for she is a Quaker pacifist. Just as she gains opportunity to escape Germany, Beth decides to stay to help the helpless. Meanwhile, Josef Buch, a passionately patriot German, is becoming involved in his own secret ways of resisting the Nazis. . . . Despite their differences, Beth and Josef join together in nonviolent resistance—and in love. Does their love stand a chance. . .if they even survive at all?

3. The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson, which came unexpectedly from Tandem Literary.

A provocative and hauntingly powerful debut novel reminiscent of Sliding Doors, The Bookseller follows a woman in the 1960s who must reconcile her reality with the tantalizing alternate world of her dreams.  Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . .

Denver, 1962: Kitty Miller has come to terms with her unconventional single life. She loves the bookshop she runs with her best friend, Frieda, and enjoys complete control over her day-to-day existence. She can come and go as she pleases, answering to no one. There was a man once, a doctor named Kevin, but it didn’t quite work out the way Kitty had hoped.  Then the dreams begin.

Denver, 1963: Katharyn Andersson is married to Lars, the love of her life. They have beautiful children, an elegant home, and good friends. It’s everything Kitty Miller once believed she wanted—but it only exists when she sleeps.

4. The Uncertainty Principle by Roxanna Bennett, an unexpected surprise from Tightrope Books.

Roxanna Bennett’s debut collection of precisely crafted poems examines connection and consequence. The poems in The Uncertainty Principle are the aftermath of events both at an atomic and human scale, from the domestic intimacy of a dysfunctional family to the wreckage of an atom bomb.

 

 

 

 

5. Teacher’s Pets by Crystal Hurdle, an unexpected surprise from Tightrope Books.

Thought provoking, sexy, edgy, and affecting, Teacher’s Pets explores what happens along the line that should not be crossed. Join a group of Venturers, a Wilderness Training school group, on their treks into the great outdoors of supernatural British Columbia and the mysteries of love and loss. Told in a series of free-verse poems from a lively crew of characters, interspersed with student assignments and the comments on them, discussions in and out of the classroom, journal entries, report cards, lists, and horoscopes, this book will engage teens and adults alike.

6. Boston  Strong: A City’s Triumph Over Tragedy by Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge from LibraryThing Early Reviewers.

Veteran journalists Casey Sherman and Dave Wedge have written the definitive inside look at the Boston Marathon bombings with a unique, Boston-based account of the events that riveted the world. From the Tsarnaev brothers’ years leading up to the act of terror to the bomb scene itself (which both authors witnessed first-hand within minutes of the blast), from the terrifying police shootout with the suspects to the ultimate capture of the younger brother, Boston Strong: A City’s Triumph over Tragedy reports all the facts—and so much more. Based on months of intensive interviews, this is the first book to tell the entire story through the eyes of those who experienced it. From the cop first on the scene, to the detectives assigned to the manhunt, the authors provide a behind-the-scenes look at the investigation. More than a true-crime book, Boston Strong also tells the tragic but ultimately life-affirming story of the victims and their recoveries and gives voice to those who lost loved ones.

What did you receive?

Muse by Dawn Marie Kresan

Source: Tightrope Books
Paperback, 80 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Muse by Dawn Marie Kresan is a powerful poetry collection in which inspiration takes center stage as the narrator examines the relationship between the muse and an artist.  The collection begins with a biographical note about Dante Gabriel Rossetti’s muse, Elizabeth Siddal, who also became an artist herself after modeling for only one artist.  Kresan examines her role as Rossetti’s muse, an inspiration for a great many paintings, and how the artist must have seen her and how there is now a disconnect between the woman she was and the woman that patrons of the arts now see in those paintings.  She establishes the tone in the beginning with the poem “Found” when he gazes upon her beauty and is stunned, but the tone quickly devolves into something sadder with “Housebroken,” as the muse is compared to a dog and the trade-offs that are inherent when someone is dependent upon the good will of another.

From: "John Ruskin: The Patron" (page 21)

Your hair a canopy that blazes, feverish,
around the pallor of sunken cheeks.
He decides you have genius, and for this reason
must be saved, as one would save a beautiful tree
from being cut down.

Kresan has mastered the use of imagery in her poems; they convey so much in so few words.  The loss of a child and one’s sanity becomes palatable, like bile rising in the throat, threatening to burn the reader, providing just a taste of that loss.  Kresan’s collection is searing and emotional, but also contemplative.  It asks the questions: what do we give up to be artists?  what do our inspirations/muses (even spouses) give up to be with artists?  How does this relationship challenge us … change us?

From "Brides with Plots: A Three-Act Play" (page 37)

Each time he paints you, you die again.  His signature, a bold
slash, enacts your vanishing.  The role
of muse requires

many deaths. ...

In the final part of the collection, there are a series of conversations and interactions between Siddal and other famous women — women who were considered muses in their own right, though maybe not to artists. She speaks with Princess Diana, Sylvia Plath, and others. Muse by Dawn Marie Kresan is well paced for a poetry collection, evolving over and over, creating a more complex look at the relationship between muse and artist, muse and reader/viewer, and muse to oneself.

