On Other Banter by Rivky Gee: The Magic Inside a Poet and Her Conversations

Reviewed by Jared Benjamin.

What started out as a hybrid essay for a micro-pamphlet manuscript without a publisher, turned into a glimpse at a vibrant performer belting out her transition from  music to poetry. Rivky’s set of four poems kept me lost in the mix of topical humor and found imagery. Rivky purges the expressions of her own journey as a musician, and each and every poem is another pit stop for another world tour. Rivky’s experimental use of witty dialogue and happenstance collaborate beautifully throughout the work.

Other Banter is a quartet supporting such praise. It starts off with a memento to a catch 22 of a modern-day lost romance, relaying personal romantic issues with the bigger issues of humanity, such as social unrest. The piece is entitled, “Final Closing Number.” This spoken word piece, which begins with an intro quoting Maya Angelou (in the original recording). A particular callback to the theme of a love lost in a digital chasm can be found in this poem

 

“…By the fame, by the frame inside your talking cell.

In the flame, we’re all the same, such a shame inside a facebook shell.

Netflix welling up my mind,

paying by the dime

And time again, waiting by the lion’s den.

And ads are selling, one by one, no one’s yelling, I’m *mispeling, always texting, Waiting for the next thing.

Feeling painful pleasure building by the next ring.

November came in loudly.”

 

As we hear about a love lost, we not only see a glimpse into the falter of two flirts gone wrong in a digital age, but are lead in to a grand distraction from the issues plaguing our society today such as war.

The second poem in Rivky’s quartet is entitled, “I’m empty, my lord” a memoriam poem, paying tribute to the late great Leonard Cohen. In the first stanzas, Rivky reads,

 

“If you’re the composer, I’m told of your fame

If you are the singer, let me sing of your name

If thine is the poet

I’ll remember your name

They want it darker

You are the flame

Magnified sanctified, this melody shall remain

Vilified, crucified, in the human frame

A million candles burning for the legend speaking pain

 

They want it darker

For money, their money?

I’m empty, my Lord.

I hadn’t known your story

But the dream is still the same”

 

The lines throughout this poem speak of much more than what’s been accomplished, but the painful journey it took to achieve said accomplishments. Rivky balances the genre of elegy and ode fairly well throughout this piece.

The next poem deals with something a little more personal to the author, in which Rivky speaks about her struggle with schizophrenia, entitled “Rouging the Aces”

 

“I am sharply awake

From when twilight first faded,

Un-rested

This maddening heart.

 

Those thoughts, illuminated

Those words aching.

Definitively, cut off.

 

Oh my purple sevens,

Fragment heavens

Of color, greens and nines

Of latent blues and silver two

Written inside this gold, mine.

 

Fractioned, Falling one by one,

Even, tipping, edging,

Oddly numbing, resolving none.

 

Hued, shaping, slightly

Mooded.

Indeed, draped, muffled, sorted,

Muted.”

 

Through these stanzas and further into the poem, it almost feels like Rivky speaks of entirely different world, always on a tipping point through her eyes, one that is composed of fragments and always trying to rebuild itself up again.

The last poem, is brilliant in re-introducing humor and ending on that note rather than on a sadder one. Entitled, “C is for cellphone. Nom, nom, nom.” It is more of free-form prose than a typical poem. It’s actually pretty hard to categorize in terms of overall genre but in sub-genre terms I would say dark comedy. This dark humor story captures the imaginative and whimsical wit of Rivky’s own relationship with technology. A relationship, that I feel so many of us can relate to.

“Again. I mean, certainly I knew that, what I was seeing in front of me was really all but some kind of hallucinatory, audio-visual Telly box, Matrix. Purely just a psychedelic experience of fleeting, flashing lights. But, then, really not. You know? I force-blinked my eyes tightly shut for like a few micro-seconds to outright refuse the oncoming text traffic. I did! Really I did.

But after the omg’s, wtf’s, tmi’s, lol’s, brb’s, the sound of loud bloody red-flagged notifications and alerting dings, dongs and dangs, it just couldn’t be silenced.”

And further we see how that relationship with our technology can take a unfortunate turn:

 

“…As I sat there reflecting blue-nosed, with my chin brightened by this frame, I wondered.”

