Jen Feroze wrote a lovely review of my poetry collection, River Ghosts in the East Ridge Review. Many thanks to her for her kind words. Also, thank you to editor Andrew Williams who selected my book for the review.
My poem, “Late September,” was just published in the lovely journal Humana Obscura. Thank you very much to editor Bri Bruce for selecting it for publication in the Fall/Winter Issue. It’s available in print or free digital versions. My poem is on p.44.
Finally, though I did not make the shortlist, my poem was longlisted for the Dai Fry Award for Mystical Poetry. This was a very special competition in memory of Swansea poet Dai Fry. Both shortlisted and longlisted poems will be included in a forthcoming anthology. I also have a poem coming out in Black Bough’s special summer anthology. Black Bough’s Top Tweet Tuesday will return next Tuesday, September 6.
I follow Ingrid Wilson’s Experiments in Fiction, and I looked forward to reading her book of poetry, 40 Poems at 40. I was not disappointed. Her “voyage of self-discovery,” is personal, but there is a universal appeal. Many readers will be able to relate to her first poem in the collection, “Unexpected Things” (A Villanelle), and the hope it conveys.
“Life is full of unexpected things: the clouds part to reveal a golden sky as I breathe in the hope each new day brings.”
In “One Poem at A Time,” Wilson explains,
“this is not a polemical poem.
I’ve changed my life, one poem at a time”
She goes on to write how poetry has healed her, “restoring inner light and harmony.” Her evocative poetry is written in several forms—I particularly liked the Cadralor. In her poems, Wilson travels through time and space—and takes readers with her to and from England, to the sea, to Venice, and elsewhere, sharing moments of love, joy, understanding, and grief.
Wilson has launched her own publishing business, Experiments in Fiction. Recently she published the highly rated Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women, an anthology edited by Gabriela Marie Milton.
@TopTweetTuesday is doing a lovely thing today–sharing poetry book reviews. If you’re on Twitter, check it out.
On Saturday, I participated in a poetry event on Zoom. It was put together by Elizabeth (Liz) Gauffreau and Luanne Castle, and Liz served as host and moderator. I enjoyed this event so much–such wonderful poetry and people. Here’s the video recording. (I’m the last poet to read.)
We wrap our hearts in fleecy blankets, Valentine red, while the cold Snow Moon sings her song, in silver notes falling, falling, falling—
we don’t feel the movement only the argent pull—magnetic attraction, the flow of tides and blood creating life, rising, and falling, falling
in revolutions around the sun, in tilted rotations, come the ebb and flow of existence from star explosion, falling, falling, falling
and gravity caught and kept, swept aside, buried to thrive, the fruits of our earth consumed and reborn, as falling, falling, falling
species die, yet birds survive. Now the crows are calling from trees deep-rooted, but falling, falling, falling
leaves and seeds fly as squirrels scamper and scold, waving their tails, yet never falling, falling, falling
only climbing higher to see the deep ancient course of water as it finds its way the sea, rising, and falling, falling,
now rain and snow on withered gardens that grow sun-bright– and bee breath threaded gold with pollen, falling, falling, falling
on flowers as they dance– but even our simple eyes can see the ghosts around us falling, falling, falling
all around– their memories held in mind and heart, released to join the stars, rising, falling, rising.
February was birthday month for us—children earlier in the month, and my husband and his mother’s this past week. We splurged and did a virtual Valentine wine and cheese tasting with wine and cheese we picked up at Tria in Philadelphia. It was so much fun—all French wine and cheese, except for one Vermont cheese. We saved the crémant to have with Indian food on my husband’s birthday.
This week we finished watching Inventing Anna (Netflix)—which I mentioned last week, and which definitely held our interest—and watched the first two episodes of the new season of Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime).
We wait to see if there will be war abroad and if our democracy will be toppled by right-wing authoritarians. But still, the moon shines, the days are getting longer, birds are beginning to sing, and spring is coming.
Elizabeth Gauffeau’s Grief Songs is a short book that leaves a long, lingering presence. The book is a collection of personal photographs paired with mostly tanka poems. (A tanka is a 5-line poem typically written as syllabic lines of 5-7-5-7-7). This means that each poem is a sharp distillation of a moment, an event, or even the history of a relationship between parents, between her and her parents, or between her and her brother.
Because the poems are brief, the book can be read very quickly. However, a reader who lingers over words and photos will be rewarded. The poems and the feelings behind them grow with repeated readings. I must say that sometimes I was left wondering what happened. This is not a criticism of the poems, but rather, my own curiosity about people. “Youth Group Picnic,” for example, gives us a glimpse of the day—two children waiting in the car, giggling and honking the horn. Liz fills in the rest of the story here on her blog.
“For a Crooked Smile,” however, needs no additional context.
“He was my little brother.”
That poem brought me to tears (as did several others):
Grief Song III
I held her hand as she lay dying death rattle in my throat.
This is a book of poetry that is highly accessible, but with poems that resonate. It is a memoir in bite-size pieces. Each poem is a snapshot, a memory experienced in the way we are all hit by a sudden remembrance of a time, a place, or a person.
In “Sixty Years of Katherine,” Liz writes:
“minutes tucked into envelopes decades left in dresser drawers”
These lines feel both personal and universal. Those of us who have helped a parent move or who have cleared a home after they’ve passed, understand the complex emotions behind these beautiful, succinct phrases.
Elizabeth Gauffreau is wonderfully supportive friend of other writers. I follow her blog and follow her on social media, and you may want to, as well. But– this review is unsolicited. I did not tell her I was writing or posting it. She may respond to comments here though.
Congratulations, Liz, on this lovely, poignant book!
From her website: Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Woven Tale Press, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in North of Oxford, The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge. Her debut novel Telling Sonny was published by Adelaide Books, New York in 2018.
And now—the winter darkness comes, the sun a sleepy golden cat, who rises on arthritic limbs to sight the birds on leafless boughs and make the holly berries gleam, before he settles back to nap in grey blankets glimmered-glowed.
And now—we see the nests above, the treasures hidden by summer’s green, and birds chitter-chat, and squirrels flitter past gathering nuts for their cold repast, while vultures soar, then bide their time in silent committees in meetings of time
that flows like the river, light to darkness to light again, we touch match to candles, watch them burn– the miracle is, we’ve endured, we drink and eat and love, let out a sigh, a cry– the shadows gather—
but so does the light. Bird-chased, we follow after. There, the trees in cinnamon gowns, and the glitter of snow on evergreen—there, a flame brightens, while the sleepy cat says goodnight— knowing he will wake to love, while in the darkness we toast, “to life!”
Last night was the last night of Hanukkah. We bought another wine tasting kit, and we tasted a white (German Riesling) and a red (Australian Pinot Noir) while watching the candles burn.
The winter solstice approaches, and there is a lot of darkness in the world–and it’s growing. Don’t let it. Don’t let the anti-democratic forces or the anti-science crazies win. Shine the light wherever you can.
I’ve revised this poem written for Paul Brooks’ January Ekphrastic Challenge last year. Here’s the link to the first version. You can see Kerfe Roig’s art, which inspired the poem. A couple of weeks ago, I saw rainbows on two different days. Here’s