Story Time Friday: more poems for #NationalPoetryMonth

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fancy lineresizeSpring’s here…at least the calendar says it is. I’ve lived long enough to know that spring isn’t guaranteed until May. We’ve had snow on Mothers’ Day in the past, it’s not uncommon really.

For this week’s National Poetry Month edition of Story Time Friday, I pulled two old poems out of my notebooks, fixed them up, and posted them below. I feel that these two fit the theme of complaining I’ve been seeing online the last few weeks. It’s the complaint that it’s still snowing, and it’s not sunny and summery. Well here’s something to consider: Spring is full of rain. That means mud. Snow…not as much mud. Embrace winter 😉

Hope you enjoy these reworked oldies. I’m not totally sold on the second poem, but it’s an improvement from the original version. If you want to see each poem in it’s original form, click the titles below. You’ll be directed to an original posting from years ago.
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poems by Robert Zimmermann

Fight, Spring

The night falls upon the valley
All of its souls are silently dreaming
Spring seems to be fighting off winter
We’ll know for sure tomorrow
If tomorrow will bring on snow
Or allow the rains to fall?

The Tide of Seasons

He only wanted a bride.
Is it that bad?
He saw her picking flowers.
That’s when her mother got sad.
He brought her down below,
to marry right away
To feast on endless steaks and wines,
but she knew better.
And so she starved,
But she couldn’t resist for long.
She consumed the seeds of that famous fruit.

Now she must live with him:
Half of the year below
and the other half here.

When she’s away the Earth is dead,
then alive with sun and flowers
when she raises her head
through the soil,
then above the ground.
She steals away my joy.

The snow, my favorite toy.
But does she even care?

Does it matter in the end?
She just wants to see her mother.
Can I blame her?
She’s still just a kid.
She will soon learn…

That mothers can be bad,
can turn on you in an instant,
and sever your head.
What then will be of the seasons?
Will they disappear into an endless summer
or will she let them grow cold an endless winter
with no hope, just an age of death?

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For those who wish to be part of Story Time Friday in the near future, you can send submissions to the email address that I formerly used for review requests (but don’t anymore since I’m retired . . . don’t try to be clever and slip on in 😛 ): miztrebor88@gmail.com. Be sure to use the subject “Story Time Friday Submission” and send your piece as an attachment (.doc/.docx would be best). Any other questions, feel free to comment here or contact me through the blog’s contact form.

Hope to hear from some writers soon!

 

#Review: Psyche in a Dress, by @francescablock

Psyche in a DressTitle: Psyche in a Dress
Author: Francesca Lia Block

Rating: 4/5 stars

“But this is what I could not give up: I could not give up myself Psyche has known Love–scented with jasmine and tasting of fresh oranges. Yet he is fleeting and fragile, lost to her too quickly. Punished by self-doubt, Psyche yearns to be transformed, like the beautiful and brutal figures in the myths her lover once spoke of. Attempting to uncover beauty in the darkness, she is challenged, tested, and changed by the gods and demons who tempt her. Her faith must be found again, for if she is to love, she must never look back.” (description from Goodreads)

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I wrote this review back in April and posted it on Goodreads. In reviewing my reading year of 2014 it seems that I didn’t post the review here on A Life Among the Pages. Today I’ll fix that by posting it now.

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I read Block’s Weetzie Bat a few years ago, and I think that helped prepare me for reading this book. Block has an interesting way with language that is beautiful to read, but can also lead to some minor confusion and rereading. It’s not a fault in the writing though. It helps it stand out and allows for the story to do interesting things.

Block takes well known myths and weaves them together into a set of modern day characters. It’s often hard to tell where the myth and the “real world” aspects of the story are because of the blending and language used. But there’s a beauty to how this story is told. I feel that I’ll need to go back and read it again some time down the road to full appreciate it, though. I wasn’t until about halfway through that I was able to find the flow through the verse, especially with it’s lack of punctuation.

I’d be very interested in reading some other poetry (non verse novel works), after reading this. I’ll have to go see if there’s any out there.

