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The latest Chapbook offerings from Subterranean Blue Poetry, The She: An Exposé by Melanie Flores and Lover is sunshine coffee, I am moonshine girl (in French and English) by Rebecca Anne Banks.
Dear Oprah, is an original poetic narrative event in a rap influenced style, a truth telling in the voice of a
girl innocent, as she deals with issues of sexual abuse, identity and coming of age in the much celebrated and
awaited novel by Michael Ellis and Keynote Poetry Press. Michael Ellis is a famous Poet/teacher/charity organizer
from California. He was published twice before he was 19 years old and studied journalism and English at the
University of Puget Sound. He has been compared to Langston Hughes of the Harlem Renaissance and regularly
gives performances at poetry events. He received a scholarship from the Hurston Wright Foundation for the writing
of Dear Oprah. This is the second Book Review This Writer has written for Michael Ellis, the first being, They
Wouldn't Let Me Be White.
This is the story of a young girl in a Black family, Correne, tossed back and forth between different relatives because her mother is disappeared, (ostensibly on the road as a singer) and her victimization by her "uncle" Josh, who rapes her regularly. She has health issues that prevent her from going to school and she receives a disability cheque. She does not know what to do about her plight and watches the Oprah Winfrey Show who she looks up to and admires. One day she gets the idea to take up a pen and paper and write Oprah a letter, which turns into a series of letters that comprises a journal. The letters all begin with Dear Oprah, recounting the days trials and occasional joys and sing into the night hoping for help.
As Correne writes she is addressing Oprah, the palindrome goddess in the mirror, who becomes the source of the reflection that reveals the beautiful true nature and good instincts of the abused girl. As Oprah is the mirror for the girl, the girl, a person non gratis, someone vulnerable without status becomes the mirror for the people around her. How they treat Correne says everything about who they are, their experiences with life, where they've been, their suffering, their discordant or copacetic souls and she becomes a catalyst for the expression of their true natures.
The situation is a bad one, and the characters present very realistically, the good spirit people vs. the hurtful people as the story of Correne's life unfolds. Like a shadow play everyone knows Correne is being abused by "uncle" Josh, they know the true story of her birth, who her mother is, yet they do not tell her and people turn a blind eye, no one admits to the abuse in public or attempts to help her into a new more healthy living situation. Sometimes the occasional person she trusts with knowledge of her predicament are outwardly abusive, laugh off her trouble or placate her when she attempts to tell about what Josh is doing. She even calls 911 but is ignored by the police, Josh passes it off as a prank and the police go away. She is also a victim of gas lighting, where she is picked on, particularly by Josh. He is the unconscious monster, someone who has little empathy and does not understand the brutality of his actions, he doesn't know how to be. The "monsters" who abuse Correne, using her as a scapegoat for their anger or their suffering probably have some very horrific stories of abuse in their background. In the Old Society, with often both parents working or suffering from multiple lovers it was difficult to parent effectively and often some people do not have an idea of who they are, the culture or the Holy Spirit Way. Dialogue, feedback and good mentoring with creative interventions are exemplar to helping people so they are not hurting themselves or others, a wake-up call from the New Society.
Correne is the Redeemer, she is a good spirit who loves Oprah's show, loves the next-door neighbour, Sonja's, garden full of flowers, likes books and likes the local girl, Wanda, who collects recycling cans and bottles. Wanda was physically abused by her ex-husband who she murdered in self-defence, but she is a good spirit and helps Correne out of a confront with some local teenagers. Correne sees Wanda is a good person despite the catcalls of Josh who has nothing good to say about her. Certain words are deified by her, being capitalized, as if she is the creator of archetypes, the seasons, the stars, sun and moon, colours, foods, all things positive are put in capitals and sometimes a healthy respect for the negative, i.e. the Devil. She is ingénue and largely illiterate but some of the people in the Community on Magnolia Street help her learn math and English. Sonja takes her to the library, and she signs out books, sometimes the words she uses are misspelled and this is reflected in the text, giving a very real oeuvre to her narrative, she is largely illiterate.
The story is told in poetic narrative in the first person of the abused girl, Correne, and is in rhyming couplets, a rap influence style that is very sweet and good, conducive to the voice of this young victimized girl. Every letter is as if she is personally talking to Oprah, revealing a truth telling that will melt your heart.
