Thievery by Seth Abramson

Today marks the end of National Poetry Month, and I hope that you found some great poets and poetry collections to try this month. I’m especially pleased that we had so many participants for the Friday activities. See all of you next year for another blog tour of poetry, but I hope you’ll stick around for the rest of this year too. If you missed some of the posts this month, just click here and scroll through.

The action of the poems in Thievery by Seth Abramson, published by the University of Akron Press, occur in between the silences and the pauses of each line break and each trick phrase, highlighting the theft of what has been stolen.  From the innocence of our children to the rallying of small towns around their own even when the most horrifying things occur.  Abramson performs a sleight of hand in his poems, changing their trajectory at a moment’s notice, calling attention to the illusions that are around us everyday.

From "Chronophrenia, Part VII"

At the end of traveling
I wear the road.  Within my skin it is bad.
It's worst without --
the particulates of being nowhere entirely.
From "Chronophrenia, Part VIII," the poet asks:

Do you pay
for each silence, and if so
why start.  Can I admit this thing,
can I clothe myself
in something like it, is it time now.
Does the time come.  Does it ever.

Are we too afraid to speak up or to change the world around us and make it better, or have we just become too complacent.  This silence and complacency is a pervasive problem Abramson tackles in his poems and what the possible consequences of that silence is.  In “Only,” “If it moves/I see it coming, sometimes I do/I swear.  I have been in the places things/were coming true/that were unwanted, in places/things went/unwell, where things went and went//”  (page 37)  There is an unraveling that these poems want to bring into the light for closer examination, though it could be the unraveling of our morality or our societies — with some poems being more ambiguous than others.  Additionally, there are several poems that focus on the abuse of men at the hands of women, like in “Hometown Courage” where the man is held down by women and in “Poem for Battered Man.”

From "All You Ploughboys":

I am sure
to do something horrible.  Half the wood is
halfway there.
And half this town is half in love with itself,
but me I go all the way.

Thievery by Seth Abramson is subtle, and at times too much so, in its exploration of change throughout society and within individuals as it asks readers and others when is the time to stand up and to create change for a better world. When is the time for us to stop the thieving from others and ourselves? These are questions that should be asked and should be met with action.

About the Poet:
Seth Abramson is the author of The Suburban Ecstasies (Ghost Road Press, 2009). In 2008 he was awarded the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize by Poetry. A former public defender, he currently attends the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Please check out his blog.

Please click the image below for the latest tour stop on the National Poetry Month Blog Tour!

This is my 17th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.

This is my 26th book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.

Guest Poet: Seeking Limpid Balance by Tamara Woods

Today, Pen Paper Pad‘s Tamara Woods is stopping by today to share one of her poems. Please give her a warm welcome.

For National Poetry Month, I’ve been blogging (almost) everyday, writing poetry and trying to get the courage to record a video poem. Here is a poem I wrote that I may try to digitize later.

Seeking Limpid Balance

Hand shakes
Fingertips tap
one time, two times, three  
Sharp pull from e-cig
Not the same, not the same, not the

New cocktail
tenuous strains to normality
Not quite
quieting fears,
disconnected discontent
Lids hanging
eyes sensitive
one time, two times, three 

Static burns neck's nape
Oxygen has escape room through
lighta beaming from window
bouncing from wall to ceiling floor
all white. all white, all 
one time, two times, three

Lines rips down wrist
raised coils against
pale skin
Stark black tangles 
Snarls past ears
catching air with
one time, two times, three

The world outside these walls
tasted red, 
she felt muddy,
All feelings 
passed through her leaving
residue behind.
Never truly clean.
One time, two times, three.

About the Poet:

Tamara Woods is a poet, blogger, and generally pusher of words from Honolulu by way of West Virginia. Her first collection of poetry, The Shaping of an “Angry” Black Woman will be available this summer. Find her on Twitter, Facebook and check out her mumbling on her blog, PenPaperPad.

***Please check out my review of Sarah Arvio’s collection night thoughts: 70 dream poems and notes from an analysis.***

night thoughts: 70 dream poems and notes from an analysis by Sarah Arvio

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night thoughts: 70 dream poems and notes from an analysis by Sarah Arvio is a poetry collection that defies convention in its cathartic purpose as a series of free-association dream poems with accompanying notes on those dreams from the poet at the time she was tackling some serious trauma.  It is more than a collection of poems and notes about those dreams they capture, it is a memoir written as she uncovers some deeply traumatic events in her childhood as she was on the cusp of womanhood.