If you’re looking for something different, something that might not “click” right away but will make you think and pay attention, this might be a book to check out.

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You can grab a copy of this verse novel from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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About the Author:

Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles to a poet and a painter, their creativity an obvious influence on her writing. Another influence was her childhood love of Greek mythology and fairy tales.
She has lived in the city all her life, and still resides there with her daughter, Jasmine Angelina (about whom she wrote her book Guarding the Moon), her son Samuel Alexander, and her two dogs: a springer spaniel named Vincent Van Go Go Boots and a beagle mix named Thumper.

She left only to attend the University of California, Berkeley. She has often professed her love of Los Angeles, calling it a “Jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city,” which she has nicknamed in her books “Shangri-LA.”

Find out more:

#NewRelease: The Island of Excess Love, @francescablock

The Island of Excess Love

Love in the Time of Global Warming #2

by Francesca Lia Block

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For those following my Goodreads account, you’ll know that back in April I read Love in the Time of Global Warming. Well, if you want to get technical, I listened to the audiobook. I didn’t end up reviewing it partly due to it having been an audio read and partly because I really loved the book but it was one of those that I felt I couldn’t do justice to with my words. It obviously ended up being a 5 star rating on Goodreads, but if you need more than stars…just see what I types a few seconds ago.

Today’s just as great of a day in the book world as yesterday was (Tiffany King’s new release day), as well as as great of a day as when I finished book one in Block’s series. It’s the day we can all run to the store (or web browser you’re already in) and grab a copy of The Island of Excess Love where we can continue on our journey with Pen through an Odyssey retelling in a recently post-apocalyptic world.

I can only see great things ahead within the pages of this new book, based on what I read with book one. I hope some of you dive in as well.

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The Island of Excess Love

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Pen has lost her parents. She’s lost her eye. But she has fought Kronen; she has won back her fragile friends and her beloved brother. Now Pen, Hex, Ash, Ez, and Venice are living in the pink house by the sea, getting by on hard work, companionship, and dreams. Until the day a foreboding ship appears in the harbor across from their home. As soon as the ship arrives, they all start having strange visions of destruction and violence. Trance-like, they head for the ship and their new battles begin.

This companion to Love in the Time of Global Warming follows Pen as she searches for love among the ruins, this time using Virgil’s epic Aeneidas her guide. A powerful and stunning book filled with Francesca Lia Block’s beautiful language and inspiring characters.

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You can grab yourself a copy of this book from:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

If you still need a copy of Love in the Time of Global Warming you can find that on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

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PSST…Francesca Lia Block has another new release coming up on September 16th. It’s a very different book than this one, but it’s also on my TBR because Block hasn’t disappointed me yet. You can find out about that one, and find the pre-order links, here:

Goodreads

Amazon | B&N | iBooks

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About the Author:

Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles to a poet and a painter, their creativity an obvious influence on her writing. Another influence was her childhood love of Greek mythology and fairy tales.
She has lived in the city all her life, and still resides there with her daughter, Jasmine Angelina (about whom she wrote her book Guarding the Moon), her son Samuel Alexander, and her two dogs: a springer spaniel named Vincent Van Go Go Boots and a beagle mix named Thumper.

She left only to attend the University of California, Berkeley. She has often professed her love of Los Angeles, calling it a “Jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city,” which she has nicknamed in her books “Shangri-LA.”

Find out more:

(An Almost) #Review – The Song of Achilles, by @MillerMadeline

The Song of AchillesTitle: The Song of Achilles
Author: Madeline Miller
Rating: 5/5 stars

“Achilles, “the best of all the Greeks,” son of the cruel sea goddess Thetis and the legendary king Peleus, is strong, swift, and beautiful— irresistible to all who meet him. Patroclus is an awkward young prince, exiled from his homeland after an act of shocking violence. Brought together by chance, they forge an inseparable bond, despite risking the gods’ wrath.

