And No One Saw It Coming

This week’s other featured books, “Re-SURGE,” by Mary Newell and “A Burning Lake of Paper Suns,” by Ellen Webre, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK: And No One Saw It Coming

PUBLISHED
: January 7, 2022

THE AUTHOR:  Marci Glidden Savage

THE EDITOR
:  BookBaby editorial staff

THE PUBLISHER: BookBaby

SUMMARY: August 13, 2014, Marci found Paul, her beloved husband of thirty-four years, dead by suicide on their backyard patio. No warning. No explanation. No final good-bye. Less than five years later, on March 15, 2019, the unthinkable and unimaginable happened. Michael, Marci’s second husband of only eight months, was found dead by suicide. In this captivating book, Marci vulnerably shares her intimate journey from anger, hopelessness, and sorrow to acceptance and joy while offering hope to others facing similar situations today.

Suicide is considered one of the most challenging types of loss to sustain. Your grief is complicated, messy, and haunting. In 2019, suicide was the tenth leading cause of death in the United States – an alarming fact and dangerous epidemic. With dogged determination, Marci uses her grief and sets out to expose the ill-conceived and biased attitudes toward mental illnesses standing in the way and keeping many individuals battling depression and anxiety from seeking help, particularly men.

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In the grip of unrelenting pain, Marci courageously meets grief head-on. With grit and candid openness, she opens the door into her personal story of lost love, betrayal, abandonment, shattered dreams, unanswered questions, judgements, and harmful social stigma. Vividly, Marci reveals the catastrophic impact of a suicide death on loved ones left behind. From the first page, her riveting, original, and profoundly moving open letter to mental illness exposes the insidious way it torments and holds captive its victims under the guise of silence. And why no one could see the end coming. Twice.

THE BACK STORY: Following the deaths of my two husbands by suicide, I experienced how differently this type of death is viewed by family, friends and society at large. I also understood why many families choose to keep a suicide death private. The feeling of shame, along with judgements leveled at your loved one is overwhelmingly painful and difficult to navigate. I believe we need to focus on the causes or conditions leading to suicidal deaths, not just the manner of death. Remaining silent adds to the problem. I want to be part of a solution, and to encourage others to talk about their experiences, I must first be willing to share my story. 

WHY THIS TITLE?: Most people are shocked when they learn of a suicide death of someone close to them or a well known celebrity and often say, “They didn’t see it coming.”

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
Although the book centers around the catastrophic impact suicide deaths have on family and friends, readers will also find a love story, personal ups and downs of grief, and the will and determination to rebuild one’s life after experiencing unimaginable tragedies.

REVIEW COMMENTS

“A captivating account of losing two husbands to suicide – and the courage and determination to rebuild one’s life after unspeakable tragedy. With profound honesty, along with an engaging writing style, Marci educates and confronts common stigmas of mental illness which deter many people struggling with their mental health to reach out for help. This unforgettable story is impossible to put down. Be prepared to be inspired and changed forever.” —Kathy Jo Stones, M.A., L.M.F.T.

“A riveting story of love, heartbreak and healing after the suicide of two loved ones. Marci’s raw and powerful memoir will take the reader on an eye-opening journey of understanding mental health, suicide and grief recovery. This is an incredible resource for this who have lost a loved one to suicide or those who want to support them.” —Anne-Marie Lockmyer, Award Winning Author, Grief Specialist and Founder of the Grief & Recovery Network

AUTHOR PROFILE: Marci Glidden Savage is the CEO of a family-owned packaging supply company. After experiencing the catastrophic impact of suicide twice, Marci emerges as a fierce proponent for eliminating the “social stigma” attached to mental illness which keeps many individuals battling depression and anxiety from seeking help. Marci lives in Southern California where she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling and endless hours of genealogy research.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’m happy to say I’ve already had the privilege of hearing from readers about the impact the book has made on their lives, and the truth is, I’m humbled. My hope from the beginning was that my story would be of help to others. For readers who have a personal connection with suicidal deaths, I hope they find a measure of peace knowing they are not alone and the courage to talk about their own experience. We can’t be silent any longer. For the reader looking for ways to help someone who has lost a loved one to suicide, I hope you find a way to become their “lean in hero.” For the reader who is trying to understand why anyone dies by suicide, I hope you learn more about this growing epidemic and will join the conversation. None of us can afford to stay silent any longer. And for the reader who sees the harm social stigmas play surrounding mental health and suicide, I hope you will shout with me, “Game over and Game on, insidious opponent. We will be silent no more!”

SAMPLE/EXCERPT: Excerpt available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/No-One-Saw-Coming/dp/1667800582/

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

IndieBound

PRICE: eBook: $4.99
Paperback: $15.00


CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Connect with Marci at marcisavage.com.

Re-SURGE

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THE BOOK: Re-SURGE.

PUBLISHED IN: 2021

THE AUTHOR: Mary Newell.

THE EDITOR: The book did not have an overall editor; people who gave input on particular poems include Stacey Balkun, Jeffrey Levine, Ruth Danon, Kristina Marie Darling, and members of two poetry exchange groups.

THE PUBLISHER: Trainwreck Press is a small Canadian press that features innovative writing.

<trainwreckpress.com/re-surge>.