“It’s easy to forget how complex and intense are the thoughts of children, and how everlasting.  I mean that the thoughts last in the mind, enacting their meanings, even when they seem to be forgotten.”  (page 132)

Arvio’s notes are essential in many ways to the understanding of her dream poems, which are often surreal and disjointed.  The notes help carve out her images and how they associate to one another and which dreams came to her in the same span of time.  She breaks down her word choices for lines in the poems, the origins of words and how their meanings are uncannily related to the trauma she experienced and subsequently forgot.  She also provides insight into the artwork that she saw and that reminded her of the trauma and how certain colors appear and reappear in her poems because of their relation to the trauma.

watermelon (page 19):

in the brightwhite kitchen a tiny pink
watermelon lies on the pink counter
or white it may be white by the fruit
is pure pink flesh I take a bite of it
then I recall a photograph of me
standing & biting the watermelon
in the newspaper that was black & white
though I know my shirt was white & pink
at the fair on something hill (named for
a fruit) where my father bought me a book
that was called something hill something that meant
flesh & then I knew it was fanny hill
the place was strawberry hill & little 
me as francesca seduced by a book

Arvio utilizes repetition of color and words in her poem to illustrate the remembering of a dream while awake, as the mind filters through the image details to carve out the truth of the events. Her poems read like dream interpretations without the conclusion, and in this way, she leaves the poems open to interpretation until the reader gets to her notes section. While these are dream poems, the images and actions will likely make some readers squirm and look away, particularly with the maiming of animals, among other things. These poems are stark and sometimes profane, much like the shame and the trauma explored in the dreams.

night thoughts: 70 dream poems and notes from an analysis by Sarah Arvio is poignant, frightening, and “super real.” Start with the notes at the end of the book, if you want background on her dream poems before you read them, or hold off and read them at the end to get a richer experience. This memoir/poetry collection is meant to disturb.

About the Poet:

Sarah Arvio is a poet who has lived in New York, Paris, Caracas, Rome and Mexico.  For many years a translator for the United Nations in New York and Switzerland, she has recently also taught poetry at Princeton.

Her poems are widely published, in such journals as The New Yorker, The New Republic, Literary Imagination, Boston Review, The Kenyon Review and Poetry Kanto and in many online reviews.

Composers have set her poems to music:  Miriama Young set “Cote d’Azur” as “Inner Voices of Blue”; Steve Burke set “Armor” for the song cycle “Skin”; and William Bolcom set “Chagrin” for the song cycle “The Hawthorn Tree.”

She’ll be at the May Gaithersburg Book Festival for “Poetry in the Afternoon” moderated by me!

This is my 16th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.

This is my 25th book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.

Our Word Association Poem Revealed…

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On Friday, I asked everyone to word/phrase associate with a pre-posted line of poetry to create a poem. Here’s the result of our collective minds:

I hope you’ve had fun with these activities over the last month.

Here’s our final result:

Bent sunbeams wind the road up
we climb carefully
ladders held by none
Fear, teasing us.
Breath held in anticipation
the sense of falling while standing still

What do you think?

199th Virtual Poetry Circle

Click on the above image for today’s National Poetry Month blog post!

Welcome to the 199th Virtual Poetry Circle!

Remember, this is just for fun and is not meant to be stressful.

Keep in mind what Molly Peacock’s books suggested. Look at a line, a stanza, sentences, and images; describe what you like or don’t like; and offer an opinion. If you missed my review of her book, check it out here.

Also, sign up for the 2013 Dive Into Poetry Challenge because its simple; you only need to read 1 book of poetry. Please sign up to be a stop on the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour and visit the stops on the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is from Sandra Kasturi’s Come Late to the Love of Birds:

Moon & Muchness (page 43)

My moonsicle sour-candy-pocked moon!
I have licked and loved you to a dim lustre,
the hollow-smooth swell of an orchestral bassoon,
a worthy glow that can only be mustered
by the administrations of my spectral
tongue.  Let us lap up the song-elevated
spheres! -- the phases and phrases of their kestrel
migrations, the meandering paths of crenelated
stars.  Let us tower and fall to crumbled-
cake battlements, forge to life from god-dusted bellows,
and spoon-feed the sun in all his pie-humbled
runcible wit--let us be bean-struck bedfellows.
We can swallow the universe in its entirety,
its star-speckled, moon-freckled boundless absurdity.

What do you think?

Creating a Word Association Poem….

Click the image above for today’s National Poetry Month blog post!