They are trained by the centaur Chiron in the arts of war and medicine, but when word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, all the heroes of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause, and torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows. Little do they know that the cruel Fates will test them both as never before and demand a terrible sacrifice.” (description from Goodreads)

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There’s no way I can write a review for this book that the book deserves. From the very beginning I fell in love with Miller’s writing and the way she shaped the legendary characters from The Iliad into this novel. I could probably have rushed through this book in a day or two, but I found myself holding off reading in order to prolong my enjoyment. Normally I complain about how slow I read (even when enjoying a book), so making this one last longer was an interesting change of attitude. In the end, it didn’t disappoint. I just hope that Miller has something else in store for her readers. I’ll definitely come back for more

That’s basically my review. There’s not much more I can say to praise this book without babbling. I’m a big fan of Greek mythology, though I haven’t read much of it since high school and early college when I was reading Homer and some other authors/books dealing with the subject. It was great to revisit that world and see this author’s interpretation of Achilles and Patroclus’ relationship and the story of the Trojan War. If you’re a fan of mythology, or just a great novel filled with a romance, action, legend, this might be a book to check out. I just wish I had gotten a copy of this earlier. I now know that I was missing out for a few years.

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If you’d like to grab a copy of this novel, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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About the Author:

Madeline Miller was born in Boston and grew up in New York City and Philadelphia. She attended Brown University, where she earned her BA and MA in Classics. For the last ten years she has been teaching and tutoring Latin, Greek and Shakespeare to high school students. She has also studied at the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought, and in the Dramaturgy department at Yale School of Drama, where she focused on the adaptation of classical texts to modern forms. The Song of Achilles, her first novel, was awarded the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York TimesBestseller. It has been translated into twenty-three languages including Dutch, Mandarin, Japanese, Turkish, Arabic and Greek. Madeline was also shortlisted for the 2012 Stonewall Writer of the Year, and her essays have appeared in a number of publications including the Guardian, Wall Street Journal, Lapham’s Quarterly and NPR.org. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA, where she teaches and writes.

Find out more:

#Review: Open Letter to Quiet Light, by @FrancescaBlock

Open Letter to Quiet LightTitle: Open Letter to Quiet Light
Author: Francesca Lia Block
Rating: 5/5 stars

Open Letter to Quiet Light will make readers feel as if they are peering at secret writings meant for the eyes of a lover alone, but these carefully crafted lines somehow transcend the personal to touch everyone who has experienced this kind of consuming, wrenching love.

In these fiercely passionate, devastatingly revealing, sometimes spiritual, and often painful poems, Francesca Lia Block describes in fiery detail the rise and demise of a year-long love affair. Her rich use of language infused with the power of sex and spirit finally paint a transcendent, almost mythic portrait of the way two wounded people—both searching for connection—find each other, collide, and eventually separate. The words seem to bleed onto the page and even the most graphic moments have a devotional quality filled with nuanced expression and unbridled intimacy.” (description from Goodreads)

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I knew going into this collection that I’d be stepping outside my “comfort level”. This is the case with most of Block’s work, for me. Though, at this point, I think I’m getting comfortable with Block’s unconventional style of writing.

Block was able to hook me in with what normally irks me with poetry. There is no punctuation throughout the collection, and there’s a very scarce use of capitalization. Having read Psyche in a Dress recently, I was somewhat ready for the lack of punctuation. Not having capital letters anywhere in the poems took some getting used to. These two things normally help a reader find some flow or pattern to the lines. Despite this, I easily found my way into each poem and enjoyed them all.

There are recurring themes of motherhood and various aspects of love and relationships throughout the collection. Each mention brought me, as a reader, deeper into the speaker’s life and the emotions she felt during each event recollected. Block’s use of language, incorporation of myths and magical imagery created beautiful lines of poetry that I’d enjoy reading many times over. I only hope that Block releases more poetry because I’d love more.

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If you’d like to purchase a copy of this collection, you can find it on:

Amazon | B&N | Kobo

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About the Author:

Francesca Lia Block was born in Los Angeles to a poet and a painter, their creativity an obvious influence on her writing. Another influence was her childhood love of Greek mythology and fairy tales.
She has lived in the city all her life, and still resides there with her daughter, Jasmine Angelina (about whom she wrote her book Guarding the Moon), her son Samuel Alexander, and her two dogs: a springer spaniel named Vincent Van Go Go Boots and a beagle mix named Thumper. 