 

Was I indeed paying a high price? My Cookie Monster nostalgia has faded from my consciousness, replaced with an immediate consumption of something else. Cookies seem healthy in comparison.

“C is for cellphone. Nom, nom, nom.”

Whether it’s on the basis of dark comedy, existentialism, fading romances, or homages to the fallen, Rivky’s themes interconnect to show you her world, through her eyes, in a way to make you aware of your own.

***

(As there is no manuscript of the poems available for purchase, we have included them in their entirety below for your reading pleasure!)

***

Final Closing Number (Catch 22)

(Recently also transformed into musical composition of spoken word, with intro by Maya Angelou: https://soundcloud.com/rivkygee/catch-22-feb-25-2018-1)

 

I never fully fathom

What these little feathers tweet.

Another feed, another blow

Dragging loudly in the street.

Chirping things I do not know

Offering nothing simply nothing

-But something to excrete.

By the fame, by the frame inside your talking cell.

In the flame, we’re all the same, such a shame inside a facebook shell.

Netflix welling up my mind,

paying by the dime

And time again, waiting by the lion’s den.

And ads are selling, one by one, no one’s yelling, I’m *mispeling, always texting, Waiting for the next thing.

Feeling painful pleasure building by the next ring.

November came in loudly.

Facing me.

Mirroring me.

Oh, what is it what is it?

These days inside of nights and days of light and nights picking fights

In the state of an affair with both of them.

For the love of us, them, you, who, me too

Humanity is restless?

What are we in?

Why have we possessed such a nature?

For who?

For myself?

For you?

For the land we live in?

For the world we keep safely under our pillow?

Oh, but the feathers have all but blew

To the upward winds, with a sleight of wing

You can hear him sing,

He’s a catch, a 22

Ticking, timeless, Common Cuckoo.

Another Carob Spring turns over

A sweet honey be that as it come to May

I can already feel the warmth, sticky, oozing

From the hive.

Nesting in my ear.

Above the jive,

Resting in the clear.

How clear is my head, really?

How clear is anyone’s, really?

To stop. To question. To wonder.

Am I being good enough today?

Bold enough today?

bad today?

Flip a coin.

Take a side.

Any side.

Don’t worry, Don’t be fooled

They’re both right.

They’re both wrong, it’s trending.

You’re safe on my side

Protected, we’re pretending.

From who? I don’t know.

Them bad ones. No, no, no, no, no wait

Them good ones.

Ah, I don’t know,

Just safe from harm.

Stay close…

Change is a’ comin’.

One people at a time. One nation at a time.

One religion at a time.One tradition at a time.

One country at a time. One voyage at a time.

One evolution.

revolution.

One solution

No solution

One solution

No solution

One need at a time.

One NEED.

It always does.

In a day, a month, a year,

A decade, century, millennium,

A myth, dynasty, a kingdom,

An inquisition, coup d’état, revolt, coup d’état revolt, coup d’état,

Crusade, a bomb, a weapon,

war, march, movement. War, march, movement, war march, movement.

Humanity is restless.

What will it be?

That burns in our breath…

What will it be….

Humanity is restless…

Falling falling closing slumber.

He’s a catch. A 22

Final closing number…

 

 

***

 

I’m empty, my Lord

(In memory and inspired by Leonard Cohen’s Hineni)

 

If you’re the composer, I’m told of your fame

If you are the singer, let me sing of your name

If thine is the poet

I’ll remember your name

They want it darker

You are the flame

Magnified sanctified, this melody shall remain

Vilified, crucified, in the human frame

A million candles burning for the legend speaking pain

 

They want it darker

For money, their money?

I’m empty, my Lord.

I hadn’t known your story

But the dream is still the same

 

There’s a lullaby for suffering

I’m inside a different game.

Devil stitching letters

Threading scripture, bleeding stained

We want it darker

 

You were the flame

 

I left my voice a prisoner

 

Inhibited and tame

I struggled with some demons

 

Seeking something else to blame

 

I didn’t know I had permission to write and sing this way

We want it darker

For money, their money?

