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Writing Goal Week #17

Ok, I know I’ve been lax in reporting my weekly writing goals, but I think that I’ve been a bit consumed by Writing Goal Week #14, in which I accepted the challenge of writing one poem per day based upon prompts posted at Poetic Asides.

I now have 30 poem drafts to work from for the month of May. While I didn’t write each day, I did make up days I missed by sometimes writing between 2-4 poems in one day. This is a huge accomplishment for me. I did post these rough drafts as part of my tribute to National Poetry Month; I hope you enjoyed them.

So, for Writing Goal Week #17,

I will work on these 30 drafts to polish them for submission. If I happen to work on new poems that will be great as well.

What goals have you set for yourself or achieved?

***Giveaway Reminders***

5 Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me, books giveaway, here; Deadline May 4, 11:59 PM EST.

Giveaway for Eleanor Bluestein’s Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales short story collection, here; Deadline is May 6, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

1 copy of Rubber Side Down Edited by Jose Gouveia, here; Deadline is May 15 at 11:59 PM EST

7 Anecdotes About Reader-Me

I snagged this wonderful Meme from The Boston Bibliophile; read her post here.

1. I often bite off more than I can read when I accept review copies, but I am getting better and I will be catching up on these over the summer.

2. I am happiest reading new-to-me contemporary poets, who should definitely receive more publicity than they receive.

3. I love to browse bookstores, mostly chains near me. I can spend hours looking in the poetry section, mulling over which volumes to buy. That’s in addition to the hours I’ve spent at the front of the store with the best sellers and the new fiction.

4. I remember many of the books I’ve read from high school until now, though on many occasions the title will escape me.

5. I love using those post-it tabs for passages I plan to use in my reviews, and I always end up with way more of them sticking out of the book than I planned on, which makes choosing the passages I do use all the more difficult.

6. I have a ton of bookmarks, most of them free, and they are usually in one book or another on my selves, in the review piles, or in books that I love and reread passages of after the book spends several dormant years on the shelf.

7. I love to read, but sometimes my reading is interrupted and it makes me irritated. My hubby hasn’t quite learned to steer clear if I’m reading, and then he gets a tongue lashing when he interrupts. I still love him anyway.

Tell me 7 things about you as a reader.

***Giveaway Reminders***

5 Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me, books giveaway, here; Deadline May 4, 11:59 PM EST.

Giveaway for Eleanor Bluestein’s Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales short story collection, here; Deadline is May 6, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

1 copy of Rubber Side Down Edited by Jose Gouveia, here; Deadline is May 15 at 11:59 PM EST

Rubber Side Down Edited By Jose Gouveia

Jose “JoeGo” Gouveia’s Rubber Side Down: The Biker Poet Anthology is one of the best contemporary poetry anthologies on the market. These poems will appeal to not only deep thinkers, but also readers looking for detailed aesthetics. While most of us will never know what it’s like to be hounded by cops, some of these poems will allow readers to live the biker life vicariously.

Bikers tend to be like brothers, easily accepting of their members no matter what location they find themselves in. These poems signify the lonely road these poets travel, the hardships they face, and the beauty of the road.

“Harley United” (Page 36)
by Richard Vagnarelli

Not to them
Do tortured tones
Of twisted two stroke
Twins appeal;
Racer’s crouch
Grand prix attire
Bright plastic
Wheel to wheel.

Who can deny
The virtues
Of obsession
In a marque,
Symbolic of
The freedom
Sought by those
In dark glasses.

Seated low
In upright posture,
Arms held high,
Feet to the fore,
Proud to live
Astride a legend
Rooted deep
In biker lore.

And in common
With like riders,
Who in the aura
Have delighted,
They remain an
Elite brotherhood,
Alike,
Harley united.

In addition to the poems celebrating brotherhood and connection, some of these poems celebrate famous bikers like Evel Knievel, the evolution of bikes, and women enchanted by the biker life. Some of these poems rhyme, and rhyme well–with an easy rhythm. These poems have a life of their own, and many of them will make you want to read them out loud for emphasis like in “Highway Poets (theme poem)” by K. Peddlar Bridges (page 80) where the lines read: “We’re motorcycle riding/Engine blasting/Line chasing/Gravel chewing/Bug spitting//HIGHWAY . . . POETS!”

Others are simply laugh-out-loud funny, readers should buy a copy simply to read “The Six-Legged Moose.” (I’m purposefully not including this poem in the review to entice you to get this anthology.)

