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Mailbox Monday #578

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

We’re All Not the Same But We’re Still Family by Theresa Fraser and Eric E.W. Fraser, for review.

This story was written for adoptive families to explore the benefits of adoption openness. The main character, Deshaun, loves his family but always wondered about his biological family. Does he look like them? Did they love him? With the support of his adoptive parents, Deshaun gets to meet his biological family. They develop an ongoing relationship, so Deshaun feels more stable in his adoptive family, but also develops a comfortable relationship with his birth family. Deshaun and his family are reminded (as we all are) that family can include biological, adopted, foster and kin members.
After reading this book, a child and their family will be able to:

  • Discuss feelings about adoption
  • Imagine what openness might mean for them
  • Acknowledge similarities and differences among family members
  • Discuss if an expanded sense of family is possible for their circumstances

Hiking the Grand Mesa by Kyle Torke, illustrated by Barbara Torke, for review.

Join Coover, Conrad and their mighty dog, Clementine, as they explore one of the most unique landscapes in southern Colorado–the Grand Mesa! Their grandma takes them to the Dobies, a series of steep hills made from adobe clay that formed as the nearby volcanoes, now extinct, eroded. At first, Coover feels a little sad and lonely, but as he is introduced to the rich wildlife–from woodpeckers to toads, cattails and sunflowers–he feels stronger and more confident. As both boys tramp through their imaginative journey, the vivid history and beautiful scenery awaken them to a new world full of possibility and friendship. By the end of the day, everyone is happily exhausted and ready for the next adventure!

And You Can Love Me by Sherry Quan Lee for review.

And You Can Love Me is a story for everyone who loves someone with ASD (autism spectrum disorder). It is the fictional story of Ethan, a nonverbal autistic child, based on the author’s observations and experiences with her grandson. The bounce of a ball is not only a metaphor, but also how the author imagines that the child is releasing his innermost physical and emotional challenges. It is a love story that can be recognized by parents, caregivers and teachers; a story that embraces Ethan, a nonverbal child, who may never/or not yet be able to write his own story, yet he lives it every day and tells it by his actions and by bouncing a ball — any ball, any size, any color.

Emma Lou: the Yorkie Poo by Kim Larkins for review.

Meet Emma Lou, the Yorkie Poo – a little dog with big worries. She loves playing with her best friend, Pearl, but Pearl doesn’t always pay attention to Emma Lou’s worries. With the help of some new friends, Caleb the Calico cat, Patrick the pig and Gigi the ginormous giraffe, Emma Lou and Pearl begin to learn a new technique to calm their minds and bodies. Parents, educators, counselors – and especially children – can benefit from Emma Lou and her friends’ curious adventure to a mindful experience.

Amanda’s Fall by Kelly Bouldin Darmofal for review.

Amanda’s Fall, with charming illustrations by Bijan Samaddar, depicts an event common in schools today. Young Amanda gets a concussion after falling and hitting her head during recess. While she can hear people talking, she cannot respond. Amanda is taken to a doctor for evaluation. Wisely, her parents ask for a prognosis, which in Amanda’s case, is a good one. Author Kelly Darmofal offers readers her third book on TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), encouraging parents and caretakers to alert schools and, hopefully, doctors when any child is concussed; side effects can then be ameliorated.

Float: A Guide to Letting Go by Aimee L. Ruland, Illustrated by Carl R. Anderson for review.

Float: A Guide to Letting Go seeks to encourage children to process their emotions gently and in a way that allows them purposeful ownership of what they think and how they feel. It will aid them in identifying the root of their feelings, help them to examine their reactions to emotions and decide for themselves what they may be ready to release. The thoughtful use of color and symbols, and the guided practice of breathwork, encourages listeners to maintain a broad focus as they become more grounded and aware. The playful rhyme dances with listeners as they grow on their journey to the present, where they are beautifully set free.

Please Explain ‘Time Out’ to Me! by Laurie Zelinger and Fred Zelinger for review.

Time out is a dignified and effective method of discipline, endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association. This book, written by parenting experts, explains the time out process and provides step-by-step instructions for its proper and effective use. Please Explain Time Out To Me is two books in one: an engaging story with colorful illustrations and a parent section which describes the time out process in detail, as well as the advantages and pitfalls of other methods of discipline.