I’m empty, my Lord

Magnified, sanctified, this melody shall remain

Vilified, crucified, in the human frame

A million candles burning for the legend speaking pain

 

We want it darker

You were the flame

 

If you’re the composer, I’m told of your fame

If I am the singer, might I token the same

If thine is the story

We shall remedy the stain

We want it darker

 

For money, their money?

For money, their money

I’m empty, my Lord

For money, their money

For money

 

You’re dying, I’m born.

 

 

 ***

 

 

Rouging These Aces

(Compartmentalizing sparks of the Schizophrenic mind, inside synaesthesia)

 

Who are these visitors

That choose to call my name.

Colors, symbols – the trouble of a game

 

I am again uncertain

Brooding in bed,

Wearily wide-eyed.

I am sharply awake

From when twilight first faded,

Un-rested

This maddening heart.

 

Those thoughts, illuminated

Those words aching.

Definitively, cut off.

 

Oh my purple sevens,

Fragment heavens

Of color, greens and nines

Of latent blues and silver two

Written inside this gold, mine.

 

Fractioned, Falling one by one,

Even, tipping, edging,

Oddly numbing, resolving none.

 

Hued, shaping, slightly

Mooded.

Indeed, draped, muffled, sorted,

Muted.

 

Painfully firing across

Cliffs and valleys with such

Astonishing speed.

 

Like those shimmering

Bright stars that see.

Me.

 

What is it like, observing

The violent chaos?

Taking note.

Clearly, through

My little, opened window.

 

Fully moonlit, all aglow

Starkly naked, shivering.

Distant, alone.

 

Millions of tiny specks

Pearly flecks spiraling,

Clustered.

Silent.

 

Quiet from right here.

I understand them though,

To be not.

 

And they are, now.

Moving about,

Like these frenzied,

Flying bumblebees.

Clumsily appearing all

–Graceless.

 

Intermittently shooting, hurling

Bits, Shards,

From their Solarisphere.

 

Preparing for, perhaps a battle

Waiting to shield and

Safeguard their powerful,

Gushing light.

 

To deceptively hide from April’s

Blue dawn which will

Brazenly veil their

Silvery points.

 

A tinted, sheer orange, a shy violet cloud,

And an angry streak of

Radiant yellow, zooming

The ephemeral highway of sky.

 

But, quite enchanted as I was…

There was nothing. Significant?

No thing even remarkable,

in their customary exchange.

 

Nothing –noteworthy.

In their final epistle.

 

Come what May hem

Juniper letters, five blue petals

Your binary too then

Spiral the prickle and sharpen your nettles,

Doubled now two, decaying in ten.

 

Broadly, you prattle in your sequenced

Fibonacci stem.

 

Perilously, stacking up

Like a house of cards and dimes – Le contraire de solitaire.

Delicately magnificent, deceptive

Foundation,

On a Bluff.

 

Trampled down on

The suit, dressed in nines,

In which you were,

Dashingly decked out in…

 

 

Rouging these Aces.

Three of a kind,

Blackened, these spades, eleven

Dead blind.

 

But what caught my eye, this time around

Was that the King, just now was trumped,

Resigned.

 

And the Queen, bedazzled in her

Paragon of diamonds, was

soon stabbed

–Sadly, spaded.

By Jack, Be Nimble

-Without a bloody heart.

 

So, as it did happen

Dawn broke even

And the noontide meridian,

Was Crowned.

 

Be Still.

 

My purple sevens,

Fragment heavens

Of color, greens and nines

Of latent blues and silver two

Written inside this gold, mine.

 

 

Once again, dancing in their finery

Prancing in their giddy fashion.

Seductively jestering the joker boy

With a peevish grin, a swift blow,

And her poker-faced bow.

 

I have, for the time being, tranquilized the tempest.

 

***

 

C Is For Cellphone: Nom Nom Nom.

 

Before using a blue oil pastel to color in one of the Sesame Street muppets, I had been deeply immersed inside a blue screen.
On a speaking device often recognized for damaging, sometimes even, paralyzing thee…muscle movements located between the thumb and the index finger. Also, known I’m told as, the Digitus Secundus.