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SUMMARY: Within a narrative that draws on a mermaid tale interwoven with ecological issues, Re-SURGE portrays characters emerging from challenging experiences to find new vitality, to “surge” on. The topics include personal and ecological loss, awkward embodiment, recovery from trauma, and finding/ recovering one’s voice. I see the book as a life-healing narrative, for those who immerse in its flows for a while and interpose their own life stories.

The Re-SURGE narrative begins by rewriting “The Little Mermaid,” which is grim in the original Grimm Brothers version: http://www.fijihosting.com/dload/grimms_fairytales.pdf.

Meli, the mermaid, sacrifices her tongue for the possibility of capturing the heart of the prince whose life she saved. The second main character, Jenn, is a gardener and writer who fears drowning. Jenn’s challenges around speaking are not so obvious, but there are hints of hard-to-digest past experiences. In their intertwining, the two characters learn from each other. Meli’s transformation into human form traverses the swamp of awkward body image. And what can happen after such a major transformation? What takes the place of unrealizable dreams – the charming prince, who is after all a leftover stereotype? The denouement of the book suggests inter-and cross-species connections and appreciation of the wondrous enfolded within the everyday. Although deep water was a location of trauma for both women, differently, they can reengage with this fundamental element by dancing at the water’s edge – a basic affirmation of the life within and all around.

THE BACK STORY: I spent a year, give or take, on the book. Although this is a short book, its several roots are deep in my life. It incorporates experiences that women I know have passed through and some personal history, alongside larger ecological issues. The mermaid story bothered me since I first read it in childhood. It ignited a proto-feminist sensibility and a sense of justice. Why, just because a prince wouldn’t marry her, did the mermaid have to disappear into foam? I had an early injury that caused me to feel asymmetrical and awkward; I ran with a limp and had a corresponding sense of incapacity, in spite of succeeding at school, etc. I’m sure that experience is part of what motivated me to become a practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method, a mind-body modality that relates to the whole person, not just the physical symptoms. I see Re-SURGE as a narrative about healing from one’s past, not by denial but through creative, embodied reconfiguration. And not forgetting the planet that needs healing too.

Why poetry and not a straightforward story? Sometimes indirection gets underneath the skin in a way that narrative may not. I wanted to tell many interwoven stories, not just one; and then, I enjoy giving attention to the language and meter and other elements of poiesis. It puts a demand on readers to leap across or fill in the blank spaces – but most readers will have their own life material to interfuse, and in that way, they can make parts of the story their own.

WHY THIS TITLE?: The narrative is about re-emerging from what swamps or suppresses you – not just surviving but surging – challenging gravity and entropy to live with full vitality.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? I thought the book would appeal to women who’ve had parallel experiences; to people considering or enacting gender changes; to mermaid and shoreline aficionados; and to ecologically oriented readers, for starters. (Now that crowd would make a good party!)

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Always a startle, the way Newell uses language so intensely, such unexpected words and combinations. A glitterpath to a completely new view. Giving us fins roots wings. Joy in vol, Deep intake, As we Lunge into spacious.

“I especially like the lines, ‘I see clearly who I’m clinging to.’” — Fran Shaw, writer

“In Re-SURGE, Mary Newell’s liquid undertones and songs of loss haunt quiet inquiries, and lay in astute assembly a terrace of hushed fluidity. Through flux and current, what can only grow from having spent a long time with water knowledge, carries the shifting balance of voices and bodies losing parts to the sea. Without sound land or guide, Newell’s voices astray in swell, take in like water, an invocation of internal, weightless, sonorous drift.” — Jennifer Spector, author of Hithe.

“Mary Newell’s ‘Re-SURGE’ brings us into the elemental realms of the physical and the sea-immersed. Land and water become the two surfaces for a transfiguration of both verbal and emotional revelations. In the unforgettable voices of Jenn and Meli, these poems explore the body and mind as they revel and reveal stories of their individual plights, and yet share a singular renewal of being. Their epistolary communications provide a breathtaking context for poems that urge us to consider memory, imagination, and identity. Beautiful and enticing in its forms and images, ‘Re-SURGE’ asks us to consider how the body can be both cage and harbor; in doing so, these poems provide what the best poetry does: Language as illumination.” — Philip F Clark

AUTHOR PROFILE:

Writing website: https://manitoulive.wixsite.com/maryn

My occupations: I am a writer and editor; a teacher at college and workshop venues; and a guild-certified practitioner of the Feldenkrais Method of Somatic Education with an extensive background in mind-body approaches toward wellbeing. As a Feldenkrais practitioner, I work with individuals and groups to facilitate entering more fully into embodied being. This engagement feeds into my perspective as a writer. I try to deepen my understanding of life and its sources through a life-long spiritual practice. In free time, I garden on rocky slopes at wood’s edge, planting for pollinators, who need all the help we can offer.

My previous chapbook, TILT/ HOVER/ VEER is available at <https://www.codhill.com/product/tilt-hover-veer-mary-newell/&gt; and bookshop.org.

My essay “When Poetry Rivers” (Interim journal 38.3) is at https://www.interimpoetics.org/383.

I am co-editor of Poetics for the More-than-Human-World: An Anthology of Poetry and Commentary and the forthcoming (2022) Routledge Companion to Ecopoetics.

I curate the Hudson Highlands Poetry Series.

Poetry Readings in 2021 include

Ecopoetics Writing Group reading, December 4, 2021 https://youtu.be/y3B9HX_lNO0&gt;. Readers are in alphabetical order.

