Poetry Reviews: J Matthew Waters, AshiAkira, Laura Grace Weldon

“I believe the role of the poet is to reflect on human experience and the world we live in and to articulate it for oneself and others…. I think that the poet can write forcefully, using a different approach from a journalist, about subjects such as climate change, violence, abuse and mental illness and that this is meaningful to others. I very much believe too that poetry is a way of celebrating life. I think it deserves a central place in our world.”  A Life Immersed in Poetry: Myra Schneider, Celebrating Over 50 Years as Poet and Writer (link to Jamie Dedes)

By Lara
Howdy! …just so you know, I have always had more poetry books (and history books) on my book shelves, and these three brilliant poets never cease to amaze  and fill me with wonder and deep thoughts.  Poetry does deserve your time, too, so brace yourself, this is a long post…

First up:

J Matthew Waters, and his 2015 book Forty-Five Revolutions Per Minute (ISBN: 978-1-5197-2802-9)

With four poetry collections published, JW writes a daily poem on his blog  jdubqca , and it’s extraordinary he can keep up this writing schedule since it appears he also has a job in the financial sector in Iowa!

(below) Read RUNNING ON EMPTY! I’ve earmarked his book, and have so many post-its – it was very hard to choose just one but WOW –

A man who can write with such madcap vision with a dash of the esoteric and gravity of love, he’s grabbed me so many times with his poetic brilliance, I am simply in awe of this man.  JW has composed over 700 poems since 2011 (and blogs as he writes them).  It all makes sense to me –JW can’t help himself – he is an artist (of words.)

theory of a black hole

birth is like a microscopic bang
transmitting near-silent primal waves
quickly creating its very own tiny galaxy

struggles elapse in the background
ongoing and inaudible to the human mind
unmistakable to the almighty creator

to what degree the energy advances
is an invaluable period of time
[no matter the linear length]
from the very start to infinitesimal finish

(may 30, 2019)

++He makes an audio file so you can hear him read which is also genius! Visit JW on his poetry blog HERE:  https://jdubqca.com/

***

by

The news of heat strokes

Never been so hot in May

Or people getting weak?

AshiAkira is a skilled master of Haiku who lives in Tokyo, Japan. I wrote an earlier review of his work here (when he was 79 years young).

He has since published a second collection Haiku Poems II (LINK: available on Lulu.com) with over 500 poems, in the five-seven-five syllable pattern.  What I long for when I read his work is to feel what he feels as he walks the places he knows so well in Japan, and learn about his culture a half a world away.  After hearing about yet another earthquake, I waited to see what he’d write.

526

After the earthquake

Sit in a mess of strewn books

Thinking of reading.

 

527

Cascade of spring light

The resurrection of the earth

After the earthquake.

AshiAkira (his penname) wishes to emulate the haiku poets of old.  It’s so difficult for me to write (and think) in three sentences but he’s a master:

Red-and-white plum trees

Innocently in full bloom

Amid snow forecast

In the book introduction he writes about how he came to be a poet:

Thanks to retirement, I became free.

Having worked as a news reporter,

I have seen the pretentious faces of people in many walks of life,

Politicians, bureaucrats, businesspeople, showbiz celebrities,

preachers, and priests—- All wade through their lives

with business smiles and political gestures.

I was one of them.

When I found myself free, the first thing I did was take a walk.

 

His third collection is delayed: he wrote me his hospitalization in 2018 prevented him from publishing “Haiku Poems III” and right now (May 2019) he is recovering from pneumonia and was in hospital again.

In an 2018 email exchange, I asked AskiAkira how he’s doing: “I’m feeling all right, and I can walk about 100 meters now.  I’m sure I can regain the strength enough to complete the third book for publication soon.  I post haiku every other day now (on my blog), and I imagine about a couple of thousands from which to select for the next publication.

“The basic spirit of haiku writing is to follow the law of nature above and before all other things especially dictatorship or any other political oppression. When the ordinary people lead the world, peace will be on Earth,” AshiAkira wrote.

I urge you to visit and follow his blog and see for yourself what a gift this beautiful man is to the world and to HAIKU poetry…

HAIKU II (ISBN:  978-1-4834-7596-7 ppbk)

He posted an introduction to Vol III here: https://ashiakira.wordpress.com/2019/03/11/march-10-introduction/

***

Let me share just a few 5 STAR reviews on Amazon for BLACKBIRD: (ISBN: 978-0999432761 ppbk)

This book of new poems by Laura Grace Weldon, titled Blackbird, is a gem. Her imagery is grounded and evocative. Real life unfolds here in ways that give poignant hope to the paradoxes of our lives. These truth-telling poems of tender scenes will stay in the memory for years to come.

This book is a pergola–you walk through it, to find a green and wholesome space

   By turns this collection made me laugh, feel wistful, get in touch with half-forgotten memories, and at one point, I just set the book down, completely gob-smacked. I LOVE poetry, but I have little patience for poetry that makes me feel stupid. Laura’s poems never do that. They have a fresh straightforwardness that makes them relatable, and at the same time they have multiple layers to dive into. Here’s an example of one that grabbed me from the first line.

  In “Assembly Required” the poem opens with “I just need a new body / my mother used to say / as if she could unscrew her head…”.  How can the reader not keep reading?  Where is this one going?  Well, with this poet, it will be somewhere interesting, thought provoking, wonder-full. The whole book is worth owning just to read (and re-read) “Compost Happens”. That was the gob-smacker for me.