Rubber Side Down is a compilation of witty verse dealing with a number of issues including how bikers deal with aging and the prospect of no longer riding and the freedom of riding and how it makes it difficult to settle back into a “normal” life. Moreover, Rubber Side Down is set up in a format that provides readers with poems and photos of actual bikers in alternating sections, which enables readers to ponder the poems while examining the visual context of these poets’ lives. Each of these biker poets knows poetic style and form and how to break convention without losing their audience, and Rubber Side Down will appeal to more than just bikers and their families.

“WTHEFM” (Page 99)
by: Susie Howard

No, it ain’t a radio station,
but I listen to it like its playing my favorite
moldy oldies, yeah,
I know the words, snap my fingers
to its back beat I can use it,
the rhythm of too many days
turned in or out, a place named
for itself, like “KCUB its a Bear”.

No, it ain’t the style on my FM dial
I heard over there when home was
for away and dry was a dream cause I sat on my helmet
in the hole, my feet turning to sludge in my boots to
keep the same from happening to my ass,
nodding off to the memory of her
soft thighs, the bow from her bra.

No it ain’t the voice from the box,
that bitch, Hot-Jane-Barbarella,
the Stones or little miss
sunshine Hanoi Rose harmonizing
with, “Have decided to
mid-Tet Offensive cease-fire.”
Its all beaucoup okay, G.I.,
tallRoundEyeCharlieScreamingEagle.

No it ain’t the drone of all the
shitty jobs I’ve had, been laid
off from, kicked out of, walked
on since I got back till my best
friend is the guy at the Port Authority turnstile
booth who lets me through
for a warm night on the benches,
so long as I move now and then.

No it ain’t the sweet sing song of
my kids, scared of me at night when they tried to
climb in my bed but
I freaked out, ready to kill, with
demons before me where my kids
should have been, cause she took
them to hide which was right.

No it ain’t the buzz in my brain
when I hear, the 60’s–
remember when Little Anthony was Imperial,
when my best friend checks in for methadone treatment,
(after forty years, it ain’t
no treatment), when they say,
“Son, we’ve got PTSD”.

No it ain’t a radio station.
When it doubt, you got to dance.
Its just a backward glance.
A trip from then to now.
A long lost life since Hell.
I’m over the comments.
What The Fuck Moments.
Wanna make a request?

Rubber Side Down packs a punch and made me want to get that ape hanger I’ve always talked about and go for a ride.

Want to go for a ride with these bikers? Here’s your chance; I’m offering to buy one copy of Rubber Side Down for one commenter. (Yes, this is international)

1. For one entry, comment in the form of a poem (no, it doesn’t have to be great; or I might have mercy on you and count your comment as an entry even if it isn’t in poem form.) about why you want to read this anthology.

2. Follow this blog or if you are a follower tell me in the comments.

3. Spread the word about the giveaway on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, etc. and leave a comment here with a link.

Deadline is May 15, 2009, 11:59 PM EST

***THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***

Also Reviewed By:
Minds Alive on the Shelves

***Giveaway Reminders***

A giveaway of The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady, here; Deadline is May 1 11:59 PM EST

5 Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me, books giveaway, here; Deadline May 4, 11:59 PM EST.

Giveaway for Eleanor Bluestein’s Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales short story collection, here; Deadline is May 6, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

Calling All Poetry Book Reviewers ***Sticky Post***

This is a ***Sticky Post***

Do any of you bloggers read poetry books and review them?

How often do you review them?

Or do you want to review poetry collections?

I’ve been thinking about making a list and posting it somewhere on this blog to collect the site names and contact information of bloggers interested in reviewing poetry books.

If you want to be on this list, please email me your URL, name, and preferred contact information.

Poem #30, PAD Challenge 2009

I cannot believe it. I wrote one poem for each of April’s 30 days. I am beaming with pride…that’s not too terrible I hope. Anyway, let’s get to it, shall we?

Today’s Prompt is to write a farewell poem:

Endings

Off in the distance
You’re small.
Almost an ant on my picnic blanket,
the one with the pink butterflies.
We used to take it to that park
on the corner of Western Ave. and Main.
I know it wasn’t much of a park,
but the grass was soft,
so green.

You’re standing on asphalt,
the blanket disintegrated in the dryer
lint balls scraped away into the basket.
It reminds me of our final days
when the voices pitched high
fists and fingers flew at the air between us.
We made Swiss cheese of oxygen.