Dear Oprah, is an original concept, written in an original rhyming style, expertly telling a very difficult story in the heartland of America, a story of any neighbourhood, any city. The beautiful gift of rhyming poetry is good at reflecting the spirit of the abused girl, giving hope for resilience and a new day. Dear Oprah, the new American classic by Michael Ellis.
Available @ Amazon.com.
Between the Spine: A Collection of Erotic Love Poems is the latest poetic offering from Adrian Ernesto Cepeda, an exciting erotic film noir travelogue
in a breath of 53 pages that spins. Poet Cepeda won The Children of Orpheus contest/Anthology at Subterranean
Blue Poetry for "We Could've Painted Our Skies Blue" in 2016. He lives and works in Los Angeles, holds a B.A. from the University of Texas and an MFA in
Creative Writing from Antioch University. He has been widely published in journals, including Burning House Press,
Chanterelle's Notebook, Palette Poetry, The Yellow Chair Review, Frontier Poetry, San Diego Reader, The Fem amongst
others. This is the second book of poetry I have reviewed for him, the first being Flashes and Verses . . .
Poetry as erotica has arrived as a popular genre within the last 10 years, a trend in literature that seems to have paralleled the quiet frenzy of writing/reading erotic Haiku and Haiku. As a Western tradition erotica has not been at the forefront of mainline literature since Ancient Rome and Greece.
This Poet is very steeped in culture, writings, quotes, art and can frequently be found posting photographs of mavens with quotes at Twitter and Facebook. Between the Spine begins with a Table of Contents, the titles of the poems when read going down the page present as a poem in itself, intrigued This Writer reads on. The beginnings of poems are often introduced with an inspiration from old and new photos, paintings, a quote, including Anais Nin, Pablo Neruda, Dunya Mikhail, Pedro Salinas, Virginia Woolf, F. Scott Fitzgerald, giving an oeuvre to the poem, like a very sophisticated introduction to a flavour of ice cream.
The poetry suggests making love in an elevator, a hotel room, whilst cleaning the house, cooking in the kitchen, doing laundry in the laundry room, kissing on the streetcar, scooping ice cream for a cone, texting, smoking a cigarette, between the flowers in the garden, the landscape becomes the affair, beautifully woven within erotic climes. In "The Sensation is the Same" it is as if a book of poetry is his lover, the 2 exist inside the other, a play on intimacy with the written word. It is a movie within dialogue of place, a dislocated thought train that is a soft métier, a progression. The writing often switches between the male and female voice, love from the perspective of the other, the other with place. The varied voices suggest a carousel, old memories, new memories, of the inspiration of art and literature and famous people, of the great imagine.
From Egon Schiele's Embrace circa 1917
"He said, lying
together like unfinished
sketches, scribbled lines
on a page. He wanted
me to fill him, make
him color, no longer
invisible drafts like
the wind, he longed . . ."
The poetry titillates, plays with the light and darkness, quietly disembodied, places of silence, places of thoughts, an unspoken agreement of intimacy. An idea of meaning and place. It is alluring, there is always something fascinating about someone with water when the world is largely a desert. A great read for hot Summer nights, Between the Spine by Adrian Ernesto Cepeda.
Available @ Amazon.ca.
The She: An Exposé is the angst of the waking post-modernist Poet in a truthtelling, a walk through the
megopolis into The New Age Republique of Poetry from the emerging Poet Melanie Flores. Born in Toronto she has
worked in business publishing and is a freelance editor and audiobook narrator. She is a writer and poet and has been
published in anthologies and journals, winning awards. She is also an Associate Member of The League of Canadian Poets.
A neo-feminist protest that tells stories about her life in poetry narratives, switching from the third to the first person, and back again, her poetry is a celebration of being and becoming in hard spaces. Themes include her mother's death, the death of a stillborn daughter, a requiem, the birth of a baby, the death of an old man, labels, societal expectations, war, a neighbour, childhood, freedom, she explores difficult terrain with the voice of a wise child.