Over the last several weeks during National Poetry Month, I’ve been letting the creativity flow on the blog and enlisting your help in creating some unique pieces. We’ve created Fibonacci, Blackout, and Taboo poems.

On this last Friday of National Poetry Month, I’d like to do some word/phrase association with everyone to create a poem.

I’ll give you a lead off line, and then each commenter can add the first thing that comes to their mind for the next line…and it can be just one word or a whole phrase if you feel ambitious.

Let’s make this last Friday in National Poetry Month rock with an “epic” poetry creation.

Here’s the lead phrase:

Bent sunbeams wind the road up

Ready, Set, Go have fun!

Why Photographers Commit Suicide by Mary McCray

Why Photographers Commit Suicide by Mary McCray, illustrated by Emil Villavincencio and published by Termentina Books, is a collection of science fiction poetry — yes, you head that right!  These poems mesh not only the exploration of space with the modern world here on Earth, but they also harken to older themes of Manifest Destiny dating back to America’s youngest roots as a nation.  It’s a collection about the opportunities space exploration can represent, which is highly ironic given the government’s recent decision to shut down the manned shuttle program.

From "Helga Post-Orbit" (page 52)

No, it's not the sentimental, leftover space

that matters as much as the idea of Helga, open-eyed
and drifting, somewhere out of the room.
Or this mortal part of me -- lost in a raw,
everlasting free-fall of disconnected, disordered love,

knowing I'll uncover Martians, (Martians!),
the impossible mysteries of Mars,
before I'll ever know
where Helga has gone.

McCray’s poems are fantastical, opening up a solar system to the reader that delves into questions of existence and the hereafter, but also the never-ending search for more.  She explores space, Mars, and even artificial intelligence.  There are some beautiful moment of motion, like in “All of a Sudden,” where the narrator awakens:  “Last night, a woman in a hospital smock laid her fingers/on the shiny bells and, mouth over face,/blew tornadoes into the water-pale toes./Then, eyes shut and palms summoning,/my child asked me if I knew who I was./And I said, yes, I am the speed at which/particles collide.//”  For the most part, these poems draw comparisons between the society we create here on Earth and its focus on the material, and how any society on another planet would likely be more of the same.  As we seek to comfort ourselves in the unfamiliar by bringing along the unfamiliar — even to the detriment of animals brought along in the rocket.

McCray paints extraordinary pictures with her words, but the accompanying drawings from Emil Villavincencio do not add very much to the overall collection, though they are well crafted and seem to be mostly pencil renditions.  Beyond the poems about space and exploration, there are more personal poems about alienation from family members, the beauty of poetry as a reflection of space, and the amazing experience of “Sex in Zero Gravity”:  “astronaut, astronaut –/kiss me with your incomplete sentences/and your raw relativity,/run your fingers like lasers,/escape velocity through my motor heart,/the acceleration thrust/of your deep-space Cadillac cruising/my jelly-fish tremors,/touching the swirling hurricane/that is the red G-Spot of Jupiter/”  There has never been such a beautiful references to spaceships taking off and hurricanes on foreign planets in poetry to describe a sexual encounter.

Why Photographers Commit Suicide by Mary McCray is imaginative and one of the best written science fiction collections of poetry out there, and it will have readers questioning their place in the world and the need to explore more.  Like the poet points out in the title poem, we leave a bit of ourselves in the world around us, and we should be mindful of our impact.

About the Poet:

Mary McCray is the co-author of St. Lou Haiku, a collection of haiku poetry about St. Louis, Missouri, and Why Photographers Commit Suicide, poems about space exploration and new frontiers.  Visit her Website, visit her on Twitter, and on Facebook.  Also check out her bookshelf on GoodReads.


Click on the image below to check out the latest National Poetry Month Blog Tour!


This is my 24th book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.



This is my 15th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.

Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia by Patricia Neely Dorsey

Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia by Patricia Neely Dorsey is a very personal and reflective collection about growing up in the south and celebrating its culture.  Through rhyming poetry, Dorsey creates poems that have their own beats and rhythms that carry readers all the way through the poems.  While most of these rhymes are elementary and some seem forced, the collection is not about technique as much as it is about living and breathing the southern culture.

From "The Rules" (page 6)

Life can be much easier,
When you know what to do or not;
And you're sure to learn a lot of them,
If Southern parents you have got.
From "A Country View" (page 17)

What might you see as you go your way
On a walk through the country any spring day?
There's an old car tire without its rim,
Filled with flowers to the brim.
A bottle tree glistens in the sun,
And kids chunk rocks at it just for fun.

