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review 2019-01-06 23:48
Not Afraid to Be Real: A Poetry Collection - Maranda Russell

In Not Afraid To Be Real: A Poetry Collection, Maranda writes that she prefers “gritty, down-to-earth poems that speak to the heart and make us see life in a way that we might not have before.”  The themes in the book move from love to struggle and darkness and then on to hope, concluding with some quirky fun.


I really liked the ending of the poem Accept Me As I Am:

“Hurt me –
then heal me.

And most importantly,
keep loving me
even when I
refuse to love myself.”

The Living Dead looks at expectations that we let go of  dreams that are no longer considered acceptable.  Other themes running through the darker sections of the book include feeling dismissed, unwanted, and unaccepted.  Everybody Loves You ponders the rose-coloured glasses through which we tend to see those who have passed on, and whether its worth being remembered in such a way.


And, fitting for this time of year, does flatulence belong in Christmas?  Absolutely, and it makes an appearance in Bad Christmas Poem!


I very much enjoyed this collection, and it's written in a way that’s very accessible and real even for people who don’t typically read poetry.  Maranda definitely delivers on her preference for a gritty, down-to-earth style of poetry.


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review 2019-01-05 08:34
Goblin Market
Goblin Market (Little Black Classics #53) - Christina Rossetti

As I'm slowly making my way through Penguin Little Black Classics, I come across authors that are completely new to me, like Christina Rossetti. In school we skipped the Victorian literary area altogether because our teacher didn't like Dickens. (So straight from the Romantics to the First World War we went).

Goblin Market, the poem that this collection is named after, is a warning tale about temptation. While the narrative style of the poem made it easily readable, I found the repetitive style was not really my cup of tea. Some of her other poems, I liked better, most notably Song. A lot of her poems are concerned with death, which made it a rather depressing collection.

~ Little Black Classics #53 ~

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review 2019-01-01 17:00
Born Palestinian, Born Black - Suheir Hammad

Suheir Hammad is someone who crossed my path quite by accident in a bookstore in the mid-1990s. There I espied her book of poems, "Born Palestinian, Born Black." I glanced at some of the poems and liked their content. 

Then several years elapsed before Suheir Hammad came to the fore of consciousness again. And that was when I saw her on CSPAN as part of a forum. Now that I've just finished reading this book of poems, I feel that I have been witness to a conscious and prophetic voice speaking in clear and at times raw language of the struggles of oppressed peoples both here in the U.S. and in the Middle East. What Hammad expresses in this book, everyone needs to read and strive to understand. 

There is one poem, in particular, in this book that deeply resonated with me. Its title is "Manifest Destiny", a term I first learned of as a child more than 40 years ago. (But did not come to fully comprehend til I began seriously studying American history in high school. It is a title that defines the vision the U.S. had of itself in the 19th century as a nation with a messianic mission to establish itself as a continental nation spanning both the Atlantic and Pacific Coasts. "From sea to shining sea.") 

Without further ado, here are the words from 'Manifest Destiny' that left their mark on me a short time ago:

"in a state of police
        cops act as pigs treat men as dogs
        mothers as whores
the bold youth of a nation hungry and cold
an entire nation of youth            behind bars grown old
the mace and blood did not blind             we
witness and demand a return to humanity

"we      braid resistance through our hair
            pierce justice through our ears
            tattoo freedom onto our breasts

"we be political prisoners walking round semi-free
our very breath is a threat
to those we rather we not read
and think     analyze         watch out            and fight back
and be human beings the way we need to be"

Seldom were truer words spoken, given the state of the world today on New Year's Day, 2019. 

"BORN PALESTINIAN, BORN BLACK: The Gaza Suite" should be read and re-read by anyone concerned --- both in the mind and in praxis --- with the ongoing issues of life, justice, education, and freedom who believe that the world can be made better by humanity for the benefit of all life now and in the future. 

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review 2018-12-19 16:00
MOURNING JEWELRY by Stephanie Wytovich, narrated by Lesley Ann Fogle
Mourning Jewelry - Stephanie M. Wytovich



This poetry collection, read to me by Lesley Ann Fogle, was like a dark and stormy night, but inside my brain.


Relentlessly dark and beautifully wrought, this volume speaks to the pain of being a woman, the pain of being done wrong by men, the joy in paying those wrongs back, (in spades), and a lot more.



"Yes, suffocation would be a blessing from a world where each breath I take reminds me that I'm alone. That the life I lived was a lie, and that the person that I loved was nothing more than a foul gust of air that moved through a hollow woman."




I'm discovering that it's difficult to review a poetry collection such as this. While trying to impart the depth of feeling and emotion evoked by these dark words and ideas, I find myself consistently coming up short. This is the third time I've tried to write this review and this time I'm just going to let my words stand.


If you like poetry, (hell, even if you don't), this collection is worth your time. Take it slow as I did, or race through it all at once-either way you're going to be affected by the experience. What exactly will that effect will be? I suspect it will be a highly individual-type thing, but for me? The experience was wonderful and I know I'll be revisiting MOURNING JEWELRY in the future.


Highly recommended!


*I received the audio of this book free from the author, in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2018-12-17 19:30
[REVIEW] Crown Anthology, edited by Analog de Leon & Gabriel Sage
Crown Anthology - Analog De Leon

I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

"Do not reduce yourself
to anything less than
who you are meant to be,
so that your heart will not engulf people
who are not meant to survive 
within its vastness."
(pg. 105)

This anthology is definitely a mixed bag. Some of the poems resonate with me, some feel hollow, some aren’t very well written and others are a big wtf. The good thing is most of them seem short and the collection is remarkably easy to read through. The foreword by Tyler Knott Gregson was eye-roll worthy. A bit trite, to be honest. But then again I’ve never connected with his poetry. I feel as if some of the poems were trying too hard to be inspirational, while others rang truer to me. Of course, this is very personal and not everyone responds the same. I just expected to feel more and not less.

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