Author Archives: literata72

Verse Versus Poetry

I’m pausing—am in the middle of composing a 9-7-5 Terza Rima—to say a few words on verse versus poetry. Verse is very different from poetry. Verse allows me to pause and give my brain a break without ruining the structure or losing anything vital to a poem’s completion, whereas poetry, when it comes, is more desperate and immediate, requiring a notebook NOW. Poetry enters in through the right lobe of the brain, whereas verse is composed in the left lobe. So much verse reads like prose but with a fun “Mother Goose” sort of sound. So much “free verse” reads like prose as well, and most free-versers would cringe to consider that artful line breaks don’t create poetry of thoughts. Even qualities that make words fun to read and listen to (such as alliteration and assonance) don’t necessarily make poetry of words, but they can act magically on the mind and/or heart. Poetry (my own personal definition) is made of more sophisticated qualities that require either careful thought or actual inspiration (metaphor is expected; hyperbole is above and beyond, literally and figuratively, and personification can raise the dead to life through the mag-ic of i-mag-ination).

One of my favorite poems is Hugh MacDiarmid’s “Birth of a Genius Among Men.” It’s actually somewhat poorly structured, but the poetry within the structure compensates. The first three stanzas:

The night folded itself about me, like a woman’s hair.
Thousands of dispersed forces, drawn as by a magnet,
Streamed through the open windows. Millions of stars poured through.
What destiny were they seeking in us? What outlet?

The universe awoke in my body.
My breast expanded and overflowed into the night.
I was one with Scotland out there, and with all the world,
And thoughts of your beauty shone in me like starlight.

You were all female, ripe as a rose for the plucking.
I was all male and no longer resisted my need.
The earth obeyed the rhythm of our panting.
The mountains sighed with us—infinity was emptied.


But this is verse, this rhythmic sound,
With nothing much to say,
And here the iambs loop around,
Say nothing anyway.

I’m convinced that the difference between poetry and verse is this: poetry is delivered through inspiration, and verse is the product of mental compulsion–plain and simple–and because it’s compulsive, it’ll be manufactured to endure as lastingly as poetry, for better and for worse.

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Posted by on May 28, 2018 in Musings & Other Things


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Free to Dance Forever: Mourning Haiku for My Mother by Robert Epstein

Free To Dance Forever: Mourning Haiku for My Mother is a beautiful book by Robert Epstein, and one of several of Epstein’s books published through Middle Island Press. This book was made available for purchase via Amazon on the first anniversary of the poet’s mother’s passing. It contains a full-bodied Introduction and haiku divided by stages of life, death, and mourning through the heart and mind of Epstein as both son and psychotherapist making peace with the pain and loss. Eulogies are also included at the back of the book, as well as much recommended reading.

Free to Dance Forever is so moving and is of such a critical subject that it will sell itself, and it was an honor for Middle Island Press to publish it.

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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in News & Reviews


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Little Bird, Little Bird by Loni Hoots

This book is a first for Loni Hoots and Middle Island Press: It’s a children’s book, first in the Little Bird Series of ongoing adventures in collaboration with illustrator Melissa Rohr. Little Bird, Little Bird is sure to be a lively addition to the bookshelves of preschool-aged through elementary school-aged children (recommended to be read by an adult with bedtime quietude and playful inflection).

Little Bird, Little Bird is now available at Amazon.

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Posted by on April 19, 2018 in News & Reviews


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Congratulations to Robert Epstein

Robert Epstein, a dedicated haiku poet and anthologist, has earned the honor of making The Touchstone Distinguished Books Award Committee’s Shortlist for 2017 with They Gave Us Life: Celebrating Mothers, Fathers & Others in Haiku, an anthology edited by Epstein and published by Middle Island Press.

Here is the letter that he received:

The Touchstone Distinguished Books Award Committee Announces Its Shortlist for 2017

The Haiku Foundation is pleased to announce The Touchstone Distinguished Books Award Shortlist for books of haiku and related forms published in 2017. The eighty books nominated for this year’s award represent a rich variety of English-speaking books from many nations and haiku traditions.

It was with great effort that the panelists narrowed their choices to the 15 books on the list. In the first round of reading, each panelist reads approximately 16 randomly assigned books of haiku collections by individual authors, haibun collections, anthologies and books on haiku criticism, and then nominates three books for the Shortlist. There is also an opportunity for panelists to choose books that they have read on their own as substitutions if they feel another book deserves recognition. In the next round, each panelist reads each book on the Shortlist to decide which books will receive further recognition.