The Great Upending by Beth Kephart, which I purchased and is autographed by the author after her lovely virtual book launch with Main Point Books and the Radnor Memorial Library.

Twelve-year-old Sara and her brother Hawk are told that they are not to bother the man—The Mister—who just moved into the silo apartment on their farm. It doesn’t matter that they know nothing about him and they think they ought to know something. It doesn’t matter that he’s always riding that unicycle around. Mama told them no way, no how are they to bother The Mister unless they want to be in a mess of trouble.

Trouble is the last thing Sara and her brother need. Sara’s got a condition, you see. Marfan syndrome. And that Marfan syndrome is causing her heart to have problems, the kind of problems that require surgery. But the family already has problems: The drought has dried up their crops and their funds, which means they can’t afford any more problems, let alone a surgery to fix those problems. Sara can feel the weight of her family’s worry, and the weight of her time running out, but what can a pair of kids do?

Well, it all starts with…bothering The Mister.

What did you receive?

Excerpt & Giveaway: Outmatched by Jayne Bamber

Today’s guest is Jayne Bamber and her new book, Outmatched, which is a mash up of Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility. New alliances are formed in this novel, and there are elements of self-discovery, redemption, and conspiracy.

Before we get to today’s post, check out the book synopsis below:

When Sir Thomas Bertram returns home to Mansfield after his year in Antigua, he expects respite from his many troubles, in the bosom of his family. Instead he is met with blackmail, collusion, and the ominous threat of scandal.

When Mrs. Margaret Dashwood takes her daughters from Norland to Barton Park, she carries with her a secret hope that they might someday return, though she is not yet ready to pay the price for it.

A mutual connection bent on manipulation and revenge sets the stage for heartbreak, intrigue, and plenty of surprises as the worlds of Sense & Sensibility and Mansfield Park collide. Alliances shift along the way as familiar characters, bound by family ties, descend on Norland Park. There everyone has their own agenda, and constant peril looms as a large party of relations all scheme to outwit, out-maneuver, and outmatch their opponents.

Please welcome, Jayne Bamber:

Hello, readers! It is a pleasure to be welcomed here at Savvy Verse & Wit. It is Release Day for my fifth novel, Outmatched, a fusion of Mansfield Park and Sense & Sensibility, and I am particularly excited about the excerpt I am sharing today!

I have never wanted to admit how very much I like Mary Crawford, but I am sure readers will detect it over the course of the story. She has all the wit and sparkle of Elizabeth Bennet, though with sharper edges to be sure, but I cannot think her indefensible. She cares for her roguish brother, perhaps to a fault, but I am willing to argue her loyalty does her some credit. I cannot completely fault her in her dealings with Edmund Bertram, either – she knows what she wants, and bristles at the prospect of having to compromise. In truth, I think it brave of her, and quite right – she knows she does not wish to be a parson’s wife, and no community would be served by the parson’s wife not fulfilling the obligations of her position begrudgingly. Even at the end, when Tom is very ill, perhaps she ought not to speak as she does, but come on, we were all thinking it!

If my attempt at vindication has not entirely put you off, I do hope you will enjoy this little glimpse at my rendition of Mary Crawford. This scene takes place a few days after the large cast of characters converges at Norland, with one fairly logical friendship for Mary, and another that, though far from obvious, hold some promise….

***

Edmund was not amongst them in the drawing room, but Mary was determined neither to notice nor mind his absence; she played her harp for herself, and for her new friend Marianne. After a few minutes it was not such an effort. She had always loved playing, loved the feelings of peaceful pride that came with willing the strings to do her bidding. She played a piece she knew by heart and closed her eyes, shutting out her audience to lose herself in the music.

The effect might have been too engrossing, for when she opened her eyes at the end of her song, she was almost startled at the applause from more than a dozen people.

Marianne, who had been most insistent on the use of Christian names, rushed toward Mary at once. “Come, you must play a duet with me at the pianoforte,” she cried. She caught Mary by the hand and led her to the instrument, where she assaulted Mary with a tremendous quantity of sheet music to look over. The conversation in the room started up as Mary looked over the music; with so many people, it was all just a strange, euphoric buzzing in her ears.

