Saturday, October 22, 2016

This or That Book Tag

Mention the creator of the tag. 
Thank the person who tagged you. 
Tag other people and spread the love. 

Thanks to Serena from Savvy Verse & Wit, for tagging me in the This or That Book Tag, and to Ayunda from Tea & Paperbacks, the creator of this book tag.

1) Reading on the couch or reading in bed?
Both!  It depends on what time it is.  I also love to read in a La-Z-Boy chair, with my feet up.  That is pure luxury to me! 

2) Main character: Male or Female?
I've certainly enjoyed both over the years, but I think that now I  prefer a female main character, because I can relate to her more closely. 

3) Sweet or salty snacks while reading?
I don't usually snack while reading.  Only once in a while, I'll have a bowl of pretzels, or an apple, while I read.  But, I may have a cup of tea, or coffee (if it's early in the day) as I read.

4) Trilogies or quartets?
Not usually.  The last one I attempted was The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, and I only finished the first book.

5) First Person or Third Person POV?
I enjoy both.  But there is something about First Person POV which draws you in more closely, perhaps. 

6) Night or morning reader?
Once in a (very) blue moon, I read in the morning, in bed or on the couch, before my day begins. But usually, I read in the late afternoon, evening, or night. 

7) Libraries or bookstores?
Another tough choice!  I am a huge fan of Amazon, I adore traditional bookstores of all sizes, and I love our public library, which has a sweet little bookstore in it that sells discounted books and cards.  So, once again, my answer is both!

8) Books that make you laugh or books that make you cry?
Most of the books I read are touching, but also have humor in them.  I only read a handful of primarily "funny" books.  I gravitate toward more serious fare, for the most part. 

9) Black or white book covers?
Hmm . . .   do you mean the background?   I like interesting covers. They could be black, white, or black and white--or colorful! 

10) Character driven or plot driven stories?
Characters are more important to me, probably because I don't usually read action-packed stories.

What do you think?
The Book Bloggers  I tag are:

Bellezza from Dolce Bellezza

Gigi Ann from Ann's Reading Corner 

Harvee from Book Dilettante

Kathy from BermudaOnion's Weblog

Laura from Laura's Reviews

Naida from The Bookworm

Pat from Posting For Now

Sheila from Book Journey

Tracy from Pen and Paper

If you are not on this list but the idea appeals to you, please feel free to play along!  Thanks for reading!  Your comments are welcomed.   :)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

A Conversation with Arisa White

As I read You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, the new collection by poet Arisa White, published in 2016, I felt that I wasn't connecting deeply enough with this work.  Although I noticed and appreciated the bravery and beauty of these poems, many of which have titles from 'a List of terms for gay in different languages' on Wikipedia, I couldn't help but wonder: am I too old, too traditional, or even too straight to really “get” this work?  When I read poetry, I want to savor the beauty of the words and their arrangement, but I also seek to understand the meaning of the poems. This is essential to my enjoyment of poetry.  Fortunately, Arisa White agreed to answer my (somewhat eclectic) interview questions, presented here.  My hope was that a conversation with her would strengthen my understanding of and connection to her work. 

A Conversation with Arisa White

1) Welcome, Arisa, and thank you for being so gracious and patient with me!  As mentioned, I struggled a bit to find connection to your work.  Who do you think is the ideal reader of this collection of poems?

AW: I think someone who can live in the interstices.  Someone who understands and knows grief, a broken heart, who pines for things to be just, who is not afraid of her well, he who goes inward, they who write for the here and sensuous logic.  She who sees and resists the restraints put on the body,he who story tells and finds other ways, they who disobey hegemonic voices and choruses on and on 
and on . . . .

Spoken like a true poet, Arisa!   :)

2) Tell me something important about this collection that I may have missed.

AW: I don’t know what you’ve missed. Makes me think of the bus driving off as you run to it. And do you keep running because it is a bus you need to catch?  I wonder, what made you late?  What were the conditions that made arriving on time, now a missing for you? The funny thing is this collection is exploring that same thing--missing. The way it leaves a certain presence in the body. The absence shapes you. And as it does it’s shaping, you learn to exist with it. You learn a new understanding of your body and its emotional terrain as the relationship matures. In that maturation, things are nurtured--the imagination, for one, and the way you maneuver language, and quiet and silence too, so it better speaks to you, is another. So the language is full with you.  Each poem explores some form of missing and the transformation that occurs.

Arisa, at least I didn't miss the missing theme, mentioned above! Your poems eloquently express longing and loss and love.

3) What gift (or gifts) do you want to give your readers?

AW: Joy.  Nuanced emotional literacy.  Rigor.  Possibility.  Inspiration.  Contemplation.  Provocation.

I'd add Harmony to your list, Arisa.

4)  Do you hope to reveal, or conceal, in You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, which seems to be a love letter?   How autobiographical is this collection? 

AW: It does feel very much like a love letter. A love letter that has been written in private and public places in the body and within the culture at large. A love letter written at different points on the waves of love, at different moments when you encounter a “new” way of comprehending love. A love letter to how love leaves you open and changed. This collection is not autobiographical. It pulls from my personal sphere. Too much is taken from what is around me--gossip, media, family narratives, books, popular culture, music. The I in the collection is an outward I, an I in community, in intimate relationship to the ecologies that form its making. You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened is the house made from tensions of bodies in relationship to their own and other bodies. 

5) What, if anything, did you (or an editor) edit out of this book?

