She by Saul Williams

She by Saul Williams is a collection of interconnected musical poems coupled with a collection of images from Marcia Jones that tells a story about a woman and their journey together.  On his Website, he says, “This book chronicles my thoughts and feelings as a young man working through an early relationship with an amazing visual artist as we embark on adulthood and parenthood in the same breath.”

Each of Williams’ poems has a unique rhythm to it, and should be read aloud for effect.  Each is as expressive as you would expect Williams to be in real life, becoming an extension of himself and his digital, visual, and audio art.  Unlike other collections, Williams’ She is a story beginning to end with a prologue and epilogue and prose poetry.  The nameless She is integral to the journey, a connection to the past and the future, illustrated through short lines and “out loud” cadence that screams to be read aloud.

While readers could dip in and out of the collection and experience it in small chunks, it is best to read it cover to cover to grasp its full impact. Tackling issues of separatism, aging, and opposing desires, Williams pinpoints the harshest of realities and deals them a deft blow when he demonstrates the commonalities between us all. Because these poems do not have titles, the clear intent is to create a continuous narrative in which “calamity makes cousins of us all” (page 22) and “we live.” (page xi)

Nature imagery and personification can make the issues more vivid, “there is a gathering in the forest. the leaves have refused to change. they say that they are tired of things never remaining the same, of dying to be reborn, of winter’s dry withered hand.” (page 7) But lest the images become to heavy, there are moments of whimsy as well.

I have seen the truth
many times
but for the first time
she saw me

I wore suspenders
for the judgment
in my pants

(page 13)

As the relationship goes down hill, readers will not a dramatic change in the poems as the narrator struggles to let go for the sake of love. “I am a canvas/painted over/whether it be by your hand/or mine own.” (page 113) The images included in the book are unusual and appear to mix mediums, and often resemble pages from a scrapbook that a mother would keep of her children. In a way these pages resemble Williams’ play on words as he picks them apart and alters their definitions to explain the moment he is in.

Reading She alone in a room is not enough. It should be read aloud, shared with others, and most who pick up a copy will do just that. Seeing Saul Williams read it would make it even better, but its up to you to find out where he’s reading or performing next. There is not enough that can be said about this collection, except go read it!

Some reason Saul reminds me of Don Cheadle in this photo.

About the Poet:

Saul Williams is an American poet, writer, actor and musician known for his blend of poetry and alternative hip hop and for his leading role in the 1998 independent film Slam.

From Wikipedia about Williams and Marcia Jones’ relationship:

Williams and artist Marcia Jones began their relationship in 1995 as collaborative artists on the Brooklyn performance art and spoken word circuit. Their daughter, Saturn, was born in 1996. His collection of poems S/HE is a series of reflections on the demise of the relationship. Marcia Jones, a visual artist and art professor, created the cover artwork for The Seventh Octave, images through-out S/HE in response to Williams, and set designed his 2001 album Amethyst Rock Star.

This is my 24th book for the Fearless Poetry Exploration Reading Challenge.



This is my 54th book for the 2011 New Authors Reading Challenge.

Mailbox Monday #140

Mailbox Mondays (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at A Girl and Her Books, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  This month our host is Life in the Thumb.  Kristi of The Story Siren continues to sponsor her In My Mailboxmeme.  Both of these memes allow 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 this week:

1.  Seeing Is Believing: [Observations on the Mysteries of Photography] by Errol Morris for review from TLC Book Tours in September.

2.  My Soul to Take by Tananarive Due for review.

What did you receive this week?

127 Hours: Between a Rock and a Hard Place by Aron Ralston (audio)

Aron Ralston, if you are not yet familiar wit his amazing recovery from being trapped in a Utah canyon, reads this abridged edition of his memoir, 127 Hours:  Between a Rock and a Hard Place.  In only five discs, listeners will get lessons in climbing equipment and the actual stamina and skill involved in hiking treacherous terrain out west.  Ralston is a man who often likes to hike and climb alone to commune with nature, but also to be with himself in a way that allows him to just be and assess his own life.

Listeners are walking beside Ralston as he tells his tale, climbing steep canyons with him, and feeling the agony and pain of dehydration, starvation, and major blood loss.  His enthusiasm for the outdoors and climbing are infectious.

127 Hours is a gripping real life tale of a human struggle alone in the wilderness and the enduring nature of hope and humanity.  Ralston’s struggle is immediate and harrowing.  The audio, especially narrated by the actual subject of the tragic event, is mesmerizing and even disturbing in its detail.  Overall, this is one of the best audio books of the year.  It is more than just a story about a man’s struggle and courage, but about what he does following tragedy to change his life and appreciate the friends and family he has.

My husband and I listened to this audio on the commute to and from work.  My husband says the best part of the book is how the narrator describes the process through which he amputates his arm to miss his major veins and nerves until the harder parts are severed, etc.  There is a true sense of how the human spirit seeks ways to keep the body going, and how the body keeps going regardless of moments of weakness in human will.  Ralston explains his plight really well.  Very profound and memorable.

