Night Thoughts

night thoughts: 70 dream poems & notes from an analysis by [Arvio, Sarah]This week’s other featured books, “Night Court,” by Erica Goss and “The Big Happiness,” by Sam Gridley, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

——————————–

THE BOOK: night thoughts:  70 dream poems & notes from an analysis

PUBLISHED IN: 2013.

THE AUTHOR:  Sarah Arvio.

THE EDITOR:  Deborah Garrison.

THE PUBLISHER:  Alfred A. Knopf.

SUMMARY: night thoughts is an account of my psychoanalysis—a hybrid of poems, essay and memoir.   It begins with a sequence of 70 dream poems—irregular sonnets—that tell the dreams and explore the thoughts and memories that arose from them.  The narrative that follows discusses the images in the dreams and tells the resolution of the analysis.

Image result for Sarah Arvio + author + photosTHE BACK STORY: I wrote many many pages of free-association dream thoughts during my analysis, but only for the purpose of delving deeper into my own life.  I had learned that there were few first-person accounts of psychoanalysis. And the cognitive therapies were taking over; there were fewer and fewer psychoanalysts in practice.

The cognitive psychologists are much less interested in exploring the mind and memories, and they profess the idea that willpower can alter the direction of your life.  I knew from my own life that no amount of willpower could alter my suffering.  It occurred to me that I had to write my story; I wanted to show what psychoanalysis could do.

Mine had been so powerful, so life-saving and life-altering.   And my notes were there to reread and consider. I first tried a prose book.  I couldn’t get the dream life to come to life, and I gave up.   A year later, I sat down and began to write out the dreams as poems.

I did this almost without forethought.  The first of these poems was 14 lines; I could see that the brevity and orderliness of a sonnet was perfect for the description or expression of a dream.  I made a list of the germinal dreams and carried on.  I wrote the first 40 sonnets in about three months;  the rest came to me before the year was out. “Notes” was an afterthought, and an extraordinary rush of memory and feeling.

By then, I knew the everything there was to tell, and I swept through it in two months. Some readers have objected to the presence of these prose writings:  they want the poems to stand alone.

But I’m not sure they would feel that way if the poems in fact stood alone. In Notes, I describe the ways in which the images in the dreams lead to the memories that hold the secrets of what happened to me. The title “Notes” is a misnomer: the notes gather into a narrative. I boldly added an index that cross-references the images that appear in the poems and in “Notes.”  I wanted readers to be able to read the book both forward and backward. Deb Garrison helped me weed out unnecessary sonnets, and later also helped me hone “Notes.” It’s hard to know what the book would have been or become without her insightful editing.

WHY THIS TITLE?: I chose my title night thoughts from my poem called “crying.”

they are crying over their broken thoughts

crying over the night thoughts & the day thoughts

those are the ones they are crying over”

Googling my proposed title, I found Edward Young’s book Night-Thoughts, from the Romantic period, with its stately caps and hyphen:

I tremble at myself, / And in myself am lost!/ …. I wake, emerging from a sea of dreams/ Tumultuous; where my wreck’d desponding thought/ from wave to wave of fancied misery/ at random drove her helm of reason lost”

Young is pre-Freud and does not reveal the events and experiences that tossed him on this despondent sea. By “fancied” he means created by the imagination and the dreams — by fantasy.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Some people may want to read night thoughts for the imagery of the dreams, and for the exploration of dream meanings and dream thoughts.  Some may read it for the poems themselves, and then find themselves drawn into the narrative.

Some may read it for what it will teach them about the relationship between traumatic life experience and dream thinking. An analyst I know told me that my book offered new understanding about the role of language in dreams. Others might be interested in how the mind of a young woman responds to a sexual trauma, and how that trauma in turn affects her in later life. Young women have been moved by new insight into their own intimate lives.

I sense that if I had written a book that was all prose, I would have had more readers: poems tend to challenge the minds of people not used to reading them.   Dreams, though, have many qualities that are like poems:  they are fluid, they allow surrealist leaps and connections, they are full of images, and they are imbued with story and feeling.

RESPONSES:

A friend warned me that critics would not like this book, and in fact they mostly ignored it.*  But many wonderful poets and writers responded with enthusiasm:

Beautiful and courageous… I find myself gripped by the book’s many piercing and recurring images, and deeply moved by the commentary… a marvelous achievement!” —Tracy K. Smith

I read it obsessively all one night, it’s like a thriller.  It made me believe in psychoanalysis all over again.  I love the form–not [seen] since La Vita Nuova and two books by Berryman, one prose and one poetry.   I felt the delicacy and sweet seductiveness of that little girl… the writing is so precise, almost scientific.” —Edmund White

What a brave & strange & compelling book it is.” —L.S. Asekoff

Who does not love the nighttime mind with its full disclosure, lack of censor— metaphor, innuendo, enchantment, intensity?  This is a book of mutual discovery for the poet and reader… influential because it is one of a kind…one so unique with such an alternate view of poetry is almost a game changer in the field.” — Grace Cavalieri

I marvel at the courage of that journey into the unconscious, and at the imagery found there, strange and intriguing, at once mysterious and clarifying…” —Grace Schulman

A brave and original look at the terror, and wonder, of dreams.” — Philip Schultz

She has transformed the process of a patient in psychoanalysis into  a detective in search of the facts of a crime—a philosophical mind on a quest, a poet’s mind investigating a haunting, a memoir of a soul written by her dreams.” —Honor Moore

Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-307-95955-3.

