Spiders Don’t Write Poetry —

A nice little piece with lovely images.

By James Blevins “We’re here for only a short while,” Amy said out loud, sketch pad on lap, pencil poised over blank page. “Then it’s back to the spider.” Her breath, a frosty, cloudy haze, emitted percussively as she spoke. “But as far as I know,” she continued with added emphasis, pencil dancing across her […]

via Spiders Don’t Write Poetry —

How to Get Rid of Books

As I go accumulating more and more books, I have less space available on my bookshelf, naturally. This has made me reevaluate what I allow space on my shelves, so I recently did a bit of a purge.

I had kept so many books for so long that I’d never read because I kept telling myself, “Someday.” I think it’s time I stop deluding myself. There’s no way I can ever get through ALL THE BOOKS before my life is over, especially since I’m a responsible adult with a life. What did that mean for some of my old second-hand purchases? It was time to let go of the notion that I’d eventually get around to them.

A bookcase overflowing with books

The deciding factor though for purging some books off my shelves was the diversity. I admit, I’ve been guilty of not reading diversely, but I’d like to change that. Making room physically for such books is a start.

I didn’t just get rid of all white and/or male authors from my shelves, because I’d essentially be getting rid of my entire collection altogether, and I’m not that evolved of a human being yet. I did, however, rid myself of copies of the remainder of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series and Michael Connelly novels. At this point, in my attempts to be a more conscious reader, I’ve come to realize the problematic characterization that can occur with such writers.

It’s not just the way certain characters are written that prompted me to purge these books from my shelves, although that aspect definitely made me feel less guilty about getting rid of books I hadn’t read yet. With the above two mentioned authors, I’ve already read enough of their canon to feel satisfied with having experienced those worlds and characters.

Yes, Odd Thomas is a cool series, but having already read the first three books, I think I get it. He’s a ghost-seeing fry cook that is reticent to get into the action, but does so anyway because that’s what protagonists do. Yes, Connelly’s Detective Bosch is a fun, cranky officer of the law with a gritty personality and serious machismo faults, but I’ve read enough of his adventures to know he’s always gonna catch the bad guy and be a terrible romantic interest.

With a significant chunk of books gone from those two authors alone, I’ve made room for Roxane Gay, Zoraida Cordova, and Isabelle Allende. I know I should probably get rid of some more books from my shelf, but I’m still working on letting go of my material possessions.

I have, however, extended my white and/or male author purge to my Goodreads TBR list. I’ve removed the last book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, the remaining Percy Jackson series books, and others.

It felt like a breath of fresh air to see a good number of books get off my shelves and lists, taunting me with guilt for not having read them after all these years. From now on, I’m going to read what I want and not what I feel obligated to read (sans school textbooks).

Do any of you feel the need to refresh your TBR lists or bookshelves? How will you go about it? Let me know in the comments!

Sharing from Valprehension

I thought this was pretty nifty and wanted to share with anyone who may have an interest in crafts and stitching.

So it turns out that people are, in fact, willing to pay money for my cross-stitch pieces, which is super exciting! So far orders have been coming in a really reasonable pace for me where I don’t feel stressed out or buried in work, but I am motivated to keep stitching – it’s been pretty […]

via Crafty Update: New cross-stitches! — Valprehension

How to Read More Books

Gone are the days when I could settle down with one book in my lap, perhaps a snack or two and a hot beverage, and focus on one story line at a time. My attention span has been shot to death with the invention of the internet, and I freely admit that.

I still enjoy reading though (obviously). How to solve the problem though of a wandering mind? Over the last couple of months I think I found the solution.

I’ve allowed myself to pick up more than one book at a time, and switch between stories. When I feel like one isn’t captivating my attention at a certain time, even if I really like it, just switch it up. The real trick though is the medium by which I consume these reads.

For a lighter daily bag, I bring my Kindle with me to work and read an e-book during lunch. During the commute home, I listen to my audio book as I navigate Miami traffic. And at night, when I am comfy cozy in my pajamas, ready to settle in with the lamp alight on my nightstand, I read a physical hardcover or paperback.

Some nights I still can’t concentrate on a novel though, so I compromise with comic book reading. Short pages and mostly artwork does wonders for keeping the brain entertained.

