Author Archives: literata72

Book Review: Marital Advice to My Grandson, Joel

(By Christina Anne Taylor)

Peter Davidson’s Marital Advice to My Grandson, Joel (available at Amazon) was just published by Sweet Memories Publishing. The subtitle, How to be a husband your wife won’t throw out of the window in the middle of the night, alludes to the playful tone found throughout this book.

It warms my heart as I assume it was a wedding gift of sage advice from Grandpa to his grandson. A lot of advice herein involves such a level of detail that is humorous in itself, and the author enjoys reminding his grandson as well as the reader who is speaking:

“‘Your wife-to-be is beautiful, built, smart, and nice – marry her quick before she gets into what a loser you are.’ (Joel, this advice would apply to about 95% of the guys out there, but not to a couple of smooth guys like you and me.)”

One of my favorite laughing moments regarding how to handle (and not handle) the question of “Does this dress make my ass look big?” He says:

“Now, there is no doubt that you consider yourself to be one of the most quick-witted and funniest guys on the planet. Humorous quips pop into your mind such as, ‘Naw – it’s no more than two ax-handles wide,’ or ‘Don’t worry about it – it’s all behind you.’ Here are three thoughts for you to consider: First, you’re not as funny as you think. Second, you’re walking on egg shells here. Third, this is a wonderful opportunity to deliver a superb compliment that she will deeply appreciate and that she will remember for a long time, if not forever.” (For as he also says, “Be careful what you confess to in a weak moment – women have a memory like an elephant.”)


Suggestions in general range from the playful (a man’s role in yard sales) to practical brilliance (why it’s good to choose vacuuming the floor as a household task) to less common experience (how to handle money in a way that ensures wealth). What looks mean what, what body language means what…this is all covered.

All in all, this grandfather/author is a cut-up with the first three quarters of the book written like two fellas having drinks – one talking and chuckling with the other listening and chuckling – and then toward the end it gets more serious, as though the piano man has announced his final song for the night; but throughout, it retains its humor.

Marital Advice to My Grandson, Joel would be useful for any soon-to-be married couple. It’s a quick read for those pressed for time, but the kind of book that one would pull out every now and then just for the love of it.

My best to the attractive young couple, Joel and Abby, who are blessed to have Grandpa’s sage advice on hand!

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Posted by on February 15, 2018 in News & Reviews


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Coffee with Loni Hoots

(“Coffee with the Poets” interviews are conducted by Christina Anne Taylor.)

Loni Hoots is a very sweet, spiritual and active person with a big heart. She’s been published through Middle Island Press since her first poetry book, The Nymph of the Unknown Forest, which was released in 2015. We are currently working on piecing together her first children’s book, Little Bird, Little Bird, which is a charming poem that will be illustrated by one of the most talented illustrators in St. Louis, Melissa Rohr Gindling. We’ll have it listed soon, for a total of five books to Loni’s credit. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her this past few years and hope our readers will enjoy getting to know her just as much.

So glad that you were up for coffee (or is it tea for you)?

It is tea for me, I don’t enjoy coffee.

Not surprising! 🙂 So, how long have you been penning poetry? I’d love to know the history of your writing process, how you feel that your writing has evolved over time.

I have been writing poetry since I was a little kid, since around the age of 10 years old. At first it was just an assignment but I realized that I had really enjoyed it, and saw that it was a great way to create funny little poems. As I got older my poems had gotten more advanced and more abstract, and from there I fell in love with writing poems. It also catapulted me into writing short stories outside of homework assignments.

Over the years I have noticed that my style of writing has changed quite dramatically, because I had always been given this notion of “every poem has to rhyme”, and to me it didn’t seem right. And as I began to take a lot more creative writing courses I had come across the history of poetry not always rhyming and it had the freedom of being free-style, to me that gave me the opportunity to write poems how I wanted. Sometimes my poems do rhyme like the more traditional poems do, but a majority of my poems do not rhyme. This is because I just want to get what is on my mind and in my heart out onto a piece of paper without any restrictions.