All this had transpired within but a moment of Mary’s song, and she was still nearly in a trance from the emotion of her performance. This tranquility was now abruptly cut through by the voice of Mrs. Jennings, an old widow who had shown a peculiar obsession with the Dashwood sisters, and a delightful degree of conversational indiscretion.

“Colonel Brandon,” she cried, and every head in the room turned toward the doorway.

Mary felt the sheet music she was holding fall through her fingers, and looked down, watching the handful of papers slowly float toward the carpet until they were strewn at her feet, and then her head snapped back up. Had she conjured this man into existence with her silliness before?

Beside Mary, Marianne let out a low squeak, and behind the cover of the pianoforte Mr. Willoughby, looking rather startled himself, placed his hand atop Marianne’s.

Mary could not take her eyes off the handsome newcomer, and felt instinctively that he had been watching her for some time. John Dashwood was beside him, and now led the colonel into the room. “Yes, well, sisters, here is your friend from Devonshire come to call. What a fine thing for you girls! I have invited him to stay and dine with us.”

Mary glanced over at Marianne with some astonishment. How could the girl have an acquaintance such as this and not spoken of it during their fanciful conversation before? She looked back at Colonel Brandon, savoring the expression upon his countenance, pensive and enigmatic, sorrowful and yet hopeful – and such intelligence about the eyes. What a man! He made his introductions to those of their party he did not know, and spoke to the other Dashwoods – but now he was coming toward them.

Marianne moved away from Mr. Willoughby and linked her arm through Mary’s, as Mary continued to wonder why her friend could look so unhappy to see such a man as this seeking them out. He was on the wrong

side of five-and-thirty, perhaps an ill thing for a girl so young, and yet he wore his silvery hair so well. His stride was graceful, the curl of his lips almost outrageously sensual, his attire very fine but not ostentatious, and his voice, when he spoke, was deep and sonorous. 

“Miss Marianne, I hope you are well.”

“I am.” Marianne forced a smile. “I have just been getting better acquainted with my new friend, Miss Mary Crawford. She and her brother accompanied my Bertram cousins to Norland.”

“And what a lovely destination,” said the colonel. He bowed to Mary, and she dropped into a curtsey, keeping her head low enough to conceal her blush. She suddenly recollected the sheet music scattered about her, and dropped to the floor to gather it back up. Colonel Brandon must have seen her acting quite the fool, and she was heartily embarrassed for it. 

The colonel instantly mirrored her gesture, and began to assist her, but this only heightened Mary’s mortification. She focused on not letting her hands tremble, and wondered what had come over her to be so affected by this great pillar of masculinity. “I am afraid I took you all by surprise,” he said softly.

“Indeed, I had grown rather lost in the music, and was not thinking at all – what a silly mess I have made.” Mary gathered the last of the sheet music and stood. She handed the pages off to Marianne as the colonel did the same; Marianne received the rumpled sheets with a nervous laugh. 

“Yes, I saw,” Colonel Brandon replied. “That is, I came in at the end of your performance – I did not wish to interrupt what was so delightful to so many, including myself. I hope to hear you play with Miss Marianne, if that is your intention.”

Seeming to recall Marianne, the colonel returned his attention to her with an odd look about him. “I happened to be in the area – I have been in Sussex since leaving you all last week. When I realized Norland was so near, I thought it right to pay my respects, and I have heard such praise from all your family of the place.”

“Pray, what brings you to the area?” Mr. Willoughby smiled at the colonel, but Mary sensed something hollow in it – something strange indeed. 

They were to receive no answer, for Mrs. Jennings was bustling over to them. “Well, Colonel Brandon, what a to-do! Are we not a large and cozy party here? But what a perfect addition you make! I hope you mean to stay amongst us!”

The colonel looked uneasy, though Mary supposed such a reaction must be perfectly rational. “Mr. Dashwood has invited me to stay the night and dine with you all.”

“Very good, very good,” Mrs. Jennings cried, even as Marianne and Mr. Willoughby exchanged a look betraying the opposite sentiment entirely. “It is the finest house I have ever seen, I am sure – but you must stay more than a night! We are all snug and easy here, and you will not want to be going away so soon.”

