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Author Archives: literata72

Why I Write

I’m currently working on a “Coffee with the Poets” interview with a dear friend, Frances McColl Stewart. She asks wonderful questions in return, but with the interview being about her, not the interviewer, I cannot really answer – but they are wonderful questions that get me thinking.

What synchronicity it was when she asked, “Is that why we write?” and “Is what we call ‘conscience’ a Truth-ometer?” (To put it into context, I’ll quote from our forthcoming interview):

“’Sea of humanity’ seemed to be in all that I read at one point. Suddenly, I saw it – we are each an iceberg. We see the 1/10th of each other that is above water and we all are so different, but beneath the water, we are melting and freezing and exchanging the ‘oneness’. Is that why we write? To remember Truth? Do we actually forget truth? Is it absorbed into us? When we hear or read Truth, isn’t it more a recognition than a new thought? Is what we call ‘conscience’ a Truth-ometer?”

I’ve been asking myself in earnest “why I write” for some time now, and have only of recent concluded that I write for myself, except in the case of love poems and other dedications. I write about my world, I write to bury my head in something beautiful about a given moment.

I had to ask myself why I publish my words in books that so few will read. Well, that head-burying: I put it in books because my conscience isn’t happy about my spending valuable time with my head facing a screen and my hands on the keyboard (or a tad more acceptable, sitting with a notebook and pen), so pressing my words in a book says to me, See? Something came of it! But there is little difference between this and going shopping with $50 in hand and insisting on coming home with $50 worth of merchandise to justify the day out. So I’m at a point where I question whether future books are sensible, or hollow justification for time spent (wasted?), or ego (convincing myself that I am worthy of keeping company with my extraordinary and creative peers – “earning my place”).

I’m also guilty of having written at times for an imaginary audience, because I know that I’ll put my words into a book. I see it in my mind and catch myself writing to nobody in particular, like right now, like how so many people mindlessly post “status updates” on Facebook. (They don’t necessarily know who they are talking to; they are simply talking.) Is this just another mechanical habit, compulsive finger-activity that feels good because it validates thoughts? Why don’t I simply journal if I need to, and why does my conscience activate itself when I write? Well, if the conscience is a “Truth-ometer” as Fran suggests (it makes sense to me), then I am supposed to be doing something else with my time. I am supposed to give my time to others. Yet here I am this very minute, writing. It’s not poetry, but I’m pouring mental clutter out of myself. Words are a form of release.

So, writing as escapism and self-therapy, and books as justification…a sad truth to admit, except that I focus on beauty when I write poems, so some of my happiest moments land in books. See? Life isn’t so ugly after all, I say to myself, holding my own books which showcase some of the beautiful moments of my life, the life that slips away while I spend time immortalizing what butterflies I catch.



Christina Finlayson Taylor is the author of three books of poems (available at Amazon).

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Posted by on August 12, 2018 in Musings & Other Things

 

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The Importance of Separating the Writer from the Writing

It’s very difficult to judge what we love, and our own writing is no exception. It’s why we who write need to pull away from our words for weeks, maybe months, minimally, to detach from them. We need to give ourselves time to forget what we wrote.

How often do we notice that our new favorite poems are consistently our most recent poems? But as we look back, a few “perennials” stand out from the rest. Those are the true keepers. We need to pull away long enough to recognize the perennials as those that spring back to life with every read. As for the rest, we need to be able to laugh at ourselves once in a while, and keep them (if we must take clingy hoarding to an ephemeral level) in documents with titles such as “Analects 1,” “Analects 2” and “Analects 3” – and do your best, then, to not look back unless you’re feeling nostalgic or all dried up.

In earlier 2018, I published a small collection of poems written within the previous autumn and winter. Originally it was to be a year’s worth of poems, but I thought, what if I were to die soon, before I would complete spring and summer? My husband and I have a practice of living for today, not looking ahead much, considering that this day might be all we have. So I decided to break the year into two books, to publish the first half now, if not sooner.

What happened, then, was that the second book became an assignment, and I grew disappointed in myself for not slowing down, for not giving it time to sit – not in my hands, re-reading and re-reading without giving the word-attachments time to detach.

I write these words today simply to remind people of the importance of slowing down: patience and trust. When we are enthusiastic, we get impatient, and when our words are brand new, we are enthusiastic about them. We only need to trust in the future, to trust that we will most likely still be here tomorrow and the next day, and to trust someone else with our babies, our documents of fading annuals and resilient perennials, just in case.

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2018 in Musings & Other Things

 

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Jason O’Toole’s Spear of Stars: Recent Success

Jason O’Toole is has been realizing enthusiastic support of his new book, Spear of Stars, released early this month via our Red Salon imprint.

He will be reading at Silver Unicorn Books in Acton, MA.

Film maker Drew Stone is hosting an event in NYC at which O’Toole will read and perform musically.

Dwid Hellion of the band Integrity released some dramatic readings of four poems from O’Toole’s Spear of Stars. They can be accessed here: https://integrity.bandcamp.com/album/spoken-word

He also did an interview with Holy Synergia: http://holysynergia.com/jason-otoole-spear-of-stars/

Beyond this, he’s working on more poetry, fiction, and non-fiction art material.
We wish him the best on it!

 
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Posted by on July 26, 2018 in News & Reviews, The Red Salon

 

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Our Otherworld by Juleigh Howard-Hobson

New release from The Red Salon:

Our Otherworld by Juleigh Howard-Hobson (my new “best favorite ever” written by a lady, and what an honor it was to receive her manuscript). This is the kind of poetry that will be read by its readers again and again and again. There is much to learn, to enjoy, and to deeply appreciate as it reminds the reader to look down and around more—not just up to the sky—for what evokes a sense of wonder; to find it in a forest, at sea, in dead things transforming, and in the collective imagination of European folk. Our Otherworld proffers “Somethings” for the whole family and is available for purchase via Amazon.

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2018 in The Red Salon

 

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July Releases: Middle Island Press and The Red Salon

This has been a busy past few months!

Under the Middle Island Press imprint, we’ve published our first novella: Petals and Nails by Loni Hoots, who also has four books of poetry and the first book of her Little Bird series of stories for children in print.

We’re close to releasing Robert Epstein’s Haiku Days of Remembrance: In Honor of My Father (link forthcoming) as well as Checkout Time is Soon: More Death-Awareness Haiku. He has published several books through Middle Island Press – both his own poetry as well as anthologies which he compiled and edited.

From The Red Salon, we just released Spear of Stars by Jason O’Toole (this is his first collection of poetry, though he’s a seasoned songwriter); and most recently, The Colors of My Soul by myself, Christina Finlayson Taylor.

I do so love keeping busy designing books and am always glad to add new authors and titles to our ever-growing list. Click on the links above to purchase and brows the interiors at Amazon.

 
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Posted by on July 10, 2018 in News & Reviews, The Red Salon

 

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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 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 can decide to write verse, to increase one’s quantity of poems for books or whatever purpose, whereas poetry forces itself in.

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.

POETRY!

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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