Happy Thanksgiving

Veterans Day 2018

We Remember…

What’s Up, Friday?

I hope everyone has a great long weekend.

We’ve had a busy time preparing for second grade and the new soccer season with our daughter. It’s been very busy and work is getting busier all the time.

Friday is my down time and I have spent much of today baking with her for my mother’s birthday tomorrow.

Have a great weekend!

Literary Book Gifts & Promo Code for You

I wanted to share with you a unique gift find for the book lover in your life. Have you ever wanted to find that perfect t-shirt or tote bag for your best friend?

Literary Book Gifts might have just the thing for you and your friends.

I talked with Melissa about her store and she’s generously offering my readers a 20% discount on their orders. You’ll find out the promo code later on.

Why did you start your shop?

I started my shop because I love the stories that come out of novels. Books are rarely expressed in the visual medium. Book covers often capture the essence of a novel, but these days with the rise of eBooks you don’t often see many book covers around. Wearing a book on your shirt or on a tote bag makes it tangible and allows you to experience the artwork during your daily life. A simple reminder of our attachment to the narratives of our own lives.

What inspires you?

I am inspired by the ability of some of the stories to make it’s readers feel such complex and often powerful emotions.

What’s unique about your gifts?

The massive variety of sizes and colors makes these gifts really unique in the industry. Each print is available in tons of colors, anywhere from about 8 to 15 (it varies based on the design itself). And women’s shirt sizes range from XS – 3XL and men’s sizes from S – 5XL. Beyond the print itself, I think color and sizing are the most important factors involved when buying clothing.

Why you think people should buy them?

Self expression is a primary part of the human experience. It allows for you to connect with others on a more intimate level than simply not expressing yourself at all by wearing a blank shirt. However, you cannot just wear any random clothing, you must feel as though it matches your personal style, and that is what these shirts are aiming to do.

Thanks, Melissa. I agree, self-expression is a big part of what makes us human.

Now, for the promo code and details, dear readers. I know you’re salivating.

The promo code SAVVYVERSEANDWIT20 is good for 20% off anything in the store, no minimum, and can be used unlimited times.

Go shop.

Happy Independence Day 2018!

I hope that everyone takes the time to relax, take time to share fireworks and good food with friends and family, and to really think about the liberties our nation provides us. We need to protect them and cherish them.

World Cup 2018: Poetry

I currently have World Cup fever and I couldn’t resist sharing this from My Poetic Side:

The Poetry World Cup
The Poetry World Cup, by My Poetic Side

Personally for Portugal, I would rather have seen someone other than Saramago. But you have to put your most renowned poet in the competition, don’t you?

For those interested in other Portuguese poets, please do check out these translated poems:

There clearly needs to be some more English translations of Portuguese poets.

Curious Iguana Event Recap: Sweta Vikram, author of Louisiana Catch

Over the Memorial Day weekend, Sweta Vikram came to Frederick, Md., to the Curious Iguana bookstore to have a conversation about not only women’s rights and her book, Louisiana Catch, but also about the dangers of social media and human rights.

And, yes, before you ask: I did bring every Sweta Vikram book I own to get signed, since I haven’t seen her in person in so long! She had to sign my books.  I hope I didn’t give her hand a cramp.

Also, since I help establish her blog tour through Poetic Book Tours for her debut U.S. novel, I was happy to provide a Live Facebook Feed for part of the event. Please click and watch the beginning of the event. She’ll make you laugh.

Please also view these two videos from the Q&A and reading portions of the event.

It was a small room and full of people that Sweta, also the owner of NimmiLife, knew and some that those people had brought along with them, including my daughter who did not want to miss the “Poet lady.” Yes, that’s how she refers to Sweta. I never saw her put on her shoes so fast to go to a reading before; it was quite a sight.

The event had it all: discussions of marital rape, surviving sexual assault, women’s rights, the differences between writing poems and writing fiction, and of course the question everyone wants to know — was Rohan Brady based on Bradley Cooper?

Sweta Vikram will be back in the D.C. area in September, and I hope those who couldn’t make it up to Maryland, will see her when she’s in town again.

Gaithersburg Book Festival 2018

Like every year, I plan out my time at the Gaithersburg Book Festival. I try to get in a good mix of poets, fiction writers, and children’s authors, as well as some time blocked out for eating and the children’s village of activities.

Unlike previous years, I was not moderating or volunteering, which was disappointing to me but with how hectic my daughter’s schedule has been I just had to cut something out this year. That will change for 2019.

Even as I made plans, life has a way of running us off track, which is exactly what happened this year. I missed all of the poetry and children’s authors I planned to introduce my daughter to. As my daughter was the one in rare form on Saturday, making everything difficult, including getting dressed and eating breakfast. Kids are a struggle.

It was a battle for the ages, and I set the plans aside and just let her be for more than half the day. I was in no mood for battles; I wanted fun and books.

Thankfully, as the rain burned off and the sun emerged, my daughter was in a better mood, and I didn’t have to miss Alma Katsu, author of The Hunger. Her Thrills and Chills panel with Julia Fine, author of What Should Be Wild, was all it was billed to be with a how-to on cutting up bodies, talk of Stephen King endorsements, female desire and myth rewriting and, of course, cannibalism.

