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(N.B.: "the where's your girlfriend housephone" - a note from the editor
"she is lost inside the post-industrial time complex" - a note from the other editor
"is there ice cream with them underwear?" - says the cat
"Meow!" - says the other cat
"you are not purchasing sexy girl's underwear!" - says Mum)
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.
The Ghosts of Barnacullia is a hauntingly beautiful Imagist long poem, the story of journey through a lifetime,
looking back through poetic letters, the story of memory, loss and sorrow, expertly told through the Poet's craft.
Paul Perry is a Poet, writer and teacher at University College Dublin. He recently won an Arts Council of Ireland
Literature Bursary as well as the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship. He has written 5 collections of poetry,
2 Chapbooks and co-authored 4 Karen Perry best-sellers.
This long poem exists within the inside of silence, distances and longtime passing; the poetry rolls out sweet and quiet, of a time in shadows. It is as if the Poet is a survivor of some dark secret, perhaps a calamity that has occurred on the edge of the woods, a haunting. The earth is a very haunted place. The poetry writes in a disconnected thought train, repetition of words creates cadence, sometimes the words talk in circles, sometimes the words are run on sentences, a dance; the effect is profound and beautiful, of a long journey.
The themes include death, beauty of nature, allusions to a brother murdering a sister, breaking of bread, a drink at the bar, learning Irish, his daughter, his father and more, all wrapped in shadowland, where people, places and situations are not named only alluded to.
From Shepherd's Purse
"Look: a man walks into a field. A field with shepherd's purse.
He falls again.
Every day, from this day until kingdom come, he falls into the embrace of a field of flowers, into shepherd's purse."
The imagery is beautifully woven into emotional landscape and storytelling, a classic presentation in literature.
From Puffins in Marley Park
"Each note of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater traced by my finger and held and guided by yours
like the birds she travelled across the world to see, like the wind without, or a puffin sky-
Or like the divers diving for the fresh raw heart of morning.
The first. And the last."
A brilliant rendition of love, memory and time, The Ghosts of Barnacullia by Paul Perry.
Available @ above/ground press.
camera obscura is an exciting symbolist poetic narrative, a truthtelling in often startling broken
imagery by Claudia Coutu Radmore and above/ground press. Claudia Coutu Radmore (Poet, Artist, Teacher) was born
in Montreal. She earned a Bachelor of Arts from Queen's University, Kingston and writes in lyric, Tanka and Haiku
forms. She is the owner/editor at Bondi Press and the President of Haiku Canada.
This poetry Chapbook is a series of poems, an art installation of something is wrong, a dance with light and shadow. The poetry spirals as a series of run on thoughts without punctuation, a poetic narrative, each image more fantastical than the next, a dance with sardonica. The broken thought train and dislocated images implies violence. The images vary from "mad science" (gene therapy, molecules, slides under microscopes) to blistered nature fusions, that, at their best are strikingly beautiful in bang light imagery. The wild images bud like a fantastical story, often haunted, a truthtelling in symbols, a certain Dadaist form. In the background is a discourse on the broken love as war N.A., an exploration of the fragility of our love lives and false power constructs that ache.
From if you've ever been there and left
". . . relationships beware these people armed
and dangerous they have houses cars careers
pensions a voice like forty dried peas
rattling in a can or Auden's glacier knocking
in the cupboard Ken and Barbie we may be
plastic but our love is real if you've ever
been there and left it's a long way back to"
An original form, with the occasional new word construct, the last poem is a spoiler and draws the entire work into focus. A brilliant write, camera obscura by Claudia Coutu Radmore.
Available @ above/ground press.
The Muse has been interpreted throughout history in different ways. In ancient Greece the Muse was thought to be the
daughters of Mnemosyne and Zeus, each one being called upon by the artist to aid in their writing/art creation. In
the Renaissance the emphasis became centered on the artist as the crucible of the creative process and the channeling
of the Muse. In modern times the Muse is thought of as being a love interest who inspires. I think of the Muse as a
love interest as well as the channeling of the Spirit World, through the longing and love of the Muse, the Holy
Spirit, Spirit World (writers/artists who have passed, Saints, Angels) intercede and help with the artistic process.
It helps to pray for those who have passed, your favourite relatives, Saints, Angels, famous Artists, Writers, Poets and those of inspiration, when you steep yourself in their memories and writings, artwork, they may help you with your artistic process.
Anything can be inspiration (also loosely called the "Muse") from the landscape, the weather, nature, events, other people's art, beautiful things, ideas, dreams, memories, emotions, conversations, God, the Spirit world, anything or anyone can inspire the Artist to create. Usually there are multiple Muses, and the intersection of the past with the present, a reflection of the Artist's soul and experiences, a magic combine producing a fantastical artwork. When the artwork is very iconic there may be an element of prophecy.
Ideally you would write consistently to only one Muse as love interest (often sitting in the background of your thoughts in concert, perhaps suggesting a word or image). You may not be able to marry this person yet because you are karmically impure (have had more than 5 lovers) or are cursed. If you are karmically impure the SignfromGod needs to be interpreted (ask telepathically) if you are a Michelangelo, Accountant/public service person or Lawyer blood type you should be able to achieve karmic redemption. If you are not driven to create or do not like aspects of what you are producing or do not enjoy the process of what you are working on and are constantly frustrated, perhaps try a different discipline or pick up some work that suits you, you may not have a true Artist's Calling. On a more positive note you may just be having a bad artistic day.
The Muse should be a serious love interest, ideally your Starcrossed Lover or a relationship where you are both smitten, very well suited (Read Becky's Checklist @ www.tympanilanerecords.com), with a positive SignfromGod, hoping to marry for long-time. Tell the love interest you want to write/create art using them as the Muse and have an agreement. It is important to stay in touch and meet once in awhile for conversation, stoking the poetry/art offering and providing support. If your social scene is very broken, you may find yourself writing about different people. It is all good (it is good to write about who inspires you). But if you write to only one Muse it could save them fighting over you when you achieve karmic redemption.
There are unofficial karmic rules about Artistic Expression. A consultation with a Priest/village elder may help. If you are hurt and sorrowing in your offering, in my experience it is good to temper it with worship of God's Creation (the landscape, weather, the sky, the ocean . . .) If it is poetry, like Confessional poetry, to temper it with landscape imagery or a worship of God. If it is painting, to add some kind of rhythm to the pictoral work. If it is music to add a pleasing harmony line. Also, it is good to think of the serious love interest "The Muse" while you write. And for a special magical resounding affect the work should be rooted in the truth, a truth telling. It is also good to create mythologies, an ideal place. The work is a combination of skill, experiences and soul rhythms of the Artist in concert with the Holy Spirit, the Angels and the Spirit world. As the work forms, do not worry too much, it will ripen over time. Note what you liked and take that into the next project. As long as you like the act of creation, like what you are doing, it is positive. If you do not get karmic redemption, it may be possible for some healing to occur and it may be possible to make monies.
There is special Wiccan magic in an arts calling for finding karmic redemption, healing and manifesting a long-term love interest. Perhaps the art/poems created in a long-time ritual become like prayer, reaching the ears of the angels, the Holy Spirit, God, and the Spirit world who intercede so that the Artist will be happy in a long-time happy marriage. It is also important to make your art offering public for karmic redemption, it takes about 20 years.