Some more poetry collections that will delight as gifts this Christmas…
The first poetry collection is by Bette A. Stevens that celebrates the beauty the state of Maine.
About My Maine
Inspired by The Pine Tree State—Maine’s diverse landscape, natural beauty, rural communities, and independent people—the author’s 150 haiku poems, along with her photographs, reflect the Maine she knows and loves. Bette A. Stevens’s imagery draws the reader into her world of wonder and delight. My Maine takes readers on a poetic journey through Maine’s four seasons. Whether you’re a native Mainer or from away, Stevens’s short story poems and photographs will resonate.
The collection opens with a haiku tribute, “Maine Pines and People.” The journey continues with the rejuvenating spirit of “Spring Awakenings” and “Summer Songs”; then on to more of the magic and majesty of the places and people of Maine in “Autumn Leaves” and “Winter Tales.” This is a poetry collection to be slowly savored, made even more delectable with the author’s original drawings and photographs. In addition to its poems and photographs, My Maine includes state symbols and interesting facts about The Pine Tree State.
One of the recent reviews for the collection
Bette brought this glorious place to life for me.I enjoyed the poetic verses accompanying each season. knowing parts of the United States of America, Maine is one not as yet visited. It now sits on my bucket list. Thank you Bette for a most enjoyable literacy journey through your words.
Other books by Bette A. Stevens
The next author today is Elizabeth Merry with her poetry collection Minus One: With Haikus and Other Poems: The Story of a Life
About the collection
This collection sums up the life of the poet. It begins with memories of her parents, in The Red Petticoat: “The lighthouse sweep and beam/Of her glad eyes/Lit us all, haloed the room/Where we stood in a row/To admire.” And in Minus One: “Your absence grips my throat/Chokes my breath . . . How much of you is me/Stretching to close the circle?” Other poems cover growing up and speak of friends and lovers, moving forward to parenthood and beyond, to old age in Bones: “Don’t look too close/Disintegration has begun/And death will lend it speed/Until my bones are bare and/Waiting for the second coming . . . ” And to death in Mortality: “Tombstones/Pale and cold/Line up, waiting/For my name . . . ”
Throughout the collection there are sections of Haikus, many with accompanying photographs: “Child of my child, I/scoop you up and hug you, breathe/you in and keep you.” References to the sea and the harbour move through this collection, lending a special atmosphere. These poems are filled with the many emotions of our lives and will appeal to all of us.
A recent review for the collection
The poems in Elizabeth Merry’s collection, Minus One: The Story of a Life, are rich and nuanced with the fluidity of time and memory. I found myself rereading a number of them, each time with a new layer of meaning revealed. Minus One is the poetry of paradox: death in life visible in every falling leaf and glance in the mirror.
As I reflect on my experience of reading this collection, I am struck by the power of its raw, honest emotion–yet the poems themselves are very finely crafted. The word choice is precise– often unexpectedly so–and each linebreak comes at just the right moment. I particularly appreciated the freshness of language and metaphor. In the title poem, for example, losing the first member of one’s immediate family becomes “My magic circle broken.” In “Words,” “Sudden shocks of grief / Or joy unwind us.” The desire to escape from the world and live a cloistered life becomes “ . . . peace, pale apple green, serene / Soft poultice on the quick of life.”
Haiku and photographs interspersed throughout the book offer brief, vivid glimpses into the natural world, each echoing a particular state of mind. The natural world as metaphor is further explored in two companion poems: “Seascapes” and “Landscapes.” Even with the anger and unpredictably of the sea, the freedom it represents is preferable to being “Street-locked and bereft” in an inland place, where “This bland wind has / no taste, no smell.”
The title poem, about the first death in the speaker’s immediate family, asks the question, “How much of you is me / Stretching to close the circle?” This question recurs in different forms as the collection progresses–and by the end, I couldn’t help but wonder: with each loss of a close family member, do we become more of ourselves or less?
One of my favorite poems in the collection is “The Red Petticoat,” in which the speaker describes her mother’s delight at receiving a red petticoat from America. The ending stanza left me thinking, I would like to know this woman:
Long left that room, that house
The woman has gathered her years
Carefully, tucked them primly away
Scented and folded neatly
Facing the rest
With a lifted chin
A grin and a new hat
The glow of the red petticoat
About her still.
Another standout is “Frances,” about the death of a younger sibling, “Gone out of turn before me / Our childhood memories / All lop-sided now.” These two lines express my own experience of losing my younger brother in a way I never could. And isn’t this why we read poetry?
Also by Elizabeth Merry for adults and children
Next on the list is Mary Clark’s poetry collection Into the Fire: A Poet’s Journey Through Hell’s Kitchen
About the collection
A young, aspiring writer comes to St. Clement’s Church on West 46th Street in New York City looking for a job in the theater. Soon she is helping run the church’s poetry program. The New York Poetry Festival at St. Clement’s features many well-known poets of the 1970s and 80s as well as up-and-coming and marginalized poets. The poetry scene, occurring alongside Punk rock and the waning days of experimental dance and theater, is part of the last widespread grassroots artistic era in the United States.
