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Another Way To Begin by Don Colburn

I picked the collection of poems by Don Colburn entitled, “Another Way To Begin,” and couldn’t put it down. His poems appear simple on the surface with titles such as “Wildflowers,” “Given,” and “The Wish,” but are rich with narrative and beautiful diction.
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Colburn is a writer and retired journalist for The Washington Post and The Oregonian, in Portland, Oregon. His poems have appeared in various publications and he was won awards such as the Finishing Line Press Prize and the Duckabush Prize for Poetry, among others. He has published three books of poetry including “Because You Might Not Remember,” “As If Gravity Were a Theory,” and the previously mentioned, “Another Way To Begin.”

This book of poems is filled with striking images and sentences that both sound and look good on the page. In “Martins Ferry,” the poem begins with, “If this were a letter to James Wright,/ I would tell him how the rain colored everything/ in its own image and how the road into town,/ like the tracks and the river alongside,/ is still the road out of town.” The variety of his topics makes each poem seem like a different book, yet the linking factor of nature and a variation of sadness as an undertone to each poem, like in his poem entitled “Late.”
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In the poem “There,” slant rhymes, alliteration and line break create a poem you will want to read over and over again.
There

Water, bone, bed, bedrock —

whatever is underneath, below what’s below.

Sudden touchable quiet, shadow

of a shadow. Weather. Sadness turning

ordinary. Nameless illness coming on.

A knock at the door so gentle

it could be anything. Distance.

The just thing not said, or said too late

Or said exactly and without mercy.

Wind rising. Whatever might rise.

 

The title in which the book is named is also an underlying theme in all of his poems in this book. In the poem, “The Art Of Poetry” the idea of starting over is evident.

 

The Art Of Poetry

Of course it came out short

of what the body wants.

Enough I said, slapping

my knees. What’s the use? Why

waste time, your only life,

turning yourself crazy?

You could be fixing lunch,

running a wash, clipping

your nails or the lawn, some

task with a beginning

and an end so you know

where to start over. Weeds,

laundry, hunger — no lack

of fresh material.

But silence grows back too,

Out of the feeling that

couldn’t contain it. The

wrong words are another

way to begin. Enough,

I said. And sat back down.

 

This book contains poems that are very complex but also enjoyable and fun to read. I definitely recommend it!

 

 

By: Carly Davis

Sour Grapes by William Carlos Williams

     I stumbled across Sour Grapes by William Carlos Williams when reading through several books of poetry. Published in 1921, this books features some of Williams’ earlier writings which I find were different then most poems that I have read. Common themes that were presented throughout the novel was the use of nature images that were abstract, but yet still understandable. Also, almost every poem was in relation to the seasons changing and different months. After reading the novel, it was almost as if the entire novel was a progression of time within a one year span. By reading his poems and reading the titles of several of the poems, is where I felt the impression of time.

Besides the progression of time as an encompassing theme, there was a strong present of “I” as the speaker in almost all of the poems that I read. The inclusion of the first person narrator allowed the poems to be more personal. Along with the personal aspect of the poems, I got a strong sense of William’s voice portrayed while reading. What struck me as interesting, is that in the beginning of Sour Grapes the poems were very long in length, but as the novel came to the end, the poems were very short. The poems near the end of the novel, were only a few lines long, but Williams’ wrote them very well and were enjoyable.

 

Light Hearted William

Light hearted William twirled

his November mustaches

and, half dressed, looked

from the bedroom window

upon the spring weather.

 

Heigh-ya! sighed he gaily

leaning out to see

up and down the street

where a heavy sunlight

lay beyond some blue shadows.

 

Into the room he drew

his head again and laughed

to himself quietly

twirling his green mustaches.

 

This poem illustrates the personal aspect that Williams’ adds in his poems, but here he is distinctly narrates about himself. Also this shows the essence the the nature images he uses and a faint abstract imagery of time change based on the colors. Although most of his poems are not abstract, some of his titles that the entitles his poems with are very abstract leaving me questioning. When questioning the titles, I have trouble understanding why he chose to entitle certain poems and what they mean.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Sour Grapes, I felt that this novel was very different than any book of poetry I’ve read before and I’m curious to know what Williams’ writing process is behind his writings.