 

Thus it had begun in my hands. The biological elements moving inside the skeletal frame, froze. Phone cackled while bone crackled, fingers stiffened in ways not yet recognized by the normal course of nature as we knew it. With what also seemed to be a noticeable change in brain-wave activity soon to follow…

This Millennial  had become securely siamesed to a peculiar cellular proliferation. To this black buzzing, vibrating companion that repeatedly had been causing this rapid-fire rush of symptoms. Quickly. And in no particular order:

Feverish, dizzy, jittery, coked up, shaky, high, low, fer-flushed, fer-tempt, fried, trippy, panicky, sometimes nauseous, occasionally even affecting my hormone levels causing me to get my period way too early.

 

Now, I wanted to desperately loosen from its vibrating, bzzz, brrr, rrrring, BING!, hum-slipping, skedaddling, slick, stuckiddy, splitting headache. From that plastic, black and orange lined device that made me swipe, slide and press things to a crippling excess, ad nausea. My pupils dilated, in, out, in-out, in-OUT, bulged and ached from that disturbingly long scrolling-read that just, seriously? Eye-ball sucked me dry. Again. I mean, certainly I knew that, what I was seeing in front of me was really all but some kind of hallucinatory, audio-visual Telly box, Matrix. Purely just a psychedelic experience of fleeting, flashing lights. But, then, really not. You know? I force-blinked my eyes tightly shut for like a few micro-seconds to outright refuse the oncoming text traffic. I did! Really I did.

 

But after the omgs, wtfs, tmis, lols, brbs, the sound of loud bloody red-flagged notifications and alerting dings, dongs and dangs, it just couldn’t be silenced. I then remembered that just two hours earlier. No, three hours earlier, I could’ve sworn I needed to pee like really badly. How does the bladder suddenly know when to forget the desperate need to release such a high volume of pee, when there was even this mantra on a mission: “Oo gotta go, gotta go, gotta go, gotta go!!!!” And in that same perplexing P-pondering moment, I suddenly bolted to the nearest bathroom.

It was there, finding myself peacefully sitting on a toilet that my right, claw-clenched hand released itself simultaneously. I had begun miraculously moving again. I witnessed this almost poetic scene. It was a burgeoning, five-fingered, “Filipendula Ulmaria.” Just an elegant palm beauty as she was. Like yesterday’s unfurling of an early Spring. Relief washed over my wiggling pinky and thumb as I exhaled. Gently, my inner muscles eased. Pointed fingers up, in high-five style, stretching out, more now, opening my hand slowly, ah-eeh-oow-ow-Ow, easy, steady now, ouch-ouch, that’s it, sigh, breathe, ahhh. Better. Shake it, you know, like a Polaroid. MUCH. Better.

 

Mobile…it seemed.

 

Then I gradually became aware that there was my face. Unaware of the mouth on it? Moving. Between two peachy-reddish cheeks. That were human. And mine. I had realized at some points I had been sinking down…down, way too low, my mouth inching closely nibbling on the current Twitter feed. Even bird-like I imagined. I certainly may as well have been tweeting. My parched lips were almost but not quite clinging yet to the moistened electronic screen, hot headed, phony frame, encased in a sheer, pure, s-HELL.  At this point I had started to sharply imagine opening up my mouth really wide and taking in just this huge chunk. Out of the corner piece of my cellphone. Well, kind of like, Cookie Monster. Only perhaps consuming, an exorbitant amount of browsing history that could make ANY Sesame Street character, quite ill-equipped for all that unwanted, er, cookie, data.

 

Maybe I was just hungry? I hadn’t been nourishing myself well lately.

 

I bet this contraption was like one of those newer non-GMO’s on the market…phone-y screened for any genetic…cellular…mutations.

 

You ‘know, probably known to the underground Techno-Pharma Beatnik Squares, as

 

“Fluorescent Flora.”

With only the purest

batteries, copper, silver

and other naturally

occurring metal elements.

 

 

(Loudly advertised under, oh I don’t know, T-Mobile for Tasty).

 

“Organic…down to the last molecular…Cell.”

And the highest bid goes to?

 

As I sat there reflecting blue-nosed, with my chin brightened by this frame, I wondered.

 

Was I indeed paying a high price? My Cookie Monster nostalgia has faded from my consciousness, replaced with an immediate consumption of something else. Cookies seem healthy in comparison.

 

C is for cellphone. Nom, nom, nom.

