I am writing this from Ashford, WA while sipping on coffee and admiring tall mountain peaks with low grey clouds. Already the armor built to withstand the city of industry is gone.
New submission forms have been added for The Edge and Whistling Shade. They are located within the Editor page at www.williamricci.com
In response to the latest Northography stimuli titled “The Ninth Wave”:
desperate moves within the churning sea
lost is the hull and deck
left with the mast and sails
we climb limb over limb.
tumultuous shades of green swallowed
by the black chaotic waters.
towering white capped waves
red tinged a reflection of the scarf I carry.
your face becomes clear amidst the thunder
and my soaked body becoming more limp
our last moments together on the dock
extending into the bay underneath the
full moon, the promise I made to carry
this with me and the ring I promised to bring back.
Currently reading and reviewing the latest collection of poems from Jack Gilbert.
Review of “Tao-Zen” Verses, by Hanakia Zedek
Whistling Shade Press, 2010
A Guide Through and With Chaos
How to describe Hankia Zedek, his philosophy, and review his first published book? The most appropriate way would be through anecdotes, and what Hanakia’s purpose is.
Tao-Zen Verses represents the intersection of these two schools of thought and how to turn an existence inside out, keep what works and is useful, and discard the useless objects and weight. From here you may define and craft the life you desire. The depths of self are searched for within every dark, dusty corner, pushing aside the cobwebs of the landscape and the mind.
He will show you many tools and examples of how to use them, however, the construction of your new existence (or the return to a previous self), and the decision to fully embrace this, is up to you. There is no right or wrong answer to any of the questions that someone poses. Based on the individual situation, the issues being faced and the desired direction, the tools are tailored and the true self hiding within emerges.
An important aspect of the book and the philosophy is – there is no path. To think about life this way, creates a self-imposed limitation as soon as it is mapped and released to the world. Instead, live chaotically and scattered. Adapt to the environment exposed as obstacles – some beyond your control, many created by yourself – and tackle and tunnel through them.
Presented in 127 poetical verses, Hanakia mixes alliteration, rhyme, and an internal rhythm designed so each stands on their own and is digestible. Each can be read and consumed, providing insight and a lesson. In my reading, the verses do not need to be followed in order, but allow a randomness to take effect, and new strings created, making the journey even more personal.
Too many words confuse the mind
Observe the world, with your eyes closed
If this way works for you, fine
If it does not
May it be that you find
These pages to be good kindling
When Strength is determined by Grace
War will no longer plague the human race
Even if someone is not seeking to rearrange their life and is content, these words still provide daily guidance and a checklist of sorts. They can be used to maintain what has been built and assist in getting back on track when needed.
What can seem like a complex philosophy and an out of reach spiritual awareness on the surface is in reality creating the reality you desire. This book provides an excellent resource for anyone, no matter the depths already explored or someone just reaching for answers and guidance.
Review of “Auto-Bio”, by Peter William Stein
Amber Skye Publishing, 2010
Peter’s first full-length collection of poems is ambitious with potential in its themes and delivery mechanism. Topics such as self, life, death, and God, all attempting to point to the same conclusion – the self is lost amidst the murky landscape – are explored while looking for direction or a heavenly sign, and an exit from this, and an entrance to what is next.
Throughout the collection, I could not help feel the poems are somewhat disjointed. There exists scattered beautiful imagery; however they are lost amidst a sea of adjectives placed with little substance, bringing little additional value to the poem. If some of the images were allowed room to breathe, and not become bookended with unneeded verbiage, they would provide a launching pad to more complete poems that get to the point.
The poem “Mystical Monument” begins by calling a child a “mystical monument”, however the stanzas that follow give no clue or guide as to this grandiose statement. The poem focuses on innocence of a child, versus the mothers potentially lost or skewed outlook, but nothing more. What makes the child mystical? I was not able to reach my own conclusion.
Notable poem: “Rest in Peace” with the opening lines of:
The peacefulness of sleep
She wears it
like a wedding dress
Peter experiments with form utilizing spacing, parentheses, words or combinations with multiple meanings in poems such as “Euclid’s Perfect Insight”, a unique and refreshing arrangement, and “Self-Portrayal”, where the extra spaces have become overused as a break or forced pause for the reader.
One of the books reviews mentioned the intense quest for answers that often prove elusive. I found myself puzzled, and burdened with too many questions, and too few answers, but do look forward to the next collection that may expand on the topics, hopefully from another light or angle, while retaining the inquisitive nature of a child.
In response to the latest Northography stimuli titled “Unlatched”:
Is the door unlatched and open or
unhinged outside the presented view?
What else do I not see?
A silhouette passed through the yellow light.
Glass doorknob cold to the touch so
I let go and I wait.
I knew moments ago what I was waiting for
but that has slipped away into the ether.
Replacing that thought are widening chasms I
had hoped would open the door, freeing me
from having to reach again.
It is silent here in the hallway and
I hear nothing from within or without.
Cold becoming colder. The key held in
my left hand burns.
I hear a ringing tone from far off
somewhat muted, distorted, submerged in water.
Do you remember our time in Pensacola Beach?
We danced upon the white sand
running through high tide we took our
chances with thousands of jelly fish
swimming late into the evening beneath hot
Oil rigs hummed in the distance,
always churning water, day and night
the constant bittersweet orb competing
with sunrise and sunset.
