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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.