My new strategy of reading multiple books and stories through different channels at different times has also expanded the amount of reading I get done in a month. The thing about trying to read one book when I wasn’t feeling it, is that I’d read the same sentence at least five times over and still not process what was happening.

Letting myself give in to the new millennial attention span and spreading my reading around through e-books, audio books, and physical books has increased my ability to multitask and enjoy a story even more than I already could.

For the first time in a long time, I look forward to taking a look at my TBR list and not feeling a dreadful pit in my stomach, making me feel guilty for adding, adding, adding and never making a dent. I’ve finally started to get some of those books off my list.

Should I even dare to dream that one day I can make it through the whole list? Alright, that’s probably farfetched, but a reader can dream.

What are your favorite ways to consume books? Let me know in the comments!

A Strangely Isolated Place — stripSearchLA

In Mexico, it is an honor to be the firstborn male of the family. It is an even greater honor to bear your father’s name. It is also a good way of killing two birds with one stone: honoring an ancestor and naming your kid. This ancient practice keeps cacophonous names in rotation for longer […]

via A Strangely Isolated Place — stripSearchLA

For those lost to the cliffs

The following is a poem I wrote about an experience I had during my travels to Ireland. I’d shared a glimpse on my Instagram, but a fellow traveler whom I’d met on the trip requested to see the full poem, so here it is. Enjoy!

“For those lost to the cliffs.”

Is what the sign at the bottom of the trail read.
Yes, many a tourist stood too close to the edge
and with a gust of wind was blown over the tall
green and muddy rocks to the unforgiving waves.
Knowing this, and even in the chill gray rainy day
I set my boots to the slick brown mud, squelching
beneath my feet as every step created suction between
myself and the earth.

Up and up we trekked, staying safe behind the stone
barricade and sticking to the trail until it stopped and
opened up. We’d made it to the top…
Of the first cliff, at least, and that’s where my asthma
let me go. We walked no further, being on a time crunch
but, oh, what. A. Sight.

I ventured toward a sloped edge, my boots sliding, precarious
but I needed to see. Cold, frothy waves beat against the jagged
rocks, blue-grey over brown curtained with mossy green. My lungs
ached deliciously and the wind numbed my cheeks as I stared
down the long drop and spread my arms in praise. I breathed
in the clear air for the few short minutes we had and closed
my eyes, like praying.

The journey back down was slick, but I made it.
I made it back, but, oh, I was lost to the cliffs.

Ron Swanson Listens to Flo

This was a silly poem I wrote for our Floetry writing challenge last year, but I liked how it turned out. Enjoy!

Ron Swanson Listens to Flo

I’ve never been a man into the hippie dippy subculture of America.
I think they’re lunatics, soft and turning children into inept adults,
but what the heck, my stepdaughter asked me to listen to this
Florence and some machine she’s a part of? I don’t know.

This Florence woman, her music may not by my tastes,
but damn, can she sing. Not my usual fare, but I can
appreciate and recognize a true artist dedicated to her craft.
If my little girl is going to listen to any singer, I’d rather it be “Flo”
as she calls her, rather than those pretty boy bands who sing some
nonsense about not knowing she’s beautiful makes a girl beautiful?
Please. I’d set my good friend Leslie on them in a heartbeat if I got the chance.

Ah, now this song, this is some good subject matter.
Miss Flo, you minx, trying to butter me up with a good piece of poetry
about a wood carver. I respect that.

Yes, yes this is true. Building not just for work and not just for play.
Wow, she really gets it. I must say I’m impressed.
Coffins are a bit macabre for my taste, but I suppose someone has to build them.
Death is an inevitability; no use in denying its existence.
I dare say, I could sit and carve one of my own chairs
listening to this song all day.
Miss Flo, you’re alright.

Meagan Reads Poetry: Card of Fate by Duke of Quails

Card of Fate: Poems of Gambling Addiction by Duke of Quails (Image from Goodreads)

I was asked by a Goodreads author to review their book of poetry honestly, so here are my thoughts on Card of Fate by Duke of Quails.

This collection of poetry deals with the subject of gambling addiction, mostly from the perspective of the addict. Each poem reiterates the vicious cycle of one more hit, one more time, just one more try, portraying how easy it is to fall into a self-destructive pattern.

