Book Review: Poems in the Manner Of

As a lover of poetry and a graduate student in the English – Writing program at Salem State University, I have not only found Poems in the Manner Of, to be fun and interesting to read; I have also found it useful for my class.

I am currently working on my M.A. in English – Writing at Salem State University, and I am revisiting my own connection to reading and writing poetry after many years away from the genre. That said, I really enjoyed reading some of the poets whose work David Lehman emulates and pays homage to in his book.

A Lehman’s book offers poetry writers a great opportunity to explore different styles and be inspired by the works of others, to sometimes create a piece based on another poet’s topics, ideas and styles and make it all our own.

Given this, Lehman provides plenty of inspiration as well as insight to the poets, which is invaluable to the student of poetry.

Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, Shakespeare, W.B. Yeats, Rilke, William Carlos Williams, Wordsworth, Neruda, Virginia Woolf, W.H. Auden, and Charles Bukowski are among the poets who are featured in Lehman’s Poems in the Manner Of

This is a great volume for poetry lovers, poetry students and people just starting to appreciate the vast world of poetry.

Praise for Saffire

Sigmund Brouwer’s Saffire hooked me right from the start. An interesting historical read about the building of the Panama Canal, peppered with a little mystery and intrigue as well as some romance.

The book’s protagonist James Holt is a fascinating character straight out of the turn of the 20th century wild west. I found it hard to put this book down.

I love the way author Sigmund Brouwer wove distinct tidbits of the culture and history of Panama into this fascinating a tale.

Writers on Writing: Jane Bernstein

Reading Jane Bernstein’s essay “How and Why” brought to mind my own very speculative mind and spirit that is in constant query as to the how and why’s of things. As a writer, my speculative mind and spirit causes me to look deeper into my own heart and mind, and I feel that it also grants me a strong intuitive mind that understands what is deep within other minds, connecting me to depths of humanity and life itself.  Reading “How and Why,” I could identify with Bernstein’s running, in that I walk, to clear my mind and “mull” things over. (Griffin p. 11)

When I am walking outside in nature, I lose myself into the landscape that envelops me as though I am one with it. When I am walking outside in nature, I tune out any extraneous real world soundtrack and tune into the concerto of bird song or the rustle of the leaves or marsh grasses whispering in the soft breeze or perchance keening in the wicked wind. My mind becomes clear, empty in that process of immersing myself in nature and it is then that I mull, as Bernstein does when she is running. There is a space in a clear mind that creates from a point deeper, more connected to the soul, which is a vital point of connection needed to write in the first person about one’s self and life.

Jane Bernstein’s essay “How and Why” is available in Connie Griffin’s book “To Tell the Truth: Practice and Craft in Narrative Nonfiction.” This book has been my go to book throughout the past two years studying Creative Writing at UMass Amherst University Without Walls. It has also served as textbook and reference book for four classes I have taken with Connie Griffin, including two core classes, Frameworks of Understanding and Writing for Experience, as well as Magazine Writing and Creative Non-fiction. 

The practice of reading other writers on their struggles with their craft is so helpful. All writers struggle with finding their voice, creating the right space to work in, shutting out their inner critic and getting past self-doubt. Those are just a few of the issues that writers face. As I continue to work through my own issues with writing and work to shape my first memoir, look for more posts here on Writers on Writing.

Letting Go or Holding On: Part Four

Letting Go and Holding On is a four-part short memoir essay, which is part of a larger creative non-fiction project that I am working on…

Part Four:

“What was it,” I asked myself, “that kept me hanging on to a faint hope that barely had a glimmer of light on the surface?” Was it the darkness in his soul that reminded me of my own darkness? He was a complex man, and I a complex woman. The danger signs had always been there. But it was never intentional. Like two schooners passing in the bay, we each tossed out a lifeline and we became entangled. Entangled and then trapped in some all-encompassing soul drama of unfulfilled emotion and passion.