There is no sunset on the horizon,
more like high noon
in the O.K. Corral, guns blazing.
Only we never dropped
to our knees in that kitchen
Or here as the cab drives away.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

Did you participate in this challenge or other activities for National Poetry Month? Please share links, experiences, events, new poets, old favorites, what you liked about the poems I produced this month.

Asian American Writers

In response to May’s designation as Asian Heritage Month, C.O.R.A. Diversity Roll Call is asking participants to discussion their favorite Asian or Asian American writers and their works.

Regular readers should remember my numerous posts about Arlene Ang, but here’s a roundup of those posts here. I know that she lives in Italy, but her family is from the Philippines and she’s a poet. Poets need more face time in my humble opinion. So here it is, a bit about the Philippines I found on Wikipedia:

Manila is the capital of this Southeast Asian nation, which is officially called the Republic of the Philippines and consists of more than 7,000 islands. More than 90 million people live in this nation, which is a former Spanish colony. While the main religion on the islands has been Roman Catholicism (one of only 2 nations in Asia where Catholicism dominates), there are many other religions represented including Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam. Check this link for some ecology information.

Check out Arlene’s poem in 42opus, It Could’ve Been a Centerfold and A Setting Sun. Or her five poems in Identity Theory.

Check out these current giveaways:

A giveaway of The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady, here; Deadline is May 1 11:59 PM EST

5 Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me, books giveaway, here; Deadline May 4, 11:59 PM EST.

Giveaway for Eleanor Bluestein’s Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales short story collection, here; Deadline is May 6, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

Winners of Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch

Thanks to all of you who entered the generous Hatchette Group giveaway for Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch.

Out of 30 entrants, Randomizer.org selected these 5 winners:

#7 Jeannie of I Like to Be Here When I Can

#6 PamWax from A Day in the Life of, What’s Cooking?, and Big B, Little B and Samurai B in Japan

#30 SquiresJ

#23 Margay of Margay Leah Justice

#15 Heatherlo of Book Addiction

Congrats to the winners. I’ve emailed everyone for their addresses, and you have until May 2 at 5Pm to get them to me.

Thanks to everyone who entered, but don’t fret there are more ongoing contests:

A giveaway of The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady, here; Deadline is May 1 11:59 PM EST

5 Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me, books giveaway, here; Deadline May 4, 11:59 PM EST.

Giveaway for Eleanor Bluestein’s Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales short story collection, here; Deadline is May 6, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

Winner of Keeper of Light and Dust by Natasha Mostert


Hello and thanks to all of you who entered the Natasha Mostert Keeper of Light and Dust giveaway. Unfortunately, only one of you could win, but I hope many of you will check out this fantastic book. If you missed my review and interview, check them out here and here.

Out of the 38 entrants to the giveaway, Randomizer.org selected #35, which was:

Sharon54220

Thanks again, everyone. Look for more giveaway results soon.

Check out these current giveaways:

A giveaway of The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady, here; Deadline is May 1 11:59 PM EST

5 Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me, books giveaway, here; Deadline May 4, 11:59 PM EST.

Giveaway for Eleanor Bluestein’s Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales short story collection, here; Deadline is May 6, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

Poem #28 and #29, PAD Challenge 2009

Prompt #28 was to write a sestina or an anti-sestina.

Sestina Mess

A-line frame in the dark,
rigid dance in need of flex.
Movement fluid as silk.
Eaves in maroon,
waiting for a sash
to tie up the dancing.

Starlit parquet dancing
Playing tricks on my eyes, dark
with desire, I fiddle with my sash.
Your muscles flex
Tighter beneath your suit jacket, touch maroon
shimmering silk.

Tough silk
Sashay across the floor, dancing.
We’re on an island, marooned
Feeling our ways in the dark
waiting for re-flex
to take over and rip my sash

Float to the ground, sash
up, touch your skin, silk.
Skin on skin, flex
A muscle inward, outward, dancing
chest to chest in the dark
cheeks turned maroon.

Maroon
me here beneath the sash,
turning my heart into dark
bittersweet chocolate silk.
I swirl, dancing.
Flex.

A re-flex,
maroon
and dancing,
twirling sash
silk
and dark.

Romantic nights of dark re-flex,
enclosed in silk maroon
sash dancing.

Prompt #29 is to write a poem with “Never” in the title.