The poems do not hide their meaning behind complex metaphor and read more like short essays or memories. “Shelling Peas” and “Slopping Hogs” brought back images of farm life that are so vivid and filled with innocent joy and happiness. Readers will learn about the Agnews and much of the food and past times of the poet’s Southern life. Dorsey has succeeded in demonstrating a slice of life in the South.  There are some assertions about Southern life that ring very true, at least what most people typically think about Southerners, but there also are assertions in the poems that would ring true for others not raised in the South, but simply raised with a good moral compass.

Dorsey is never cryptic and clearly shows pride in her heritage, and her “Getting Personal” section of the collection is the most empowering because it is about learning to love oneself despite what others may think and say about you.  In Reflections of a Mississippi Magnolia by Patricia Neely Dorsey what you see is what you get, and that’s good enough.

***Check out the rest of the stops on the blog tour!***

About the Poet:












This is my 14th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.




This is my 23rd book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.




Click the image below for today’s National Poetry Month blog tour post!

Come Late to the Love of Birds by Sandra Kasturi

Come Late to the Love of Birds by Sandra Kasturi, published by Tightrope Books, is a well-crafted collection about love and freedom from the bonds of illusion.  Kasturi uses bird imagery to explore ancient fairy tales and stories from the ill-fated flight of Icarus to songs like Sing a Song of Sixpence and the blackbirds confinement in a pie.  She takes these long memorized stories and songs and turns them upside down, revealing the twists and turns that these stories could have taken in a modern world.

From "The Evolution of Birds" (page 17)

birds knew of our coming;
could sense our soft limbs millennia ahead,

could sense our drab colours and dull teeth,
our nothing lives.

They dropped their scales, made themselves small,
grew into winged things, soft and bright,

Beyond these twists and turns, Kasturi also plays with the notions in the bird kingdom and the simplicity of their lives — categorizing things into those with and without wings and nothing more. In “One Red Thought,” the red-tailed hawk and the narrator encounter one another, with the narrator questioning, “He must be/tethered to something/because why would a hawk/sit so still, why would/a hawk let me creep/close as a cat, me/” and then realizing “For him–/there are no/cameras or shoes,/there are no ornamental/gardens or lawn gnomes/or pants that need to be ironed.// There are only winged things/and non-winged things.// Only himself and the sky,/the curve of the earth/tilting how he wills it.//  There is the simplicity of the encounter, coupled with the encounter during which the narrator finally understands the reality of the hawk’s world.

From "Crucible" (page 49)

I am curled under piecrust like a blackbird, trapped.
salted and basted and oven-ready.
The kitchen clock's tick settles around me--
keeping time over what's burned or broken.

Salted, basted and oven-ready
I've become claustrophobic and butter-heavy.
Keeping time over what's burned or broken,
my fingers push and dimple the roof.

Each of these poems surprises the reader either once or repeatedly, and Kasturi’s sensitive handling of birds and human motivations alike are musical and magical. With poems rendering a clear relationship between humans and birds to those that draw hopes and dreams from birds in flight and in trees, the collection also has poems dedicated to Bradbury and Neil Armstrong. Come Late to the Love of Birds by Sandra Kasturi is wondrous and lively, full of wit and cunning, and utterly beautiful with each verse and turn of phrase.

About the Poet:

Sandra Kasturi is a writer, publisher, book reviewer and Bram Stoker Award-winning editor. She is the co-owner of the World Fantasy Award-nominated press, ChiZine Publications. She managed to snag an introduction from Neil Gaiman for her previous poetry collection, The Animal Bridegroom (Tightrope Books). She lives in Toronto with her husband, writer and publisher Brett Alexander Savory.

This is my 13th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.



This is my 22nd book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.




Click the image below for today’s National Poetry Month blog tour post!

Happy Earth Day!

Today is a communal celebration of the Earth and the environment, and I know we’ve been celebrating poetry all month long here, but I couldn’t let today pass without calling attention to the Earth and the environment.  I hope everyone will take the time today to head outside, garden, pick up some trash, reassess their consumption and recycling habits, and look into ways to reduce their energy use.

We’ll be taking a look at a few poems that celebrate nature and the Earth, plus there’s some great information about an Ashland Creek Press giveaway.

Earth Day by Janet Yolen

I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Each blade of grass,
Each honey tree,
Each bit of mud,
And stick and stone
Is blood and muscle,
Skin and bone.