It wrenched at my sensibilities with all of the weight of the dozens of boxes of books I carried with me each time I moved. There were words in those boxes of books. Words I could not express, but someone else did. There were words in those boxes. Words of love, words of wisdom, words of pain, words of self-discovery, words of social significance. Those were all the words I struggled to share and I clung to them like a lover waiting for her romance to blossom and grow as a rose grows in warm sun.

How does one find the strength to let go of something that one does not possess but holds dear? How does one stop memories that flood the mind like a tidal wave each day, rolling in and out of the heart like thunder across the plain? This existence seems barren and cold without the desired one… Yet there is no basis, is there, for the desire? Is it love or is it the illusion of love that is so attractive? Is it the man or the illusion of the man that is so attractive? These are the questions I ask myself daily and I have as yet to find an answer for them.

And still, I hold on, clinging to the vine of desire as though it were a lifeline tossed over the edge of the precipice while I dangle like a fish on a hook, waiting, waiting, waiting for he who may never return. I covet that which I cannot have and I covet that which I do not need. It is a paradox is it not. The paradox of holding on to things that one may no longer need or want. The paradox of life at any age in which you realize you have unfilled connections, desires and emotions. These are the things that haunt me.

These are the things that I pack in my boxes and haul about with me. They are not my baggage, they are my stuff and they are my dreams. These are the things I allow myself to wallow in, wishing for something more than I have. Understanding that connections made on the map of the universe, must be played out, despite the pain. From these things, I learn every day. And so, I keep them close. All the stuffs and the man. For now. Because I am learning from them. “When the learning stops, I will let them go,” I say to myself. Until then I hold on; I pack them up again in boxes again and again, hauling the weight of boxes of books and rocks and unrequited love with me wherever I go.

The EndMaybe.

Stay tuned for Nesting on the River.

Letting Go or Holding On: Part Two

Letting Go and Holding On is a four-part short memoir essay, which is part of a larger creative non-fiction project that I am working on…

Part Two:

So there I was, unpacking all of these fancy dresses and wondering why was I still hanging on to them. Chances are at this point in my life, living in a small coastal town on the north shore of Massachusetts, I was never going to have the need to wear one again. And then there was my daughter Juliet, I could always use her as an excuse to hang on to those dresses. Yes, I thought, “She might wear them someday. She likes vintage clothing.”

The thought of paring down my closet comingles with the thought of paring down my body. I hang on stubbornly, wishing I were forty—forty-five years old again; even fifty would do, still rocking those tight little black dresses and spike heels at the blues bar on Saturday nights. Who was that woman, I ask myself now. “She feels like she was some styling soul sister,” I respond to myself, “She was not my self. No she was just a facet of me back in the day.” In truth, I had begun to separate from that self, a few years before I left Los Angeles, but part of me still hangs on to her clothes now, secretly hoping I can slip into a little black dress and head down to the local blues bar for a Saturday night of good times and good tunes. I have a hard time letting go of things. My memories of these times gone by both haunt and amuse me.

A trip down memory lane, a night out in the blues club, grooving to straight-up, white hot road musicians who regularly toured with the likes of Bonnie Raitt and others. Yes, that was I, in my other life sometime in the 1990’s on the left coast. I rocked my little black dresses and spike heels with my platinum blonde buzz cut. I fit in in there that eclectic city of angels. I was even consider more normal than eclectic there in L.A., unlike here at home where I am a bit avant-garde in my attitude and tastes.

“Look at me now I think,” my hair is long and au natural, in multi-colored streaks of gray, blonde and brown. In fact, my hair is so long that it falls a few inches below my shoulders, the longest it has ever been in my life. He liked my hair long. Somehow, I felt as though I let my hair grow with the instinctual knowledge that he would consume himself in it one day. Yes, it was that sort of connection that we had. I knew the hair would pull him in. And it did. A year and half had gone by from the last time we had seen each other and all he could say was “your hair… please don’t cut your hair.” “I won’t,” I told him.

Stay tuned for Part Three

Read –