 

***

 

“Sequined sunlight on waves” – Jared Benjamin’s review of Kristen Garth’s The Legend of Were Mer

Book Review: The Legend of Were Mer by Kristin Garth

Thirty West Publishing House, February 2019. 7 pages. $8.49

Reviewed by Jared Benjamin

Although it’s only five pages of poetry, and seven pages total in length, Kristin Garth’s The Legend of Were Mer reads like a full-length story. A recurring theme in much of Garth’s work, is reinventing the old canon, and bringing it into the 21st century. In this Micro Chap, the poetry tells the tale of a mermaid who is always in longing: longing for a different way of life, longing for a shore instead of a sea, longing for an island instead of a reef. Garth takes the idea of fairy-tale transformations and re-imagines it in a looming shadow rather than in a glowing light.

The storytelling in The Legend of Were Mer moves like the ocean it depicts, flowing from current to current, coast to coast, from bitter start to a bitter end. It starts with the sonnet “Maudlin Mermaid,” A darkly-whimsical intro about a mermaid, who resembles the contrast of nightfall, while the rest of her kind resemble the hue of a sunny day. Garth describes:

 

“Charcoal, her scales, sequined sunlight on waves.

A raven head on rocks she must pretend

to persecute the sailors that she craves.

 

Her sisters swim to join with rainbow tails

and tresses tinged in pink and honeydew

with smiles that spread the closer ships do sail.”

 

Too many times in folklore, mermaids have often been portrayed either as something evil or something immaturely innocent. This is especially why I love it when there are female writers out there, like Garth, who are never afraid to redefine such a world-renown archetype and mold this image into something more complex.

Throughout this piece other poems show the dark price the mermaid pays when she decides to journey elsewhere. Consumed by the elements of the vast unknown plane that is the sea. From a nightfall transformation gone wrong to a capture by coldhearted fishermen, Garth’s Mermaid is the Anti-Ariel in every way. Her fantasy isn’t a travelogue of romance and acceptance, its a path of torment and abuse. And as savage as that may sound, it’s part of the beauty that exists throughout this collection. For, what is beauty without honesty? This piece exhumes in seven pages what it can take many tales to do in over a hundred. And if that is not a collection worth telling one’s grandchildren then I must have forgotten what that entails.

“Like a phoenix from the pyre” – Amanda Wilcox’s review of Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

Amanda Wilcox’s book review of:

Crown of Feathers by Nicki Pau Preto

Pub: 2/12/19 by Simon Teen

496 pages

Crown of Feathers is the ideal fantasy novel that I’ve been searching for. An absolute roller coaster ride of a book with such intricate world building, this book completely enthralled me. Veronyka is a character that I can see myself following where ever she may go, but it is the inclusion of phoenixes in this fantasy epic that really grabbed my attention. Phoenixes are a mystical creature rarity in the world of fantasy novels and in Crown of Feathers they were described so vividly that I will always picture them the way that they were depicted in this book.

“From the ashes I rose, like a phoenix from the pyre.”

Crown of Feathers is a slow moving, character driven, intricate fantasy epic. Told in third person, the story mainly focuses on Veronyka who is a kind-hearted animage, a person who can communicate with animals. There is a bit of sibling rivalry with Val, who is a sharp contrast from her sister as she is brutal and selfish and shows love in harsh strange ways. Tristan is the love interest in the story and there are some chapters that focus on him. While I didn’t like him at first, he grew on me as the story went on. Interspersed throughout the story is the history of two sisters who had rivaled for the throne years prior. Veronyka and Val’s relationship seemed to mirror the princesses.  The lives of those two princesses also brought the whole fantasy world and its lengthy history to life.

“That was the day her loss became my victory, and everything changed between us.”

The world building is some of the most intricate that I have seen, except of course, the intricate world of Game of Thrones. There is so much history, religion and culture to this story. The world came to life in this story and it did so vividly filling my mind with blood, betrayal and glory. The beginning was a little confusing at times with all of the history, but the glossary in the back helped me understand things when I got a bit confused. I loved how detailed the world building was and how large of a role phoenixes had played in its history. This is one of those books that you might want to read a second time just because there is so much to it.

“It is a fact of life that one must kill of be killed. Rule of be ruled. Win or lose.”

