Book Review: All Night It Is Morning

allnightI’ve read many books of poetry this year but none like “All Night It Is Morning” by Andy Young and published by Lavender Ink Press/Dialogos Books. The subjects of Ms Young’s poetry spans continents and cultures in a very personal voice including Egypt, Chile, Morocco, West Virginia, and New Orleans, among others. The book has a strong thread of disaster running through it; the struggle of life in the war torn Middle East, in the coal mines of West Virginia,  and in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Her voice clearly and bravely documents these events, the horror and the pain revealed with humility and grace. I particularly enjoyed her poems about West Virginia and the hard lives lived there in the coal mining community. The strength and purity of the people, her relatives, shone like a light of hope. I think my favorite poem in the book is Sower, written about her Grandmother. This passage in the poem just grabbed my heart:

She worked the earth through
drought and strike, through her
husband’s slow asphyxiation,

through childbirth and stillbirth
and bad blood even sassafras
can’t clean. When the trees were

chopped as easy as thieves necks
and the nearby mill flooded her field,
when she buried another daughter,

In fact, she writes a good deal about the struggles of women in war, in life, in love, in mothering. Her mentions of her own children are sweet and poignant and often shiver-inducing, such as this:

I study the flutter
of your breath, your arms

folded by your sides,
your ear that could fit in a thimble.

Your infant face is still
like glass as the children

of Qana are wiped of their dust.

New Orleanians and others who’ve lived in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina will nod their heads, saying Yes! while reading her memories of that challenging time. Reading those poems brought back memories to me that I hadn’t thought of in a long time such as the sunflowers that sprouted all over the city in the inhospitable muck left behind. Remember how amazed we all were at the sight of those flowers? Her Katrina poems do not disappoint. Be prepared to find tears in your eyes.

While the mood of the book tends toward the dark side, Ms Young also gives us sunbeams as in the sweet (and another favorite) Meet Me in Morocco:

There are a thousand ways
to name the morning, morning
of jasmine, morning of lemon

blossom. Swallow my words
with your mouth. the earth springs
new beneath our feet.

Ms Young weaves the narrative of all these places and events throughout the book with a deft hand, sometimes intermingling them within a single piece which I found quite effective. This book was very satisfying to read and I find myself going back to reread many of the poems, finding even more layers each time.

Ms Young will be reading from this book Saturday, December 20 at Faubourg Wines, 2805 St. Claude Ave.

Hot Reads 12/7/14

It’s holiday time but I haven’t read much on the subject so far except “Journey Into Light” which is linked to below. It was a fun read, all about the traditions of mid-winter, Christmas and Advent, and the Goddess culture. You won’t want to miss it.

Other offerings today include issues of women in film, women in gaming, women as writers, women (and men) in rock n roll, and all sorts of other interesting reads. So peruse my list while you’re having your coffee or tea and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Photo via Variety

Photo via Variety

From Variety: Oscars Best Actress Race: Where’s the competition?
Favorite quote: “This is a result of the way Hollywood now does business. Women are an endangered species across all genres of the film industry, in both big movies and small. On the blockbuster side, studios continue to obsess over mega-budget franchises, where women are treated as an after-thought (see Glenn Close in “Guardians of the Galaxy,” or Keri Russell in “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”). No matter how many hits there are on the scale of “The Hunger Games,” “Maleficent” or “The Fault in Our Stars,” male executives still cling to the outdated belief that male audiences won’t pay to see a girl headline a movie, because they can’t relate to female protagonists.”
Note: Of course, Wild is mentioned in this piece and it’s a book that I was completely immersed in when it first came out in 2012. I read it during a difficult time in my life and it resonated so soundly with me as it has with others. I hope the movie does it justice.

From Film Maker Magazine: David Lynch and Patti Smith Talk Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks and More on the BBC

Photo via Film Maker Magazine

Photo via Film Maker Magazine

Favorite quote: All of it. Every.Single.Word.
Note: This is actually a video but it’s the thing I enjoyed most in my reading and online surfing in the past couple of weeks. How inspired was this to have these two icons interview each other? Patti Smith is in my opinion one of the most creative, free-speaking women of any generation and David Lynch is a visionary film maker. Watching this was heaven.