Besides having a battle with traditional versus modern approach of how to write a poem, my own writing theme has indeed evolved over time. When I was in middle school I would write about magical beings such as mermaids, unicorns, etc.; and Nymph of the Unknown Forest is a more grownup, polished version of what I would’ve written in middle school. And in high school, I wrote about highly emotional issues that I was dealing with. As an adult I have noticed that I tend to incorporate my abstract way of magic realism mixed with my emotions and real life experiences with either love, depression, heartbreak, death, or even with what I deal with inside my dreams.

It’s good that you express yourself as it feels natural. Do you have a favorite poem of yours that you’d like to share?

I do have a favorite poem, it is called “Take It In”.

Take it in, every inch of it,
and you’ll see what awaits you
when you open the door.
You’ve got to make a change,
the universe can only do so much.
Try not to worry;
that’ll change your perspective if you do.
Instead, just open the door,
and you’ll be greeted by a new life.
This I know.

Take it in,
breathe a little deeper.
It’ll calm your senses,
and open that door to start your new life,
So take it all in,
just breathe.

Tell us, if you would, a little something about it.

At some point in our lives everyone worries. We worry about the outcome that will occur throughout our lives. I know, I worry quite a bit, and that is how the poem came about; it came through every person’s insecurities and impatience. And when I wrote this poem it helped me just sit back and take a breath, because I saw that I was waiting for the Universe to just show up on my door step, to give me everything. Then I realized that, yes, it is great to have the Universe guiding you, helping you move along in life, guiding the people that need to be in your life, but you have your own hand in your life, in your destiny. And “Take It In” encompasses all of that.

Yes; that’s comforting, as a lot of your poems are: a breath of fresh air, healing. You’re a healer by gift and profession, and I understand that much of your writing is part of your own personal healing process.

I have always been around natural healing due to my background, but also just with my view on helping others. Going back to high school I had to take some medicine, but I could never take it due to my body reacting in a bad way, so my mom and I went to the natural herbal store and ended up getting my medicine from there. Once I got into college I knew that I wanted to get into the medical field, just didn’t know what part of the field at the time. After a couple of years I discovered that I wanted to focus on the holistic aspect of healing others. I am still in college, working towards my Master’s (I’m never done learning) for Holistic Science, because I want to write medical journals about different aspects of the holistic field to show others that there are other ways to heal one’s body without prescriptions.

I hope you go far in the field! What else do you do in support of natural living?

Thank you! I am also a certified Stress Management Coach and a certified Mind Body Fitness Coach, and that entails a lot of holistic therapies. In a sense that supports the natural lifestyle.

You also have a blog called The Healing Garden. Would you care to elaborate on this?

I did have a blog that was called The Healing Garden; it was to help heal others using a simplistic lifestyle and showing how to use natural herbs to cure common ailments from the common colds to falling asleep. Unfortunately, I had closed it down during the month of December 2017 to take this year to recover and focus on healing myself and figure things out with how I want to continue with helping others in a creative fashion. It was not an easy decision, because I did have a pretty great following, but there was just something missing, something was not right and I wanted to take time away and see what could be missing from what my mission and goal was.

I definitely understand about simplifying life for the sake of focus. You mentioned worry a few minutes ago, which many of us can relate to, inclusive of many poets, I’m sure: thinking, feeling, the more abstract ways of being. To what extent does this manifest in your poetry?

My goal with my poetry is to help heal others and show them that they are not the only one that is going through whatever situation they are going through at that moment in time. If you were to enter my mind you would see an abstract library that has several inner worlds that are guarded by doors, and most of my poems are inspired by my abstract views on how I see situations.

So you write for the benefit of others at least as much as you write for your own self. That’s beautiful. One of the things I love about your poems is their deep sincerity through which you open doors within doors. Would you mind sharing one of your poems that demonstrates this, and what book can readers find it in?

I would love to share one of my poems. It is called “Lost Character” and can be found in Songs of the Mist.

