Books from the Past Edition
All right everyone, I’ll admit it, I’m behind on books. Of course everyone is- but it’s starting to make me feel guilty. So far I’ve finished six books this year, but there are so many great series out there I haven’t touched because I have an irrational fear of not loving them as much as things I have loved in the past. Look, I never claimed to be logical- OK?
I am especially referring to the fantasy genre- the one I write in and want to be published in. It’s a challenge though, because in times of revolution and change and in grappling with becoming more self aware I have been leaning towards fiction and nonfiction that I feel will widen my world view. But this world is exhausting and depressing, and sometimes I want a break- preferably on the back of a dragon. So, while everyone has already made their lists of things they are most looking forward to being released this year, I am making a list of things to catch up on. Fantasy things, maybe a few sci-fi things as well, but magic is usually what I’m looking for, in life and in writing.
Just a little essay I whipped up while trying to resist the urge to light everything on fire. I am almost thirty and I think I’m failing at adulthood. Also I am afraid- of everything. I get more time to write and suddenly the “publish” button becomes a creature of nightmares. Here is an analogy about writing, looked at through the lens of baking- two things I usually love but on occasion make me want to die. Or at least get melodramatic. Or get tequila even though I don’t drink, but sometimes I feel like iiiiit. More on that later.
Writing your first novel is sort of like baking a cake from scratch.
And you’ve never even set foot in the kitchen. You’ve seen it from a distance, possible touched things within, but the inner workings are as complicated as your friends home- brewed D&D/Dune crossover campaign that’s lasted five years.
So, you start with the idea- you know you want cake, but you aren’t even one hundred percent sure what sort of cake you want. This leads to research, books read, blogs scrutinized, Chuck Windig cornered, kidnapped, questioned, then Neuralized by Agent J and released, and three weeks of making a Pinterest board; slowly, you narrow it down. You eliminate the sort of cakes you don’t like, which, if you’re like me, is not many, and you are left a with a bunch you do. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that funfetti box mix and frosting combo though- that stuffs legit. Continue reading
This berrybox full of foxes
Cry moonsong to the light
With the crack and smash
Of the axeheads song
Singing through the night
Robins on the windowsill
Their wingbeats a lullaby
Sing a song of black birds
When the wind is in the rye
Carry the firewood through emerald grass
And passed the green ivy wall
Up to the oaken eagle door
Which speaks of the coming fall
There is Rosemary under the doormat
Mint and Lavender too
Calling to the Fates of Good Fortune
That dance where the West Wind blew
The altar waits in the tall grass
Where cats-paw will lead the way
Passed Blackberry and Roses
To something wild and fey
Stay there, safe in your own world
Unbroken and armor-clad
Call the rain, call the starfall, the dazzling light
And remember the dreams that you had.
We’re missing home…
Technically, Fort Bragg California isn’t home- except that it has changed less over the years then my own childhood home has. I’ve been going there for as long as I can remember; stretched out on rickety hotel beds with my sister watching Back to the Future while my parents figured out where we’d go for dinner. Then years later, on my honeymoon. My husband and I go back every year now, usually multiple times; it gets in your bones, in your blood. Makes you ache for quiet streets and grey mornings, the sun shining off the sea, the cry of gulls over the harbor.
There are poems, and then there is poetry- there are pieces you read that do not effect you, or that you enjoy but never think about. Then there are poems that are poetry- words strung together that seem to grab whatever it is that feels like a soul inside you and rips it open, squeezes it dry. Demands that your eyes consume it again and again, in it’s entirety, in certain lines, or stanzas or coupling of words. There is poetry that builds a fire inside you and it burns with a heat the demands your attention. Makes you want to grab people, shake them awake, screaming, “This! This!” while jabbing at the words that are articulating what you never even knew you felt, you believed in.
The first poem I read by Jamaal May was “There are Birds Here”, found in an issue of Poets and Writers. I’ve harbored a fascination with Detroit that most likely stems from my grandmother being born in Michigan and my love of derelict buildings. But lately it’s the locals who have grabbed my attention, those who called it home and never left. Those who take care of their families, their neighbors, regardless of what the media says about their communities, what outsiders believe they know.
“There are Birds Here” tore me open. I must have read it a dozen or more time when I first discovered it. Over and over, hungry for it in pieces, in it’s entirety. It begins with a series of refusals to the darkness outsiders first perceive and ends with a song of light and shadow that illuminates the world. You can read it here.
Jamaal May has two bodies of work in publication; Hum and The Big Book of Exit Strategies. But how do you even begin to review them? There is so much here that demands attention; from the simple scene of three men clustered in a cold driveway, examining a nonworking car, to Jamaal pushing past marine recruiters in school hallways, hoping others will choose words over war. His poetry doesn’t just show you a point of view, it gives you his literal vision, distorted by earlier struggles, it gives you his wants and needs, his pain and his past. What his hands feel, what his heart perceives.
It must be said, even though I am a small voice in a cacophony of song; My United States stands for everyone, no exclusions. Acts of violence are deplorable, condemnable, but they are not a generalizations embraced by entire cultures, peoples, countries. We forget too easily the walls that we have brought down in the past. We don’t think about the people we see going home to families, worrying about the bills, falling in love. Experiencing things through the same set of neurons and synapse that the rest of us do. It shouldn’t have to be said, but we will keep saying it till then; Being different is OK, and you should not have to be afraid to be who you are, believe what you do, or look how you feel you should. We see you, and we want you here.