AW: There were six poems removed from the original manuscript. The work had a different tone, and at times reminded me of pieces that could have gone in my debut collection Hurrah’s Nest—those poems were more autobiographical. Some of the edited-out poems were an exercise in language, and after revising them, sometimes radically, they didn’t make sense to me.  I couldn’t place their sense within in the collection. With the removal of those poems, I was better able to see the overall creative enterprise of the work, and as result I then included the suite of poems “Effluvium”; “Effluvium” brings attention to AIDS and its impact on black women, but expands itself to address violence against women.


6) If you could set one of the poems in this book to music, and turn it into a song, which poem would it be, and why?   

AW: Not music, and that may be because there is already “music” present in the work—its prosody, assonance, slant rhyme, etc.  However, I do see “Lady in the House: Kitchen Speeches” as short film. That persona is so irreverent and radically self-possessed that to see her embodied would be great. The setting of the kitchen is very feminine, and so knowledge has been exchanged at kitchen tables, near the stove, washing dishes.  It is a powerful creative space, a space where women cook for revolutions, commune and congregate, take time for themselves, make themselves beautiful, prepare their medicines, concoct poison and bombs.

Arisa, it's interesting that you singled out this poem and mentioned that you can see it as a short film.  It's one of my favorites in your book.  I agree that the setting of the kitchen, sometimes c
alled the heart of the home, is both feminine and powerful (I like that coupling). To my surprise, I've grown to love my own kitchen over the years; it has become a creative and comfortable space for me. There are many profound lines in "Lady in the House: Kitchen Speeches", such as:

"I've been searching for one pure answer, one complete
thing to feed loss.  Something grown for your mouths,
a recipe my pots don't refuse."

7) How does the writing process affect you, emotionally and/or spiritually?  Why did you choose poetry over prose?

AW: Writing is an integrative act.  Different parts come together to make something, and from that making something becomes known.  Something is realized, and what that means for me is that I’ve freed myself.  In the ways we are socially constructed and therefore disempowered, I get my power back, bit by bit, trauma by trauma, generation by generation, and so I know myself more by being engaged in the creative act that socially created me.  I’m more present in my body, even when I’m told to be fearful because I’m black, woman, queer, etc.  I can write myself right as an inhabitant of this earth.  My “I” has broader (in)sight.  And poetry aligns more closely with how I see/perceive the world.

Arisa, your statement, "I can write myself right as an inhabitant of this earth", is excellent.  The act of writing, to a writer, is, of course, extremely valuable.  As far as poetry goes, you seem to be a natural poet. 

After thinking about your answers, I realized that I needed to read your poems with more freedom, meaning that although your content is meaningful, I shouldn't seek or expect a complete, literal understandingI was reminded (once again!) that my approach to reading poetry should be different than my approach to reading prose. This  conversation did help me to connect more closely with your work.  Thank you very much for this interview, Arisa! 
Thanks as well to Serena from Poetic Book Tours for arranging this tour and for providing a print copy of this book.  For more reviews and features, please visit the other stops on the tour for You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened.  I've linked this review to Serena's 2016 Poetry Challenge.

Thanks for reading!  As always, your comments are welcomed. 

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Dogs and Their People: Spotlight & Giveaway

They seem to be everywhere these days, out on walks and runs, at outdoor cafés, in some stores, on our blogs, and in our homes.  They have sweet names, and even sweeter faces.  Whether they are beautiful, ridiculously cute, or downright silly, dogs provide companionship and unconditional love to those who care for them.  Many of us cannot resist the charms of dogs, myself included.  I am crazy about dogs!  Madeline from Putnam contacted me this week about a new book that will be published on October 18, 2016, Dogs and Their People: Photos and Stories of Life with a Four-Legged Love by the humans at BarkPost.  Featuring many photos and stories, this book is a celebration of the extraordinary bond between people and their dogs.  I'm excited about the prospect of reading this book, and thrilled to offer a giveaway of this book to a lucky reader!

But first, before the giveaway, here are some photos from my fellow book bloggers.  Aren't these dogs darling?!


 Toby & Coco
Huey & Otis
A beautiful painted stone

Edee belongs to Pat from Posting For Now
Toby & Coco belong to Renee from Black 'n Gold Girl's Book Spot
Kaiyo belongs to Vicki from I'd Rather Be At The Beach
Otis and Huey belong to Naida from The Bookworm
Lila belongs to Trish from TLC Book Tours 
Daisy is my dog
Joey belonged to Gigi Ann, Ann's Reading Corner 
Humphrey belongs to Bellezza from Dolce Bellezza 
Beautiful painted stone by Emma from France Book Tours
Sonia belongs to Serena from Savvy Verse & Wit
Many thanks to these book bloggers, who shared their fabulous dog photos.


Dogs and Their People  Book Giveaway (U.S./Canada only):
  • To enter this giveaway, simply leave a comment.
  • For another chance at winning, become a follower of this blog, or let me know that you're already a follower.
  • For an additional chance, post about this giveaway on your blog, Facebook, Pinterest, or Twitter.
  • For another chance, mention something endearing about your dog.

Enter by 5 PM on Monday, November 7.  One winner will be selected randomly and contacted on  Tuesday, November 8.  Best of luck!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Saturday Snapshot: May Designs


Imagine the possibilities!  May Designs creates personalized notebooks, stationery, and more.  On Pat's blog, Posting for Now, I won a generous gift card from May Designs, and ordered this personalized notebook.  I love it!  Some of you may have already seen this photo on Instagram.   

Inside the notebook is a place for your name and contact information. 

In the future, I could see ordering a gratitude journal or a fitness log from May Designs.  What would you create?

Many thanks to West Metro Mommy for hosting Saturday Snapshot!

Some of the books featured here were given to me free of charge by authors, publishers, and agents. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.


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