Never Smile in the Mirror

Your arms stretch over your head
as your mouth opens wide
ready to swallow the world whole.
Throw back the covers,
shrug into slippers and trod–
under running steamy waves
you lather up quick and tight.
Towel dry behind fog
and pull out the blade to shave.
I grace your flesh with my hand,
raising the skin in chills.
I feel the tension leave your body
and see your cheeks rise.
Drops of blood drip,
marring the marble sink rim.

What did you write today?

For more information about the challenge, go here.

Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales by Eleanor Bluestein

Welcome to the TLC Book Tour stop for Eleanor Bluestein‘s Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales. Today, we have a bunch of things in store for you. After my review, please take a trip through Eleanor’s writing space (complete with photos) and enter the giveaway for her short story book, Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales.

About the Book:

The ten stories in Tea and other Ayama Na Tales take place in the fictional country of Ayama Na, a small Southeast Asian nation recovering from a devastating internal coup and a long drought, both of which have left the population reeling.

The fictional country of Ayama Na is inspired by the sights and sounds of Southeast Asia. A street of fortune tellers in Ayama Na borrows details from one in Singapore; royal palaces, Buddha shrines, and hill tribes echo their counterparts in Thailand; sidewalk cafes in Ayama Na’s capital roll up corrugated metal exteriors and blare music to the street as they do in Viet Nam. But in emotional content and historical detail, Ayama Na most closely resembles Cambodia, where a brave young population, still rebuilding both country and culture in the wake of the Khmer Rouge genocide, operates with a seriousness of purpose and good humor that fills the author of this collection with awe and admiration.

Bluestein’s short stories read like morality plays in which flawed characters struggle with what actions will lead them on the right path and bring about justice. From the McDonald’s worker, Mahala, who wants to set things right for her friend, co-worker, and fellow student, Raylee, to Dali-Roo, a down-on-his-luck farmer working at a Sony factory to make ends meet, Bluestein uses scene breaks to build tension and quicken the pace for some of her more ambitious story lines. She also does an excellent job of weaving in details of her fictional South Asian location, Ayama Na, including the setting, the language, and Asian mysticism.

“Home was a houseboat in a floating village not far from the mouth of the lake, a squalid kitchen and cramped bunk beds ruled over by a mother who hadn’t attended school three days in her life, who worked morning to night cooking and mending nets for Song’s father and brothers, whose stained and wrinkled hands smelled of shrimp and dried fish. The houseboat lapped up and down and moved in and out at the mercy of the weather, and in the dry season, it flowed with the whole floating village closer to the center of the lake, exposing garbage-strewn banks.” (“Skin Deep,” Page 77)

Readers will enjoy many of the stories in this volume, including “Skin Deep,” in which a university student, Song, enters a beauty pageant and takes a year off from school. She has no talents to speak of, but eventually writes and recites three poems before the local judges and wins the competition. Once at the nationals, she concludes she needs a more dazzling talent and embarks upon a journey. She becomes an amateur ventriloquist. The scenes between Song and her mother are wrought with tension because Song is not fulfilling her destiny, and her automaton, Lulu, agrees. The final scene of this story drives the moral home and–like many of the other stories in this book–with a bang.

“While he waited for the artist to take a breath and notice him, Jackman studied the tiny iridescent beetle exploring the edge of Faraway’s beard, the grime sloshing in the creases of his sweaty forehead, the shivers regularly shaking a body swaddled for a brisk fall Philadelphia day.” (“The Artist’s Story,” Page 94)

Each of these stories highlights the struggles facing the people of Ayama Na, which may mirror the struggles of many emerging nations today, as they strive to hold onto their traditions in the face of modernization and globalization. In many cases the modern world is juxtaposed with the cultural norms of this fictional society, and almost all of the characters are faced with a moral dilemma. From the surprise endings in “Skin Deep” and “Pineapple Wars” to quieter changes in character in “The Artist’s Story,” Bluestein is a gifted storyteller who will have readers examining their own lives and learning how to integrate their own cultural roots into their modern lives. These stories also help us examine larger societal issues, like providing aid to devastated nations and cities like New Orleans and China and providing assistance to developing nations. Bluestein’s short story collection showcases her talents, and the book will provide fodder for book club discussion.

Also Reviewed By:

Meghan
The Bluestocking Society
Bookstack
Nerd’s Eye View
Lotus Reads
8Asians
1979 Semi-finalist…
Ramya’s Bookshelf
Feminist Review
Trish’s Reading Nook
Everything Distils Into Reading
Hey Lady! Whatcha Readin’?