On this gloomy foggy morning I stand in the pastures,
Breathing in the air and taking in the silence.
‘Tis a fate worse than death to lose my conscience,
For there is never a moment,
Not a second to breathe.
I feel at any second I might lose my footing.
I might lose my mind if I do not escape this life.
This life I live is not mine.
I’m just a character in a book,
In which you must decipher between each line.
Run. Run.
My mind races,
But I can’t start.
Not just yet.
Looking for a sign,
Any sign to help me,
When suddenly, I see a flock of crows flying above me.
They swoop down,
Trying to pick me up,
But alas, I’m too heavy for them.
My mind stops thinking.
My heart finally gives in.
I’m ready to take flight
And leave this story for good.
I run with the crows flying above,
And I take a big jump.
I feel myself flying.
I notice the crows have caught me.
They are taking me away from this story,
To be the character I’m supposed to be in another fairytale ending.

You maintain the imagination that most people lose over time. Your recent book, Hearts of Glass, is selling very well, by the way, which tells me that readers seek the ability to gaze into a mirror of their own Being through your “Poems of the Fragile Heart” (as you aptly subtitled it).

With this book I wanted to bring forth one of the major parts of everyone’s life, love. We all deal with love in some way, shape or form from friendships to something more intimate, and I think that with those who are reading these poems can relate to every single word because at some point in our lives we will fall in love, fall out of love, deal with breakdowns in the kitchen with a significant other wondering if it was going to be the last time we would see them.

Absolutely, and we love to feel. What inspired your forthcoming children’s book, and do you foresee yourself writing more of the same genre?

I love writing poems for children, it allows me to create quirky, cute, fairy-tale like poetry books. Of course, I have a goal to release a series of children’s books based around Little Bird, Little Bird.

That’s great to hear! It’s rare for people at your young age to have done so much with their life. What’s your philosophy on living, and what has inspired you along the way?

In the most cliché way possible, I live life to the fullest. My entire life I’ve always wanted to follow all of my passions and in a way I have accomplished many of them.

The way of the romantic!

I am a hopeless romantic, I love love, never understood why, but it has always been a part of me since I was a kid and was reading “Anne of Green Gables” series. I was swooning over Gilbert Blythe when I was 10 years old, and thought that was the type of love that I wanted. Even as a grown woman I am still like that, I am still attracted to the Gilbert Blythe’s, Colonel Brandon’s (Sense & Sensibility), Thornton’s (North & South), and Rochester’s (Jane Eyre). In a way I guess you can say that romance propels me through life not only personally but as a writer as well.

Very nice. You’re an angel and it’s delightful listening to what you have to say. Thank you. If there is anything else that you’d like to touch upon, the closing words are yours.

That is very kind of you to say, and I would like to take a moment to thank you and everyone at Middle Island Press for publishing my works for the past couple of years. It has been a wonderful and great time working with you, and I look forward to creating more books.


Loni Hoots, born in Joplin, Missouri in 1991, is the poet behind Nymph of the Unknown Forest, Beyond the Pillars, Songs of the Mist, and Hearts of Glass (with Little Bird, Little Bird forthcoming). When Loni is not writing poems, she is constantly writing short stories, and a novel that has been in the making for the past few years.
When not writing, Loni is usually found working in the medical field helping others incorporate minimalism, hygge, and stress-free techniques in their lives, as well as helping others introduce a healthier lifestyle by promoting a pescetarian diet and adding more vegetables and fruits.
Currently in Alaska, Loni is known for her nomadic lifestyle, moving to different states, traveling to new places, always wanting to learn more and be inspired by everything around her.

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Posted by on February 7, 2018 in News & Reviews


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Chapbooks Converted to Perfect-Bound Paperbacks

I’ve recently converted a few Middle Island Press chapbooks from saddle-stitched to perfect-bound:

The Soundness of Broken Pieces (2017) by Lucie M. Winborne

The Mermaid’s Thesaurus (2018) by Kallima Hamilton

They are as beautiful as the original versions.
We hope our readers enjoy them!