The colonel smiled wistfully, and Mary was intrigued by what dolorous sentiments might engender such an expression. “I have no doubt you get on very well. The house is most impressive – Mr. Dashwood was so kind as to show me about the public rooms. You were all out of the house when I arrived, and I had no wish to interrupt your excursion. But one night must be enough, for urgent business calls me away again tomorrow.”

“Impossible,” Mrs. Jennings cried. “Surely not the same great matter that drew you from Delaford the day of our poor picnic!”

The colonel’s lips tightened. “It is a matter that requires my immediate attention,” he said firmly. “Indeed, Mr. Willoughby, as it involves a mutual acquaintance of ours, perhaps I might speak privately with you. At once.”

Mr. Willoughby grew very pale indeed, but had not time to reply before Mrs. Jennings cut him off. “What mutual acquaintance? Oh, dear me – not Lady Allen! La, but she is so very old – I do hope she is quite well!”

He bowed again. “Mrs. Jennings, Miss Crawford. Miss Marianne. I hope we shall speak later.” Mary was inclined to agree as she watched him lead Mr. Willoughby from the room, but had little time to ruminate on the matter before Marianne latched onto her.

“Forgive me, Mrs. Jennings, but I think my cousin Maria is calling for a game of whist. I do not mean to play myself, though I know you favor the game. Mary, might we take a turn about the room?”

Mrs. Jennings laughed and fixed them with a knowing look. “Well, keep your secrets – I am sure I know them all already, or very soon shall!” At that she turned her attention to the card party that was forming, and Marianne hastened to draw Mary in the opposite direction.

“Oh, Mary,” Marianne whispered as soon as they had walked some distance. “I am sure I should have fainted dead away!” Mary arched an eyebrow and smiled – no little resemblance to her own feelings indeed! And yet she was, more than anything else, recovered enough from the oddly flustering encounter as to be intensely curious.

“Why should you do such a thing? Surely you prefer your Mr. Willoughby to the colonel, even if he is so very handsome.”

“Colonel Brandon, handsome?” Marianne laughed. “Surely you mean to tease me worse than Mrs. Jennings.”

“Certainly not! If I ever did such a thing as that you should be obliged to lock me up.”

Thank you, Jayne, for sharing this excerpt with us.  We hope you’ll all check out your own copy and enter the giveaway.

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY!

 

Nancy Clancy Super Sleuth by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser

Source: Gift
Paperback, 144 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Nancy Clancy: Super Sleuth by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, is the first in this chapter book series about a girl who loves Nancy Drew and wants to be a detective just like her. While Drew’s cases take her on scary adventures and the criminals are creepy, Nancy Clancy’s adventures are tamer, often involving classmates and her sister, among others.

Nancy and her best friend, Bree, are amateur detectives and when they overhear Rhonda and Wanda talking about a secret in their year and how one doesn’t want to tell Nancy and the other one does, Nancy and Bree get to sleuthing. They even go through the girls’ backyard looking for clues while Rhonda and Wand are at soccer practice. What my daughter loves about these books is kids working together to solve mysteries (I used to love mysteries, too, as a kid). What I love about this series is the harder words that she has to sound out, like “concentration,” and the sprinkling in of French words that we had a great time using repeatedly after I explained what they meant.

Nancy Clancy Super Sleuth by Jane O’Connor, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser, contains more than one mystery to be solved, which keeps the excitement going. I would recommend these early chapter books for other kids who like mysteries.

RATING: Cinquain

The Haunted Library: The Ghost in the Attic by Dori Hillestad Butler

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 128 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

The Haunted Library: The Ghost in the Attic by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Aurore Damant, starts where the last book left off in which Kaz is still mourning the loss of his ghost family, but is eager to help his new friend Claire with her ghost detective agency and hopefully help himself find his own family.  In their first case, Kaz and Claire have to navigate how they will get Kaz to new places to find ghosts. At Mrs. Beezley’s house, Kaz takes a trip in a water bottle so he doesn’t float away on the way to the “scene” of the haunting. The attic they check out is dusty and the woman’s home always has all of the windows open, which poses a significant danger to Kaz.

My daughter was always eager to read this book each night, sometimes reading two chapters per night. We finished it really much faster than I expected. Kaz and Claire are fun young characters that she identified with in terms of emotion and curiosity. We were a little astounded that Claire would go out on Mrs. Beezley’s roof and climb down a tree, but I suspect most kids her age would do dangerous things if their parents are not watching.