About the Author:

Eleanor Bluestein grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts, and attended Tufts University. After graduating with a degree in biology, Eleanor taught science in public school, first in New York and then in Maryland.

For a decade, along with an early literary mentor, Mel Freilicher, Eleanor co-edited Crawl Out Your Window, a San Diego based journal featuring the work of local writers and artists.

Eleanor spent a year in Paris, France, writing fiction and studying French at the Alliance Française. Later, she completed a Professional Certificate in Teaching English as a Second Language at U.C. San Diego. These experiences found their way into the novel Syntax, a current project.

I’d like for you to welcome Eleanor to Savvy Verse & Wit at its new domain.

Above my desk, on the wall to the right of my computer screen, there’s a framed collage created by Matt Foderer, an artist I worked with some years ago. Along with other writers, designers, artists, and computer programmers, Matt and I sat at cubicles in a vast office space, producing multimedia educational products. I wrote words; Matt did computer graphics to accompany the text.

We were as creative as we possibly could be, mindful of the kids who would use these instructional products. But Matt and I both wished we were somewhere else—he creating his own art in the studio behind his house, I at my computer in my narrow home office writing stories.

I have purchased several works of art from Matt—two oil paintings for my living room and the collage on the wall that you see in the photo of my office. I want to describe it to you a little more in words and tell you what it means to me. You can also see it in detail at Matt Forderer.

The collage is one in a series Matt calls “Typewriterheads.” In each work in this series, against some intriguing setting, Matt has placed a human figure who has an antique typewriter where his head should be. In the collage I own, standing with his back to the ocean, is a person I imagine to be a waiter, apron-clad, towel in his hands, an old Underwood for a head. To the waiter’s right a plane lands on the water, a goat on a rock rises from the ocean, and in the sky, looking for all the world like a flying saucer, a huge shell whirls against the clouds.

I bought this collage because, to me, it portrays the poignant life of a writer who needs to work for a living while his head teems with the fantastic stories he dreams of writing. And also because Matt’s collage represents what I aspire to in my own work. Like his art, I want my writing to be funny, smart, evocative, hyper-imaginative, a bit surreal, and poignant, all at the same time. That’s a tall order, and probably why there are so many pages on my cutting room floor.

I no longer live a “cubicle life.” I am fortunate. So many individual’s creative lives are limited or outright thwarted by poverty, illness, war, and the myriad other forms bad luck takes. So if I struggle to get the words on the page, if they fall short of what I hope for, if some days the delete key gets more pounding than any other, if I even think of forgetting how lucky I am, I can look up at my wall. There’s that waiter with his back to the ocean and the untyped words swirling in his funny old typewriter head, wishing he were me, sitting at my desk, making up stories.

Thank you so much Eleanor for an inspiring guest post! Now readers, if you would like to read Eleanor’s short story collection, Tea & Other Ayama Na Tales, check out the giveaway details below.

***Giveaway***

This is open internationally.

1. Leave a comment on this post about what you enjoyed most about this tour stop or what inspires you as a writer.

2. Spread the word about this giveaway and leave me a link on this post for a second entry.

3. Become a follower and leave me a comment telling me that you did (If you already do follow me, please leave me a comment about that) for a third entry.

Deadline is May 6, 2009; 11:59PM EST

Check out the other stops on the tour:

Wednesday, April 1st: The Bluestocking Society

Monday, April 6th: Bookstack

Thursday, April 9th: Nerd’s Eye View

Friday, April 10th: Lotus Reads

Monday, April 13th: 8Asians

Wednesday, April 15th: 1979 Semi-finalist…

Friday, April 17th: Ramya’s Bookshelf

Monday, April 20th: Feminist Review

Thursday, April 23rd: Trish’s Reading Nook

Tuesday, April 28th: Medieval Bookworm

Wednesday, April 29th: Savvy Verse and Wit

*** Giveaway Reminders***

There’s a giveaway for 5 copies of Girls in Trucks by Katie Crouch, here; deadline is April 29, 2009, 11:59 PM EST.

A giveaway of The Mechanics of Falling by Catherine Brady, here; Deadline is May 1 11:59 PM EST

5 Joanna Scott, author of Follow Me, books giveaway, here; Deadline May 4, 11:59 PM EST.