Smorgasbord Book Promotions – New Books on the Shelves – #Poetry #FreeVerse – Ida: Searching for The Jazz Baby – From Volyn to Kherson: Interpretations of the war in Ukraine by Frank Prem

Pleased to share the news of two new free verse collections by Frank Prem –  Ida: Searching for The Jazz Baby and From Volyn to Kherson: Interpretations of the war in Ukraine.

About the collection

Who is Ida Pender? Is she the elderly woman – Ida-Spider – rumoured to be resident in a 1970’s Mental Asylum?

Is she Squizzy Taylor’s teenaged gangster moll of the roaring 1920’s in Melbourne? The woman the police declared had shapely legs? She is Ida. The Jazz Baby.

Frank Prem explores the story of Ida Pender, largely forgotten now, but once the notorious associate of a 1920s Melbourne gnagster. From the young girl sneaking out of her bedroom window to go dancing at the Palais de Danse, companion, accomplice, then wife and mother to Squizzy Taylor’s child by her early twenties, Ida is an extraordinary woman and a marvellous story.

One of the recent reviews for the collection

Jan 08, 2023 D.G. Kaye rated it it was amazing

A freeverse poetry collection about a jazz dancer and true crime in 1920s Melbourne, Australia where Jazz baby, Ida, daughter of a horse trainer, falls in love with Melbourne’s notorious underworld criminal, Leslie ‘Squizzy’ Taylor, once a horse jockey. The story begins in the 1970s where the author, Prem, as a young student, was a pyschiatric nurse at the Lunatic Asylum where several elderly women were called Ida. ‘Rumor’ had it that one of these Idas was Ida Pender, the gun-moll of Squizzy Taylor.

Prem researched the story of Ida Pender and Squizzy Taylor, who was eventually killed in a shootout, leaving Ida a widowed, single mother at the tender age of 23. Ida loved to dance since a child and was discovered to be part of a competitive dance group who loved to dance to jazz at the Palis de Dance. Prem brings back to life the story of Jazz Baby in prose and poetry. With each newspaper clipping headline, Prem tells the story in poetry through the character’s minds. An introductory poem to the elusive Ida:

the company (she keeps)

The pair are “Squizzy” TayJor, and his paramour, Ida
Pender, who has been associated with him since she
was a mere child of sixteen
“Squizzy” Taylor——As He Is! The Mirror, Perth 05/07/1924
is she
a bad girl
does she just choose
poor company . . .
a man
might be a
but still be nice
to me
if I love him . . .
I do love him . . .
where else
should I be
is she a bad
bad girl
or is she
just . . .
just . . .
just keeping company
as best
she can

If you enjoy a ‘different’ kind of story-telling, you will enjoy this well-researched story combined with the author’s imagination, written in poetry, accompanied by headlines. All the author’s research resources are listed in the book. 

Head over to buy the collection: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

About the collection

From Volyn To Kherson, tells the stories of hardship and suffering and bewilderment experienced by the people of Ukraine in the early weeks of the 2022 Russian invasion and war.

The collection draws on news reports and social media postings during the most un-curated war the world has ever witnessed, interpreting and translating the raw emotion of this wartime experience.

There is no part of Ukraine that has been left untouched by this war, and no part of the poet left untouched by these stories of the Ukraine.

An extract from recent review for the collection on Goodreads

Jan 06, 2023 Roxanne Bodsworth rated it five stars

We all know what is happening in Ukraine. Events and their details are thoroughly documented through print, media broadcasts, and even more so on social media. But so much saturation results in information overload and we can switch off. It can be like watching a movie, it is not about us and, after all, there is nothing we can do.

Unless you are a poet like Frank Prem, who can take this overwhelming surfeit of information and not only give voice to the people caught up in this nightmare but can help us to hear their stories, their hope and dreams and laughter, and tears.

one drop
for every time
they fire
a gun

These people have names: anastasia and tatiana worry about being arrested, ivan has half a roll of toilet paper and a gun and lives in a metro station, alina is giving birth in the basement where it is safer from the bombs, and maniukina is making pancakes. And some people die nameless, as in “today’s grief (is for her)”:

I don’t know her
did not
know her
but the news
of her passing
is a dark-fisted

There is a conversational tone to these poems, not a reportage but a dialogic relationship with the average people of towns of which most of us have never heard. “god knows (volyn & rivna)” invites the reader in to muse on the strangeness of war:

how long
did it take –
I wonder –
to build
so many airplanes

Head over to buy the collection: Amazon USAnd: Amazon UK

A selection of other books by Frank Prem

Read the reviews and buy the books:Amazon US –And:Amazon UK – Website:Frank Prem – Goodreads:Goodreads – Twitter:@frank_prem – YouTube:Frank Prem’s Channel

About Frank Prem

Frank Prem has been a storytelling poet since his teenage years. He has been a psychiatric nurse through all of his professional career, which now exceeds forty years.

He has been published in magazines, online zines and anthologies in Australia, and in a number of other countries, and has both performed and recorded his work as spoken word.

He lives with his wife in the beautiful township of Beechworth in North East Victoria, Australia.


Thanks very much for dropping in today and I hope that you will be leaving with some books.


57 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Book Promotions – New Books on the Shelves – #Poetry #FreeVerse – Ida: Searching for The Jazz Baby – From Volyn to Kherson: Interpretations of the war in Ukraine by Frank Prem

  1. Congratulations to Frank on his latest poetry collections. The reviews are compelling. Thank you, Sally, for featuring Frank and for showcasing these two books. They sound like ones I’d enjoy reading. 😊

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Reblogged this on Frank Prem Poetry and commented:
    My thanks to the wonderful Sally Cronin and the Smorgasbord Blog Magazine for helping to promote my current new releases, Ida: Searching for The Jazz Baby, and From Volyn to Kherson: Interpretations of the war in Ukraine.

    I encourage you to visit th eMagazine and take a look around. Sally is one of the great supporters of Indie authors and publishers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I wanted to buy From Volyn to Kherson but I know (and I accept that it’s pathetic) I won’t sleep afterwards. So I’ve bought Ida and I’m really looking forward to this one. xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine Weekly Round up – 23rd – 29th January 2023 – Technology, Big Bands, Sir George Shearing, Podcast, PR for authors, Book Reviews, New Releases, The Brain, Funnies | Smorgasbord Blog Magazine

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