The Haunted Library: The Ghost in the Attic by Dori Hillestad Butler, illustrated by Aurore Damant, is a fun read, with delightful illustrations. We love the idea of ghost detectives and hope that Kaz finds more of his family as the series goes along.

RATING: Cinquain

Alone with the Stars by David Gillham (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 2+ hrs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Alone with the Stars by David R. Gillham, narrated by Hillary Huber and Emily Bauer, is a dual narrative short story about Amelia Earhart’s last flight and her disappearance and Lizzie Friedlander, a young girl who idolizes the flying heroine. This Audible original imagines what Earhart’s last hours might have been like on that flight before she disappeared over the Pacific. Lizzie is eager to be a strong woman, just like her idol — someone her teacher says she can be with a little practice.

The short story illustrates how trailblazing women and others can become role models for the youngest among us. Friedlander was ignored by the coast guard in Florida when she brought them everything she heard over her father’s radio.

Alone with the Stars by David R. Gillham, narrated by Hillary Huber and Emily Bauer, seems like a surface tale, like so much more could be explored. Lizzie’s concluding passages seem like there could be more to come with her story even in her later years. So much more could be explored with Earhart as well, but the short story is engaging.

RATING: Tercet

 

Mailbox Monday #577

Mailbox Monday has become a tradition in the blogging world, and many of us thank Marcia of The Printed Page for creating it.

It now has it’s own blog where book bloggers can link up their own mailbox posts and share which books they bought or which they received for review from publishers, authors, and more.

Leslie, Martha, and I also will share our picks from everyone’s links in the new feature Books that Caught Our Eye. We hope you’ll join us.

Here’s what we received:

Empty mailbox for me this week. It will be good to catch-up.

What did you receive?

Guest Post: Writing Space of Mari Coates, author of The Pelton Papers

Everyone who has read this blog for long enough knows that I love peeking inside writer’s domains. I want to see where their creativity flows and learn about their tips and tricks, as well as what items they cherish. Today, Mari Coates will share with us her writing space and how she got it all arranged, as we celebrate the publication of her novel, The Pelton Papers by She Writes Press.

But first, here’s a little bit about this historical fiction:

A richly imagined novel based on the life of artist Agnes Pelton, whose life tracks the early days of modernism in America. Born into a family ruined by scandal, Agnes becomes part of the lively New York art scene, finding early success in the famous Armory Show of 1913. Fame seems inevitable, but Agnes is burdened by shyness and instead retreats to a contemplative life, first to a Long Island windmill, and then to the California desert. Undefeated by her history—family ruination in the Beecher-Tilton scandal, a shrouded Brooklyn childhood, and a passionate attachment to another woman—she follows her muse to create more than a hundred luminous and deeply spiritual abstract paintings.

Please give Mari Coates a warm welcome and take a peek inside her writing space:

Greetings to all, from my space to yours. These are strange and difficult times, to be sure, but a space of one’s own helps to settle us as writers. We can come home to our writing life in the space we create for it.

Mine? Well, it’s lovely. A room of my very own, as ordered by Virginia. It was about 25 years ago when my wife Gloria and I moved into the house in San Francisco that we rent from her Aunt Rose, our Godmother. Because we needed space for guests and she didn’t mind, Gloria’s room-of-her-own occasionally doubles as the guest room. And because I am a restless writer—much given to getting up and walking around, making tea, etc.—I preferred the first-floor room in the front.

Next step was to borrow a truck and drive to Home Depot, where I bought a piece of plywood—white birch, I think, beautiful! It was four feet wide and eight feet long. I kept the length but had them cut the width to 30 inches. Back home, I sanded it and rubbed it with tung oil. Beautiful! The way the wood came alive! Oh my.

I placed it on an old computer desk from another life and a small file cabinet, and voilà! Next I traded my old, traditional desk to a friend for a set of Ikea desktop drawers. And then I built up the personal. I need a lot of comfort and reassurance when I sit down to write, so I started with a set of New York Library lions, bookends given to me by a wonderful elderly friend of my mother’s, who was widowed by the time I moved to my own NYC apartment, and who enjoyed taking me to programs and events all around the city. Really what I loved was her company—her buoyant spirit, her generosity, her sense of adventure.