AUTHOR PROFILE: I grew up in New York State, not far from Nyack, in apple country. There’s a lot about my young life in “night thoughts,” and at the same time very little.

I read constantly, I climbed trees.  I barely went to high school—by then I was living in a state of rarefied boredom and distress.  But later I had the great luck to attend the School of the Arts at Columbia, where I studied poetry and literary translation.  I’m a natural linguist, and this has played a role in the way that I think and write.  I love the sound of words moving in a rhythmic pattern across the space of my life; I like the sound of my voice inside my mind.

I often tell my thoughts to myself, and rehearse what I might say if I had the courage to say it.I’m not sure if I have a muse or a gang of muses; they tend to be around when I need them (and the voice is not always the same).  They weren’t always there; they came to me fitfully and rarely in the years before my analysis.  The dreamwork—the writing out of the dream associations—opened up the passageways of my mind.

This seems to have attracted the muses.

ANOTHER COMMENT: 

Analyst and author Nathan Kravis compared night thoughts with Dora:

This is a book that affirms the mutative power of psychoanalysis. Arvio does for psychoanalytic dream interpretation what Freud set out to do in writing Dora, except she does so not from the perspective of the virtuoso analyst, but from the perspective of the artist-analysand who finds in analysis the vehicle and venue for self-transformation and healing through deep exploration of her unconscious mind and unflinching examination of her own dreams. She renders this work courageously and poetically, creating a psychoanalytic tour-de-force that complements and parallels Freud’s.

At a time when psychoanalysis faces widespread skepticism about its validity and efficacy, Arvio’s beautiful and absorbing work reaffirms its healing power while simultaneously enhancing our understanding of the psychology of traumatic memories and the artistic expression of traumatic experience.”

SAMPLE

Two poems from night thoughts and an excerpt from “Notes”

 

 leopard

the leopard girl lands & she takes a turn

in the leafy woods she leaps & she lands

she is a leaper as I also am

look at her redbreasts as she takes the turn

those are my breasts I say to my mother

or as though to my mother who is dead

shiny red satin she wears on her breasts

under the spotted cape that flings out wide

who is the redhaired redbreasted leaper

all burning up in her greengirl joy

a leaper of a girl that’s what she is

coy bravura the joy of her breasts

look how she glitters in her coyjoy

how brave she is in her red satin breasts.

red satin

I’m in a red satin dress with red lace

there are two men I don’t know which is mine

the penis of one man sticks straight up

through the flaps of his hangingout shirt

I don’t know which man is the other man

there’s a black rotary phone & a wad

of black opium I buy a dollar’s worth

the poppyblack looks nice with red satin

I smoke & smoke in my red satin

It’s a red dress I sat in as I smoked

the other man I don’t know what he does

I keep the black wad resting on my lap

the opium on my red satin lap

like the poppy with its opiate heart

 

leopard

leopard”: When the leopard girl flew through the woods in her red satin bodice and spotted cape, I was awed by her glorious stage-girl beauty and panache. She was auburn-haired, so she wasn’t me. But there were the breasts, just like mine, and my envy of her bravery and joy.

She’s another cat, isn’t she—a wild cat.

Sex seemed scandalous, necessarily secretive. In “red satin,” a sort of opium dream, there are two men, and I don’t know which is mine. This dream is one of countless dreams in which I’m with more than one man. Often, there are two men. My relation to them is uncertain. Often, I love one, but kiss the other, and therefore lose the one I love.

My dream imagery is sometimes dull and colorless, and sometimes extraordinarily beautiful in an abstracted way. Both “leopard” and “red satin” were intense, powerfully colored—much like the colors of a poppy.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Penguin Random House, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc.

PRICE: Paperback, $18.00. But buy the remaindered hardcover.. the book won First Prize in the New York Book Fair, 2013!  I designed the layout of the poem page, with the title at the top and the sonnet below, all lower case.

The cover by Elena Giavaldi shows a floating, many-colored ribbon (evoking the colors that formed patterns in the dreams) on a deep nightblack background.

For end papers, we used my journal pages, in negative—white font on black background, to match the cover.