Helsinki U. Environmental Humanities Month Ecopoetry reading November 17, 2021

<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MMFwyUUImw&t=7s&gt;

Live reading from Re-SURGE < https://www.crowdcast.io/e/1vtuted8&gt; August 21.

This was an outside reading and sound quality is limited.

Plants and Poetics panel through Kelly Writers House, March 31, 2021: <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCSoDITUJHQ&gt;, around minute 50.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: Ecological concerns preoccupy many of us. How to face this music? I chose to try and create a sense of interconnectedness through the medium of water, which makes up 60% of our mass and surrounds the continents we live on. It carries a heavy toxic load now, in the oceans and in many of our bodies. Yet we can still honor the air and water that sustain us, and let that honoring encourage us to be mindful in our actions.

BONUS: There were two poems I had to leave out of the book, to keep it to 30 pages. I’ll be happy to send them to anyone who buys the book and emails me at mnewell4@gmail.com with purchase receipt.

SAMPLE: Because it is a narrative, individual poems cannot give the full impression. Here are three poems with very different tonalities to give a taste.

Adrift in undrinkable waters
“Between words and deeds there is a sea”

— Angela Merkel

As a toddler, bewitched by
starfish, a rip tide almost
carried me away. Safe arms
surrounded tumbling hollers.
“Almost” is a long way from
drowning. Sand in the mouth,
sea vomit, limbs flailing —
then home to lap of comfort.
Distant calamites trouble calm
attempted rescues, urgencies:
salt/ famish/ heatstroke/ topsize
Ocean swallows without a burp.
Arms can’t reach through
a newscast to help those
stripped from home land
who risk the turbulent vault
The ocean tantalizes.
Seduced by its rhythmic pulse,
I forget undertow, dead zones,
toxic cargo permutating cells.

A Burning Lake of Paper Suns

THE BOOK: A Burning Lake of Paper Suns

PUBLISHED IN: 2021

THE AUTHOR:  Ellen Webre

THE EDITOR: Eric Morago

THE PUBLISHER: Moon Tide Press

SUMMARYA Burning Lake of Paper Suns is a book of twisting love poems, scintillating through a heart bursting at its seams. With the decadence of stars and pomegranates, Ellen Webre’s poems illustrate the transfiguration of a girl to a monstress. Here she is ravenous, and tender for what desire haunts. Yearning alchemizes through the bones of this book, each page a siren song to lure readers into a blooming grave, where they may find themselves on the threshold of myth and miracle.

THE BACK STORY: This book is an exorcism, an honoring of the dead and living hopes that tracked my movements through love and heartbreak. There are five sections in the book, each a story arc of first love, true love, grief from its loss, healing, and the real love that comes with the right person. I started writing these poems to process and immortalize what I felt, hoping to express its magic through arabesques of language.

May be an image of outdoors

WHY THIS TITLE?: “A Burning Lake of Paper Suns” is a line from “Into My Arms,” a poem in the book that sings of an approaching paradise, a true love that was to come. I chose the line for the imagery it invoked, a glittering sea of splendor, the very fire of stars. It became a jumping off point in my collaboration with my friend Amanda Le in creating the cover, setting a stage of light for her to explore the heart of my writing.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? This book is for lovers and sensualists, for people who enjoy decadent language, and want to be enthralled by surreal imagery. I hope it reaches those who want to see grief made gentle, and hungers made ravenous.

REVIEW COMMENTS

“Ellen Webre’s work sinks the reader into a world full of decadence while she becomes a queen, a shepherd, a voyeur, a creature hiding in the woods. Her writing is savory, tart, and brimming with umami as she explores such relatable themes like everyday love, heartbreak, and selfhood. Like pomegranate syrup, A Burning Lake of Paper Suns bursts with a flavor and richness that lasts long after you’ve had your first taste.” 

— Sheila J. Sadr, author of Birthday Girl

“There, I feasted on dandelions like ambrosia with only ghosts to witness what I longed for.” Never have I experienced the climax of all five of my senses at once like I do when sinking deep into A Burning Lake of Paper Suns. Ellen’s ability to capture taste, sound, touch, smell, and sight, all with the meticulous simplicity of such hauntingly magical words is nothing short of a miracle. The imagery in this collection impeccably calls every reader to excavate their heart by hand and rediscover themselves and what it means to love, to ache, and to live. If ever poetry transcended both the page and the universe, it’s through this book.”

 — Dania Ayah Alkhouli, author of Contortionist Tongue

“Imagine one of those blooming teas, a bundle of leaves wrapped in flower petals, arranged to be observed unfurling as it infuses the hot water inside of a glass teapot. Ellen’s poems are like that, except the glass teapot is also a plague doctor mask, and that blooming tea plague doctor mask-pot is this book. Also the tea leaves were smoked over fires fueled by fossilized fae passions, after being harvested by albino ravens during a midnight eclipse following several weeks of unseasonal storms.”  