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Posted by on January 29, 2018 in News & Reviews


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Poem: Tapestry

Each life, a thread within a weave,
The grandest tapestry.
The weaver weaves the present-tense
With seeming spontaneity
When threads surrender to the hands,
The implements of mind,
The eye of God with vision clear;
The fates as puppets, blind,

But ah! The rebel now and then:
The path of the magician,
Resolved to wield a wayward will
And see it to fruition,
And even God with vision clear
Is thusly entertained
When perfect order intertwines
With chaos unrestrained.

A living, breathing tapestry—
With knots of soul-collision,
With known and hidden warp and woof
In patternless precision—
Extends in all directions far
Beyond all comprehension:
The playground of eternity,
A dream beyond dimension.

–Christina Finlayson Taylor
January 2018

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Posted by on January 24, 2018 in Musings & Other Things


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The “Feely” Quality of Hand-Crafted Books

This morning I was reading a touching poem by Jorge Luis Borges. It’s important to note that he was blind through part of his life, and blind when he wrote “June 1968.” It begins:

On a golden evening,
or in a quietness whose symbol
might be a golden evening,
a man sets up his books
on the waiting shelves,
feeling the parchment and leather and cloth
and the satisfaction given by
the anticipation of a habit
and the establishment of order.

(Further down the poem…)

The man, who is blind,
knows that he can no longer read
the handsome volumes he handles
and that they will not help him write
the book which in the end might justify him,
but on this evening that perhaps is golden
he smiles at his strange fate
and feels that special happiness
which comes from things we know and love.

On that note, I went down to our poetry room, which we call the Red Salon, and picked up my husband’s magnum opus, Remnants of a Season. I imagined that I might one day be mostly blind, like my great grandma, and I felt the book with my hands—the dimension, the texture, the special binding—and I filled with gratitude for the aesthetic sensibility and the craftsmanship of others, and how these qualities enrich and stylize our culture in ways such as clothing words in the most elegant book binding.

Remnants of a Season is of such a “feely” quality that it’s as much a treasure to hold as it is to behold, and if ever I could not read it, I could hold it in my hands and recognize it, hold it to my heart and absorb it, even as Borges must have known his favorite books by touch.

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Posted by on December 8, 2017 in Musings & Other Things


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Poem: Illusion

The saddest thing: when those we care about
And wish to love and hold within our lives
Are happier without.

We look within the mirror, look for lies
That surface when the lens of mind is broken;
We look within the eyes

To contemplate the all that isn’t spoken,
And what can never fully be expressed
And seldom be awoken

Except to crush the surface into dust,
Send ego through the dread refiner’s fire
As die it simply must.

The unmoved mover never suffers ire;
The soul within maintains its non-direction,
The rod to never tire,

But pluck away the thoughts of imperfection,
Dissolve illusion, smash it with a clout,
Then find a true reflection.

–Christina Finlayson Taylor
Autumn 2017

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Posted by on November 17, 2017 in Musings & Other Things


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Poem: Soul to Hero

My book in the making, so far, is yet more introspective than Villanelles & Varia. I’m happy with the flow of poems and whisper “Thank You, my Muse” upon completion of each one. Gratitude is important. Here is one that I penned the other day for my husband:

Soul to Hero

I’ve no desire to return
When one last time I leave the flesh,
But you, with tested sword in hand,
You relish the adventure
Of all I wish to leave behind,
So ‘round you’ll go and fall again:
Another life, another skin,
In order to remember,

And once again I’ll watch and wait
And send you signs, as now and then
You’ll long for all that you’ll forget
And must recall again.
The Evening Star is ever there:
Your guiding light, her golden hair,
And memories outside of time
Will swell a song within.

You’ll linger long in twilight eyes
And feel a long forgotten dream,
And when you see her gazing deep,
You’ll then remember me,
And fall into the loveless Love,
And softly, then, I’ll pull you in
With gentle winds that call you home
When once again you leave.

–Christina Finlayson Taylor
Autumn, 2017

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Posted by on November 10, 2017 in Musings & Other Things


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