The plot was an emotional roller coaster. I found myself deeply invested in this novel and all of the people in it. I wanted to yell at the characters at times, while other times I was hooting with excitement. While it was slow paced, I found that I loved it every step of the way. I think a large part of the reason I connected with this story so much is because Veronyka had bonds with animals and I am such an animal lover. But I also found myself so invested in the characters that I was rooting for them the whole way through.

“you have to choose your side, make the right choice.”

From the moment I saw the gorgeous cover of Crown of Feathers I wanted a copy and it was better than I anticipated, if that is even possible. The fantasy world is so intricate and the characters feel so real to me. I absolutely loved this book and can not wait for the next installment. I was shocked to find that this is Nicki Pau Preto’s debut novel and I can’t wait to follow her writing career after reading her first book.

***

Musings on Patti Smith’s M Train

Review by Chad W. Lutz

M Train

In War and Peace, a book I’ve never read, Leo Tolstoy is quoted as saying, “We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom.”

In a dream to open M Train, a cowboy tells Patti Smith, “It’s not so easy writing about nothing.” But both were lengthy volumes and both have sold millions of copies; are quoted and reread and studied and held tenderly; in bed, at the library, at the local café, or while riding the bus. The words in their pages have been lauded. Both about nothing. Both wiping the eternal slate clean.

Reading M Train was my first introduction to Patti Smith. Opening the book to find the first line a quote from a cowboy in a dream made me curious. I instantly assumed the rest of the book would turn out to be as much of a surreal dreamscape. I wasn’t disappointed, but I wasn’t affirmed either. And that’s the beauty of Patti Smith’s writing.

M Train is a piece of non-fiction that reads like a detective story. In the book, Patti Smith is the sleuth that’s hot on the trail of the world’s greatest mysteries and most timeless treasures. She goes to Japan to seek out a well she ends up forgetting about. She visits Greenland in search of chess legend Bobby Fischer, but doesn’t get to talk about chess. They sing Buddy Holly songs and then part ways forever. She searches for Roberto Balaño’s chair, to not sit in it, but to also sit in it, knowing it won’t give her any magical writing powers, but also that it might. The book talks about the love between her and her partner, Fred, that doesn’t last (cancer), a friend (Zak), whose business fails, a confederation of scientists that folds unexpectedly, and a ramshackle bungalow bought on a whim she endearingly dubs The Alamo after it survives the fury of the strongest storm to ever hit the Jersey Shore and nothing else does.

These images are pieced together in a kind of chronology; not one happening directly after the other, but close to it. The action picks up in 2007 and takes us through the beginning of 2013. We spend time with Patti on vacations, holidays, business trips, and emergency evacuations. We find her eating, and drinking a hell of a lot of black coffee. We find cafes that were meant to stay open forever closed, and we find passions and pursuits one never saw coming blossom right before our very eyes. This is the kind of divulging done in private to no one, for no reason, and yet we see them on the page, one after the other. There’s a kind of floating mysticism you can almost see steaming off each and every word; evaporated water. Air. Nothing.

But the way each chapter is told is rich and detailed. Lots of somethings. Very particular somethings. Whole grab bags of them. You know where, when, why, how, and to what extent Patti does everything in the book, but there’s always some pullback, some admission of insignificance to each journey.

On pg. 86, she writes, “Not all dreams need to be realized,” in reference to an idea she and her partner come up with at a café for a TV talk show. “We accomplished things that no one would ever know,” she says, two lines later. Ideas that never take real shape. Life unrealized, or maybe more realized than we could ever act them out. Either way, nothing into something, and vice versa.

Patti Smith also does this odd thing where she omits commas from lists. The first instance of this occurs on pg. 47, and the trend continues throughout the book. In some places, she uses commas to differentiate items in lists. In others, she doesn’t. I tracked her use of commas in lists and found the frequency completely arbitrary. In other words, a whole lot of nothing doing. Perhaps saying something about the idea of formality in text, showing the stuffy big wigs in academia a thing or two about phenomenology and the ability of the human brain to organize and still understand skewed data. Like writing h8. In no way adhering to the Owl at Purdue or the Chicago Style Guidelines, but you know what that word means and you know why I wrote it. And does it matter either way?