 – — Marc J. Cid, author of the forthcoming Your Funeral Sucked, by the Way

AUTHOR PROFILE: Ellen Webre is a biracial, first-generation Taiwanese-American poet, born in Hong Kong and raised in California. She attended the Creative Writing Conservatory of the Orange County High School of the Arts, and received a degree in screenwriting at Chapman University. She is currently acting as a social media marketing specialist and videographer for Moon Tide Press and Two Idiots Peddling Poetry. Ellen’s debut book, A Burning Lake of Paper Suns, was released in October 2021 with Moon Tide Press. Her poem “Metaphors for My Body in Midwinter” has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2021. Ellen’s other poems have most recently been published in FreezeRay Press, Sh!t Men Say to Me: A Poetry Anthology in Response to Toxic Masculinity, DARK INK: A Horror Anthology, and Voicemail Poems. 

LOCAL OUTLETS: Libromobile

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT:

Moon Tide Press: https://www.moontidepress.com/books

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1735037877/ref=cm_sw_em_r_mt_dp_Y5Q97AY5ZCXF2VJ07C8N

PRICE: $15.00

CONTACT THE AUTHOR

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ellenwebrepoetry/
Instagram: @lnwebre

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59470108-a-burning-lake-of-paper-suns
Email: marketing@moontidepress.com  

Weather Report, Jan. 10

Suicide prevention in the subway station. Chicago, Illinois, USA : October 10, 2018 : World suicide prevention day - SUICIDE PREVENTION in the subway station royalty free stock images

UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JAN. 11-17

“AND NO ONE SAW IT COMING,” BY MARCI GLIDDEN SAVAGE.

August 13, 2014, Marci found Paul, her beloved husband of thirty-four years, dead by suicide on their backyard patio. No warning. No explanation. No final good-bye. Less than five years later, on March 15, 2019, the unthinkable and unimaginable happened. Michael, Marci’s second husband of only eight months, was found dead by suicide. In this captivating book, Marci vulnerably shares her intimate journey from anger, hopelessness, and sorrow to acceptance and joy while offering hope to others facing similar situations today.

“RE-SURGE,” BY MARY NEWELL.

Writes Mary: “Within a narrative that draws on a mermaid tale interwoven with ecological issues, Re-SURGE portrays characters emerging from challenging experiences to find new vitality, to “surge” on. The topics include personal and ecological loss, awkward embodiment, recovery from trauma, and finding/ recovering one’s voice. I see the book as a life-healing narrative, for those who immerse in its flows for a while and interpose their own life stories.”

“A BURNING LAKE OF PAPER SUNS,” BY ELLEN WEBRE.

A Burning Lake of Paper Suns is a book of twisting love poems, scintillating through a heart bursting at its seams. With the decadence of stars and pomegranates, Ellen Webre’s poems illustrate the transfiguration of a girl to a monstress. Here she is ravenous, and tender for what desire haunts. Yearning alchemizes through the bones of this book, each page a siren song to lure readers into a blooming grave, where they may find themselves on the threshold of myth and miracle.

Nightjar

This week’s other featured books, “Becoming Westerly,” by Jamie Brisick and “The Magical Girl’s Guide to Life,” by Jacque Aye, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK: Nightjar.

PUBLISHED IN: 2021

THE AUTHOR: Michael Simms.

THE EDITOR: Ellen Foos

THE PUBLISHER: Ragged Sky Press (a boutique publisher of poetry books in Princeton, New Jersey. Founder Ellen Foos is a managing editor for Princeton University Press, and Ragged Sky is a project she does on the side.)

SUMMARY: In this richly imagined collection of poems, Michael Simms draws inspiration from history, psychology, biology, and astronomy, yet at heart he is simply a man with stories to tell. A poet returns home from the funeral of his parents to find that the language of grief is inadequate to describe his complicated relationship with his father, so he invents new words to describe his feelings. An autistic boy on a family vacation to Carlsbad Caverns descends deep into the earth, and breathing the darkness, he becomes a bat. A high school performance of Euripides’s The Trojan Women becomes a terrifying prediction of what will happen to one of the girls after graduation. A conversation between two old men about Schubert’s Death and the Maiden recalls accusations of sexual harassment one of the friends faces. And in a humorous ars poetica, Simms dreams of kidnapping Charles Bukowski and spiriting him to an AA meeting where Buk slings insults, jumps out the window and flies to the nearest bar on black wings, leading Simms to realize that American poetry needs its misfits and outlaws, and in fact, he prefers poems with a little dirt on them.

Amazon.com: Michael Simms: Books, Biography, Blog, Audiobooks, Kindle

Simms is a poet who writes as easily about the microfauna in a compost bin as about the complexities of love. He explains the hermeneutics of suspicion as adroitly as a visit to a dog park. He describes an old couple at the seashore through the eyes of an artist drawing them and the climate crises from the perspective of a bronze age king watching his city crumble. Gifted, smart, and flawed, frank about his alcoholism and other personal failings, Simms gives us poems that twist and turn and yet always remain clear in their intent. His empathy is all-embracing, and he challenges the reader’s expectations by elegantly expressing abstract ideas through wildly creative, wholly original imagery. These poems keep returning to their central concern of how love can endure in a world that is collapsing. In language both musical and vernacular, Michael Simms stretches the limits of poetic autobiography until personal anecdote rises to the level of timeless myth.

THE BACK STORY: In 2016, after many years of working as an editor and publisher at Autumn House Press, Simms turned over the publishing company to his assistants and left, planning to retire from the literary field. His parents had recently died, his children were grown and on their own, and he had a nice life, but he wasn’t content with merely cooking, gardening, and doing volunteer work as he’d planned. He felt compelled to come to terms with many of the unresolved conflicts and issues in his past. Out of this desire to make peace with himself came the book Nightjar, a series of songs and stories about some of the most troubling and beautiful events he’d experienced.