The wall I face while writing took a while to arrange, but now I have it as I want it: a paper calendar near the windows (I love the pictures and like being able to see the month laid out) and a pencil drawing of an antique iron my mother used as a doorstop. The drawing was done by my actuary father after my mother’s death and his retirement. To my sister’s and my great surprise, he signed up for art classes at his local community college. I love the detail of this picture, the care, the concern so typical of my dad. Next to it is an ink drawing by a friend from church, Florence Hauser, a now elderly lady who had been an amazing artist in her youth. We had told Florence about my book and that it was about an artist nobody had heard of, and she invited us to her house, which is filled with her own beautiful artwork. What a thrill to see that! And then she allowed us each to choose a drawing. Right below Florence’s piece are a photo of a dear departed friend and a framed Christmas card of Central Park West in snow, shot by my old friend Chuck. Next to that, and placed so I look at it all the time is a gorgeous watercolor by another friend, the artist John Zurier, whose career is flourishing. It was painted in Iceland on one of his first trips there. If you don’t know John’s work, do look him up!

Next to John’s watercolor is an archival photo by Nathan Lerner. He made a light box with two holes at either end and, I believe, another hole for the camera lens. Inside the box are simple wooden dowels, and the movement of light across them thrilled me the first time I saw it and still thrills me today. That elusive mystery of light is one of the links between me and Agnes Pelton, and shows me the moment of creation of a work of art. Our rescue kitty Tomaso loves nothing better than to jump up to the top of this bookcase and watch me work.

On the opposite wall is one of my proudest possessions, the walking stick given to all graduates of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. It’s handmade in Asheville, NC from native rhododendron to always keep us connected to the mountains. Warren Wilson is the reason I have a novel to share with the world, and the community of writers it has created keeps me going year after year.

So there you have it. Now, ready, set, WRITE!

Thanks, Mari, for sharing your lovely workspace with us.

We hope that more novels are forthcoming and that Tomaso doesn’t interrupt you too much.

About the Author:

MARI COATES lives in San Francisco, where, before joining University of California Press as a senior editor, she was an arts writer and theater critic. Her stories have been published in the literary journals HLLQ and Eclipse, and she is grateful for residencies at I-Park, Ragdale, and Hypatia-in-the-Woods, which allowed her to develop and complete The Pelton Papers. She holds degrees from Connecticut College and the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

Said Through Glass by Jona Colson

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 84 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Said Through Glass by Jona Colson is a keen observance of ordinary life and how we deal with not only grief, but our feelings of “otherness” even among family. There are several poems in an interview style throughout the collection, which I felt disconnected from.The one “interview” style poem I did enjoy and did feel connected to was “House for Sale,” where readers get a sense of a distracted home buyer who has lost his father and is trying to navigate life after.

However, I really loved Colson’s use of language to demonstrate ailments like arthritis and so much more. In “My Mother’s Hands,” the narrator speaks about his mother’s arthritic hands in a way that makes them beautiful: “Now, her fingers turn and twist against themselves,/like stems of wild roses–reaching out/into delicate air.” And in “Retina,” the narrator talks about the darkness of an eye out of sorts and the joy of being able to finally see again: “And the next day: surgery,/to fasten the retina, like wallpaper, back to the frazzled/optic nerve and satisfy its hunger for impulse/and clear astonishment of light.//” There is so much beauty in this collection.

Honey

It pours from a jar, amber and combed
too thick to understand.

It softens the parched skin
rubbed in small fingerfuls.

It soothes the throat
when we stir it into tea.

At breakfast, it sweetens the morning toast
while we talk of summer --

hopeful as a bee toward a tulip
promising pollen.

In part three, we switch gears in a way with a series of ekphrastic poems after a painting from Diego Velazquez called Las Meninas. When I saw this, I wanted a QR Code, like in Jessica Piazza’s latest collection, This Is Not a Sky, but it’s not necessary as this painting was easy to find online. These poems carry a heaviness that makes it easy to visualize the kids/women in this painting, including the Spanish Infanta Margaret Theresa. In the first poem, Theresa is the central figure and her “hoop skirt” is heavy like her heart later in the poem, signifying the weight of obligation she carries. “Heart-heavy, she rises, oiled and/drowsy, surging on, with no anchor,/only a painting of her, here and there./” Colson breathes new life into the Infanta, and the journey is intriguing as it touches on the royal life lightly.

