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

Some book reviews! here is what i’m reading

Poetry and Book Reviews BY LT

I have a few book reviews to share.  Check with your local bookseller and library for these titles:

AshiAkira’s HAIKU POEMS

Wise words are snapshots. In three-sentence-structures with five-seven-five syllables, in snippets of one man’s movement across the cosmos, Japanese elder AshiAkira shares 496 of these precious moments in his new collection HAIKU POEMS [ISBN: 978-1-4834-6846-4].

As Ashi explains in his introduction, “By catching a glimpse of nature’s work, only a momentary spark, and jotting it down in words as a reflection of our mind, we may get closer to knowing it.”

Out of thousands he’s done, his first collection of haiku-style was randomly chosen by the 79-year-old poet, and each is as joyful as it is sacred. (He’s working on a new book now and  it should be out soon.)

34

Wherever you are,

You are watching this same moon

Together with me.

65

Hear sparrows chirping.

I can tell what’s going on.

They can’t keep secrets.

85

Weather forecasters—

Basically honest people,

So I forgive you.

128

Clouds flowing away

Bring my words with you to her.

Stars twinkle like her eyes.

221

A crow on a branch

Watches other birds away

Like a lonely king.

283

Humming of mother

Long ago, but it still sounds

In my gray-haired head.

333

Dragonflies move fast.

They hover from time to time.

They see the world well.

377

Evening subway train,

Many people busy texting.

A child smiled at me.

414

The middle of August,

Anniversary of war’s end.

Hunger remembered.

466

Crows on a tree branch

In black robes like Buddhist monks

In meditation.

He writes:
Since the haiku poems must be squeezed into such a small number of syllables, we need a special poetic license to write them: the license to kill, to kill the grammar. And, for now:

Whatever language

Say it in five-seven-five rhythm

My heart will follow

My friend AshiAkira’s new book is a beauty, a ravishing art, pleasing and easy on the eyes, and lovely to the heart.  

Visit Ashi and his writing at his blog: https://ashiakira.wordpress.com/

*** THE MISSING GIRL

Some writers make it seem easy to craft a story.  Author Jacqueline Doyle is so friggin’ good she’s literally scared the crap outta me. Well, her eight stories did.  I read the book in one sitting, and writing this good, it should be known about and shared. But not everyone wants to see inside the mind of a predator, or their prey. Or a serial killer. Or a victim. Eight chapters – that is it.  Each story is unique, powerful, not technically graphic (blood and gore) but terrifying, and it is about horror -and the horrible.

The Missing Girl was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2017, and has already won the Black River Chapbook Competition.

One reviewer wrote: “In these dark and edgy stories, Doyle has made a dispassionate study of the degradation of girls and the twisted hearts of those who hunt them… Prepare to be very disturbed.”

This book is not for everyone. But those with the stomach for it, you won’t ever forget these stories.

FMI: Black Lawrence Press

***

I’m now reading Adam Rutherford’s new work! (top photo)

REVIEW: … Rutherford is the author of A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: The Human Story Retold Through Our Genes.  (excerpt) …Nor is Rutherford happy with some of those who seek to commercialise modern genomics, and in particular derides ancestry companies that have claimed their DNA tests reveal the identity of Jack the Ripper; that Prince William harbours Indian blood; and that it is possible to trace living descendants of the Queen of Sheba. This is “PR dressed up as research”, we are told. For Rutherford, modern genetics has far less to say about us as individuals than we have been led to believe. On the other hand, he is confident it sheds a great deal of light on us as a species. Demonstrating these divergent concepts is not easy.  Happily, Rutherford is up to the task. He has produced a polished, thoroughly entertaining history of Homo sapiens and its DNA in a manner that displays popular science writing at its best.

What really caught my attention is the DNA bullshit ads luring in people …This DNA marketing is used like ammunition and The Holy Grail. And to my horror, we know they are storing our DNA results but are they using them in some way nefarious? DNA is our signature and belongs to humanity. It is not something a company should own. L/T

(click to read)  A New History of the First Peoples in the Americas 

[A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived is published by W&N (£20). Click here to buy it for £16] I bought my copy on Amazon.com

I will be getting this:

Dead White Men is not only a searing indictment of colonialism but also a painful reminder of the violence that underpins the logic of exploration. Each poem strikes at the heart of the issue: there are often unarticulated, unacknowledged Indigenous presences here that have been flattened over by the lies and mirages of empty landscapes. Dead White Men is a stinging and difficult journey, and one that continues to remind us that stolen land has always been the most pressing concern for Indigenous peoples and settlers. This is an absolutely essential book.’
– Jordan Abel, author of Injun

full review: Dead White Men.  Shane Rhodes.  Coach House Books.  Toronto, Ontario.  2017.

***Just in case:

(click) How to find an academic research paper 

Looking for research on a particular topic? We walk you through the steps we use here at Journalist’s Resource.

*** The power of a name!

Trace. As a noun, a way or path. A course of action. Footprint or track. Vestige of a former presence. An impression. Minute amount. As a verb, to make one’s way. To pace or step. To travel through. To discern. To mark or draw. To follow tracks or footprints. To follow, pursue. –  Lauret Savoy Thoughts

In order to remember, one must also forget. Otherwise each of us would drown in a sea of every detail of every experience of every day of our lives. To make sense of things, to function—to gain retrospect—we must forget, and instead sort what remains in memory. To remember—re-member—is to piece together constituent parts toward some whole. Re-membering is selecting, arranging, interpreting. “The memory is a living thing,” noted Eudora Welty, “it too is in transit.”

*** Alaska U.S. Senators Say No to Trump to Rename Denali:  Trump seemingly bent on reversing everything his predecessor did while in office thought he would throw in the reverting back to Mt. McKinley

Source:  November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month – Native News Online