From NPR: Your Adult Siblings May Be the Secret to a Long, Happy Life
Favorite quote: “The benefits can carry into old age. The literature on sibling relationships shows that during middle age and old age, indicators of well-being — mood, health, morale, stress, depression, loneliness, life satisfaction — are tied to how you feel about your brothers and sisters.”

From The Guardian: The gaming journalist who tells on her internet trolls – to their mothers
Favorite quote: “It was just a way to try to reach a resolution, to productively teach young boys it’s not okay to be sexist to women, even if they’re on the internet,” she says, “that they are real people and that there should be actual consequences for that.”
Note: Good for her! Moms will kick those boys asses.

amy

Photo via The New York Times

From The New York Times: Greil Marcus’s History of Rock n Roll in Ten Songs
Favorite quote: “Every great, enduring rock song is like a cell in our cultural memory. A molecule of our shared experience containing not just an incredible performance but also a shared desire for something — love, money, sex, peace, rebellion, power, freedom — some intensely held desire.”

Note: Agreed!

and also
What You Learn in Your Forties
Favorite quote: “In Paris, it’s when waiters start calling you “Madame” without an ironic wink. The conventional wisdom is that you’re still reasonably young, but that everything is declining: health, fertility, the certainty that you will one day read “Hamlet” and know how to cook leeks.”

From Flavorwire: 35 Susan Sontag Quotes on Art, Writing, and Life
Favorite quote: “To me, literature is a calling, even a kind of salvation. It connects me with an enterprise that is over 2,000 years old. What do we have from the past? Art and thought. That’s what lasts. That’s what continues to feed people and give them an idea of something better. A better state of one’s feelings or simply the idea of a silence in one’s self that allows one to think or to feel. Which to me is the same.”

From Feminism and Religion: Journey into Light
Favorite quote: “I experienced these traditions first hand when I lived in Germany. In the Bavarian town of Kirchseeon, just east of Munich, mummers in hand-carved wooden masks perform the “Perchtenlauf,” a wild torchlit procession through the winter forest to awaken the dormant nature spirits and call back the dwindling sun. These processions centre around a female figure called Perchta or Holda, possibly an ancestral memory of an ancient Goddess of light and darkness.”

Because it’s holiday time and because this photo grabbed my attention and made me want to lick the screen, I’m adding a recipe this week. No, I haven’t made this but I want to. Doesn’t it look scrumptious?

Photo via Homemade Delish

Photo via Homemade Delish

Via Homemade Delish:   Pumpkin Cheesecake with Pecan Glaze

 

The Featured Book List is from Samuel Snoek-Brown, the author of Hagridden which I loved and reviewed here. I think this book list is really great because it’s an “alternative” list, by which I mean an alternative to the best sellers lists that we see everywhere. (Although I think many should be on the best sellers list!) I’ve read a few of the books he mentions and they will be in a post I’m planning about my 2014 book reading year. Trust me, this is a great list.

Featured poem is “White Birches” by Jennifer Martelli in video format narrated by Dave Bonta.  I love video poems and this one was especially enjoyable. I hope you like it too.

 

Have a great reading week and don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest!

New Orleans Ladies Share Their Holiday Gift Tips

It’s Black Friday – the unofficial official first day of shopping for the holiday season for some people, but not all. If the thought of hordes of people pushing and shoving and grabbing for more and more stuff in malls and big box stores doesn’t appeal to you, you’ve come to the right place. You can watch all that drama later on YouTube and meanwhile make plans for a leisurely walk down Magazine Street or the smaller side streets of the Quarter or in a myriad of stress-free and friendly local shops around town tomorrow. In the spirit of encouraging New Orleanians to shop local, I’ve asked a few local women to tell us about their favorite shopping spot and/or favorite go-to gift. There are some great recommendations here and I’ve already visited a couple of them myself. Opt for a more friendly and civilized shopping experience this year – locally!