WHY THIS TITLE? Nightjar refers to a large family of nocturnal insect-eating birds sometimes called nighthawks. The name nightjar reflects the European folk-belief that the birds suckle goats by night, causing them to cease giving milk. The American whip-poor-will, a species of nightjar, is said to have the ability to sense a soul departing and to capture it as it flees. Nightjar is also the name of the title poem in the collection, which is about a post-apocalyptic world after the human species has become extinct.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? The poems are well-crafted songs and stories about love, death, nature, family life and memory. These are universal experiences, so everyone should be able to relate to the poems and, perhaps, use them as starting places for their own inner journey. More specifically, the author identifies as being on the autism spectrum and as a recovering drug addict and alcoholic with decades of “clean time.” Readers who have grappled with these issues, or who know someone who has, will find inspiration in these poems.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Nightjar gives you that sense of showing up at the back door, unannounced, unheralded, and exhibiting all the signs of having gone through a rough journey—a journey that might not be quite over yet [….] But always, at the heart of this, is the poet whose name is Michael Simms, displaying the great grace of his powerful art.” – — Jose Padua, writing for Coal Hill Review

“…one of the most wonderful books I have ever read… Every poem gave me something to recognize, something to grapple with, some magic that made me see the world in a new way.” — Alexandra Umlas, writing for Cultural Daily.

“The poems gently insist we can be greater than our worst impulses… and therein lies the magic of the book. By confronting the darkness, Simms enacts a restoration of the light.” — Kristofer Collins, writing for Pittsburgh Magazine.

AUTHOR PROFILE: Michael Simms is a poet, writer, editor, publisher, and teacher. Three full-length collections of his poetry, four novels, and two widely adopted poetry textbooks have been published or are under contract with publishers. In 1998, Simms founded Autumn House Press, a literary publisher that has released hundreds of award-winning poetry, fiction, and nonfiction titles. Autumn House books have been widely reviewed in publications such as Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Prairie Schooner, The London Times Literary Supplement, and The Jerusalem Post. In 2011 Autumn House Press received a Certificate of Recognition from the Pennsylvania State legislature for AHP’s contribution to the arts.

OTHER WORKS BY THIS AUTHOR: Michael Simms’s Amazon Page.

LOCAL PITTSBURGH OUTLET: White Whale Bookstore. You can shop in one of the WWB Pittsburgh stores, or you can order a book for delivery anywhere in the United States.

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: order the book by sending an email to redcedardistribution@gmail.com. Wholesale discounts available for bookstores and other retailers.

LIST PRICE: $17.00.

LEARN MORE ABOUT MICHAEL SIMMS: Website: https://www.michaelsimms.info Listen to the author read his poems.

Becoming Westerly

Becoming Westerly: Surf Champion Peter Drouyn's Transformation into Westerly Windina by [Jamie Brisick]

THE BOOK: Becoming Westerly: Surf Legend Peter Drouyn’s Transformation into Westerly Windina.

PUBLISHED IN
: 2014.

THE AUTHOR:  Jamie Brisick

THE EDITOR
: Jane Palfreyman/Jon Roemer

THE PUBLISHER
: Allen and Unwin/Outpost19

SUMMARY: In the sixties and seventies, Australian Peter Drouyn was one of the world’s greatest surfers. He pioneered an aggressive approach called “power surfing,” introduced the man-on-man competition format, and charged giant waves in Hawaii. A Zelig figure, he took on many roles―method actor, surf resort owner, modeling school founder, and lawyer to name but a few. For nearly the past decade, Peter has been living as a woman, Westerly Windina, a complex, aspiring entertainer. Beginning with her 2012 trip to Bangkok for gender reassignment surgery, BECOMING WESTERLY traces Peter Drouyn’s odyssey from teenage Queensland hopeful to 1960s surf champion to embittered has-been who struggles to rise again as the glamorous, sixty-four-year-old Westerly. Surf journalist Jamie Brisick provides an intimate exploration of global surf culture―a nuanced portrait of Peter/Westerly and the world that shaped her evolving identity.

0-Brisick-Jamie

THE BACK STORY: In 2009 I traveled to Australia to write a profile of Westerly Windina, formerly Peter Drouyn. As a lifelong surfer, and a longtime chronicler of surf culture, I liked that this story kicked against the stereotypes. I was really happy to get behind Westerly. I have a soft spot for outsiders. We hit it off. The profile turned into a documentary — and a book. We went on a long ride together.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT? 
It’s a trans-story, and it’s set in an often narrow-minded milieu: surfing.

REVIEW COMMENTS
: “BECOMING WESTERLY is much more than a book about a celebrated surfer who becomes a woman — in this case, a dude who becomes a diva. Brisick presents us with a case study of narcissism, of the pathology of celebrity, and a detailed look at the complex world of competitive surfing. It is a funny and painful book, too, and one I greatly enjoyed.” – Paul Theroux.

“You’ve never read anything like BECOMING WESTERLY. Peter Drouyn is a character beyond the capacities of almost any novelist to imagine — and then he turns into someone else. Jamie Brisick traces the emergence of Westerly Windina with so much empathy, eloquence, and patience. His book is dazzling, devastating, funny and surpassingly strange.” – William Finnegan.