And I have not spoken with you since.
In retrospect that was our apex and
upon arriving home what we built
disintegrated in our bare hands.
I kept some of the dust, locked in a
box in the attic entrance above the closet.
I do not know why, perhaps waiting, hoping.
Many people write poetry, or at least have at some time in their life, for various reasons and purpose. Perhaps while journaling, a poem emerged from a thicket of weeds and grass. Or when a significant other attacked the heart and soul, the only solace to be found was buried deep within Neruda, Rilke, and your own words. These words probably flowed with little effort, the pen moving magically across the page. But, what exactly is poetry, and why should we care about the technical aspects of poem and form?
Poetry consists of two distinct parts; the poem as the message or purpose, and the vehicle or delivery mechanism known as the form.
A poem expresses images, moments, daily activities, landscapes, soundscapes, life, and death through an assemblage of words. A poem must read in such a way granting the audience an opportunity to grab hold of a word or image and experience it within.
The form is the vehicle and presentation system cradling words and gluing them together. Depending on the writer’s focus or intention the form can enhance, play an active role such as visual poetry, or simply structure words logically into stanzas. There are many examples of forms: ballad, sonnet, haiku, rhyming, which themselves have components parts such as stanzas, meter, etc. The form is chosen by the author, or by the poem itself.
There is a perception that the free-verse form is the default when other forms fail to deliver. Free-verse is still a well-structured form with its own rules and intricacies. It provides a playground of sorts to move words around the page and optionally inject punctuation, spaces, pauses, and dashes. It should be planned and treated the same respect as any other form.
When a piece begins to lend itself to a specific form, the form should be consistent, make sense, and followed throughout the entire piece. Of course, not all rhyming poems rhyme in every stanza, but where there is a difference it should have been planned and for a reason. Often, too much effort is put into a rhyming scheme that overshadows the stanzas and blocks the path a poem was heading down.
Form and structure can dictate line length, placement and choice of words, and how the message is presented. In the simplest state of mind, a poem is an experience, a life or moment changing experience. Therefore poetry is the art and understanding of how to balance these two forces pulling at each other. It is the equilibrium of concept and image with the structure used to convey abstract or concrete thoughts.
When the ink dries the two distinct parts of poetry will come together in a piece that is an extension of yourself, while allowing a reader to peer through the windows you have created.
Review of “Becoming”, by D. Garcia Wahl
Whistling Shade, 2010
Dylan is a unique voice in American literature and a shining example of what poetry is supposed to be. The images formed from his words and stanzas cross many boundaries and fight successfully to stand-alone atop the rocky shorelines.
What we have here are poems striking a fine balance between the intellectual and romanticism. Dylan plays with religious concepts and images without leading down any particular path or from any one sect. The longing of ages, a desire to return to a previous time when gods and goddesses walked among the poets and philosophers, each seeking love, and they shared in wine and food, provides a necessary backdrop and synopsis of the man behind these words.
• Baptism – Contains a beautiful lyrical flow to the lines and stanzas
• Beseech the Island, calmly – Part iii – Shows the poets place in balance between dream and words blending with the landscape:
“The poem fresh from a dream
where he was asked to explain himself
by the old woman whose mortal ashes
were scattered to these baritone waters.
The time arrives to let ink flow to paper.
The poet immortal,
Floating chained to the shoreline.”
• Plum Solace
• Philosopher Torn
• Jazz at the Dakotah – Distinct images of tactile objects and the physical representation, both on the page and in the readers mind, of music beats and the jazz players allowing you a peak behind the curtains of their world.
In life there is beauty and in life there is death. As such, in death there is beauty to be found. In these poems, both beauty and death are players in a game including the author. This love triangle scratches the surface of man’s role within nature. The landscape serves as the backdrop to the emotional play divided into ageless acts where love is the unscripted words between the audience and the actors.
We hear the overarching desire and we feel the author reaching outward and see the eyes looking at what he is able to grab and hold onto. I recommend grabbing hold of this book and letting the images grab hold of you until you can no longer resists opening your heart up just a bit.
The following is my book review of “Waiting” by Marya Hornbacher, posted on 06/09/11.
Written by someone who does not believe in God and has been through AA and the 12-steps, this book provides a working and grounded guide to spirituality. Reading this with an open mind, and not terribly concerned about the 12-steps themselves, I found Marya’s viewpoint interesting, mostly different than mine, but informative. I pulled a few helpful pieces of information related to a daily practice and how to approach each day and other people. Her approach in breaking down the steps to follow one calendar year is refreshing and provides a nice landscape as each chapter begins with more personal prose on her own journey around the country at various times.
Highly recommended for believers and nonbelievers, regardless if you are in or have been in AA.
After going through the notes I wrote during the first reading of this book, I realized that something was missing for me. Even though I try (key word) to live a spiritual life, something is off in the daily routine. And then I figured it out. I was not starting off each day in the right mindset. I awake, and immediately think about the stress, what is not done, what is broken, what is wrong. The day has no chance to bring any good to myself or others with these thoughts clogging my mind. From reading this book, I know intellectually and spiritually, what I need to do each morning, and my work I must complete, to carry this through the day, and prepare for the next one.