Suzanne Pfefferle

Suzanne Pfefferle

“For special occasions and Christmas, I often give my fiancé something from Perlis (he has a penchant for bow ties). He’s from Colombia and moved here a couple of years ago, so he’s building his collection of NOLA things! And, he wears scrubs everyday for work, so he likes to dress up every now and then.”

Suzanne Pfefferle, author of Vietnamese Cuisine in New Orleans and producer of the upcoming film, Latin American Cuisine in New Orleans

 

 

 

 

 

Judy Walker

Judy Walker

I’m a quilter, as are the other women in my family. My favorite place to shop for them is Mes Amis Quilt Shop, off Robert E. Lee on Spanish Ft. Blvd. Great modern fabrics and owner Denise Taylor has the best service ever.

—Judy Walker, Food Editor at The Times-Picayune

 

Megan Braden-Perry

Megan Braden-Perry

 

 

Fleurty Girl is my favorite place to shop for gifts because there’s something for everyone and the sales associates are knowledgeable and honest. There are books, housewares, high-end gifts, inexpensive trinkets, shirts, presents for babies, gifts for people you don’t know well, and the list goes on. The associates — from Lauren “Fleurty Girl” LeBlanc herself on down — try their best to help customers, whether that means pulling merchandise down, calling other stores, taking suggestions for new products, or anything else. I never leave Fleurty Girl empty handed.

—Megan Braden-Perry, Freelance Writer and New Mom
Dawn Carl

Dawn Carl

As someone who never seems to know exactly what to get folks for Christmas, along with the fact that I hate getting things I simply can’t use, and know others do as well, I often do “homemade” gifts. Cookies, pies, fudge, candy, mixes and more!!
There is an amazing shop in the French Quarter that I simply LOVE. The Spice & Tea Exchange of New Orleans at 521 St. Louis Ave. The fact that I can go in there, and choose how much or how little of a spice I want rocks! And don’t even get me started on the teas!! So many to mix and match…tea bags, tea leaves, and everything you need to make the perfect cup of tea. Bags of spices that I use for everything from sachet’s to Apple Pie!

Making a small basket of natural spices in the raw, along with with recipes, and mixes and giving them at Christmas, I know will be a welcome gift every time, even if it’s just for the scent alone.

— Dawn Carl age 51 resident of NOLA for almost 25 years…. Pro Photographer, Professional Genealogist, Mother of one.

 

 

DJ Soul Sister

DJ Soul Sister

My favorite holiday gift is always going to be vinyl records – for ME. Just kidding! I love to give the gift of music, and concert tickets, record store gift certificates, or even a biography or autobiography about an interesting musician are some easy and fun ways to do it. I love to help people get music for themselves and for others, so every year I throw a little party called The Holiday Crate Dig at one of my favorite local record stores, Domino Sound Record Shack. This year, it’s the 8th annual event, and it’s on Sunday, December 14 from 3-5pm. Everyone’s invited!

Soul Sister ~ WWOZ show programmer, award-winning live DJ artist, music aficionado

Liz Reyes

– Liz Reyes

 

There are so many local favorites but my go to that gets the job done is Aunt Sally’s Pralines shop because I love sharing anything food related from here.
I love pralines and so do relatives and friends out of town. I pick up pralines and many of the other great goodies the store carries. Wish I could send them a sample of all of our great local foods but this is a good sampler to get them coming back for more.

Liz Reyes, Award-winning TV News Anchor/Reporter, WVUE Fox 8 News
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Click here for 2013’s holiday picks.

“Houdini” is live!

houdini2

I am crazy-happy to be a part of Literary Orphans new issue, “Houdini”. The Editor, Mike Joyce, and his staff put out a unique zine full of fiction, non-fiction, poetry, art, and interviews. It’s obvious by the visual beauty of the zine and the top notch talent that they work very hard to give their readers a stimulating and exceptional reading/viewing experience. Each issue has a theme and each contributor’s work is complimented by original artwork which, in my opinion, brings an added dimension to the words on the page. This is my second time to be a part of Mike’s dream; this journal, this art, this wonderful collaboration of artists and writers. If you haven’t read Literary Orphans, I highly recommend you do so. You won’t be disappointed.