“Caitlyn Jenner is dinnertime conversation in households across America. We are learning a brand-new language. . . Jamie Brisick’s ‘Becoming Westerly’ is an excellent place to start. . .” – Los Angeles Times

AUTHOR PROFIL
E: I grew up surfing in Los Angeles, became a pro surfer, very fortunately got to travel the world on the ASP Tour. When my career abruptly ended I started writing about surfing — and other subjects. My work has been published in The Surfer’s JournalThe New York Times, and The New Yorker online.
  
AUTHOR COMMENTS:
 I was fascinated by Westerly above all else, thus this is more a portrait of a complex person than a study of a trans person. I probably put my foot in my mouth on more than one occasion. But I wrote from the heart.

SAMPLEhttps://www.amazon.com/Becoming-Westerly-Drouyns-Transformation-Windina/dp/1937402746

LOCAL OUTLETS: n/a

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon.com

PRICE: $10.99

CONTACT THE AUTHORwww.jamiebrisick.com

The Magical Girl’s Guide to Life

THE BOOK: The Magical Girl’s Guide to Life

PUBLISHED IN
: 2021.

THE AUTHOR:  Jacque Aye.

THE EDITOR
: Tyanni Niles and Renee Rutledge

THE PUBLISHER
: Ulysses Press

SUMMARY: Inspired by the wand-wielding, crime-fighting magical girls in your favorite animes and mangas, The Magical Girl’s Guide to Life teaches you how your self-care journey starts by uncovering the magical girl within.

THE BACK STORY: I met Casie from Ulysses Press a few years back at an expo I attended for my business Adorned by Chi. She came up with an amazing idea called “The Magical Girl’s Guide to Life” and asked me if I would like to write it and I said yesssss. The book didn’t take too long to write because I simply wrote about what I know: self-care and cute cartoons! As a current grad school student studying mental health counseling, and as the creator of a magical cast of characters, it only made sense for me to pen the guide.


AUTHOR COMMENTS: I’m so happy to have been given the opportunity to write this book during a time when I was struggling with my own mental health. Writing this book was part of my healing process and I hope to help even one person who decides to read it.

SAMPLE: A sample can be found on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Magical-Girls-Guide-Life-Self-Care/dp/1646042484

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

PRICE: $17.95

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Check me out on twitter: https://twitter.com/jacqueaye

Weather Report, January 3

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Welcome back — I hope everyone had a restorative holiday season. We’ve got an interesting trio of books this week to begin our seventh year.

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UPCOMING ON SNOWFLAKES IN A BLIZZARD, JAN. 4-10.

“BECOMING WESTERLY,” BY JAMIE BRISICK.

In the sixties and seventies, Australian Peter Drouyn was one of the world’s greatest surfers. He pioneered an aggressive approach called “power surfing,” introduced the man-on-man competition format, and charged giant waves in Hawaii. A Zelig figure, he took on many roles―method actor, surf resort owner, modeling school founder, and lawyer to name but a few. For nearly the past decade, Peter has been living as a woman, Westerly Windina, a complex, aspiring entertainer. Beginning with her 2012 trip to Bangkok for gender reassignment surgery, BECOMING WESTERLY traces Peter Drouyn’s odyssey from teenage Queensland hopeful to 1960s surf champion to embittered has-been who struggles to rise again as the glamorous, sixty-four-year-old Westerly. Surf journalist Jamie Brisick provides an intimate exploration of global surf culture―a nuanced portrait of Peter/Westerly and the world that shaped her evolving identity.

“NIGHTJAR,” BY MICHAEL SIMMS.

In this richly imagined collection of poems, Michael Simms draws inspiration from history, psychology, biology, and astronomy, yet at heart he is simply a man with stories to tell. A poet returns home from the funeral of his parents to find that the language of grief is inadequate to describe his complicated relationship with his father, so he invents new words to describe his feelings. An autistic boy on a family vacation to Carlsbad Caverns descends deep into the earth, and breathing the darkness, he becomes a bat. A high school performance of Euripides’s The Trojan Women becomes a terrifying prediction of what will happen to one of the girls after graduation. A conversation between two old men about Schubert’s Death and the Maiden recalls accusations of sexual harassment one of the friends faces. And in a humorous ars poetica, Simms dreams of kidnapping Charles Bukowski and spiriting him to an AA meeting where Buk slings insults, jumps out the window and flies to the nearest bar on black wings, leading Simms to realize that American poetry needs its misfits and outlaws, and in fact, he prefers poems with a little dirt on them.

“THE MAGIC GIRL’S GUIDE FOR LIFE,” BY JACQUE SYE.

Writes Jacque: “I met Casie from Ulysses Press a few years back at an expo I attended for my business Adorned by Chi. She came up with an amazing idea called “The Magical Girl’s Guide to Life” and asked me if I would like to write it and I said yesssss. The book didn’t take too long to write because I simply wrote about what I know: self-care and cute cartoons! As a current grad school student studying mental health counseling, and as the creator of a magical cast of characters, it only made sense for me to pen the guide.”

Present Imperfect

Golden Christmas Tree Scene Lights Background
(Photo from Dreamstime).

NOTE: More books than usual this week, in honor of the holidays. The next Snowflakes in a Blizzard posts will be up January 4.