Into The Fire: A Poet’s Journey takes place in the rough-and-tumble Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood on Manhattan’s West Side. This story is set in a neighborhood that reflects the passion of the times. By 1980, both the arts scene and New York neighborhoods are on the verge of change. The author’s life in the arts weaves in and out of the neighborhood’s narratives. She must make a choice between two possible lives.
St. Clement’s Church has a storied history in the arts, beginning with the American Place Theater in the 1960s to the present day. Cameo appearances in this memoir are made by Robert Altman, Amiri Baraka, Daniel Berrigan, Karen Black, Raymond Carver, Cher, Abbie Hoffman, Spalding Gray, Al Pacino, and Paul Simon. Erick Hawkins, June Anderson, and Daniel Nagrin dance through.
Poets and writers include Carol Bergé, Ted Berrigan, Enid Dame, Cornelius Eady, Allen Ginsberg, Daniella Gioseffi, Barbara Holland, Bob Holman, Richard Howard, Maurice Kenny, Eve Merriam, Robin Morgan, Sharon Olds, Alicia Ostriker, Alice Notley, William Packard, Robert Peters, Rochelle Ratner, Grace Shulman, and Kurt Vonnegut, with mentions or discussions of Gregory Corso, Emily Dickinson, Dana Gioia, David Ignatow, Joy Harjo, Rashid Hussein, Kim Chi Ha, Denise Levertov, Audre Lorde, Anais Nin, Ron Padgett, Pedro Pietro, Muriel Rukeyser, and Anne Sexton, among others.
One of the recent reviews for the collection
I truly didn’t know what to expect when I began reading Into the Fire. Simply thought it was a tale of poetry and prose. I am so please to say it was much, much more!
Hell’s KItchen was a place and time I heard about, yet knew little of what it entailed. I thank Mary Clark for writing such an exceptional story of what it was like to live, perform, produce and create in those early days, and the challenges that seemed, at times, unsurmountable.
You will meet celebrities; many not so famous back in the day and you will find great works and such talent.
Go behind the scenes and get to know those who dedicated their lives to keeping the arts alive while battling confrontations of both religion and humanity.
This is a book worth reading as it not only entertains but gives the reader an inside look of what it took and takes to keep arts alive
You won’t put this book down; it is that entertaining Bravo Mary Clark. You show the greatness as well as the sadness of the era.
Also by Mary Clark
The next poetry collectin is Shadows by Anita Dawes.
About the book
A collection of Anita Dawes best poems – about love and longing – hopes and dreams – there will be something for everyone…
One of the recent reviews for Shadows
‘Shadows’ by Anita Dawes reflects on the shadows of life, some of which stay behind us while others inspire to drive away sadness and despair. The themes are universal and symbolize love, darkness, light, time, goodness and dreams. Most of the poems are short and focused. I like the clarity of style and thoughts.
‘Color me Red’ brilliantly describes the moods and yearnings of the poet; ‘Broken’ touches upon those moments of disillusionment and desperation when we need an affectionate touch to reassure ourselves and ‘Nine Gates’ is a little ambiguous but I guess the gates refer to our journey of life, with a message of caution at each step.
Wrong Mouse would make you smile. This collection is a nice assortment of challenges that life throws at us and how we handle them.
A selection of other books by Anita Dawes
The final collection today is by poet and children’s author Victoria Zigler andBorn from Stardust and Other Poems.
About the collection
A selection of poems of various lengths and styles, exploring a variety of themes and subjects.
Topics explored in the poems that make up this collection include – but are not limited to – animals and nature, writing and creativity, death and grief, as well as the Covid-19 pandemic.
A recent review for the collection on the blog of Kevin Morris 24th July 2021
The title poem in this collection begins as follows:
“We’re born from stardust, you and I,
And that alone’s the reason why
I’m pretty sure that when I die
I’ll join the stars up in the sky.”
Born From Stardust is a beautiful poem, and the book of the same name is a highly enjoyable and thought provoking read.
Amongst my favourite poems is “When Mummy Missed Story Time”, in which the poet poignantly describes the emotional reactions of a young child when it’s mother won’t read a bedtime story due to her fear that she has the Corona Virus, and her very natural desire not to pass on the infection to her son/daughter.
There are several other poems which touch on the pandemic, including one dealing with the impacts of social distancing on the individual and on society as a whole. I can relate to this series of poems, and it is a topic which I have, myself tackled in my own poetry.
Other poems deal with the threat posed by climate change. Again, this is a fine series of poems.
The serious poems are interspersed with lighter pieces such as “When Even the Beach is to Hot”:
“You know the temperatures are too high,
When even the beach is too hot!”
The above poem is especially apt at the moment given the very high temperatures we have been experiencing here in the UK and elsewhere.
I have read a number of Victoria Zigler’s poetry collections, and in my view this is her best thus far.
A small selection of other books by Victoria Zigler
Thank you for dropping in today and I hope you will be leaving with some books… thanks Sally