On April 17, the Foundation will post the final awards for 2017. We extend our congratulations to the following authors and publishers (books are arranged by alphabetical order by author):

Brandi, John & Martinez, Noriko Kawasaki. A House By Itself: Selected Haiku: Masaoka Shiki. White Pine Press.
Brickley, Chuck. earthshine. Snapshot Press.
Buckingham, Helen. sanguinella. Red Moon Press.
Busch, Simone K. von Schatten trinken / sipping from shadows. Books on Demand.
Carter, Terry Ann. Tokaido. Red Moon Press.
Coman, Sonia. Passages. Hoshin Media Group.
Day, Cherie Hunter. for Want. Ornithopter Press.
Deming, Kristen. plum afternoon. Red Moon Press.
Epstein, Robert (editor). They Gave Us Life: Celebrating Mothers, Fathers & Others in Haiku. Middle Island Press.
Latham, Jessica Malone. cricket song: Haiku and Short Poems form a Mother’s Heart. Red Moon Press.
Mason, Scott. The Wonder Code. Girasole Press.
McCullough, Vicki (editor). Sisyphus: Haiku Work of Anna Vakar. catkin.
Montreuil, Michael (Editor). At the Edge: Raw NerVZ Haibun. Éditions des petits nuages.
Polette, Keith. the new world. Red Moon Press.
Tiwari, Paresh. Raindrops Chasing Raindrops. Red River.

I wish to thank the distinguished Books Award Committee: Randy Brooks, Rebecca Lilly, Michael McClintock, Julie Warther and Don Wentworth.

Bruce H. Feingold
Chair, Touchstone Awards Committee, The Haiku Foundation


Congratulations to Robert Epstein! It’s been such a pleasure working with him over the years. It so happens that this news arrives at the anniversary of his mother’s passing as well as the release of his latest book, Free to Dance Forever: Mourning Haiku for My Mother, which is available at Amazon as of this morning.

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Posted by on April 7, 2018 in News & Reviews


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Near-Life Experience (the Excluded Preface)

I was scrolling through a document of notes and found this Preface that I had written in advance and forgotten about. Instead, my little collection of poems has a practical Introduction; but I thought I’d share this Preface since it doesn’t appear in the book (yet it explained the title better than anything actually within the book, imo).


The more I read and understand, the more I realize that I am the awareness that fashions this body that types these words; I usher in from “the other side” as though I am “dead” and occupying a body through which to “do and shape” according to what my senses gather and what my mind or heart realize as a need for my presence in the moment.

I float through life. I feel, I see, I touch, and I wonder if everyone else feels this sense of being not a resident, per se, but a guest acquainted to the environment through learning and experience. Our senses ground us, but it’s always fleeting, which makes each moment truly precious: it’s here and then it’s gone, having given way to change of the ever-fluctuating Now.

I’ve often pondered the significance and the insignificance of my own words. I consider that “In the beginning was the Word” and, to me, that translates to sound, vibration, color, texture, shape. Why am I “here” right now? What gifts have I remembered through genetic memory that give value or direction to my being?

The awareness that I am is a spark of the divine passed through my ancestors. They live through me and give me an impulse to be a true and simple voice through which others can connect with the divine within themselves, because in that awareness is comfort and realization that we are never truly alone, whether this near-life experience is real, unreal, surreal, hyper-real. (“We’re all in this together,” or maybe All Is One and “we” forget.)

Words are multi-dimensional which makes them a tool of magic. On that note, I give birth to Near-Life Experience by invoking the magic of words in sentiment and sound. My will is to transfer the Love and the Beauty that I experience as I sit on this plateau with youth behind me and wisdom ahead and blowing in my direction – not to override the experiences of others, but to move spirit through the wind of words, to share moments in which I am reminded that All Is One so readers might remember the same through my words.

(Near-Life Experience by Christina Finlayson Taylor is available at Amazon.
Contact me at for a signed copy.)

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Posted by on March 30, 2018 in Musings & Other Things


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Sketching Hibiscus by Kallima Inachus

I’m gladdened to have recently completed Sketching Hibiscus (Middle Island Press), which is now available at Amazon. Kallima is gifted with incredible sensory perception that makes her poems sparkle with uniqueness, and her sophistication and life experience have graced her with a vast mental library of references that add color and depth to her creative imagery.

A poem called “Starfish”:

Out on the lanai we sip lotus green tea
by an overgrown
bush of jasmine pikake.

Myrtle is inside
making mushroom soup—

morel shitake chanterelle

Somewhere beneath
the jade sway
of the Pacific

are self-healing.

Blue koi
on these white-glazed bowls.

Pure aroma:
steam of faint cream and earth.

So much to marvel—
Balm of shark’s fin,
gold touch,

fine loose rhythms
of being
on the same wavelength.

(Purchase a copy of Sketching Hibiscus at Amazon.)

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Posted by on March 15, 2018 in News & Reviews


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Forthcoming Book to Inspire Healing

Robert Epstein does wonderful work. Thank You for promoting it!

Charlotte Digregorio's Writer's Blog

I recently interviewed Haiku Poet and Author Robert Epstein, a psychotherapist living in the San Francisco area, about his forthcoming book, Free to Dance Forever, which I’m sure you will enjoy. If you would like to contact Epstein, you may do so by email at:

  1. Tell us about your new book, Free to Dance Forever:
    Mourning Haiku for My Mother, and what inspired you to write it.

My dear mother died on April 7, 2017––the day before my 63rd
birthday. I had already been writing anticipatory grief haiku about
my motherʼs decline due to dementia and cancer. When she died,
I started a mourning journal that included mostly haiku, just as I
had done after my father died in June, 2002.

After receiving some poems from David H. Rosen about the death of his beloved dog, I
sent a few haiku to him. Rosen is a Jungian analyst and

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Posted by on March 10, 2018 in News & Reviews