This week’s other currently featured books, “Shellback,” by Jeanne-Marie Osterman, “No One You Know,” by Jason Schwartzman, “Killer Looks,” by Zara Stone, “The Minor Virtues,” by Lynn Levin and “When the Pilotless Plane Arrives,” by Ann Cefola, can be found by scrolling down below this post, or by clicking the author’s name on our Authors page.

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THE BOOK: Present Imperfect: Essays

PUBLISHED IN: 2021

THE AUTHOR: Ona Gritz

THE EDITORS: Jack Cooper and Roxanne Hoffman

THE PUBLISHER: Poets Wear Prada

SUMMARY: An emotionally intimate collection of fourteen essays that explore the intersecting identities of sisterhood, motherhood, disability, creativity, grief, and romantic partnership.

THE BACK STORY: The essays in this collection were written over several years, and each has had its own life out in the world. I brought them together in order to see how they spoke to and informed one another, and what story they might tell as a whole.

WHY THIS TITLE: Present Imperfect is the title of an essay that appears in the book, and it was one of the first I’d written. That piece is about my struggle to do everything perfectly as a new mother, and how I ultimately came to terms with the limitations I have due to my physical disability. When I selected the title for the collection as a whole, its meaning expanded for me. As a grammatical term, it describes the ongoing present, our lives as a continuum, the past always a part of who we are. It also contains within it the impossibility of perfection in any present moment, as well as the impossibility of staying present as fully as we might wish, especially through traumatic times.

WHY SOMEONE WOULD WANT TO READ IT: Here is my publisher’s answer to that question:

This debut essay collection by Ona Gritz, New York Times-published writer and longtime columnist for Literary Mama, reads like a blockbuster movie. There is a heroine with cerebral palsy, likeable and indefatigable. There is family conflict, romance, and true crime. Ona writes on disability, family dynamics, and the murder of her sister’s family with candor and passion. A critically acclaimed essayist, two Notable mentions by Robert Atwan, The Best American Essays, a Best Life Story in Salon, among the recent accolades, Ms. Gritz has gathered some of the best of her work from the New York Times Disability series, The Rumpus, Brevity, and more for this fine and most riveting read.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Ona Gritz has a poet’s sensibility that permeates everything she writes. The essays in this collection are filled with small moments of epiphany that make a reader stop mid-sentence to savor. “You’re teaching me who I am,” the author whispers to her son in one essay—but as she shares these personal moments, she’s the one teaching us.” —Andrea J. Buchanan, The Beginning of Everything

“In this brilliantly moving book, Ona Gritz reminds us that storms—physical and emotional—and their aftermaths can lead to a searing devotion to the truths of who we are. From hurricanes to karate classes, family tragedies, and the challenges of disabilities, these essays move by delicate suggestion, by the shadows a resonating image casts, by language both tough and musical, precise and evocative. Reading this collection, we feel the exhilaration of what it means to be fully alive. —Barbara Hurd, Tidal Rhythms: Change and Resilience at the Edge of the Sea

“Reading Ona Gritz’s essays feels like spending a crystalline afternoon with a witty, honest, profound, and deeply kind friend. These 14 intimate pieces explore family, friendship, disability, loss—and above all, profound love.” —Dawn Raffel, The Strange Case of Dr. Couney.

“I read this gorgeous essay collection in an afternoon. So moving and thought provoking. Ona Gritz’s voice and storytelling will transport you through joy and tragedy, hope and pain. A trip well worth taking. —R.L. Maizes, Other People’s Pets

With these honest and moving essays, Gritz seeks, over and over, to claim the many facets of her identity.” —Maria Scala, Literary Mama

“Ona Gritz on the page is a warm, wise, and concise confidant who deftly turns the craggy rocks of life into touchstones.” —Ellen Blum Barish, The Brevity Blog.

“Gritz’s striking, relatable essays affected me deeply.” —Laura Anne Spencer, Wordgathering: A Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature

AUTHOR PROFILE: Ona Gritz’s new collection of essays, Present Imperfect, is out now from Poets Wear Prada. She is also the author of Geode, a Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award finalist, and On the Whole: a Story of Mothering and Disability. A longtime columnist at Literary Mama, Ona’s poems and essays have appeared in Ploughshares, The New York Times, River Teeth, The Bellevue Literary Review, Brevity, and elsewhere. Recent honors include two Notable mentions in The Best American Essays, a Best Life Story in Salon, and a winning entry in The Poetry Archive Now: Wordview 2020 project.

Her middle grade novel, August Or Forever, is forthcoming from Fitzroy Books in 2023.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: I am available for readings, workshops, and book discussion groups via Zoom.

SAMPLE CHAPTER: https://www.riverteethjournal.com/blog/2019/12/30/here-look

WHERE TO BUY IT:

https://amzn.to/3EWDf8g (Paperback)

https://amzn.to/3rRtLI1 (Kindle)

Or, for an autographed copy, directly from me.

PRICE: Paperback: $15, Kindle Book: $9.99.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: onafawn@gmail.com

Shellback

THE BOOK: Shellback.

PUBLISHED IN: 2021

THE AUTHOR: Jeanne-Marie Osterman.

THE PUBLISHER: Paloma Press.