Both books incorporate elements of horror and the supernatural, and both deal with some dark issues. I was thrilled to see a debut author paired with an author of four books because it often helps an audience see different perspectives on the writing and publishing processes. Fine says her book defies traditional genre descriptions, which Katsu saw as familiar given her Taker series was also a mesh of various genres. I’m looking forward to finishing The Hunger and reading What Should Be Wild.

Here’s a bit of a sidenote, my daughter was with me when I first met Alma Katsu, here’s a side by side look at the difference seven years makes:





Books and Stories by Alma Katsu:

I’d love to hear about what books and authors you discovered at the festival or a festival near you! Please share in the comments.

Thursday’s Poetic Thoughts #2

Thanks to everyone who has shared poetry-related posts this month.

Jill at Rhapsody in Books always has a string of #NationalPoetryMonth blog posts, and I love that she highlights children’s books that are poetic.

Catch her reviews of The Watcher by Nikki Grimes and Enormous Smallness of E.E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess.

Cummings is one of my favorite poets and one of his poems was read at our wedding by my friend, Anna. The illustrated book about Cummings is going on my list for my daughter.

Jeanne at Necromancy Never Pays shares her new kitten adventures and a poem for Spring by Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Naida of the bookworm shares a spot of Anne Sexton‘s poetry.

In other poetic news, I read a poem at the last open mic, attended by the mayor of Gaithersburg, and I’ve written 3 poems this month. One poem is still a work in progress, but that’s ok.


For upcoming local events, check out the Split This Rock Poetry Festival which starts today in Washington, D.C.

Additionally on April 22, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., you can attend Kensington Day of the Book. Some poets like Luther Jett and Don Illich, who read at the DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading Series, will be there, as well as Nancy Naomi Carlson and Indran Amirthanayagam. There also will be young poets and storytellers. Although I will be unable to attend this year due to a prior engagement, this is a local event you won’t want to miss, Marylanders.

Also on April 19 and 20, The Bethesda Urban Partnership is hosting its annual literary event with winners of the Poetry and Short Story/Essay contest. Find out more about those events here.

4th DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading Recap

Unfortunately, I missed the 3rd reading due to other obligations.

However, this past weekend’s DiVerse Gaithersburg Poetry Reading and Open Mic at the Gaithersburg Public Library had a spectacular lineup with Marlena ChertockKateema LeeJoseph Ross, as well as special guest Gaithersburg Mayor Jud Ashman, who spoke about the upcoming Gaithersburg Book Festival on May 19.

Ross kicked off the reading with poems from his collection Ache, many of which are written in the voice of famous civil rights leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Nelson Mandela. The collection touches on a great need for empathy and highlights some of the most horrible events in recent history, particularly the murder of black young men. I did want to ask how much consideration he gave to the community he was writing about when writing in these voices, but I’m not one to start controversial arguments in public settings. I did enjoy what was read from the collection and thought it well done. One beautiful thing about poetry readings is you can directly buy books from the poets you hear — no waiting, no forgetting their names (I’m horrible at remembering names) after the reading when life gets in the way…

Marlena Chertock’s poems were definitely different in that they exposed pain and suffering with the help of science and space exploration. Her poems immediately reminded me of the science-based poems of Jeannine Hall Gailey and others. Chertock’s style carries a very personal voice, a perspective from a short woman with bones that are older than her chronological age. Crumb-sized: Poems was the collection she read from the most and her “Application to NASA” had me hooked. Even the cover suggests “space” or at least “planets.” (my review forthcoming)

Kateema Lee has a new collection of poems, Musings of a Netflix Binge Viewer, coming from Finishing Line Press that I just pre-ordered on their website. Her poems from this collection really caught everyone’s attention, especially with her rhythmic lines and humor. She also read from Almost Invisible, her first collection, and these were more sobering poems about her relationship with her Vietnam War veteran father. I had hoped to speak with her about the collection and her father, as well as buy a copy but she disappeared before I got to it. It was simply a busy reading. I know that she and Chertock will be at the 2018 Split This Rock Poetry Festival April 19-21 in D.C., so perhaps I will run into her again.

Lucinda Marshall, who has been the point person for these readings, solicited ideas from the audience about how to spread more poetry to the community. My daughter even filled out her notecard. You can find those ideas here.

Some of them are already being used in D.C., and it would be fantastic to see some of them used in Maryland’s Montgomery County.

For the special Mother’s Day poetry reading, check out the 2018 calendar of events. See you at the next reading.

Thursday’s Poetic Thoughts

National Poetry Month has started, and there are a few poetry posts cropping up to celebrate poetry. Here’s my rendition of #WednesdayWisdom

As Jill at Rhapsody in Books found science and poetry are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there are similarities in how they peel back the layers of our reality to provide us a better understanding of the world around us. She highlights some great poems for adults and children, and I encourage you to check out her post to learn more.

At Necromancy Never Pays, Jeanne speaks about the difficulty she’s had making time to read and talk about poetry since the election of our new president. Time has been taken up by causes that she believes in, and these are equally important. However, she does share a “political” poem of sorts — more of what I would say is a lament for things that are no longer the same. But the most powerful part was her images of Mr. Rogers who reminds us that we “choose” what we spend time on and we each make a choice every minute. We need the wisdom to remember that.

For those looking to purchase some great poetry, the National Parks System is offering 20% off its Poetry in the Parks books, posters, magnets and even an Edgar Allan Poe bobblehead.