Category Archives: Book Reviews

Tree Stump o’ Deep Thought You’re Not Usually Capable Of, by Stephan Pastis via Poetry Mistress Alison McGhee

Tree Stump o’ Deep Thought You’re Not Usually Capable Of, by Stephan Pastis

No one knows what we’re doing here.
Some have faith that they do, but no one knows.

So we are scared.
We are alone.
We end.
And we don’t know where we go.

So we cling to money for comfort.
And we chase awards for immortality.
And we hide in the routine of our days.

But then the night.
Always the night.

Which, when it has you alone, whispers that
maybe none of this has any significance.

So love everyone you’re with.
Because comforting each other
on this journey we neither asked for
nor understand
is the best we can do.

And laugh as much as you can.

 

Thank you Alison for these beautiful poems.
​For more information on Stephan Pastis, please click here.​
Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Poem of the Week, Uncategorized

Poem of the Week: homage to my hips, by Lucille Clifton via Poetry Mistress Alison McGhee

homage to my hips, by Lucille Clifton
these hips are big hips.
they need space to
move around in.
they don’t fit into little
petty places. these hips
are free hips.
they don’t like to be held back.
these hips have never been enslaved,
they go where they want to go
they do what they want to do.
these hips are mighty hips.
these hips are magic hips.
i have known them
to put a spell on a man and
spin him like a top
For more information about Lucille Clifton, please click here.
 Thanks to Alison McGhee for curating these beautiful poems.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Poem of the Week, Uncategorized

Poem of the Week: Injustice by Piyassili via Poetry Mistress Alison McGhee

Injustice, by Piyassili, Assyria, 1218 BC

The people who are made to feel ashamed every day
are not the people who should feel ashamed.
The people who should feel ashamed
are the people unable to feel ashamed
yet heap shame by the bundle every day
on the troubled, the poor and despised.

For more information on Piyassili, please click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Poem of the Week, Uncategorized

Poem of the Week: Goldenrod, by Maggie Smith via Poetry Mistress Alison McGhee

Goldenrod, by Maggie Smith
I’m no botanist. If you’re the color of sulfur
and growing at the roadside, you’re goldenrod.

You don’t care what I call you, whatever
you were born as. You don’t know your own name.

But driving near Peoria, the sky pink-orange,
the sun bobbing at the horizon, I see everything

is what it is, exactly, in spite of the words I use:
black cows, barns falling in on themselves, you.

Dear flowers born with a highway view,
forgive me if I’ve mistaken you. Goldenrod,

whatever your name is, you are with your own kind.
Look—the meadow is a mirror, full of you,

your reflection repeating. Whatever you are,
I see you, wild yellow, and I would let you name me.

 

Thanks to Alison for finding and sharing these beautiful poems.

​For more information on Maggie Smith, please click here​.

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Poem of the Week, Uncategorized

Poem of the Week from “Work” by Mary Oliver via Poetry Mistress Alison McGhee

from “Work”
     – Mary Oliver

All day I have been pining for the past.
That’s when the big dog, Luke, breathed at my side.
Then she dashed away then she returned
in and out of the swales, in and out of the creeks,
her dark eyes snapping.
Then she broke, slowly,
in the rising arc of a fever.

And now she’s nothing
except for mornings when I take a handful of words
and throw them into the air
so that she dashes up again out of the darkness,

like this–

this is the world.

 

Thank you Alison, for curating and sharing these lovely poems.
For more information on Mary Oliver, please click here.​
Website
Blog
Facebook page
@alisonmcghee

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews, Poem of the Week, Uncategorized

The Nazi Officer’s Wife: How One Jewish Woman Survived the Holocaust

The story of Edith Hahn Beer proves that life is harder and weirder than anything anyone of us could make up.  Edith, is an Austrian Jew, whose family lives through the “Nazification” of Austria in the period immediately before and during the Second World War. As was the Nazi way, she and her family are stripped of their rights…typewriters and radios had to be handed in to the authorities, law degrees (or any professional designations) were no longer recognized, people were removed from their homes, their work, her mother, friends and neighbours were deported to work camps in the east. By the time people realized these measures weren’t just a passing fad it was too late to get out.

Forced to quit school, Hahn is sent to a farm labour camp in Germany where she works under backbreaking conditions. She finally manages to return home where she realizes she can’t stay without risk of deportation and she escapes back to Munich, Germany with a new identity – Grete Denner. There she meets a Nazi Officer whom she marries and with whom she has a child. Even though her husband realizes she is Jewish, she lives in constant danger of everyone around her. She is a refugee inside her own skin.

This is a story that most of us know quite well. It’s the story of how 6 million people were murdered and how an entire political structure supported their murder. Complicity was everywhere and this personal journey shows the impact of the laws of a madman and his followers (these people are everywhere) on the life of a single woman, a survivor of this horrific regime. Along the way she meets a few unexpectedly kind people, but cowardice, cruelty and prejudice are her companions every step of the way.

 

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews

The Story of the Lost Child – Elena Ferrante

It took me more than a year (possibly two) but I finished all four of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels. Normally I can’t do that but each one of these books is compelling on its own and it leaves you wondering…what ever happens to the complicated friendship between Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo. And off I would go to get the next book…until finally at last I finished it with the last book in the series The Story of the Lost Child which still leaves you wondering.

By way of background the novels are set in Naples, Italy and they span the lifetime of two young girls who grow up together in the rough and tumble Naples of the 50s. Both are bright young girls but only Elena is able to continue her education through university. The beautiful, street smart and equally intelligent Lila stops going to school by grade 5 and survives by building a business for herself.

The novel is about friendship of course, and all the difficulties and the beauty that come with it. But the sprawling novels are also about social change, politics, violence, domestic violence and how staying ahead, even of those we love, is an act of survival. The competitive nature of the friendship between Elena and Lila is also about poverty and what happens when you have to fight for every scrap of recognition in a world that is hard for everyone. And yet it is friendship that binds.

In the end the novel(s) don’t offer any answers… what happened to Lila, what happened to her daughter, what was she writing, why did she disappear? Here is a woman who devoted herself to fighting gangsters in her unruly neighbourhood, who devoted herself in the end to learning everything about Naples…understanding her city inside and out and then leaving.

These books are less linear narrative then they are impressionistic art…paint thrown on a canvas of love, hatred, political structures, friendship, family…and the result is an ode to Naples. Lila Cerullo represents beauty, intelligence, history, politics, rough and tumble love, and a deep sense of right and wrong in a hard world.

I loved these books. You’ start with one not be able to stop until you’ve finished all four!

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Book Reviews