SOOOO… yes I took my time with Blackbird, and wrote a few pages of notes which became this review on Amazon:

Playing Blackbird

The world needs a big dose of Weldon’s poetry right now

May 17, 2019

Her poetry takes raw courage. My dictionary is open on my desk to play BLACKBIRD (her poem and book title) as instructed in the beautiful new poetry collection by Laura Grace Weldon. (I found a word, eyes closed, my finger blindly choosing the word itinerary. The word perfectly fits her new book: a record of a journey.) 
Her book breathes; Blackbird beats in my hand. Whoever said, “Poetry is a language unto itself,” this is utterly true of her work. (I always look forward to her musings on her website, too.)
Without a doubt, her poetry is code. Not everyone feels poems are a form of writing they can understand. Laura doesn’t write difficult or obtuse. She writes “REALLY REAL, deeply.” Her words rush tears to my eyes. So I pray she makes time to write volumes more… and allow us access to her universe, embedding word-poems for those of us wise enough to realize true beauty when we see it… if only us humans could only crack open and think with open hearts.
“If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him. We must never forget that art is not a form of propaganda; it is a form of truth… When power corrupts, poetry cleanses.” – JFK
The world needs a big dose of Weldon’s poetry right now. As Laura writes in Earthbound:
“We want to get past/ greed, suffering and war, enough already./ And death? That’s awfully primitive for souls with so much left to learn./ That said, this planet does a lot right./ Birds, for one./ Water in all its perfect manifestations./ Those alive poems called trees. ”
God, I want what she wants. Time travel would also be nice. 🙂

 

Ah… the beauty of her writing is in full bloom here:  https://lauragraceweldon.com/

Laura is also the author of Free Range Learning and an earlier poetry collection Tending.

**** (one last thing)

Why has noone produced reality show about poets??? I know plenty!

J Peter Moore wrote: How can it be, with streaming services and cable channels engaged in an all-out arms race for our so-called “entertainment” dollars, that no one has produced reality show about poets???

Magdalena Zurawski’s recent book of poems The Tiniest Muzzle Sings Songs of Freedom, offers a glimpse into what this duality might look like:

“So that my best poems disappeared just as I began to dream. I know I was their only audience, but I am sure they were my best work. If only I know how to retrieve them, know where they were stored.”

GREAT REVIEW: Poems About Unending Displacement and Mobility

 

***

If I have not said it to you bloggers, I mean this. You mean the world to me. There are so many of you who I treasure when I read your posts, though I don’t always comment or say something nice or witty. You have made me a better writer and reader.  Thank you ALL!

I have a new doctor for my thyroid issues (hyper-thyroid) and he is young and talented and of course holistic. I will be following a new regimen the next 30 days or so and will report back how I’m doing in July.  The other bigger issue: uterine cancer was surgically removed and is gone. I’ll be around much longer we hope!

 

Top photo:

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Indian Country: The Art of David Bradley continues at the Autry Museum of the American West (4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles) through January 5, 2020. The exhibition was organized by the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology (Santa Fe, NM) and circulated through Guest Curator Traveling Exhibitions.

Source: Santa Fe Through the Eyes of a Minnesota Chippewa Artist

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Lara/Trace

...mosaic artist ...author ...poet... blog consultant... content curator... news junkie

19 thoughts on “Poetry Reviews: J Matthew Waters, AshiAkira, Laura Grace Weldon”

  1. Oh Lara, how I enjoyed reading these your poetry reviews. I truly love everything about this post. THANK YOU for the introduction to these brilliant poets and rooting for more poetry reading. The world needs it whether it acknowledges that or not.

    All the best with your health/treatment regime!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great post. The art of David Bradley is wonderful, and completely new to me.
    I am also lost with Haiku, but your examples show a master at work.
    Poetry is a difficult subject, as it is very personal. I admire Philip Larkin, and W. B. Yeats. Also Stevie Smith, then Wilfred Owen, and other war poets. But it is not something I immediately turn to, more like a warm blanket I seek out, when in a cold and reflective mood.
    This is perhaps my favourite poem of all. This is real love.

    When You Are Old
    W. B. Yeats – 1865-1939

    When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
    And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
    And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
    Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;

    How many loved your moments of glad grace,
    And loved your beauty with love false or true,
    But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
    And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

    And bending down beside the glowing bars,
    Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
    And paced upon the mountains overhead
    And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. OH MY GOODNESS. Bless you for including me in this lineup of poetry wonders. I am thrilled to discover J Matthew Waters and AshiAkira, and deeply honored by your absolutely amazing review.

    I am so glad you are in my life. You keep up with and weave together strands from so many different directions, at the same time keeping up with people from all over and keeping your heart in a soft place. You, my friend, are an inspiration and a support to my own growth.

    Best of all is your health news. May goodness continue to blossom in your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Dear Lara,

    I am honored and humbled being included in your wonderful blog today. Thank you so much for your kind words. I too am a big fan or Ashi Akira and love to read his new work via his blog. And now I have a new poet to discover in Lara Grace Weldon! Lastly, I pray for your continued health and well being, as I’m sure you will be around a long long time! xo

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have delayed reading them because of the translation. They are really poets, for me, unknown by language. The poems that you have chosen are the best that I have read. Nothing like reading poetry of this quality. I appreciate your kindness in giving the opportunity to access these authors. I enjoyed it in my absolute rest. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. macalder02, you are a wonderful poet! Poetry seems to find us when we most need it. Poetry is going to connect us together even with different languages. I call you a poet friend. Thank you for reading.

      Like

  6. Crap crap crap! loved all of it. but forgot my password to word press, so didn’t post will get that all fixed at some point this weekend. My love to you and apologies for being “absent” for quite a bit. Dealilng with a pile of dung daily has worn me to the point of fading in and out of my daily joys of living. Bu working on changing that.

    A. ________________________________

    Liked by 1 person

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