Book 18 for the Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge 2014.

 

 

35th book for 2014 New Author Challenge.

258th Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 258th 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 Julie Cameron Gray’s Tangle:

Application to the Art Deco Society of California (page 22)

Condensation drips off a cool glass of gin,
drops onto the perfect green lawn
of a summer afternoon,
with all the prettiest people playing
their best flappers and philosophers,
dressed up for cocktails.

Misplaced dancing shoes,
bootlegged booze; the moment
in sequined sheath
when I can no longer stand
the sound of his laugh.
The only solution is the Charleston
and more drinks.

The silver notes of band brass
and bass cling to air
and slowly give way to dusk --

champagne and stars soar drunk
in a pollen-flecked swimming pool.

What do you think?

Tangle by Julie Cameron Gray

Source: Tightrope Books
Paperback, 96 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Tangle by Julie Cameron Gray is a collection of poems that weave in and out of one another, exploring the twisted up relationships between family and between lovers.  These poems are a tangled web that must be read and re-read, read out of order, in order, at random.  The themes vacillate from obsession to the breaking free of obsession to find yet another.  Section two is witty and sad in its emphasis on the mundane working life of workaholics everywhere.  This hodgepodge of poems works to tangle and untangle the complexity of our lives and to point out the most mundane.

From "Never: Red Fable" (page 15)

Never for a mouth crushed with roses.
Never wolf, never red cape, have and having
to which I want to say, hoodless,
again and again and again, lick
the edges of red absence from your lips,
and you'll want twice,
and then--
gently if you can.
You will never be this red again.

Gray’s lines roll out and back in, onto themselves, creating lyrical puzzles that lull readers into a song … losing themselves in the mystery of her words.  Whether it is “Haiku for Penguins in a Box” that surprise the reader with its content or the illustrated nature of “The Commuter’s Elimination Dance” (a personal favorite of mine), Gray is imaginative and innovative in her poetry, pushing the envelope as far as it will go.  Sometimes, she even breaks free of that envelope to set her imagery free.

Tangle by Julie Cameron Gray explores the gap between human experiences and the understanding of those experiences, she tackles the relationships humans have to one another and to their own work lives, and she juxtaposes the wild lives of animals with that of urbanity.  While these poems are glorious in imagery and verse, they may be a little tougher for beginning readers to understand upon first reading.

Book 17 for the Dive Into Poetry Reading Challenge 2014.

 

 

 

34th book for 2014 New Author Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #247

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 Rose City Reader.

Just a note to say that a poll about the hosting issue will be posted on the Mailbox Monday blog.

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.  Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich from my mother.

New Jersey bounty hunter Stephanie Plum knows better than to mess with family. But when powerful mobster Salvatore “Uncle Sunny” Sunucchi goes on the lam in Trenton, it’s up to Stephanie to find him. Uncle Sunny is charged with murder for running over a guy (twice), and nobody wants to turn him in—not his poker buddies, not his bimbo girlfriend, not his two right-hand men, Shorty and Moe. Even Trenton’s hottest cop, Joe Morelli, has skin in the game, because—just Stephanie’s luck—the godfather is his actual godfather. And while Morelli understands that the law is the law, his old-world grandmother, Bella, is doing everything she can to throw Stephanie off the trail.

It’s not just Uncle Sunny giving Stephanie the run-around. Security specialist Ranger needs her help to solve the bizarre death of a top client’s mother, a woman who happened to play bingo with Stephanie’s Grandma Mazur. Before Stephanie knows it, she’s working side by side with Ranger and Grandma at the senior center, trying to catch a killer on the loose—and the bingo balls are not rolling in their favor.

With bullet holes in her car, henchmen on her tail, and a giraffe named Kevin running wild in the streets of Trenton, Stephanie will have to up her game for the ultimate takedown.

2. Tangle by Julie Cameron Gray from Tightrope Books for review.

Teetering on the brink of longing and the downtrodden, Julie Cameron Gray’s poetic debut explores isolation and the distance between human understanding and human experience. Her poems showcase the relationship between people and their work, urban living and the fringe existence of “wild” animals, the flaws that relationships tend to encompass despite best intentions, and the mysteries inanimate objects hold. Tangle is a verdict, a web of dysfunction, and an alibi.

3.  Muse by Dawn Marie Kresan from Tightrope Books for review.

Beginning with an epigraph by Robert Graves, which asserts that “woman is muse or she is nothing,” the poems in Muse explore the concepts of influence, creativity, and gender by evoking the tragic figure of Elizabeth Siddal. As a model, then pupil, she married the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and although an artist and poet in her own right, Siddal is best known as a Victorian muse and the inspiration for her husband’s paintings. In sensual and evocative language, Dawn Marie Kresan shifts voices and perspectives, from Siddal’s loss and heartbreak over her stillborn daughter to the poet’s lighthearted reproach of artist William Holman Hunt’s depiction of the Lady of Shalott.

What did you receive?