Said Through Glass by Jona Colson speaks and readers must listen, but more than that they must interact with the lines and stanzas on the page — becoming a second observer. Readers will see through this window unique ways to look at the ordinary — from honey to an orange — and examine loss, grief, and change in a way that is not only sad, but beautiful. This beauty ties the collection to its grief to create an arc of healing.

RATING: QUATRAIN

About the Poet:

Jona Colson is an educator and poet. He graduated from Goucher College with a double Bachelor’s degree in English and Spanish and earned his MFA from American University and a Master’s in Literature/Linguistics from George Mason University. His poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Ploughshares, The Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. In addition to writing his own poetry, he also translates the Spanish language poetry of Miguel Avero from Montevideo, Uruguay. His translations can be found in Prairie Schooner, Tupelo Quarterly, and Palabras Errantes. He has also published several interviews for The Writer’s Chronicle. He is currently Associate Professor at Montgomery College in Maryland where he teaches English as a second language. He lives in Dupont circle area of Washington, DC. Visit his website at jonacolson.com

Poem: Our Future Will Become the Past of Other Women by Eavan Boland

Today’s poem I share to honor the passing of Eavan Boland, an Irish poet who has recently passed away. I loved her poems. There’s a new documentary about her, that you can read about here.

Please listen below:

Do you have a favorite poem by Boland? Please share in the comments.

Other Voices Other Lives by Grace Cavalieri

Source: Purchased at Gaithersburg Book Festival
Paperback, 250 pgs.
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Other Voices Other Lives by Grace Cavalieri (listen to this interview), poet laureate of Maryland, is part of Alan Squire Publishing’s legacy collections and includes a selection of poems and plays, as well as interviews from her The Poet & the Poem public radio series.

I just had to get my hands on this collection when I was at last year’s Gaithersburg Book Festival and I had the honor of greeting her and escorting her about the local festival before her appearance was required on a panel and at the announcement of our 2019 high school poetry contest winners.

Selection from "Work Is My Secret Lover"

Work
takes the palm of my hand to kiss
in the middle of the night
it holds my wrist lightly and feels the pulse
Work is who you'll find with me
when you tiptoe up the stairs
and hear my footsteps through the shadows

I love that her poems take on a personality of their own and many of them are so different, tackling not only the angst of the writer’s life and the love we have for our work (which can take precedence over other things), but also the voices in which she speaks not for others but with them. From Anna Nicole Smith’s to Mary Wollstonecraft’s voice to poems styled after William Carlos Williams, Cavalieri’s imagination brings a new life to these women’s voices. Even the selections from her plays are lyrical and full of whimsy (in a way). Her persona poems imbue the public perceptions of women with a compassionate eye.

If you listen to her interview, at about 5:06, you’ll hear her read “Moderation,” which is my favorite poem from this collection. It’s deeply moving. A moment where a man knows it is time to pass into another world, and he hopes to never inconvenience anyone with his death. This silent man who doesn’t live outside the lines. Cavalieri displays her keen observations about her father and others, but she also observes herself as an outsider, an observer full of emotion. Other Voices Other Lives by Grace Cavalieri is a deeply emotional journey through her work, and it always rings true. I’ll be seeking out her other collections in the future.

Grace Cavalieri needs no introduction in Maryland as our state Poet Laureate, but damn she is smart, observant, kind, and deliciously cognizant of how to imbue others with humanity through her own compassionate lens.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Poet:

Grace Cavalieri is an Italian American writer and host of the radio program The Poet and the Poem, presented by the Library of Congress through National Public Radio. She is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Poems: New and Selected (1994), Pinecrest Rest Haven (1998), and Greatest Hits, 1975–2000 (2002). Her collection What I Would Do for Love: Poems in the Voice of Mary Wollstonecraft (2004) was awarded the Patterson Poetry Prize; Water on the Sun (2006) won the Bordighera Poetry Prize. Further collections include Anna Nicole: Poems (2008) and Sounds Like Something I Would Say (2010).