Make Visible: Staying Alive: Book Review

I don’t often write book reviews.  I must recommend, highly, this collection of poetry:  Staying Alive:  Real Poems for Unreal Times edited by Neil Astley.  The poetry collection was published by Miramax Books originally in 2002.

Staying Alive

The poems contained are in several categories: Body and Soul, Roads, Dead or Alive, Bittersweet, Growing up, Man and beast, In and out of love, My people, War and peace, Disappearing acts, [Me, the Earth, the Universe], and the Art of poetry.

 

While the editor seems to like poetry with meter, there are plenty of un-rhyming poems in the collection as well.  Although there are a few classic authors included; the collection is comprised of mostly contemporary poets, including international ones. It’s just a beautiful book that one can dip into and find a gem on almost every page.  I’ve read it once through and am slowly reading it again and marking which are my favorites.  Staying Alive is 496 pages long, so this should take me awhile!  You can buy it from Amazon here:  http://www.amazon.com/Staying-Alive-Poems-Unreal-Times/dp/1401359264/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1347761350&sr=1-1

 

For an example, here are the first two poems, two of my favorites:

 

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

 

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.

Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.

Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

 

Living by Denise Levertov

 

The fire in leaf and grass
so green it seems
each summer the last summer.

The wind blowing, the leaves
shivering in the sun,
each day the last day.

A red salamander
so cold and so
easy to catch, dreamily

moves his delicate feet
and long tail. I hold
my hand open for him to go.

Each minute the last minute.

 

(http://www.famouspoetsandpoems.com/)

 

“Make visible what, without you, might perhaps never have been seen.”~Robert Bresson, French Film Director

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So, You’re a Creative Genius… Now What?: A review

“I contend that if you’re not actively creating something, you’re not entirely alive.” ~Carl King

You’re inspired, you’ve released your creative genius. What do you do with it? This is where Carl King’s book, So, You’re a Creative Genius… Now What?, comes into power.

I first tuned into this book by following links about introverts, ending up on Carl King’s blog post 10 Myths About Introverts (a good read, but another topic). I liked King’s way of thinking, and saw that he had a book. The publisher, MWP, has a sample from the book on their website. I devoured all seventeen sample pages, and filled up a page in my bliss book with quotes and inspirations from that alone. I was sold, and bought the book next chance I got.

King doesn’t mince words. Every sentence, every page, has impact. You won’t find repetition or filler here. He has a quirky humor, and tells it straight.

This book covers so many topics relating to creativity. From your personal workspace (spacestation), to social interactions, the business, and daily routines. It’s a survival guide for the creative soul. About making the most of that wonderful brain you’ve got, not wasting your imagination and creativity.

As I’ve traveled the path of submitting my writing, both fiction and poetry, in the hopes for publication, I really liked how King compared us to salesman. The salesman gets fired every day. “And at the end of the day, even if you do a great job, you get fired. Because you’re paid to wake up and look for work each and every day.” Definitely something I can relate to. But then he turns it around, shows how we can learn from this state of being. “The flip side of this paradox is that a salesman is never unemployed, because he creates his own destiny.”

I recommend this book for anyone whose hobby or work is creative.

Next time on Mary’s Expression: writers groups.

So, You're a Creative Genius… Now What?: A review

“I contend that if you’re not actively creating something, you’re not entirely alive.” ~Carl King

You’re inspired, you’ve released your creative genius. What do you do with it? This is where Carl King’s book, So, You’re a Creative Genius… Now What?, comes into power.

I first tuned into this book by following links about introverts, ending up on Carl King’s blog post 10 Myths About Introverts (a good read, but another topic). I liked King’s way of thinking, and saw that he had a book. The publisher, MWP, has a sample from the book on their website. I devoured all seventeen sample pages, and filled up a page in my bliss book with quotes and inspirations from that alone. I was sold, and bought the book next chance I got.

King doesn’t mince words. Every sentence, every page, has impact. You won’t find repetition or filler here. He has a quirky humor, and tells it straight.

This book covers so many topics relating to creativity. From your personal workspace (spacestation), to social interactions, the business, and daily routines. It’s a survival guide for the creative soul. About making the most of that wonderful brain you’ve got, not wasting your imagination and creativity.

As I’ve traveled the path of submitting my writing, both fiction and poetry, in the hopes for publication, I really liked how King compared us to salesman. The salesman gets fired every day. “And at the end of the day, even if you do a great job, you get fired. Because you’re paid to wake up and look for work each and every day.” Definitely something I can relate to. But then he turns it around, shows how we can learn from this state of being. “The flip side of this paradox is that a salesman is never unemployed, because he creates his own destiny.”

I recommend this book for anyone whose hobby or work is creative.

Next time on Mary’s Expression: writers groups.

Zen in the Art of Writing: A Review

“You fail only if you stop writing.” ~Ray Bradbury

The above quote has long been my mantra for writing. I keep it at the top of my daily writing document. So, as inspired as I am by this one statement of Bradbury’s, I was delighted to come across an entire book of such words. Zen in the Art of Writing is a collection of essays that Ray Bradbury has written, ranging in publication date from 1961 to 1986. The collection, published in 1990, is still relevant today. The messages just as true.

The essays are as follows:

  • The Joy of Writing
  • Run Fast, Stand Still, Or, The Thing at the Top of the Stairs, Or, New Ghosts from Old Minds
  • How to Keep and Feed a Muse
  • Drunk, and in Charge of a Bicycle
  • Investing Dimes: Fahrenheit 451
  • Just This Side of Byzantium: Dandelion Wine
  • On the Shoulders of Giants
  • The Secret Mind
  • Zen in the Art of Writing
  • … On Creativity

In these, Bradbury shares his experiences with life and writing, and shows how entwined the two are. He takes inspiration from his own life, his own passions.

When I picked up this book and started reading, it was impossible to put down. It spoke to my own passions, reignited my zest for writing. A reminder of why I do what I do. He does share advice, some how-to for writers, but what I took most was the underlying celebration of the art. The book’s subtitle is Releasing the Creative Genius Within You, and it lives up to that task.

“When honest love speaks, when true admiration begins, when excitement rises, when hate curls like smoke, you need never doubt that creativity will stay with you for a lifetime.”

~Ray Bradbury, from How to Keep and Feed a Muse

I definitely recommend this book, both for aspiring writers and those who’ve been long in the trenches. It is a joy to read, and will take you back to the roots of not just the how-to write, but the why. If you’ve lost that love, found the passion dimming, rediscover it here.

Next time on Mary’s Expression: More on the Creative Genius.