Congrats on another great issue, Mike and staff!

houdini4houdini3

Hot Reads 11/23/14

Happy Sunday, all! I’ve been reading blogs quite a bit in the last couple of weeks (as usual!). Blogs, especially personal ones, can be really interesting and enlightening. Bloggers can make you see things from a different point of view and make you think in ways you may not have considered before. I like reading writers who live in other states, countries, and in alternative ways. Some of today’s offerings are nice representations of all that. I hope you enjoy.

 

shedFrom The Dark Mountain Project: Why I Live in a Shed: A Sideways Response to the Housing Crisis
Favorite Quote: “I could tell her about all the things I wanted to do with my wild and precious life. How I wanted to go exploring. To see with my own eyes all the wonders of the world. To ride camels and climb mountains, test myself against the elements, find my own limitations, make my own mistakes. And then, when I had finished wandering, I wanted to come home and write love songs and death poems and books about fear, because I’d felt love and I’d touched death and I’d faced oceans of fear and found oceans of courage, and, frankly, after all that life I didn’t want to go inside and sit in an office working to prop up someone else’s failing economy.”

 

From Ludica: A Brief History of the Crêpe
Favorite Quote: “I discriminate a lot when it comes to food and drink, but when it comes to the crepe I’m all about love and acceptance, wide hearted, wide armed, wide eyed, and wide mouthed.”

 

on_the_road_filmposter

 

From Ally Malinenko’s blog: The Beat Goes On….Unless You’re in Hollywood
Favorite quote: “And since then many of the women of the Beat Movement have been re-fashioned as Muses, there to inspire the brilliant men they found themselves around. Their role was to be passive, attractive, to keep their mouth shut and their eyes open and maybe, just maybe they might learn something. And this role was not specific to the Beats.”

 

 

From The Guardian: Why Must the “best new writers” Be Under 40?
Favorite Quote: “Sometimes the literary bitcoin is just life: some people have more to say aged 50, than at 30; for others it’s the opposite. But what about the writers who are slowed down because they have to do a day job? What about the authors (mainly women) whose writing time is interrupted for long periods by care for children, or relatives? “

introverts

 

From HuffPo: 10 Ways Introverts Interact Differently With the World
Favorite Quote because it is so me!: “Most introverts screen their phone calls — even from their friends — for several reasons. The intrusive ringing forces them to abandon focus on a current project or thought and reassign it to something unexpected. Plus, most phone conversations require a certain level of small talk that introverts avoid. Instead, introverts may let calls go to voicemail so they can return them when they have the proper energy and attention to dedicate to the conversation.”

 

AdultForYA-EpicReads

 

Our featured book list is from Epic Reads: 25 Adult Books for Fans of YA. I’m not much of a YA fan but, honestly, I haven’t read much of the genre at all. Several of the books on this list look interesting so this may be my bridge into wading into more YA waters.

 

Featured poem is by Marilyn Cavicchia, a poet I’ve been following online for a long time. She posted this the other day and I just loved it! I think you will too.

 

Keep This To Yourself
By Marilyn Cavicchia

Anyway, I don’t believe in
whiskers on kittens, gratitude
journals, fluffy slippers, or
any of those Martha Stewart

Good Things or whatever
it is that Oprah knows
for sure. I’m a crank,
and I’m meaner than I look.

But I know and you know
that there are still
lowercase, non-italic
(Roman, let’s say)

good things in this world,
and it is still worth
being here, if for no
other reason than to see

what happens next–even if
that thing is terrible
and you can’t stop it, so
it keeps you up at night

or it wakes you up just
before your alarm goes off.
Look, I’m not an optimist.
The power of my positive

thinking? It could maybe,
on a good day, light up
Duluth. Not even. Bemidji,
let’s say. Maybe just

a bar in Bemidji, some dark
little place with whiskey,
beer, and Paul Bunyan. Here
I am, struggling over this

on my couch in Chicago,
and there you are, wherever
it is that you are. If I
could, I’d meet you at that

Paul Bunyan bar in Bemidji,
our good things like tiny
suns, bouncing off ice cubes,
making indoor Northern Lights.
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Have a great reading week and remember to follow us on Pinterest!