Particularly exciting are the two poems, Losing Cinderella and Unraveling Dorothy as rewritten fairytales in modern times. Losing Cinderella is based in the Cinderella fairytale, she marries the Prince, she has children, the children grow up and leave, she puts on weight, the Prince becomes abusive and takes up with a younger woman, she confronts the myth by finding the glass slipper in the closet and breaking it. Unravelling Dorothy is based in The Wizard of Oz a reinvention of Dorothy that at once magical also tells the truth of lost youth, a protest of the design machine and modern love. By challenging the archetypes, a protest by way of modern realism, the Poet is telling the truth about broken intimate relationships in the post-modern world. These poems are in the vein of the writing of Stephanie Bolster, who similarly challenges Old World "happily ever after" romance in the retelling of fairy tales in Three Bloody Words, a Chapbook by above/ground press.
An exciting Summertime read, poetry candy, a Subterranean Blue Poetry Chapbook Imprint, The She: An Exposé by Melanie Flores.
Available @ Amazon.ca.
The following are some thoughts on developing the artistic process and on becoming an artist . . . If you have an interest in the arts,
wish to develop yourself as an artist, it may help to take an aptitude test (sometimes free over the Internet) and consult a psychic,
the village elders, your teachers for feedback. Anyone who is a big spirit person (has been famous in a past life or who has a lot of
favourite soul colours) or who comes from a very talented family with a lot of famous relatives may also be very talented. Anyone in
the umbrella of jobs for Artist, Teacher, Politician, Economist, Marketer, Librarian, Chef, Psychologist is a Michelangelo psych type
and exceptionally suited to the arts and may be successful in multiple disciplines. In my experience those that are Accountants/Public
Service People and Lawyers psychological type are also capable of an Artists Calling.
If you have a strong inclination for something in the Arts, it is a good idea to attempt it, people often have hidden talents. Exploring an artistic calling, it is best to study the history of art to have a general understanding and grounding. This can be done by studying over the Internet or reading books on art history and exploring traditional culture by visiting Museums. Local or modern culture can be experienced by visiting art galleries, book talks, poetry readings, musician and songwriter performances, steeping oneself in the cultural milieu. You may develop definite tastes in music and literature, as you get an idea of which cultural affect you wish to pursue, explore all avenues. If you have an interest in a type of literature, read a sample of everything in that genre, if it is a type of music, listen to all of that type of music. With an overview of art and its history, plus extensive study of your favourite art, literature and music you are ready to begin exploring producing your own art.
It is probably a good idea to take a basic course in technique, taking a beginner's introduction or learning from the Internet. There are certain "secrets" or special applications that may only be known by a teacher. Sometimes you can only get so far in your study and you get stuck, not certain how to proceed. This may need some divine intervention or feedback, you may be able to get this from a forum on the Internet or you may need to attend a workshop or see a teacher for some hands-on help. Once you have some basic skill instruction you may continue by copying your favourite artists. Just practicing the skill set, if playing guitar learning the notes and chords and playing other people's songs from song sheets, if painting, copying other people's paintings, so by practicing and honing the skill set you are laying the groundwork for producing original art.
Staring at a blank page can be intimidating, don't let it scare you. Breathe deep and start your project. After filling the blank page over a period of time it stops being a hard space and becomes warm, a familiar endeavour. As you start to produce original works, it is important to critique your work, what you didn't like, what you did like and elaborate on the positive in future works. If you like your work, it is very positive, it is important to keep enthusiasm and not be too disheartened. As your skill ripens your artwork may go through different phases or stages. For exampled Pablo Picasso had the Pink Period, the Blue Period, a Cubist Period etc. This is a reflection of skill set, influences on the artist and the presence of the Muse. In my experience it takes about 10 years of practising art to produce truly considered work. On a true calling your art will ripen over time.
Creating art is a great way of handling stress, grief, depression and strong emotions. As a lifeway skill develops and inspiration may come from different sources. Often artists have a love interest (the Muse) or look to the Spirit in the landscape, in emotions, in the seasons, other people's art, dreams, the daily news, conversations, celebrations. Any part of daily living can inspire the artistic process and often there will be more than one inspiration creating a certain synchronicity and synergy, as if creating a postcard of that particular day at that particular time. It is possible to spin off other people's art, the inspiration from a movie, an art installation, a poem, a song can contribute to your art work. Making the Artists of the past live again, by mentioning their work or using their work as inspiration and giving them a credit note honours the Great Ones of the past, like an honouring of the ancestors and creates really good karma. If one is truly a seminal artist, the art work will exist on multiple levels and there may be an element of prophesy.
Available @ Amazon.ca.