That being said, I did want more poems from other perspectives, like the piece called “What Me and Dad Did On Spring Break.” This poem is told from the perspective of a son who is watching his dad make bad decisions, but due to his innocence, he doesn’t recognize what his father was doing as wrong. I think the collection could have had a stronger impact with more poems of this variety, showing how addiction affects those around the addict as well as the addicts themselves.

However, it can be argued that the point of such repetition in the poems conveys the nature of addiction, in that it’s a person making the same choices over and over again, never recognizing the consequences of his or her actions.

Duke includes a heavy use of punctuation throughout the poems, and that sometimes works well, as it creates a manic feeling emanating from the lines, like someone breathing fast and talking to themselves desperately, such as in the opening poem “Gambling Temptation.” In some cases though, like in “Innocent Ticket,” the use of so many commas, periods and semi-colons is overwhelming and becomes a distraction.

The concept of innocence is threaded throughout the collection, with the use of the word often attributed by the speaker of each poem giving themselves excuses or reasons for the gambling addiction. I think it’s interesting especially in the poem about the father and son, how a little boy can be innocent to what his father is doing, but that same man can also see himself as an innocent victim fallen prey to the predator that is addiction. Many of the speakers see themselves this way, arguing with the reader that if only the slot machines didn’t entice them, if only the cards had been dealt differently, if only, if only, if only. The consistent diction choice with this idea establishes a strong voice throughout the poems.

Duke’s poems don’t rely heavily on imagery and flowery language as one would expect with poetry, but that’s not necessarily negative. While there are occasional lines like, “My little mouse I used to call him,/Now a scared rat before my eyes he’s grown to be,” (“How Did We End Up Hiding?”) to portray the corruption of innocence, the poems mostly use plain, simple language more in the form of conversation. This choice makes it clear that a constant inner monologue is going on in the addicts’ heads as they struggle to break free from the dangerous cycle.

I’m going to wrap up with this final observation. The collection utilizes rhyme schemes through every piece, some of which are successful, and some of which fall flat. In “Mommy Can I Have a Dollar?” the rhyming feels forced and detracts from the poem as a whole. However, in “A Gamble’s Story,” Duke employs slant rhyme beautifully with the lines, “It’s a graduation,/A sure step up from an inauguration./Scratch-Offs no longer valid;/Lottery ticket can’t kick the habit,/But the place itself, the casino’s buzz./The smell of the table is a sick drug.” The mix of short, punchy lines and rhyme scheme here creates a feeling of anxiety and urgency that comes with addiction.

Overall, a fair collection of poems that may resonate strongly with those who have undergone addiction themselves or for readers looking to broaden their minds.

How Opposite Reading Preferences Can Attract

Image by pasja1000 from Pixabay

I recently started thinking about the books my parents gravitate towards and found it interesting how such opposite concepts can manage to come together.

My mom is an avid romance reader, which means she looks for that HEA (Happily Ever After). My dad is fascinated by stories of war, the tragedy that comes with a life of strife. Romance and war don’t belong together. And yet…

Don’t all the best war stories include tales of love? A soldier leaving behind the girl he loves, promising to come back, even though he knows that’s not a promise he should make. Two best friends on the front lines together, for better or for worse, taking on the fire for one another. A father leaving his children in the care of the mother or trusted relative, never knowing if he’ll see them again, but assuring them it will all be alright in the end. How can such a seemingly hateful event be filled with stories of love and romance?

What is it that makes that HEA worthwhile in a romance novel? Is it the rosy good times of significant others spending hours walking hand in hand and making lovely, laughing memories together? No, it’s the strife. It’s the fight. It’s the war that comes with battling to hold onto something that makes the darkness tolerable.

Sometimes love and romance can be hell. I’m not talking about toxic, unhealthy relationships where all the two people ever do is hurt each other and call it love. I’m talking about the genuine mistakes made in the process of learning to share yourself with another person, and that can hurt and feel like a fight, but it’s not futile.

So, romance and war. My mom and dad. Two types that are so different and yet somehow work together to create a story that’s full of multiple HEA’s after multiple battles to learn how to get to the end of the book together.