Established in 2016, PALOMA PRESS is a San Francisco Bay Area-based, Filipino American women-led, independent literary press publishing poetry, prose, and limited-edition books. The press believes in the power of the literary arts, how it can create empathy, bridge divides, change the world. To this end, Paloma Press has released fundraising books, and continues to donate a portion of its proceeds to nonprofits committed to working for racial and environmental justice, animal welfare, human rights, and marginalized communities.

SUMMARY: Shellback takes us to the heart of the author’s relationship with her father, a World War II Navy veteran and kamikaze survivor. Set beneath the tall trees and rainy skies of the Pacific Northwest, and the Pacific theater of World War II, the poems speak of love, forgiveness, and the tragedies of war. Vividly nostalgic and plainspoken, Shellback is both a tribute to the author’s father, and a longing for the closeness to him she could never quite achieve.

THE BACK STORY: My father fought in the Battle of Okinawa, the second largest battle of World War II after the Normandy invasion. Yet he never spoke to me of his war experiences until he was in his nineties. I was stunned by his descriptions of deafening gunfire, and the kamikaze that whirled through air aflame and crashed on the deck of his ship. He told me what it was like to be shot at, and of the bodies he helped bury at sea. But I was even more shocked realizing he’d been carrying these memories deep inside for decades. When he finally told me what he’d been through, I didn’t want his memories to be lost, so I began writing these poems. He was in assisted living at the time in the town where I grew up, and my visits there inspired more poems—about my childhood with him, and how he felt about facing the end of life.

WHY THIS TITLE?: “Shellback” is the name given to sailors when they cross the equator for the first time, and for which there‘s a traditional initiation ceremony. What today is mostly a fun celebration, as late as World War II it could take the form of a brutal hazing. Unfortunately, that was my father’s experience. He was forced to eat laxatives, crawl through ship’s garbage, and he was shocked with an electric rod until he passed out—this after serving his country in battle. The word also somewhat describes my father’s personality—he could be a bit impenetrable.

WHY WOULD SOMEONE WANT TO READ IT?: My three themes—the relationship between parent and child, the tragedies of war, and caring for a parent in old age—are ones I think most people can relate to. Shellback’s plain-spoken style appeals to a wide audience. It especially resonates with baby boomers, many of whom grew up with fathers who, like my dad, were affected by war. It’s appropriate for young people, too, who might learn more about World War II through these personal narratives.

REVIEW COMMENTS:

“Courageous, insightful, and unsettling poems about war and family ties.” –Kirkus Star Review

“The beautifully sequenced poems in Jeanne-Marie Osterman’s Shellback yield a searing portrait of the poet’s father as a Depression-era boy and a Navy World War II veteran, given to emotional coldness and barely repressed anger. Their poignancy resides in the poet’s filial devotion, her wish to understand him and care for him in his old age…With often haunting imagery and carefully clipped lines, she memorably portrays a man, his era, and a daughter’s unstinting love.”— Gardner McFall, On the Line

“Jeanne-Marie Osterman toggles between nightmarish scenes her father witnessed during World War II and the smaller but no less affecting traumas of his final months in a nursing home. Her language is spare and colloquial, with moments of irony and deadpan wit that illuminate every detail.” – Mark Bibbins, 13th Balloon

“Marked by candor and clear-sightedness, these poems resist soothing resolutions and easy solace, which is why they are sure to ring true to readers.” – Jeanne Marie Beaumont, Letters from Limbo

AUTHOR PROFILE: Jeanne-Marie Osterman was born in Everett, Washington. The most interesting place in that rainy mill town was the library. Her time in the stacks motivated her to be the first in her family to go to college, earning a BA in literature from Gonzaga University, and an MA in linguistics from San Francisco State. Jeanne-Marie’s education inspired her to move to New York City where she worked as an advertising copywriter for over 30 years. Once retired, she was able to pursue her passion for writing poetry. She is author of two chapbooks, All Animals Want the Same Things, winner of the Slipstream 34th Annual Poetry Chapbook Competition, and There’s a Hum (Finishing Line Press). A finalist for the 2018 Joy Harjo Poetry Award, Jeanne-Marie is poetry editor for Cagibi, a journal of prose and poetry. Shellback is her first full-length collection.

AUTHOR COMMENTS: A share of Shellback sales will be donated to a charity supporting Veterans with PTSD.

SAMPLE:

THEATER OF WAR

Here’s how it looked after the kamikaze hit,
my father says, holding the cruise book in his lap.

The Japanese plane looks like a ball
of crumpled paper on the ship’s massive deck.

Next to the wreckage, eleven mummies
wrapped in white canvas and the American flag.

KEEP OFF is written in white chalk along their feet.
One at a time we put them on a table. We used

a mess hall table. We weighted each man
with a cannon ball and tipped him into the sea.

LOCAL OUTLETS: The Corner Bookstore, New York City

WHERE ELSE TO BUY IT: Amazon, Bookshop.org, Barnes & Noble;

https://bookshop.org/books/shellback-9781734496536/9781734496536

https://www.amazon.com/Shellback-Jeanne-Marie-Osterman/dp/1734496533/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3BJX2X4BKB7DH&dchild=1&keywords=shellback+osterman&qid=1613656080&sprefix=shellback+osterman%2Caps%2C214&sr=8-1

PRICE: $16.

CONTACT THE AUTHOR: Connect with me at my website, http://www.ostermanpoetry.com or follow me at Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.