Confusingly and wonderfully, Giavaldi posted other covers she made for the same book; google-searching “night thoughts book covers,” you’ll see three of these alternates.  My favorites: mysterious swatches of cloth—hats, scarves— on a cream background; and sky-blue, red and black scribbles on a cream background.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: #saraharvio arvio@icloud.com

http://www.saraharvio.com

http://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/218124/night-thoughts-by-sarah-arvio/

Night Court

THE BOOK: Night Court.

PUBLISHED IN: 2017.

THE AUTHOR:  Erica Goss.

THE EDITOR
: Steven M. Asmussen for Design & Layout.

THE PUBLISHER
: Glass Lyre Press.

SUMMARY: Night Court is a collection of poems revolving around themes of mortality, the environment, and my lifelong struggle with insomnia.

Erica GossTHE BACK STORY: The book took about five years to write and publish. It’s my first full-length collection of poems – poets will put out a book every few years (some more often), containing their most recent work. I wrote and re-wrote the book many times during the years before publication; with every rejection, I made changes.

WHY THIS TITLE?:  The book takes its title from the poem of the same name, where I imagine myself on the “witness stand,” defending my tragedies from some ghostly court. It’s about those awful lonely hours when I can’t sleep, time drags on until morning, and I have to function.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
My dream is for Night Court to live quietly in someone’s glove compartment, purse, or on a nightstand, waiting for the reader to open at random and find some comfort or insight within its pages. Like most poetry books, it can be read sequentially or in any order the reader wants. I like the idea of readers finding their own order through the book. I’ve read the poems in this book in front of many different audiences, and I believe that it has something to offer all people.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“I have been loving these poems by Erica Goss for some time now, and marvel anew, each time I read Night Court, at the pure, clear voice of the poet.” – Kathleen Kirk, Escape Into Life, April 2019

“Erica Goss’s Lyrebird Prize-winning new collection, Night Court, begins by pulling readers into a world of eerie sounds in the dark of night. It positions us on the edge of what the book’s final poem calls the “floating world” between real and surreal.” – David E. Poston, The Pedestal, Issue 81 (2017)

“Erica’s writings are simple yet with the power to reach out to people’s hearts. Written in free verse these poems had the power to captivate every reader and inspire them to dabble in poetry. I could not pick favourites because each one was beautiful.” – Lakshmi Iyer, Readings Writings, August 2017

“Erica Goss raps her poem-gavel. I pause and turn a page; another case, another voice. Nothing goes unnoticed or dismissed. Goss tries on robes, viewpoints; she tries out voices, celebrating the sweeping powers of legend and myth.” –Al Young, back cover blurb/

AUTHOR PROFILE: Here’s a video about my poetic practice: https://vimeo.com/153008185

A link to the Books page at my website:  https://ericagoss.com/writing/books/

Erica Goss served as Poet Laureate of Los Gatos, California from 2013-2016. Her latest poetry collection, Night Court, won the 2016 Lyrebird Prize from Glass Lyre Press. She is the author of Wild Place (2012, Finishing Line Press) and Vibrant Words: Ideas and Inspirations for Poets (2014, Pushpen Press).

As Poet Laureate for Los Gatos, she organized the first St. Patrick’s Day Poetry Walk, created Poems-in-the-Window (local businesses displayed poems during National Poetry Month), recorded The Poetry Podcast (50-plus recordings of poems in a variety of languages), established the first Los Gatos Poet Laureate Scholarship, and launched The Poetry Kitchen, a poetry reading series at the Los Gatos Library.

Erica’s work is featured in numerous anthologies and journals, including Pearl, Ekphrasis, Main Street Rag, Café Review, Perigee, Dash Literary Journal, Eclectica, Up the Staircase, Lake Effect, Consequence, Stirrings, Convergence, Passager, Atticus Review, Gravel, Tinderbox Review, Caveat Lector, Rattle, Zoland Poetry, Spillway, San Pedro Rover Review, Comstock Review, Contrary, and Innisfree Poetry Journal. She received the Many Mountains Moving Prize for poetry in 2011. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2010, 2013, and 2017, Best of the Net in 2016 and 2017, and received the first Edwin Markham Prize for poetry, judged by California Poet Laureate Al Young. Wild Place was also a finalist in the 2010 White Eagle Coffee Store Press Chapbook Contest, and received a special mention from Jacar Press’s 2010 Chapbook Contest.

Erica writes Sticks & Stones, a free monthly newsletter about poetry & art. You can read back issues here and here, and subscribe here.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I believe poetry is the most concise, moving, and accessible form of storytelling in literature. Poetry is available to everyone. My book is a collection of work from a period of years where I struggled with losing loved ones, illness, and many other challenges. I offer those poems to anyone who needs to get in touch with his or her humanity, with the message that we are all in this together, we all suffer and struggle, and that poetry offers comfort and recognition in difficult times.