 And just as I
Need every bit
Of me to make
My body fit,
So Earth needs
Grass and stone and tree
And things that grow here

That’s why we
Celebrate this day.
That’s why across
The world we say:
As long as life,
As dear, as free,
I am the Earth
And the Earth is me.
Daffodils by William Wordsworth

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
From Emily Dickinson

A Light exists in Spring
Not present on the Year
At any other period —
When March is scarcely here

A Color stands abroad
On Solitary Fields
That Science cannot overtake
But Human Nature feels.

It waits upon the Lawn,
It shows the furthest Tree
Upon the furthest Slope you know
It almost speaks to you.

Then as Horizons step
Or Noons report away
Without the Formula of sound
It passes and we stay —

A quality of loss
Affecting our Content
As Trade had suddenly encroached
Upon a Sacrament.
Healing by Scott Edward Anderson

"Healing, not saving." ~ Gary Snyder

"Healing, not saving," for healing
indicates corrective, reclaiming

restoring the earth to its bounty,
to right placement and meaning--

Forward thinking, making things new
or better or, at least, bringing back

from the edge. The way
bulbs are nestled in earth,

starting to heal again--
the way a wound heals.

Keep warm. Sun following
rain; rain following drought.

Perhaps we have come far enough
along in this world to start

healing, protecting from harm,
from our disjunctive lives.

The way the skin repairs with a scab,
injury mediated by mindfulness.

The bark of the "tree of blood"
heals wounds we cannot see.

Deliver us from the time of trial
and save us from ourselves.

Finally, I wanted to call attention to a great giveaway over at Ashland Creek Press, an independent publisher that not only prints books sustainably but also chooses works that reflect nature in some way.  I’ve enjoyed several of their books, including Lithia’s eco-vamp series by Blair Richmond. I also enjoyed The Names of Things, which recently was named as a finalist for the 2013 Chautauqua Prize, and a recent short story collection, Survival Skills.

For Earth Day, Ashland Creek Press is offering an eco-sampler and book giveaway.

Simply email Ashland Creek Press at editors [at] ashlandcreekpress [dot] com, on or before April 22, using the subject line EARTH DAY, and you’ll receive a copy of our Eco-Fiction Sampler, which features excerpts of six works of environmental fiction.

You’ll also be entered to win a copy of one of these six eco-fiction titles — we’re giving away one environmentally friendly e-book and one paperback (printed on paper from Sustainable Forestry Initiative certified sourcing), so please mention your preference in your email.

When you enter the giveaway, you’ll be added to our mailing list, from which you can unsubscribe at any time (and your info will never be shared).

For more about Ashland Creek Press, click here. For more about our environmental literature, click here.

Happy Earth Day!

Do not miss out on this giveaway for some eco-fiction and do not miss out on the opportunity to spend time in nature and with your community making the Earth a better, healthier place to live.

Click the image below to check out today’s National Poetry Month tour stop!

PopCircle Is the Newest Recommendation Community; It’s More Than Just Books

While most readers turn to Good Reads and Library Thing, as well as book blogs, for their book recommendations these days, we often like more than just reading — think television, movies, and music.

As a member of PopCircle, you have an opportunity not only to check out what books people are recommending and reviewing, but also what their music, movie, and television tastes are.

I’ve been beta testing for a few months, and have really enjoyed creating lists of books I’m reading (which you can check out) and it will be the only place you’ll find my Best of Lists from Savvy Verse & Wit, without having to do too much scrolling and searching through blog pages.  Check out my profile.  I’m considered a Book Expert on the site, and I’m glad that they’ll be expanding the lists because I want to create a list of poetry books for beginning readers, intermediate readers, and expert readers.

I’ve already got some great book lists going for my best reads dating back to 2008, and I’ve started a list of to-read books, as well as started filling out my favorite TV, movies, and music. PopCircle generates recommendations based on the other members in your circles and who has similar tastes, and it is not just automated nonsense.

I hope you’ll pop over and join.  Signing up is easy.  Facebook logins carry over onto PopCircle.

Click here to sign up today:

You’ll also see I’ve added this icon to my “Connect Online” section at the top of the Webpage.  Now get started creating your own circles and building your circle connections.

And yes, if you sign up using my links, I will get a small referral fee.

Click below for today’s National Poetry Month Blog Tour Post!

Our Fibonacci Poem

Click the image to see today’s National Poetry Month tour post!

On Friday, the activity was to create our own Fibonacci Poem, which is a poem based on word count per line.  (1-1-2-3-5-8,) I wanted to share with everyone the result!

of feeling
of playfulness
pound their chest

If you have anything you’d like to add to fill out the additional lines, feel free to leave a comment.