Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Call and Response

electric response
too fast to catch, hold back
as fire races through my mind


and I calmly
erase ~ ~ ~
carefully edit
my politely worded
everyone on the stringer
can hear the strident tone


and are clapping,
applauding the words
that they too held
but only I released
for us all

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Love Maps

Love Maps, by Eliza Factor, © 2015, Akashic Books

Sarah receives a phone call in the middle of the night from her godmother Tori. Her long-term partner Conningsby has died. His family had reeled him back into their lives as his days waned, but she can't bring herself to attend the funeral. But someone needs to pick up the portion of ashes that have been willed to her. Can Sarah?

When Sarah's sister Maya hears of Sarah's plan to attend the funeral, she tells her of a dream she had where Sarah is taken away by a man from the west. She begs her not to go, fearful it is a fateful prophecy. Sarah insists though and meets Philip. And he does indeed revolutionize her life.

Never one to believe in love, Sarah spends her days painting and dabbling in short-lived affairs. After meeting Philip, she is inexplicably drawn to him. It drives her to compulsively paint, confounding Maya and her friends. Nothing can expunge Philip from her mind though. Is it love or obsession? The line becomes a moot point. And that obsession changes everything.

Love Maps is Eliza Factor's second book and she creates vibrant characters who struggle against love. Sarah has never been interested in anything more than satisfying her urges, but she is irrationally drawn to Philip, even while she tries to avoid him. Philip has always been a loner, but can't help letting Sarah in. Despite coming from vastly different worlds, neither of them can shake their magnetic pull to one another. But Maya is a force to be reckoned with and she doesn't like Philip. Can she succeed in driving a wedge between them and force Sarah to choose which direction to take her life in?

Factor jumps between Sarah's present day less-than satisfying, single parent world and the story of her past volatile relationship with Philip which brought her there. She looks at the decisions we make in life and whether they are the right ones or not. Should we follow our dreams or forsake them for love? And where does family come into the picture? How do you choose your loyalties? And will those choices bring you happiness in the end?

We all have choices to make when it comes to love. Factor reminds her readers that love isn't always easy. We experience romantic love, parental love and familial love, but when they don't gel, what do you do? How do you map it out? Whether Sarah successfully navigates it or not seems less the point than how we perceive the journey. And for Sarah, that map is nothing like how she imagined her life to evolve.

So the question you might be asking after reading this is "That's great Katherine, but did you like it? And should I bother picking up a copy of it?". After my longer description of the book, I will leave you with a simple answer—yes.

Monday, March 23, 2015


slowly receding snowline
pulls back to reveal 
last year's forgotten
last week's promise
and a tease of 
tomorrow's sun


There's hope yet

Monday, March 16, 2015

Strangely, Incredibly Good

Strangely, Incredibly Good by Heather Grace Stewart, © 2014, Morning Rain Publishing

The late 30's are a difficult time for many. It seems like just when you are getting over having babies, relationships start to fall apart. The rest of life can come tumbling down right after, if we don't have the strength to put it back together again.

This is where we find Cat at the beginning of Strangely, Incredibly Good. She is 38-years-old, divorced, living with her feisty 91-year-old Grandmother, and two daughters who are quickly losing faith in Cat's parenting abilities. Who can blame them, as she doesn't have any faith left in herself. She's overweight, works at Walmart, and can't get beyond being the butt of everyone's high school pranks twenty years on. Her motivation doesn't seem strong enough to kick-start her life back onto a better track and depression keeps leading her back to the fridge—a vicious never-ending cycle.

That is until she finds a used Wii Fit machine at a garage sale on the way home from another failed start at the gym. To her surprise, and delight, a gorgeous genie emerges when she turns it on, with three wishes to grant. As they struggle through Cat's muddled wishes, romance sparks between Cat and Gene. Can he help Cat find happiness, but more importantly a measure of self-esteem? And does romance have a chance between a 2000+ year-old genie and a middle-aged, overweight, divorcee with a huge chip on her shoulder? If she can see beyond the past, just maybe...

Strangely, Incredibly Good is Heather Grace Stewart's first novel, but far from her first book. With four poetry books, two nonfiction educational books and numerous other poems and other essays in print, she figured it was about time to add this easy-to-read novel to her repertoire. You can't help but like bumbling Gene and laugh at Cat's antics that seem to do more harm than good. To find out if they have a chance at happiness or turning either of their lives around, you'll have to get a copy of Heather's newest book.

You can be sure it won't be her last though.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

The Pack

My last assignment from my creative writing class. We were to analyze one of eight artworks and write how we might use them in a story. I chose Joseph Beuys and his art installation - Das Rudel (The Pack). What do you think of his piece? How would you grade my interpretation?

24 wooden sleds equipped with flashlights, felt rolls, belts, and fat tumbling out of the back of a 1961 Volkswagen bus. How mysterious.

That is until you delve a little deeper. In 1944, Joseph Beuys was shot down in battle. He was rescued by Nomadic Tartars, who dug him out of the snow and wrapped him in fat and felt to warm and insulate him, before they returned him to a German field hospital.

Felt and fat took on lifesaving imagery for him. But what of the other items in this installation? The belts also held significance. In that same crash, the pilot was killed on impact. Beuys swore that by not using safety belts he was saved, as he was thrown from the plane, versus his compatriot who died on impact, still strapped in place.

By the time Beuys was 24, the war ended. After being interned by the British for two months, he was released. Sweet liberty and a return to his first love; the arts. Is that what is captured here? Do the torches light his way to freedom and creativity?

Or is this all just symbolism aggrandized for the observer? Beuys was known to embellish his history and the story of his rescue could have been one of those fictions. Perhaps we need to see the healing elements in this installation, as a means for us to see our own light and direction more clearly?

How long will it take you to slide out of the box and find your path?


This installation is fascinating, with so much room for interpretation. The symbolism of the elements are key and that is where the story lies. While a biography of Beuys would be interesting, as he made up his own version of his life, perhaps fiction would be a better way to go with this piece. We create our own truths and that is what Beuys was getting at. It reminds me of Pink Floyd’s The Wall and other dystopian novels that lean heavily on symbolism. I think that direction would hold the most impact with the flashlight peering into the future paired with the life-saving fat and felt images pulling you forward either away from or with the pack. Don’t leave behind the tools from your past, your memories that help you survive, but know which ones to take. The story would have to start with that image and tie those reflections in along the way.

Monday, March 9, 2015


frozen winter dreams
blanket the world in snowbanks
tough job for spring sun


Related Posts with Thumbnails