WORK SAMPLE:

Encontrada

I have never learned to wander

to trust in grass and stars and mouthfuls of air.

If I ramble without keys or shoes

I might meet my ghosts, who always seem friendly

at first. No drifting allowed, no matter the delicious

temptation of the vanishing point. I’d rather hit

a sign than turn an unnamed corner

regardless of its lonesome beauty. And so I study

maps of the world, avoiding

shady groves hung with moss,

or streets tense with empty cars

or large bodies of water. When lost

they say, keep to one spot.

Don’t meander. That’s how you found me

a map of the spirits stuffed in my back pocket.

All I had to do was stay put.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Barnes & noble, etc.

Order from Glass Lyre Press:  https://glass-lyre-press.myshopify.com/collections/full-length-collections-1/products/night-court

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Night-Court-Erica-Goss/dp/1941783341/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/night-court-erica-goss/1126541508?ean=9781941783344

PRICE: $16

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Readers can contact me at ericagoss@comcast.net. I’m on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/erica.goss1

The Big Happiness

The Big Happiness by [Gridley, Sam]

THE BOOK: The Big Happiness.

PUBLISHED IN: 2015.

THE AUTHOR: Sam Gridley

THE EDITOR: Douglas Gordon

THE PUBLISHER: P. M. Gordon Associates

SUMMARY: In one of the strangest love stories of history or fiction, Allison Roarty (a.k.a. Allison Wonderland), a 45-year-old, divorced, wacky, sexually adventurous, somewhat overweight alcoholic with brain damage, takes up with Leigh Berry, a gangling, half-blind, reclusive, 62-year-old devotee of ancient music. Their friend Connie Bowers, a successful career woman, tries to guide them through their delusions and misadventures. In the process, all three characters discover emotional and spiritual depths that most people seldom experience.

THE BACK STORY: My wife and a friend of hers participated in a Thanksgiving program to take food to people who are homebound. I began wondering what sort of person the visitors might meet, and that meshed with my longstanding notion that nobody is normal.

WHY THIS TITLE? “The Big Happiness” is a significant phrase that occurs often in the book. Though I considered a title like “The Adventures of Allison Wonderland” or “Allison Wonderland and Her Merry Band of Misfits,” I decided against focusing the title on Allison. There are two other main characters with separate points of view.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It’s a comedy, a tragedy, a love story. It contains both plain speech and adventurous writing (Leigh Berry has what amounts to his own private language). It includes an imaginary ape and the spirit of a Baroque composer. It may inspire readers to do something insane, such as eating a radish without salt.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “This is a very unusual tale about a woman with brain damage who meets and becomes involved with a man who also has relational problems. It’s a very unlikely love story that develops between two damaged people who find a connection with one another. Very sad and very uplifting at the same time.” —Nancy Lombardi on Amazon

AUTHOR PROFILE: Sam Gridley has published two novels and more than sixty short pieces, mostly fiction. He has received two fellowships from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. After being born in Pittsburgh, he lived in Camden, Providence, Bristol, Westchester, Palos Verdes Estates, Torrance, Redondo Beach, Northridge, Culver City, Berkeley, Oakland, Cambridge, Brighton, London, Palo Alto, Bellefonte, Baltimore, Lyndhurst, Rutherford, and perhaps other communities he has forgotten. This was before the age of 29. Since then he has settled in Philadelphia and scarcely budged, except to visit his website, Gridleyville.blog.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Having been designed by God as a nearsighted, clumsy idiot, I’ve long pondered the problem of human limitations. In essence, we all have disabilities—many things we can’t do or can’t figure out—so I decided to investigate how a couple of characters with recognized challenges cope with their real and imagined world. The use of three separate points of view is a form of triangulation: the truth, if there is any, lies at the point where the three lines intersect.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: (Provide link). The “Look Inside” feature on Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RPJPH2U/) leads to a substantial sample of the book.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Available only from Amazon on the Kindle platform: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RPJPH2U/

PRICE: $2.99 (super cheap)

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Comments welcome! https://gridleyville.blog/contact/

Weather Report, May 20

person standing and looking at moon

(Photo by Tony Detroit).

Our currently featured books, “Borrowed Horses,” by Sian Griffiths, “The Sheep Walker’s Daughter,” by Sydney Avey and “Willingly,” by Marc Frazier, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

————————————————

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, MAY 21-17.

“Night Thoughts,” BY SARAH ARVIO.

Two of our three offerings this week come from a place of literal darkness, the poems and prose within them framed by the hours of night.

Sarah Arvio’s “night thoughts” is probably one of the most unusual books we have featured so far. It stands alone as a creative work, but its implications and intentions are so much deeper than that. Comparing what Sarah has produced to a traditional memoir is like putting a CAT scan alongside a standard X-ray.

