This is the third edition of The Inspired Heart by MCI Writers House, a new Canadian publishing house that mentors and publishes with special attention
to the passions of life and helping authors dreams come true. The Inspired Heart Edition 3 is an anthology of postmodern Poets with the theme of the beauty of women.
The anthology is a celebration featuring international Poets in all stages of their writing careers and from both men and women Poets. The editor’s note on the back of
“If on the journey through this book you feel impelled to cry, do so, if you feel impelled to scream, do so, if you feel impelled to love, do so, and if you feel the need to change things, please do so. Each writer will ask you to call upon the very fibers of our humanness as a reflection of each other.”
When This Writer picks up the book I am first struck by its very large size, not unlike a very large picture book and then the beautiful stylized pink bird on the cover. Everything says candy. As I go to open the book, in the background plays “she comes in colours everywhere” “like a rainbow” by the Rolling Stones.
The theme of the beauty of women is celebrated in a myriad of themes that include family, mothers, sisters, love, love lost, love celebrated, scars, journey, old age, teenage years, body image, issues of beauty and health and underwritten in the background, the violence of the war diaspora Western World.
I liked The Persian Song by David Hobberlin, he is a studied Poet and has been writing for over 50 years and this poem was influenced by an ancient book of Persian poetry from his grandfather. This is one of a series of verses:
“What yellow sun does this pallid moon behold?
Is it a reflection from the eternal home of verse?
Or can it be greater riches to fill the vacant purse
Than all of Bokhara’s vaunted gold?”
It is a traditional lovesong and creates mythologies with beautiful imagery.
K.V. Skene has been internationally published and there is a selection of poetry, particularly noteworthy is Old Women, This is Not a Poem (for Valerie Spurr 1927-1997) and For Those Who Still Live Where Lilacs Bloom:
“who inhale her sweet secrets whenever they encounter
green gardens under a perfect blue,
gather armfuls of a honeyed childhood
under billowing purple.
For those who seem to drift a little behind their lives,
one hand trailing in the water,
who see spiders bridge the river’s pilings, hear
the soft ping of moths on ozone-scented air.
For those who overtook May’s blatant fields of rape,
follow highways bloated with fly-eaten fox, back-broken deer,
to reach St. Andrew’s and her funeral.
For all the pain she embraced, for the children she left bereft,
for those who forgot
and for those who remembered to tell the bees
and bring her lilacs.”
These poems are in the postmodern school, without a rhyme scheme and varied punctuation and capitalization, yet with a certain intrinsic rhythm.
Only Skin Deep by Ruth Morris tells of scars:
“I lay on my back in bed and trace the scar on my belly
long and wide from navel to pelvis
tiny imprints crisscrossed like tiny fairy footprints
that’s where they removed the stitches
I place a fingertip on each new scar and press them into place
they are in a lopsided circle surrounding the long narrow highway
I can feel the scar tissue underneath hard and unyielding
I go to the mirror
wearing only the skin God gave me
I look at my reflection
scarred and broken
I try not to stare
I once heard that scars are the road map to the soul
I have been many places
My soul is mapped on the outside and well as in
For who can see the scars that dwell inside me?”
It is poetic prose narrative, illuminating the condition of the physical, questioning traditional ideas of beauty.
The styles of poetry are exciting and diverse, including Beat Poetry, postmodern, narratives and poetic prose. I am particularly fond of storytelling in poetry, as if glimpsing into the secret lives of other women, their fears, their battles, their successes and there are some really good examples of stories of the lives of women and family, mothers, sisters, being in high school, old age, health issues in The Inspired Heart Edition 3.
Holly Irvine pens Testosterone a story about how both she and her friend have broken up with their boyfriends and the friend plays at seducing her. Emily Amon writes The Widow, a story of an old woman in winter and Mother and Child a story of a mother in Africa who has no milk to give her child. Mama Helen by Caroline H. Davidson tells the story of her favourite aunt and growing old. Terri Taylor Weiner tells a difficult end of life story about her mother in Apron Strings and a sad story about her sister and difficult relationships in No Thanks. A humorous story about life in highschool is penned by Sheila Horne in I Want to Be A Cindy Lou:
“My goal was to be a Cindy Lou. That’s what we called the popular girls. They were beautiful, had perfect lives and were destined to succeed. I wanted to be one of them.”
Michael Hurley writes about the beauty industry, anorexia and psychiatry.
In AnorHEXia: Exhibit A:
“Under no enchantment
but mine own
& my own starving society,
both of us hoodwinked
by the Beauty Industry,
crossing the thin line
between real & unreal,
wasting away under a spell
a hex that is the dark water
we swim in
until we wake up …
Can what the White Coats say
Is this what they were saying?”