-Elizabeth Lewan

 

[youtube]http://youtu.be/4qkS6YHt9pI[/youtube]

Sour Grapes by William Carlos Williams

     I stumbled across Sour Grapes by William Carlos Williams when reading through several books of poetry. Published in 1921, this books features some of Williams’ earlier writings which I find were different then most poems that I have read. Common themes that were presented throughout the novel was the use of nature images that were abstract, but yet still understandable. Also, almost every poem was in relation to the seasons changing and different months. After reading the novel, it was almost as if the entire novel was a progression of time within a one year span. By reading his poems and reading the titles of several of the poems, is where I felt the impression of time.

Besides the progression of time as an encompassing theme, there was a strong present of “I” as the speaker in almost all of the poems that I read. The inclusion of the first person narrator allowed the poems to be more personal. Along with the personal aspect of the poems, I got a strong sense of William’s voice portrayed while reading. What struck me as interesting, is that in the beginning of Sour Grapes the poems were very long in length, but as the novel came to the end, the poems were very short. The poems near the end of the novel, were only a few lines long, but Williams’ wrote them very well and were enjoyable.

 

Light Hearted William

Light hearted William twirled

his November mustaches

and, half dressed, looked

from the bedroom window

upon the spring weather.

 

Heigh-ya! sighed he gaily

leaning out to see

up and down the street

where a heavy sunlight

lay beyond some blue shadows.

 

Into the room he drew

his head again and laughed

to himself quietly

twirling his green mustaches.

 

This poem illustrates the personal aspect that Williams’ adds in his poems, but here he is distinctly narrates about himself. Also this shows the essence the the nature images he uses and a faint abstract imagery of time change based on the colors. Although most of his poems are not abstract, some of his titles that the entitles his poems with are very abstract leaving me questioning. When questioning the titles, I have trouble understanding why he chose to entitle certain poems and what they mean.

Overall, I enjoyed reading Sour Grapes, I felt that this novel was very different than any book of poetry I’ve read before and I’m curious to know what Williams’ writing process is behind his writings.

-Elizabeth Lewan

 

http://youtu.be/4qkS6YHt9pI

Theories of Falling by Sandra Beasley

Covers for blogAuthor Photo for blog

 

 

“I liked a trick, but what I loved was the reveal.” –The Green Flash

A three part collection of memories, inquiries, and testimonies, Sandra Beasley captured my attention as soon as I opened to the first poem.

Each part is titled appropriately and sets up a “front door” feeling to the poems within the section.

I picked up the book because I like cats, I like theories and I like green. I kept reading the book because of her vivid use of new age language. Beasley puts words into places they never would have fit before. She became the locksmith of her own memories. Her voice was evident and I have no idea if she has all the allergies of if it was simply a subject but she captures what it means to write a modern long poem. Managing to give a full account of growing up with an annoying food allergy without someone simply skipping over the pity party, Sandra Beasley nailed it.

I dog eared The Fish, Theories of Falling, and Of Daughters to name a few that I adored.

Due to my own obsession with the armed forced I am in love with “This Silver Body” the whole section was an impact all it’s own.  Such as The Puritans,

Every New England child alive &

enrolled in May 1993 has the same

solar eclipse scorched into her retina:

 

They line us up on the blacktop,

under the basketball hoop, hand out

pinhole viewers cut from cereal boxes

 

& say don’t look. Don’t look.

Now. Look Now.     Now           stop.

And of course my whole science class

 

keeps staring, we who have watched

anoles lose on tail and grow another,

who hae learned to diagram & spell

 

endoplasmic reticulum. I squint

through cardboard emblazoned

with the Froot Loops toucan.

 

No ring of fire so much as a fist,

hovering in front of a bare light bulb.

That must be the hand of God, I think.

 

I can’s place his forearm. Class, 

inside now. Could the punch

be coming straight at us?

 

Impact.

For more from Sandra Beasly, check out her blog, Chicks Dig Poetry

Enjoy.

Recommended by Cheyenne Falls

 

 

Take What You Want by Henrietta Goodman

Henrietta Goodman’s collection of poems entitled Take What You Want is captivating.  The poems all seem to interact in a way that deepens the reader’s understanding of Goodman as a writer, and the tone throughout is consistently complicated and difficult to identify.  There is a darkness to many of the pieces, and yet, there is no angst.  This is one the best parts about the collection, as the maturity of the poems is refreshing and unexpected.

Two of the major topics in this collection include the re-envisioning of fairy tales and the concept of motherhood.  Goodman pays particular attention to Hansel and Gretel, including several revisitations of the tale from Gretel’s point of view.  These poem are interspersed with several that read as experiences with post-partum depression and the less glamorous aspects of motherhood.  These emotions are expressed in a way that does not beg the reader for sympathy, but rather invites him or her to share in the emotional burden and the guilt that comes along with feeling resentful.  Because of this approach, these poems succeed in a way that many others would not.  For instance, her poem entitled “Mother” is extremely effective.

What would my mother say,
if she heard me talking like this
You should be ashamed
of yourself, people will think
you don’t love the baby–
But look, I can show you:

the hottest night of the year,
I lay him down, star on the midnight
sheet, unsnap the snaps, take off
the shirt, the diaper.  Luminescent,
toothless, seven weeks old, he grins
as I fan him up and down, back
and forth with my Chinese fan,
unfurls his arms and legs
under the butterflies
and the bright silk flowers.”

Goodman masterfully alludes to an emotion without shoving it down the reader’s throat.  It is refreshing to read something that takes its audience seriously, and expects the reader to be intelligent.  She doesn’t feel the need to explicitly state the things that constitute “talking like this.”  The imagery used in the second stanza is so touching and provides a clear depiction of this mother’s love for her baby, even though she may be frustrated by him.

The use of italics in this poem, along with many others in this collection, is very effective in identifying an outside speaker’s opinion.  This form helps to clarify the speaker for the reader without adding unnecessary bulk to the poems.

Perhaps the most effective aspect of Goodman’s poetry is her use of stanza.  The neat, organized stanzas that are present in many of her poems, however long they may be, help to guide the reader through the poem.  Because many of the poems deal with difficult emotional material, this clear form helps to keep them contained.

My favorite poem from the collection is entitled “No One is Dead.” The first stanza is particularly powerful, and beautifully bitter.

Should I have said lately,
or at least? I am trying to console
myself.  We all know the world
is built on the dead–
everything we touch,
maybe even ourselves–“

Take What You Want is an excellent book that effectively tackles difficult subject matter and takes its audience seriously.

Caroline McCarry

Lisel Mueller: The Private Life

Lisel Mueller’s poetry in The Private Life captures a sense of trauma and sadness about Germany that might deal with her or her ancestor’s time in Germany before, during, and after WWII. The back of the books says she came to the U.S. from Germany when she was fifteen years old, around 1940.

Mueller uses quotes to introduce each of the three sections of her book, the first being from William Stafford where he says, “We live in an occupied country, misunderstood; justice will take us millions of intricate moves.” I enjoyed the way she introduced her own work by quoting people she likely admires. I also like the epigraphs she uses to introduce certain poems. She introduces “The Gift of Fire” with a very concrete image: “In memory of Norman Morrison, who burned himself to death in front of the Pentagon on November 2, 1965,” and then follows with a poem that is not necessarily more abstract, because she does give great detail, but something that is more metaphorical and not entirely realistic:

In a time of damnation
when the world needed a Savior,
when the dead gathered routinely,
comic-strip flat and blurred,

he took the god at his promise
and set himself on fire,
skin, brain, sex, smile

so we should see, really see
by that unbearable light
the flower of the single face,
the intricate moth of consciousness:

but he lived in the land of the one-eyed
where the blind is king.

She does an excellent job intertwining reality with fiction. It’s almost like she makes the reader detached enough from the poem to be able to step away from the situation, but pulls the reader back in enough to feel the sadness and apply it, consciously or subconsciously to their own lives. She does this especially well with “Two Poems Written in the Age of the Great Migrations,” when she describes “Moving Day” with, “Blowing down the house of bricks,/there is another, bigger,/ two thousand miles down the road,” and also “Haul the packable souls of children.”

My favorite poem in the book is “Amazing Grace,” especially the last stanza:

Once I was blind, but now
I see,
he shouts at us,
at the polluted sky.
His face is rapt, his eyes
are two locked doors.

Once again Mueller uses intense, piercing language that engages the reader entirely in her work while helping us understand something beyond our own understanding. Her poetry flows beautifully across the page, and the instances where she uses slant rhyme in her form, as well as her diversity with her form allows the reader to read more carefully and creatively. Her poetry is inspirational, unique (to me), and touches on every sort of emotion in a genius type of way.

 

 

Things I Can Fit My Whole Head Into by Douglas Collura

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There wasn’t a picture of the cover online so I had to take my own!

The book of poetry and short musings, Things I Can Fit My Whole Head Into by Douglas Collura, is a compilation of surprising topics and gives the reader a completely different way of looking at the world. WARNING: If you’re looking for something deep or philosophical  don’t read this book. The poetry in this book is a far cry from any “stereotypical” poetry; it’s very straight forward and has almost no flowery language. If you are easily offended I wouldn’t read this book either, as there are some risque topics discussed, but nothing too serious or appalling. My favorite poem is called The CEO Admires His Ow Testicles and contrary to what you’d think by the title, is actually an insightful, funny poem about masculinity.

“Let me tell you, it takes big testicles to get to the top. And I mean big ones. Humos.

Sure, I have other gifts.
I know how to talk to people, I’m quick with numbers, I have lovely calves.
But it’s these two rugged orbs that carried me to the top.
That’s how I ended up with this big office, the mile-wide desk and the wet bar.”

This book is a combination of poems and short musings/stories and lists. I love the way Collura includes lists in his book. You wouldn’t expect a book of poetry to have lists, but they fit very well with the overall flow of the book. Towards the end Collura writes a sort bio in list form. Here are my two favorite dates:

“9/1/78- I enter the graduate writing program at Syracuse University and learn that hanging around with famous poets is every bit depressing as reading their poems.

1/25/96- At my fortieth birthday party, I feel my future narrowing quickly after the woman with the tassels on her nipples informs me that she also has a masters degree in creative writing.”

Collura’s book was refreshing in it’s unique style choices and topics. I thoroughly enjoyed turning each page to see what the next poem would uncover.

 

Things I Can Fit My Whole Head Into by Douglas Collura

IMG_2938

There wasn’t a picture of the cover online so I had to take my own!

The book of poetry and short musings, Things I Can Fit My Whole Head Into by Douglas Collura, is a compilation of surprising topics and gives the reader a completely different way of looking at the world. WARNING: If you’re looking for something deep or philosophical  don’t read this book. The poetry in this book is a far cry from any “stereotypical” poetry; it’s very straight forward and has almost no flowery language. If you are easily offended I wouldn’t read this book either, as there are some risque topics discussed, but nothing too serious or appalling. My favorite poem is called The CEO Admires His Ow Testicles and contrary to what you’d think by the title, is actually an insightful, funny poem about masculinity.

“Let me tell you, it takes big testicles to get to the top. And I mean big ones. Humos.

Sure, I have other gifts.
I know how to talk to people, I’m quick with numbers, I have lovely calves.
But it’s these two rugged orbs that carried me to the top.
That’s how I ended up with this big office, the mile-wide desk and the wet bar.”

This book is a combination of poems and short musings/stories and lists. I love the way Collura includes lists in his book. You wouldn’t expect a book of poetry to have lists, but they fit very well with the overall flow of the book. Towards the end Collura writes a sort bio in list form. Here are my two favorite dates:

“9/1/78- I enter the graduate writing program at Syracuse University and learn that hanging around with famous poets is every bit depressing as reading their poems.

1/25/96- At my fortieth birthday party, I feel my future narrowing quickly after the woman with the tassels on her nipples informs me that she also has a masters degree in creative writing.”

Collura’s book was refreshing in it’s unique style choices and topics. I thoroughly enjoyed turning each page to see what the next poem would uncover.

 

Martin Steinagle: Everyday but Not Common, Poems and Quotes

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“If all a man wanted in life was to live, then what value would death have?”

I have always been fascinated with poetry that has a philosophical perspective. The title of this book caught my eye and the fact that it has poems and quotes aroused my curiosity. Steinagle has a way with words that brings a personal honesty to his poems. The first half of his book is filled with captivating poetry from romance to love, hate, daily life and just plain good soul searching analysis. The second half of his book has 648 amazing quotes that I find refreshingly comforting, the originality of the quotes impresses and inspires me. Reading this book brings bad days and negative emotions to a halt, because the feelings that he expresses is so relatable to everyday life and situations. This is not a book you put away on the shelf to gather dust, but a book you leave on the coffee table, because his words are like daily bread. From the poems to the quotes you will always find a soothing line or quote that transfers to your everyday life and at the same time appreciate your uniqueness.

A Sense Of

“As my illusions grow cold my soul continues in hopes made greater by
each day ceasing.
The lines of age show upon my thoughts, my responses no less to shy from
relations of life.
With despair revealed so evidently by my eyes, wonders of joy reflects
beyond such shadows.”

Loneliness

“Lonely I am and lonely I’ve been, for such a long time.
For loneliness makes a strange friend.
And I often find myself talking in mindless thoughts to a lonely
void, and spacing of time.
In which the loneliness becomes the empathy of my own emotions.
Again I find myself lost beyond, dimension, and looking at
tears which motionlessly run from my eyes.”

These lines are genuine emotions of life and aging; I believe it to say what we all think on days where we reflect on life.

In the poem The People, Steinagle steps away from his self analysis and reflect on humanity.  I find the true meaning of soul searching is when you can look at yourself as a whole part of something to find self purpose.

“The people are:
the coming
the present
and the past
And the people shall lie
with their ideas, their ways and
their dreams
to make a better world.”

Soul is my favorite poem from the book, it sums up life and questions about history and humanity. The title speaks for itself.

“Today has give way to tomorrow, yet I feel no sorrow.
My soul has borrowed against all the dark mysteries of man’s many
histories.
Time is the great gossip teller, leaving traces of doubt in the path of
silent winds, to the sellers of suspicion.”

Overall, what captivates me the most about Steinagle’s work is that his poems are not design to look pretty, there isn’t any fancy stanzas or complicated words. His stories are not difficult to explicate, they are just real and natural in their simplicity. You know you have encountered an author that leaves you wanting more when you start researching who this person is and is eager to read their other works.

“With the weird there’s always an open door; with the rational
they’re always closing doors.”

Lisa Green

Martin Steinagle: Everyday but Not Common, Poems and Quotes

1780819-M

“If all a man wanted in life was to live, then what value would death have?”

I have always been fascinated with poetry that has a philosophical perspective. The title of this book caught my eye and the fact that it has poems and quotes aroused my curiosity. Steinagle has a way with words that brings a personal honesty to his poems. The first half of his book is filled with captivating poetry from romance to love, hate, daily life and just plain good soul searching analysis. The second half of his book has 648 amazing quotes that I find refreshingly comforting, the originality of the quotes impresses and inspires me. Reading this book brings bad days and negative emotions to a halt, because the feelings that he expresses is so relatable to everyday life and situations. This is not a book you put away on the shelf to gather dust, but a book you leave on the coffee table, because his words are like daily bread. From the poems to the quotes you will always find a soothing line or quote that transfers to your everyday life and at the same time appreciate your uniqueness.

A Sense Of

“As my illusions grow cold my soul continues in hopes made greater by
each day ceasing.
The lines of age show upon my thoughts, my responses no less to shy from
relations of life.
With despair revealed so evidently by my eyes, wonders of joy reflects
beyond such shadows.”

Loneliness

“Lonely I am and lonely I’ve been, for such a long time.
For loneliness makes a strange friend.
And I often find myself talking in mindless thoughts to a lonely
void, and spacing of time.
In which the loneliness becomes the empathy of my own emotions.
Again I find myself lost beyond, dimension, and looking at
tears which motionlessly run from my eyes.”

These lines are genuine emotions of life and aging; I believe it to say what we all think on days where we reflect on life.

In the poem The People, Steinagle steps away from his self analysis and reflect on humanity.  I find the true meaning of soul searching is when you can look at yourself as a whole part of something to find self purpose.

“The people are:
the coming
the present
and the past
And the people shall lie
with their ideas, their ways and
their dreams
to make a better world.”

Soul is my favorite poem from the book, it sums up life and questions about history and humanity. The title speaks for itself.

“Today has give way to tomorrow, yet I feel no sorrow.
My soul has borrowed against all the dark mysteries of man’s many
histories.
Time is the great gossip teller, leaving traces of doubt in the path of
silent winds, to the sellers of suspicion.”

Overall, what captivates me the most about Steinagle’s work is that his poems are not design to look pretty, there isn’t any fancy stanzas or complicated words. His stories are not difficult to explicate, they are just real and natural in their simplicity. You know you have encountered an author that leaves you wanting more when you start researching who this person is and is eager to read their other works.

“With the weird there’s always an open door; with the rational
they’re always closing doors.”

Lisa Green

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