Sarah describes night thoughts as “an account of my psychoanalysis—a hybrid of poems, essay and memoir.   It begins with a sequence of 70 dream poems—irregular sonnets—that tell the dreams and explore the thoughts and memories that arose from them.  The narrative that follows discusses the images in the dreams and tells the resolution of the analysis.

“The cognitive psychologists are much less interested in exploring the mind and memories, and they profess the idea that willpower can alter the direction of your life.  I knew from my own life that no amount of willpower could alter my suffering.  It occurred to me that I had to write my story; I wanted to show what psychoanalysis could do.

“Mine had been so powerful, so life-saving and life-altering.   And my notes were there to reread and consider. I first tried a prose book.  I couldn’t get the dream life to come to life, and I gave up.   A year later, I sat down and began to write out the dreams as poems.”

“NIGHT COURT,” BY ERICA GOSS.

Erica writes: “The book takes its title from the poem of the same name, where I imagine myself on the witness stand, defending my tragedies from some ghostly court. It’s about those awful lonely hours when I can’t sleep, time drags on until morning, and I have to function.

“My dream is for Night Court to live quietly in someone’s glove compartment, purse, or on a nightstand, waiting for the reader to open at random and find some comfort or insight within its pages. Like most poetry books, it can be read sequentially or in any order the reader wants. I like the idea of readers finding their own order through the book. I’ve read the poems in this book in front of many different audiences, and I believe that it has something to offer all people.”

“THE BIG HAPPINESS,” BY SAM GRIDLEY.

In one of the strangest love stories of history or fiction, Allison Roarty (a.k.a. Allison Wonderland), a 45-year-old, divorced, wacky, sexually adventurous, somewhat overweight alcoholic with brain damage, takes up with Leigh Berry, a gangling, half-blind, reclusive, 62-year-old devotee of ancient music. Their friend Connie Bowers, a successful career woman, tries to guide them through their delusions and misadventures. In the process, all three characters discover emotional and spiritual depths that most people seldom experience.

 

 

Borrowed Horses

This week’s other featured books, “The Sheep Walker’s Daughter,” by Sydney Avey and “Willingly,” by Marc Frazier, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

THE BOOK: Borrowed Horses.

PUBLISHED IN: Fall 2013.

THE AUTHOR: Siân Griffiths.

THE EDITOR: Suzzanne Kelley.

THE PUBLISHER: New Rivers Press.

SUMMARY: When her mother’s MS takes a turn for the worse, aspiring Olympian Joannie Edson moves back to Idaho with her aging horse to be closer to home and family. She has given up everything (career, romance) to pursue her goal of riding for the US Equestrian Team, but now, with no horse to ride and no money to buy or support a young prospect, she finds herself faced with a choice: should she take a chance on a relationship with the attractive stranger pursuing her, or invest her time in training her coach’s abused and violent mare? As she explores each option, Joannie finds that a fully lived life is much like the jumping courses she’s always ridden, every path bearing obstacles that she will have to clear to find her way forward.

Sian GriffithsTHE BACK STORY: This novel grew out of longing. My own horse was aging and dying, and I was a long way from home. The only way I had to recreate the things I loved was to write, and so this became my dissertation project for my graduate work in creative writing.

WHY THIS TITLE?: My grandmother used to say, “If wishes were horses, beggar’s would ride,” which was me and my character in a nutshell. I was rich in wishes. I loved the cadence of that expression, but Beggar’s Horses didn’t quite work for the book I had in mind. I started riffing on it and listing adjacent expressions. Borrowed Horses rang true for the book. Though there is only one literal horse Joannie borrows, I liked its metaphorical implications and the way horses could become wishes. I borrowed the framework of the plot from Jane Eyre (though the characters and genders are inverted–Joannie’s follows Edward Rochester’s), so that was another “borrowed horse.”

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: It’s a story about a woman who feels cornered and who works her way out. It’s about a flawed character finding the strength and courage to go forward and pursue her passions. It’s about love–for people, for places, and for animals–and it’s about how that love can redeem us when we’re self destructing. I wanted to write a complex, beautiful, language-driven book that was a page-turner, and I hope that’s what people find.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“This work by Sian B. Griffiths qualifies as a minor masterpiece of the novelist’s art. Complex and memorable characters, minute attention to background details, an imaginative storyline, and a master of dialogue, ‘Borrowed Horses’ is a consistently entertaining read.”  — Small Press Bookwatch, Midwest Book Review

“Griffiths’ great accomplishment in dealing with the men in Joannie’s life is that she manages to be sympathetic to both Joannie’s physical desires (many of which are described in sensual detail) and her almost feminist nature. What Joannie discovers through much trial and error is that balance can only be found in the middle. In this way, and in many others, life is like riding a horse.” — Peter Geye, Minnesota StarTribune

“What really captured me was the beauty of the writing. […Borrowed Horses is] keen yet accessible.” — Sharon Browning, LitStack