And Damon D. Dukes writes about autism and champions those who have it.
“I just want to see your smile
no matter what this culture labels you
just know you are God’s child
smile for me love don’t be so blue,”
Other great reads in the anthology are “And Now?” by James Cockcroft, Robert Gibbons, Louisa Howerow, Olivia Raco, Alyssa Cooper, Gina Nemo, Dr. Shruti Das, Emily Bilman, Mahasty Eslahy, Kay Kinghammer, Rebecca Anne Banks. At the end of the volume of poetry is an article titled “The Power of Healing from a Bad Relationship”, with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. at the beginning and some uplifting advice for those who have been in broken relationships.
The Inspired Heart, Edition 3, the beauty of women in poetry, a feast of offerings from MCI Writers House.
Available at MCI Writers House and at Amazon.ca.
“The Brothers Grimm ain’t got nuthin’ on this, come and dis’” An art nouveau,
New Age style punk poetry with pagan images Ballad of the Sea Lion Woman creates
dark mythologies. This Chapbook of poetry is written by Halli Liliburn, an
artist, librarian and mother from Alberta, Canada. She has poetry published in
journals (Poetry Quarterly, Seeding the Snow, Red Fez amongst others) and has
published short stories with Leap Books and Tesseracts and a novel, Shifters
with Imajin Books.
Borrowing from old world forms, the poetry is narrative poetic prose and reads not unlike dark fairytales with inconclusive, surprise or dark endings. The work is well written, it flows in occasional rhyme and with rhythm, exciting new word synergies that play against the quiet of the night. Pagan images of the past recreate themselves within the New Age influences of steampunk and the legacies of Generation X and Y, those born after the ‘60’s children with all the issues of New World angst.
The Ballad of the Sea Lion Woman is the story of a mystical Muse woman who is captured in the nets of a sailing ship. The captain takes away her cloak and tortures her in his cabin. Eventually, the crew shanghai the captain and tie him to the yardarm,
“The creature piles herself against the port border
Defensive, untamed and tortured.
We take an axe to the Captain’s coffer
While her slanted eyes speak with no words.
Slowly, the cloak in raised from the splinters And sea lion woman bounds into action With hiss and fury she bolts fast and under Grabs through our midst and finds her salvation.
With haste she flies for the gang plank, shaking And airborne she twists in mid stride To wrap her fur and fuse to its making Molding into one creation before she hits the tide.
The horror shocks us to the core Hands are made flippers, feet are made tail The beast of the sea is woman no more. She is gone and onward we sail.”
As if breathing in the violence of the New World, dark themes weave through the 15 poems, with titles of Take Heed, Lonely Automaton, Astigmatism, Ballad of the Sea Lion Woman, Ticki ticki tembo no sarembo …, Recycled with Love, Lineascope, The Grimm Fable, Clockwork, Gatsby and more. Images of death, the vagaries of love, a tortured mystic woman, a time machine, the laboratory, ocean voyages, the earth, the huntsman and the princess, and time all fall into new realms of now, and sometimes dark humor.
In Recycled with love:
“1. I like skulls. I’m not goth or psycho. I’m not a forensic anthropologist, or Hamlet. I like skulls because they have empty eyes, empty mouths, empty brains. No sight, no voice, no thoughts. I like skulls because they are harmless.
2. Grave. Make way, the dead are waiting. Your plot of soil has done a rotten job. You must cough up your supper, empty your bowels, give back the dissolution. Bones are fertilizer. Skulls are for the mantel piece. Yawning tomb with hunger pains like a puking drunk asking for another shot. Feed Me!
3. Hollow eyes look your last. These rotting wrappings flutter in oxygen rich wind. Your well preserved, juiceless, corpse born up to the afterlife, awaiting the thousand year resurrection. Well I am your God now. I will resurrect you crushed in my garden, as a succulent, juicy tomato.”
Also, there is a certain Zen aesthetic, almost Asian mystique within the horror and bonespeak.
“There is an orange lantern hanging from a tree branch.
I blink and it is gone.
The ghost in my closet flies out.
I blink and it is gone.
Party streamers fall from the ceiling, twisting as they flutter.
The sunset pulsing like heart beat dreams
Sinking into black nightmares.
I blink and it is gone.
Free electricity striking blindly
Attracted to my peripheral vision.
Illuminate every drop of water
In a street lamp rain.
My focal point confused, vision blurred
I want to see clearly!
To brush aside the crawling spiders and glowing hallows;
The fears and distractions
I blink and they are gone.”
A surprising take on the old world fairytale form, the undertoad of the New Age in narrative poetic prose, Ballad of the Sea Lion Woman: And Other SteamPunk Poems by Halli Lilburn.
Available at Amazon.ca.