Today, Top Tweet Tuesday is hosting a review fest for independent poetry reviews. For a while now, Amazon has refused to let me post reviews, insisting that I never bought the book, I don’t have an account, I don’t exist etc etc. It’s frustrating.
Anyway, TTT has nudged me to try a different approach. I have tried posting using my Amazon.fr account, the one I use for buying anti-flea pipettes and ink for the printer. It worked! I think. Still being processed, but this ***** review of Merril D. Smith’s poetry collection River Ghosts might actually appear on the Amzon.fr site soon.
A river of images
Merril Smith has been one of my favourite contemporary poets for a few years now, one of those poets who uses language to paint pictures. Her poems are to be read slowly, admired. They should be absorbed like a painting in a gallery. A quick glance then moving on isn’t enough.
So much of the poetry in this collection is about colour (especially blue), memory and the moving river of the turning world. So much of it has the feel of an inheritance, as if memories have shaped the words and transmitted emotional images of things the poet has never seen. Her tender stories about her mother’s forebears in eastern Europe are like Chagall paintings, mythical, dreamlike interpretations of life that is often hard and unforgiving.
The poem River Ghosts sets the tone of the collection, the gentle winding of a dream-river. Dreams and memories are at the core of each of these brightly-coloured poems, but some get under the skin. The poem Handprints, for example, with its images of light, the red handprint on a wall, an arcane symbol, the ancient light of stars, bouncing back and forth in repetition is more profound than simply beautiful. And my favourite of the many poems inspired by Smith’s late mother, Hearts, where the perennity of the ones we love is like a river, flowing from generation to generation.
These poems are profound but limpid, personal and universal. They are simple poems with many layers, like paint on a canvas, their message clear, lyrical and un-clever. To be treasured.
I know a lot of poets have expressed a desire to ‘do’ something to help in the Ukraine. Writing poetry is one thing, but translating poetry into aid is also possible. This collection of peace poetry is one initiative I’m pleased to pass on. You can download the collection here, and you’ll find the link to make a donation after the title page. Please help. Every little is welcome.
A haibun is usually prose plus haiku. This is prose plus sevenling. Call it what you like. Today is my birthday so I do what I like. Plus I’ll plug my chapbooks too. WP chose the layout.
It was so long ago and I don’t remember it, and those who would are no longer of this world. Yet still the day rolls around as the earth turns and the sun dims and the hours in this dark December are always shorter than a summer’s day. A birth nonetheless occurred, and if I pull in the thread it might bring me back, but I know I will always stop short of the place where I began, will not peer behind, along the untrod path of before, will not disturb the million ghosts in their slumber.
Already the dark is here and the day barely begun; the sun has set in torrents.
Which way the night? Does is pass by the dawn or the moonpath?
A manifesto is one of the opening poems of my new poetry collection birds and other feathers. A teaser, taster. Remember, despite the Covid, there will still be Christmas stockings to fill.
From sprouting acorns to the windswept sky, from quick vole-scurry to kestrel’s soar, song thrush trilling and soft owl fluting, this piece of land that I call my own thrives and thrusts through stalk and bone.
This piece of ordinary soil, of no rare beauty, fruit of toil of generations, long gone into the dark, is in my keeping now,
and how I lend my weight to the great wheel, guide the green boat with rooted keel, is to let all things live here, without fear.
I have a few success stories to crow about, so I’ll let them all go here.
First, I’m proud to have three poems in the anthology As the World Burns published by Indie Blue. I get a special thrill that my third entry is the poem that closes the collection. Yes, my desk is a mess but I can’t tidy it because of the ladybirds hibernating on it.
Second reason to be cheerful, a haibun of mine is one of the Ekphrastic Review’s five nominations for the Sonder Press’s Best Small Fictions anthology!
Third—my second collection of poems, birds and other feathers will be available in kindle version from November 27th (husband’s birthday) but the print version will have to wait until I’ve seen a proof copy, and that is in the hands of the postal service.
And last, but not least, I have finished another novel! I know, I do this often and nothing happens. One day though, I hope to be able to say, and somebody has picked it up.
I had a look this morning to see if my new baby booklet was registering in the amazon sales rankings yet. The first few days after a launch are when the figures look the best so I want to make sure I get every drop and crumb of glowing fuzzy satisfaction out of them.
The figures are coming in, in a surprising way too. On the .co.uk site the paperback is sitting at 791 in #poetry which is gratifying and quite enough to make me feel proud of myself. Amazon has decided to stick the kindle version in the #love poetry category where it’s at a very respectable (and totally unexpected) 67, but to see my little book of what are essentially nature poems (water and all that) sitting at 152 in #erotic poetry made me laugh!
If you haven’t ordered a copy yet, don’t worry. There are a few left, just don’t expect Anaïs Nin. Links are on this blog post which is a hypocritical way of saying, I’m too modest to push it, but go on anyway.
Well, I didn’t think I’d be doing this again, but I am. The cycle of submit a manuscript, wait for a rejection, accept that I’m not even going to get a rejection, submit another manuscript, wait for a rejection and so on ad infinitum is soul-destroying. I am still doing it for novels, but I’m not such a glutton for punishment that I’m going to take the same road for poetry.
I do have a lot of poems though and I’d like to do something with them, so I have decided to put them into themed chapbook collections and self-publish. The decision was made in the middle of last week; I chose a first handful, revised them, arranged them into a sensible-looking format, made a cover and uploaded them to kdp. I didn’t want a kindle version necessarily, but you seem to need one before you can make a print version.
I’ve held off the release date until October 27, my mother’s birthday, a good day, I think, and it will give me time to have received and checked the proofs of the print version, so it can be published asap after the kindle version goes live. That means it’s already on amazon for pre-order. The result doesn’t look professional, cover’s a bit hit or miss, but if I spend any time fiddling with it, I’ll be permanently dissatisfied.
So, I’d like to thank all the bloggers who have encouraged me to just do it, and to believe that it’s a good idea. This is the cover of the first chapbook. I’ll post a reminder when the kindle version goes live, and when the print version is available.
The post is incredibly slow still, but it finally arrived. Yes, that is a bar of soap behind the gingerbread houses. It was a present, it’s mimosa and I like the scent.
I knew I was going to enjoy this collection; isn’t as if Damien is a complete unknown, but I was surprised at how much. I was surprised at how much colour there is in the images, and how Oracle-like (we know what I mean) they are. Colour runs in rivers through these poems that are quiet, understated and so perfectly precise. The dominant colour is purple, the shade of blue that hangs between sea, sky, night and day. It’s the colour of twilight when all things merge. There are several worlds merging in Damien’s poetry, the place he left and returned to, the place he made his home for years and left with only a twinge of regret, the changing light of the passing day and the seasons. The images that stand out for me are petals and honey pouring like water, and the ceaseless movement like the waves of the sea. I couldn’t say which poem is my favourite, but the one that I am thinking of now isn’t a purple poem, it’s a green one, Grazing Greens, perhaps because I am so pleased that Damien has made it back without disappointment, something that is so hard to do. Green is, after all, the colour of hope.