“A remarkable debut, tough-minded and feisty as the prodigal daughter at its heart. Borrowed Horses explores with precise attention a corner of our country–the rolling Palouse of northern Idaho–rarely portrayed in fiction, and, along the way, translates equestrianism into a kind of beautiful metaphysics.”  — Lance Olsen, Calendar of Regrets

“Siân Griffiths puts Idaho on the map. Her writing is as tough and lovely as a flower blooming in gravel.” — Amina Gautier, At-Risk, Winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award

“I’ve never ridden a horse, but after reading this book, I feel like I know what it means to meet a fence and jump–that moment of flight. Griffiths etches her characters, their rituals and desires, with startling devotion. There is more than one love story in this novel, and each one pulls hard. Friendship and grit ride alongside both misplaced and slow-burning passions through a distinctly Western emotional landscape. Joannie Edson is both a woman I admire and want to throttle: this is what recommends her. We are all haunted–Borrowed Horses shows one woman learning to weather the ghosts and jump again.” — Kirsten Kaschock, Unfathoms and Sleight.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Siân Griffiths lives in Ogden, Utah, where she teaches creative writing at Weber State University. Her work has appeared in The Georgia ReviewPrairie Schooner, Cincinnati ReviewAmerican Short Fiction (online), Indiana Review, and The Rumpus, among other publications. Borrowed Horses (New Rivers Press) was a semi-finalist for the 2014 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Currently, she reads fiction as part of the editorial team at Barrelhouse. For more information, please visit sbgriffiths.com.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’m happy always happy to Skype into book clubs when I can make the timing work. If you contact me through my website, we can see what we can arrange: sbgriffiths.com.

 If you enjoy this book, I have two more coming this year.

My novel Scrapple will be out from Braddock Ave Books. It tells the story of fifteen-year-old Robert Flannigan, whose family moves to Philadelphia to be near his older brother Sean and Sean’s newborn twins. The family arrives to find the babies abandoned in a crib with no word of explanation from Sean or his wife. The book follows Robert as he tries to find his brother in this strange city. You can read the first chapter here:

Additionally, Bull City Press will publish my chapbook, The Heart, Like the Drum, Keeps Faulty Time. This short fiction collection plays with and puts a feminist spin on popular genres (sci fi, historical fiction, super hero, romance). I think it’s a lot of fun, and I can’t wait to share it with readers.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: You can read the first pages on Amazon:  https://www.amazon.com/Borrowed-Horses-American-Fiction-Griffiths/dp/0898232848

LOCAL OUTLETS: Booked on 25th, Ogden, Utah

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon https://www.amazon.com/Borrowed-Horses-American-Fiction-Griffiths/dp/0898232848

Barnes and Noblehttps://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/borrowed-horses-sian-griffiths/1113024376

New Rivers Press https://www.newriverspress.com/shop/fiction/borrowed-horses/

PRICE: $15.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: www.sbgriffiths.com

The Sheep Walker’s Daughter

The Sheep Walker’s Daughter by [Avey, Sydney]

Sydney AveyTHE BOOK: The Sheep Walker’s Daughter

 PUBLISHED IN: 2017

 THE AUTHOR:  Sydney Avey

 THE EDITOR: David Hough

THE PUBLISHER: The Center for Basque Studies, University of Nevada, Reno published the print edition. Torchflame, and imprint of Light Messages, published the eBook edition.

 SUMMARY: 

Does it really matter where you come from?

In 1953, a war widow’s difficult mother dies before revealing the identity of her daughter’s father and his cultural heritage. As Dee sorts through what little her mother left, she unearths puzzling clues that raise more questions. Why did Leora send money every month to the Basque Relief Agency? Why is her own daughter so secretive about her soon-to-be published book? And what does an Anglican priest know that he isn’t telling?

All of this head spinning mystery breaks a long, dry period in Dee’s life and leads her to embark on an odyssey. She might just as well lose her job and see where the counsel of her new spiritual advisor and the attention of an enigmatic ex-coworker lead her.

The Sheep Walker’s Daughter pairs a colorgil Basque immigrant history of loss, survival, and tough choices with one woman’s search for identity and fulfillment. Dee’s journey will take her through the Northern and Central California valleys of the 1950s and reach across the world to the Basque Country.

Along the way, she will discover who she is and why family history matters.

THE BACK STORY: Just before my mother died, she shared a secret she kept all her life about her Ashkenazic Jewish ancestry. I wrote this book to explore why people keep family secrets and what we miss when our history and heritage don’t get passed down. How do we come to faith if we haven’t been taught children?

WHY THIS TITLE?: The Sheep Walker refers to a Basque custom of walking sheep up to the high country. It’s also an oblique reference to the work of the Good Shepherd.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? Everyone loves a secret, except those who have been kept in the dark. Many people who were children during WWII discover as adults that the parents who raised them were not their biological parents. And down through generations, stories abound about family secrets. Young mothers pose as their baby’s sister; The phone rings and and a previously unknown sibling introduces himself. People identify with these stories.