“I looked up at her, somewhat surprised. I had absolutely no idea.”

‘What are you writing?’ was the original question.

Reading this book, I don’t feel as though I learned a lot about any one subject, but a little about a lot of subjects. Specifics, like the experience of living. You take in what you come in contact with and glean only what you’re exposed to, what you’re perceptive of, what you care to remember. It makes me think about putting the pencil to paper or my fingers to the keys and trying to shape or form anything. There might be something you’re trying to get at, but like many, many things in life, there’s no guarantee that when you get there you’ll know, or that such a place, thing, or idea even exists.

It’s like the well in Murakami’s “The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle,” Patti Smith brings up repeatedly. It’s a well that lies beneath a house that exists inside of a fictitious world created by the author. She feels compelled to seek the house out, anyways, but never gets around to it. Like laundry, only if your laundry was never laundry but a fleeting dream.

Maybe fiction is like that? Maybe non-fiction is like that; all words? Maybe they’re just hinting at something, and piecing things together still gives us this unclear, bastard version of whatever we’re trying to express, no matter how glistening the images or playful the prose. Maybe writing is more of a pick it up, put it down ritual, a habit we sometimes think we have more or less of depending on where we’re sitting, who we’re with, or the way the light trickles in through the living room window in the fall when the clouds finally part.

***

Chad W. Lutz was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1986, and raised in the neighboring suburb of Stow. Alumna of Kent State University’s English program, Chad earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Mills College and currently serves as an associate editor for Pretty Owl Poetry. Their writing has been featured in KYSO Flash, Foliate Oak Literary Magazine, Gold Man Review, and Haunted Waters Press, was awarded the 2017 prize in literary fiction by Bacopa Review, and was a nominee for the 2017 Pushcart in poetry.

Tiana’s Book Spotlight for the Thirteenth

by Tiana Coven

shout

Review: 5/5

“untreated pain/ is a cancer of the soul/ that can kill you”

Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson (TW- sexual assault)

This book is the memoir told in verse of the author of Speak– an amazing novel that has been so important in educating teens about sexual assault. In her memoir, Laurie speaks about her own experience as a survivor, how she coped/ refused to cope, her father’s physical and emotional abuse, what she has learned as an advocate for sexual assault prevention, and so much more about her incredible life. Laurie has been such an active voice in the fight against sexual violence and is obviously such an inspiration in many different fields. I first read Speak when I was in eighth grade and I have never forgotten the story of Melinda. That book has done so much for so many survivors worldwide and I definitely foresee this memoir achieving the same! Any poetry lover should pick this one up.


Hunger

Review 5/5

“No one wants to be infected by obesity, largely because people know how they see and treat and think about fat people and don’t want such a fate to befall them.”

Hunger by Roxane Gay (TW sexual assault, fatphobia)

This is the first memoir I’ve read as an adult and it was so insightful. I actually listened to the audiobook for this one and hearing Roxane’s words about her experience with sexual assault, weight gain, family and societal pressure to lose weight, and her thoughts on how society equates being thin with being healthy were so important for me to hear. It’s easy to fall in line with society and abide by the fatphobia that runs rampant within it. As someone who is not overweight, it’s easy for me to forget how systematic fatphobia is. In the memoir, Roxane dedicates a whole chapter on weight loss commercials and what they tell the viewer. The intelligent way she picked apart the subject truly resonated with me and I would recommend every person who isn’t overweight give this book a read.


The Commitment

Review: 5/5

“The Bible is only as good and decent as the person reading it.”

The Commitment by Dan Savage

I listened to this book on audio and I loved it so much. The Commitment is a non-fiction book about Dan’s life, though it’s not quite a memoir as it’s not necessarily about his entire life, or memorializing it. In the book, he speaks about his family- his husband and son mostly and their experiences as a family unit. He talks in depth about raising his son, gender roles, marriage, and true to much of his writing- sex. He really explores what it means to be married and how exploring his relationship with an open mind and a willingness to change has strengthened his relationship with his husband and enhanced their intimacy. I really loved this book and definitely subscribed to Dan Savage’s podcast, Savage Lovecast, right after finishing it because I wanted more of Dan’s thoughts! I will definitely listen to his other books as soon as I can!