The Best of 2013 List…

In Descending Order (links to the reviews included):
  1. Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir by Beth Kephart
  2. The Painted Girls by Cathy Marie Buchanan
  3. Imperfect Spiral by Debbie Levy
  4. Looking for Me by Beth Hoffman
  5. The Time Between by Karen White
  6. Survival Skills: Stories by Jean Ryan
  7. Unexplained Fevers by Jeannine Hall Gailey
  8. Lotería by Mario Alberto Zambrano
  9. Solving the World’s Problems by Robert Lee Brewer
  10. The Scabbard of Her Throat by Bernadette Geyer
  11. The Neruda Case by Roberto Ampuero, translated by Carolina De Robertis
  12. Six Sisters’ Stuff: Family Recipes, Fun Crafts, and So Much More
Here are my honorable mentions for this year, in descending order (links to the reviews included):
  1. The Gods of Heavenly Punishment by Jennifer Cody Epstein
  2. Dr. Radway’s Sarsaparilla Resolvent by Beth Kephart
  3. Joyland by Stephen King
  4. Seduction by M.J. Rose
  5. Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen
What books made your list of favorites this year?

Solving the World’s Problems by Robert Lee Brewer

I use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker because it works! Have you tried it?

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 92 pages
I am an Amazon Affiliate

Solving the World’s Problems by Robert Lee Brewer is the debut collection of a poet who has spurred inspiration virtually for many years as part of the Writer’s Digest team, and as a debut, it oozes deconstruction, construction, and reflection in each poem’s white spaces in ways that are thought-provoking and eye-opening.  There are love poems, break-up poems, and get back together poems, but the overwhelming theme seems to be that love is the great connector of us all — no matter how successful the relationships ultimately are — and the poet seems to postulate that love can “solve the world’s problems.”  While some of these poems have a pessimistic hint in them, they are balanced with a certain amount of light.

From "Matters of Great Importance" (page xv-xvi)

poets consider which chair
                is going to inspire them
                                  to write the poem

that inspires other people
                  to build chairs and
                                    drive trucks and write poems

Within each poem there is an expansion, an expanse left open for the reader to explore and think about on their own.  While these poems cover well-worn territory at times, each line break and word choice makes them crisp, inspiring the reader to look at the subject anew.  In “worried about ourselves,” the narrator talks of how the moon was once something godly and now is just a chunk of rock floating in space, but toward the latter half of the poem, the new perception is turned on the reader, examining the never-ending analysis of ourselves to the point we begin to believe our own perceptions about reality are true, even when they are not.  Some of the best lines are the simplest, like in “I think the world is a pin cushion” (page 48):

there's a space between everyday matters
that makes someone feel every day matters

But there are more serious moments, moments in which social issues are addressed, such as global warming in “one day we looked for the snow” (page 49) and living in a fast-paced modern world where appearances matter and wars are inevitable — “why I never mention the traffic report” (page 52).  But more interestingly, there is an exploration of the modern world and the perceived increase in connection between humans, but the reality is that we seek these outlets to distance ourselves from one another — walking out the door has never been easier when face-to-face takes a back seat.

Solving the World’s Problems by Robert Lee Brewer is a chance to find ourselves reflected in ourselves and the world around us.  From “the noises that scare us” (page 30):

to uncover and hope no shots are fired
we're not here to find something new        we want
reminded of who we were when the birds

first spoke  our wings dissolve as we age   and

About the Author:

Robert Lee Brewer is Senior Content Editor for the Writer’s Digest Writing Community. He edits books, manages websites, creates electronic newsletters, crafts blog posts, writes magazine articles, participates in online education, and speaks nationally on writing and publishing topics. As a poet, Robert was named Poet Laureate of the Blogosphere in 2010, has been a featured reader at several poetry events around the country, and is the author of Solving the World’s Problems (Press 53). Follow him on Twitter @robertleebrewer.

This is my 63rd book for the 2013 New Authors Challenge.




This is my 26th book for the Dive Into Poetry Challenge 2013.

223rd Virtual Poetry Circle

Welcome to the 223rd 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. Check out the stops on the 2013 National Poetry Month Blog Tour and the 2012 National Poetry Month Blog Tour.

Today’s poem is from Robert Lee Brewer’s Solving the World’s Problems:

worried about ourselves

we've finally reached the point at which we
       invent reasons to get upset    we cast
               spells on ourselves  curse our own conventions

once  the moon was a ghost haunting these fields
        a confirmation of things to come   now
                the moon's rock surrounded by darkness

we praise our new awareness and question
        our motives   we ask why until we run
               short on answers   what happens when we have

time to think  we transform x into y
        and dismiss the existence of z now
               only a letter that signals the end

What do you think?

Mailbox Monday #230

Mailbox Monday (click the icon to check out the new blog) has gone on tour since Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page passed the torch.  August’s host is Bermudaonion The Reading Fever.

The meme allows 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 bought/received:

1.  Solving the World’s Problems by Robert Lee Brewer, which I purchased.

The “World” in Robert Lee Brewer’s Solving the World’s Problems is a slippery world … where chaos always hovers near, where we are (and should be) “splashing around in dark puddles.” And one feels a bit dizzy reading these poems because (while always clear, always full of meaning) they come at reality slantwise so that nothing is quite the same and the reader comes away with a new way of looking at the ordinary objects and events of life. The poems are brim-full of surprises and delights, twists in the language, double-meanings of words, leaps of thought and imagination, interesting line-breaks. There are love and relationship poems, dream poems, poems of life in the modern world. And always the sense (as he writes) of “pulling the world closer to me/leaves falling to the ground/ birds flying south.” I read these once, twice with great enjoyment. I will go back to them often. -Patricia Fargnoli, former Poet Laureate of New Hampshire and author of Then, Something

2.  Pat the Beastie by Henrik Drescher, which I purchased for my daughter’s potty prize box for her good deeds.

A warning: “You should never monkey around with a Beastie!” Once upon a time a little boy and girl named Paul and Judy had a pet called Beastie. Unfortunately, Paul and Judy weren’t very nice to Beastie. In fact—they were downright naughty. They pulled Beastie’s fur and jiggled Beastie’s eyes. They tickled his feet and plucked his boogers. “Always be kind to your pets!” they were reminded again and again—but Paul and Judy never listened.

3.  Camelot’s Court by Robert Dallek, which came from Harper.

Fifty years after John F. Kennedy’s assassination, presidential historian Robert Dallek, whom The New York Times calls “Kennedy’s leading biographer,” delivers a riveting new portrait of this president and his inner circle of advisors—their rivalries, personality clashes, and political battles. In Camelot’s Court, Dallek analyzes the brain trust whose contributions to the successes and failures of Kennedy’s administration—including the Bay of Pigs, civil rights, the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam—were indelible.

Kennedy purposefully put together a dynamic team of advisors noted for their brilliance and acumen, including Attorney General Robert Kennedy, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, Secretary of State Dean Rusk, National Security Advisor McGeorge Bundy, and trusted aides Ted Sorensen and Arthur Schlesinger. Yet the very traits these men shared also created sharp divisions. Far from being unified, this was an uneasy band of rivals whose ambitions and clashing beliefs ignited fiery internal debates.

What did you receive?