Basque history also interests people. The Basques assimilated well all over the world, but their culture remains a mystery.

Dee’s prickliness, Father Mike’s wisdom, Valerie’s independent spirit—the characters are passionate and plucky. [Spoiler alert] love wins.

REVIEW COMMENTS: “ ‘Who Am I?’ The cry of our hearts. Oh, this is an excellent book! A journey into the past, into tangled relationships, into Basque culture and history. Back to their roots and into the future all at once.” — Amazon reviewer.

“The well-researched Basque culture of California provides a credible backdrop for the characters’ emotional journeys as they negotiate between self and family, coldness and warmth, old hurts and new faith.” — Pat Pekary.

“Through the Basque connection, the author sculpted a culture built solidly on the foundation of family life . Sheepherding, food, family, and passion thrived as the lifeblood of the drama unfolding. I certainly felt myself to be a part of the family.

Thank you to the author for an encompassing look at families through the story of a unique Basque Sheep Walker’s Daughter.” — TravelTeri

AUTHOR PROFILE: After a high tech career in marketing communications, Sydney Avey happily set her pen to work on creative writing. She’s published three novels, The Sheep Walker’s Daughter, The Lyre and the Lambs, and The Trials of Nellie Belle, all featuring resilient women. She’s published poetry and writes hymns for her 50-voice choir at Christ Church in Goodyear, AZ. Sydney lives in the Sierra Nevada mountains and the Sonoran Desert with her husband and their cat Clyde, who has his own Facebook page.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: The creative process of drafting a novel is solitary, satisfying work. But just as it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a community to help a book find its home. Heartfelt thanks to my critique groups who help me shape my stories, my publishers who make my work presentable, generous people like Darrell Laurent who promote lesser known titles, and, most of all, readers who take chances on literary fiction that challenges our thinking about faith, relationships, and family.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: Meet Dolores Moraga (Dee) in Intruders, Chapter 1 of The Sheep Walker’s Daughter. Read Inside on Amazon.

LOCAL OUTLETS: The Center for Basque Studies Bookstore

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Order The Sheep Walker’s Daughter in paperback or e-book from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or your favorite book retailer. Request it through any library or bookstore. ISBN 978-1-935709-84-8  Also on audio; visit Audible.

PRICE: $16.00 paperback;  e-book and audio prices vary

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Email me through my website at http://www.sydneyavey.com Sign up for my quarterly newsletter. Connect with Sydney Avey Author on Facebook

Willingly

THE BOOK: Willingly.

PUBLISHED IN: 2019

THE AUTHOR: Marc Frazier.

THE PUBLISHER: Adelaide Books, New York.

SUMMARY: My full-length manuscript Willingly is my third book of poetry. It explores the ramifications of one’s search for identity within and without the bonds of a relationship. It is centered on the many manifestations of “narrative.” For it is always, it seems, a story we are telling no matter the form or type of poetry. One line demonstrates this: “One way or another we make the stories fit.” It is the story of one LGBTQ+ individual. The epigraph to the book is also indicative of one of the major themes in the book: “We don’t see things as they are. We see them as we are.” —Anais Nin.

Marc FrazierTHE BACK STORY: This book took longer than my other two books to assemble. It’s a bit unusual but nearly every poem in this book was first published in an online or print journal, so I was very busy submitting poetry while considering a new book. I also had taken an online poetry course which had some very unusual ideas for poem generation. This was in keeping with my trend in recent work toward experimentation. I have also been writing a memoir for a few years. One poem, “synopsis” tells the story of my entire life. The manuscript came together quite naturally as an experimental expression of “see things as we are.”

WHY THIS TITLE?: There is a poem “Willingly” in my book Willingly. I really prefer one-word titles so I thought it was a good way to express a kind of positivity toward life from the title onward.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? It contains such a varied display of poetic expression and types of poetry. The poems fall on a broad spectrum from formal poetry to highly experimental. It also tells a story which I think is important, the whole amalgam of what narrative provides us. One line in a poem says, “One way or another, we make the stories fit.” It does deal with an LGBTQ individual but only occasionally is that really significant to a poem. I think people will be surprised by the breadth of types of poetry it contains.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Frazier illumines the darkest corners of memory, bearing apt witness to remembered experience with uncommon clarity and sureness, each poem a gem cut and polished to a fierce brightness. In poem after poem, he insists on uncovering the radiance buried beneath the questions, with words that live, breathe, and “lean like leaves toward light.” — Angela Narciso Torres, orres, author of Blood Orange, grand prize winner for poetry, Willow Books.