She left only to attend the University of California, Berkeley. She has often professed her love of Los Angeles, calling it a “Jasmine-scented, jacaranda-purple, neon sparked city,” which she has nicknamed in her books “Shangri-LA.”

Find out more:

#GuestPost – @KaitlinBevis

Earlier in the week I featured Persephone, book one of the Daughters of Zeus series, by Kaitlin Bevis. As mentioned in that post, Kaitlin’s back with a guest post. She’s here to discuss the Persephone myth and how it plays into her book.

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Persephone Myth:

In the original Persephone myth, Kore, the goddess of Spring, was a beautiful goddess and would have had many suiters had her mother, Demeter, goddess of agriculture, not kept her hidden away from the other gods. One day Kore went to a meadow to pick narcissus flowers, lilacs, poppies, or some other flower depending on the source with some nymphs when Hades, God of the Underworld spotted her and decided he wanted her for his wife. He burst through the earth (in some versions, Gaia, goddess of Earth assists him) in his creepy black chariot of death, and dragged Kore into the Underworld. After her rape/marriage, Kore became known as Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld.

Demeter, goddess of Agriculture and Persephone’s mother, searched frantically for her daughter, neglecting her duties as a goddess and plunging the earth into famine. Helios, god of the sun, or in some versions Persephone’s nymph friends, tell Demeter what happened and Demeter begged Zeus to rescue their daughter.

At first Zeus told Demeter she should be pleased to have such a high ranking son-in-law, but eventually he relented since too many people were starving to worship him properly, and sent Hermes to liberate Persephone so long as she had not consumed food or drink in he Underworld.

Meanwhile, Persephone was tricked into eating 3-7(depending on the version) pomegranate seeds by the god Ascalapus, Hades’ gardener. Ascalapus got turned into a screech owl in retribution for his crime, and Persephone was forced to return to the Underworld for a month every year for each seed she ate. While she is home with her mother, plants grow, but during her time in the Underworld every year they die. This myth is considered an explanation for winter.

Why did her name change?

Changing a gods name to reflect a change in their divine role was not uncommon. In Persephone’s case she doesn’t even get a name until she’s important. Kore translated to girl, or maiden.

Persephone has a variety of other names and titles within her cult the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Why a pomegranate?

The pomegranate is known as the fruit of the dead as well as a symbol for fertility, and thanks to the little crown on the top of a pomegranate is a symbol of royalty. So it’s easy to see why it was chosen as symbol in the Persephone myth. You’ve got royalty for the new Queen of Spring/fertility of the dead. When you cut it open is naturally divided into three to six sections depending on the fruit. It is full of tiny little seeds covered in a blood red juice.

While the Persephone myth is the most well known example of using a Pomegranate for symbolism, way back when, this weird little fruit found its way into a variety of stories across cultures.

Why does it matter what flower Persephone was picking?

The flower chosen in the myth kind of sets the tone for the whole story. The narcissus flower for instance is commonly seen as a phallic symbol, and a symbol of unrequited love, and as a portent for death, so you’ve got some foreshadowing, and loss of innocence going there. Other flowers symbolize different things that the story teller may be trying to get across.

What did I change?

I tried to stay true to the spirit of the original myth in my version of the story. Several of the key elements remained, but framed differently. My version is set in modern day. Persephone believes she’s a normal, somewhat sheltered, girl. She discovers she’s a goddess after catching the attention of a sadistic deity named Boreas, the God of Winter (winter winds, technically). Hades rescues her by taking her to the Underworld.

The idea that Hades may not have been the bad guy has been toyed with in popular culture throughout my entire life (Beauty and the Beast anyone?) so it’s logical, and certainly not original, to consider that Hades may have just been misunderstood. Choosing Boreas as the antagonist made sense because there is a very similar story in Greek mythology involving Boreas abducting a Greek princess. In my mind, it fit really well. Boreas is a repeat offender, AND he’s strongest during the winter. It made complete sense for Persephone to have to hide during those months.