***Thanks to Eco-Libris and the Green Books Campaign for sending us this wonderful prize.***

This is my 61st book for the 2010 New Authors Reading Challenge.

Giveaway: Rick Yancey’s Monstrumologist, Curse of Wendigo

I have a special treat for the young adult in you or living with you, especially if they are interested in supernatural adventures.  Rick Yancey’s The Monstrumologist, which won the 2010 Michael L. Printz Honor Award, and the second book in the series, The Curse of the Wendigo, are up for grabs for two winners in the United States or Canada.

The Monstrumologist begins with the diary of Will Henry, orphan and assistant to a doctor with a most unusual specialty: monster hunting. In the short time he has lived with the doctor, Will has grown accustomed to his late night callers and dangerous business. But when one visitor comes with the body of a young girl and the monster that was eating her, Will’s world is about to change forever. The doctor has discovered a baby Anthropophagus—a headless monster that feeds through a mouth in its chest—and it signals a growing number of Anthropophagi. Now, Will and the doctor must face the horror threatening to overtake and consume our world before it is too late (from Simon & Schuster).

Please check out the Monstrumologist Web site and the first chapter of the book.

The Curse of the Wendigo:  While attempting to disprove that Homo vampiris, the vampire, could exist, Dr. Warthrop is asked by his former fiancé to rescue her husband from the Wendigo, a creature that starves even as it gorges itself on human flesh, which has snatched him in the Canadian wilderness. Although Warthrop also considers the Wendigo to be fictitious, he relents and rescues her husband from death and starvation, and then sees the man transform into a Wendigo. Can the doctor and Will Henry hunt down the ultimate predator, who, like the legendary vampire, is neither living nor dead, whose hunger for human flesh is never satisfied? This second book in The Monstrumologist series explores the line between myth and reality, love and hate, genius, and madness (from Simon & Schuster).

Please read the first chapter of the book.

Also check out this trailer:

About the Author:

Rick Yancey is the author of The Monstrumologist series (Book #1 of which won the Michael L. Printz Honor Award in 2010) as well as the critically acclaimed series Extraordinary Adventures of Alfred Kropp. He has also written several novels for adults including The Highly Effective Detective and A Burning in Homeland. He earned a BA in English from Roosevelt University in Chicago, and worked as a field officer for the Internal Revenue Service before turning to writing full time in 2004. Rick lives in Florida with his wife Sandy, three sons, two dogs and one lizard. Visit his Web site.

To Enter:

1. Leave a comment about why you want to win this series.
2. Spread the word via Blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc. for a second entry.

Deadline Dec. 3, 2010, at 11:59 PM EST

***Thanks to Big Honcho Media and Simon & Schuster for sponsoring the giveaway. Look for my review later in the year.***

Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis by Al Gore, read by Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery (audio)

Our Choice:  A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis by Al Gore , which I received as a win from the Green Books Campaign with Eco-Libris, is not what readers will expect.  The foreword is read by Al Gore himself (check out the audio excerpt), but the remainder of the audio is narrated by Cynthia Nixon and John Slattery in alternating chapters.  Many will expect this volume to talk about how to save the planet, but some may mistakenly think that this is a practical guide for the average American.  Upon listening to the audio, however, readers will quickly realize that it is geared at providing larger scale solutions to the climate crisis.  However, it would be wrong to assume this book is only for policymakers, scientists, and other societal players because without support from individuals these initiatives will not come to pass.

Our Choice is a comprehensive look at the most viable solutions available to combat and reverse climate change, and it examines each solution from a variety of perspectives to determine which would be the best investment.  The book is about not only learning to conserve energy, but also about learning to use waste energy to supplant energy needs and make processes more efficient.  From deforestation in developing nations to population growth, Gore discusses many of the pressing issues facing the sustainability of the globe.  Although many of the developed nations have contributed most to the carbon emissions and developing nations find it unfair that they should adhere to caps when they have not had enough time to develop their industries, Gore makes the case that we all live on the same planet and regardless of who caused the most damage the time has passed for the blame game.  It is now time for humans to look beyond nations, cultures, and societies to save our home.

Depending on your level of enthusiasm for environmental issues or affinity for audio books, Our Choice is a deeply informative book about the broader picture of climate change and the possible solutions.  However, readers may find the narration a bit dry at times given the nature of the information provided and may prefer to read this book on their Kindle or in paperback.  Gore’s book is a must have for each American so they can learn about the crisis, make note of the possible solutions available to individuals and those for the broader society, and take action on a grassroots level.  America was built on grassroots activity, and that great tradition should continue.

OK, I’m jumping down from my soapbox.  As a bonus, I would like to do the “green” thing and pass along my copy to another reader.

This giveaway for the audio of Our Choice by Al Gore is international:

1.  Leave a comment about your feelings on the climate crisis.

2.  Blog, Tweet, Facebook, or spread the word and leave a link on this post.

Deadline is July 4, 2010, at 11:59 PM