“These are poems grounded in a personal narrative yet also stretching the boundaries of that form; they are imbued with a larger awareness of how the “collage longs for the whole picture.” With quiet, lucid observation, deceptive even with their ease and straightforwardness, Frazier’s poems reconsider personal history and the shaping force of recollection. The poems too, after the reader closes the book, will become a thing of memory and like any important memory—potent, deeply embedded, and informing the reader’s now.” – Suzanne Parker, author of Viral, Lambda Literary Award Finalist.

“A strength of this large-hearted book that insists on the power and efficacy of the tactile is how ably the poet journeys beyond his cogently-rendered Midwestern roots. Frazier’s poems are often rich with striking and dynamic questions and the result is often refreshingly human, urgent, and disarming.” – Cyrus Cassells, author of The Gospel of Wild Indigo.”

Link to a review of my book by Windy City Reviews: http://windycityreviews.org/book-reviews/2019/3/31/book-review-willingly.html#entry36171212

AUTHOR PROFILE: Marc Frazier has been publishing poetry in journals including The Spoon River Poetry Review, ACM, Good Men Project, f(r)iction, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Slant, Permafrost, Plainsongs, English Journal, Ascent, BlazeVox, and Poet Lore for decades. He is a former public high school teacher who struggled to find time to write and publish. He loves hanging out at coffee shops where he navigates the creative and business aspects of writing. Memoir excerpts from his book manuscript WITHOUT have been published in Gravel, The Good Men Project, decomP, Autre, Cobalt Magazine, Evening Street Review, Adelaide Literary Magazine, and Punctuate. A poetry folio was accepted for the Aeolian Harp Series: Anthology of Poetry Folios Volume Three in 2017 (Glass Lyre Press). The poem “What Lies Hidden” was chosen for inclusion in New Poetry from the Midwest (New American Press). Marc, the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for poetry, has been featured on Verse Daily and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a “best of the net.” His first book The Way Here (Aldrich Press) is available on Amazon as well as a second full-length collection titled Each Thing Touches (Glass Lyre Press) which was favorably reviewed. The leader of numerous writing workshops in the Chicago area and participant in numerous poetry readings, Marc has had writing residencies at Vermont Studio Center and the Ragdale Foundation in addition to publishing poetry book reviews and editing literary publications. Marc is a reader for the creative nonfiction journal Hippocampus, a well-known and respected publication that also sponsors the conference HippoCamp each summer. He serves on the board of NewTown Writers, possibly the longest continual LGBTQ+ writing workshop and publishing venue in the nation, which began in the early 1980’s. Marc is active on social media, particularly Facebook. His website is www.marcfrazier.org.

SAMPLE:

IF IT COMES TO THAT

Every day you have less reason/not to give yourself away

Wendell Berry

Each thing like something else:

the body: vessel as metaphor,

its manifest of parts.

Eyes: blue reach of water.

Your body chopping wood—a boastful ship.

Alert, you are a seagull tracking fish.

The arc of a dolphin when you stretch.

Swell of breath—what carries us through.

The pull of horizon.

Your scent: loam in a plowed fi eld.

Sorrow heavy as the stones of cairns.

Crooked path to the old forest.

What did you mean: this shattered hope?

Do we fit in this landscape?

In the deafening dusk do I fit in us?

———————————–

EXPOSE

a sudden implosion and then nothing

but tunnels covered in bone dust

a hawk with a human grin looks down

as I pick up coins I’d buried in childhood

they smell of oak/smoke/pumpkin seed/

my mother’s hands showed how much she worried

the form of her fears a tiny beast: black and shiny/

tops of wheat wave as the wind shifts clouds

and the moon comes out prematurely/

the dying sun is a month’s worth of blood

smoothed on canvas/hillside in shadow/black stamens

alert, petals a yellow warmth/birdcall blooms—

waves of sound—a refrain evoking prayer/earth an edifice—

its backbone a witness—a barnful of solitude/your unholy

absence an artifact/we could not save us/gather the sea

faithful angels, the yellow stars/it is time I become who I am

————————————-

SYNOPSIS

mother threatens to kill me

during the seventh month of my life

great uncle John and my dad

haul her screaming and clawing

into the car for the trip to Mercyville

father left with three children to soothe

mother is admitted for insulin and

electro-shock therapies

after her return

father discovers how deep

her resentment can go how impossible

to resume except for their duty

to have more children

I am an altar boy

studying Latin

family and the Church

everything

I have to survive my father

a difficult battle to win

I live as a person

divided

the religious youth

and the man

cruising men

my fragile self fueled

by porn alcohol

and a woman

I’d always been in love with

from the farmland

to the coastal waters

where I finally

fit into myself.

WHERE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Adelaide Books, Indiebound, Barnes and Noble.

PRICE: $19.60.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: marcfrazier45@gmail.com, Marc Frazier Author on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/poetmarcfrazier/, Twitter: @marcfrazier45.