I made other changes as well, the Underworld is a pretty nice place, and Persephone is free to come and go as she pleases. Orpheus is a rock star. Small things to add layers to a world where many of the myths we know so well haven’t happened yet.

Why rewrite the Persephone myth?

That myth has never really vanished or fallen out of fashion. It resonates with us for some reason. If you studied any mythology at all in school, you learned the Persephone myth. I think part of it is, if you take the myth at face value, it’s unspeakable. We want to fix this poor girl’s fate. Another draw is that the Persephone myth seems incomplete. In other myths you get a bit of characterization for the key players. Zeus’s personality and wants and needs come across crystal clear in every single myth he’s a part of. But Hades and Persephone both are ambiguous in this myth. We learn a lot about Demeter, and her devotion as a mother, but not so much about Persephone. I wanted to know what happened down there. So I wrote my own version.

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About the Author:

Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book, and a pen. If the ending didn’t agree with her, she rewrote it. She’s always wanted to be a writer, and spent high school and college learning everything she could so that one day she could achieve that goal. She graduated college with my BFA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and is pursuing her masters at the University of Georgia.

Her young adult series “Daughters of Zeus” is available wherever ebooks are sold. She also writes for truuconfessions.com and Athens Parent Magazine.

Find out more:

#Review: 12.21.12, by @KillianMcRae

Title: 12.21.1212.21.12
Author: Killian McRae
Rating: 4/5 Stars

“The only way to save the future is to decode the past. The only way to decode the past is to save the future.

Archaeologist Sheppard Smyth has staked his career and the honorable memory of his wife and partner on proving his widely panned theory: Cleopatra VII, the last sovereign pharaoh of Egypt, was not a victim of suicide as history suggests, but of a well-concealed murder. When a statue of the doomed Queen is unearthed in a pre-Columbian excavation site in Mexico, Shep rushes to investigate and, hopefully, find the proof that has evaded him for so long. The statue, however, is only the first clue suggesting a mysterious connection between Mesopotamia and Mesoamerica, and possibly – beyond. Suddenly thrust into the heated rivalry between sexy and enigmatic antiquities thief Victoria Kent and the infamous Russian mofiosa Dmitri Kronastia, Shep finds himself a common pawn played by forces working to see out a quest older than the pyramids and cloaked in the Mayan Doomsday prophecy of 12.21.12.” (description from Goodreads)

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I’m glad I checked out 12.21.12. It was a great change of pace from what I’ve been reading and put a nice twist on a doomsday myth popular in today’s culture, even after the passing of the December 21st date.

Even though I read this book after the prophesied “end of the world” date, I still felt the suspense and thrill held within the story. I’m always a fan of a fast-paced book filled with action and peril. That’s what 12.21.12 gave me. It also had some great characters in there to help the story along.

Along with the story itself was a twist on the way one can look at the mythology of various world cultures and in the same sense, ancient religions…or religion in general. This is something of great interest to me, and seeing it in a book, while I can’t get too into detail due to spoilers, made it that much more of a better read for me.

If you’re looking for a fast read, with an end-of-the-world premise, maybe 12.21.12 is a book you’d like to check out.

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You can grab a copy of 12.21.12 from:

Amazon | B&N | Smashwords

And if you’d like to check out the audiobook version, read by the author:

Podiobook | iTunes

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About the Author:

Killian McRae would tell you that she is a rather boring lass, an authoress whose characters’ lives are so much more exciting than her own. She would be right. Sadly, this sarcastic lexophile leads a rather mundane existence in the San Francisco Bay Area. She once dreamed of being the female Indiana Jones, and to that end she earned a degree in Middle Eastern History from the University of Michigan. However, when she learned that real archaeologist spend more time lovingly removing dust with toothbrushes from shards of pottery than outrunning intriguing villains with exotic accents, she decided to become a writer instead. She writes across many genres, including science fiction, fantasy, romance, and historical fiction.

Killian is a member of Stanford University’s Writer’s Certificate program and a PRO member of the Romance Writers of America.

Find out more: