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Category Archives: Literary News

Book Review: In Perpetuity by Mark Andrew Heathcote

(Reviewed by Christina Anne Taylor)

I received my copy of In Perpetuity, the first poetry collection of Mark Andrew Heathcote, a literary friend from the UK, and enjoyed reading it over coffee this morning. I’d call it a chapbook at 58 pages, but it’s perfect-bound with a beautiful, simple cover design of which the book’s preface is printed on the back and serves as an adequate summary from the poet to the reader:

“These poems are a snapshot of twenty-five years of poetry in the making. My words have given form to a living, breathing diary of one man’s life. Come take my hand and travel with me through moments of disparity, passion, and joy in my first collection of poetry [ . . . ] I give you my words, forever leaving you a piece of me.”

What strikes me about Heathcote’s work is how natural and honest he is through these 53 poems (“a living, breathing diary,” as he said), and I’d like to just quote some of my favorite parts of poems that struck a chord with me.

In “A Temporal Vision,” the poet begins with a tight “2/4 time” opening, then expands the lines briefly before lifting into a poetic flourish of inspiration:

Did I trace the wind backwards through its red iron clay root?
Trace it back to the core of a cavern in the mouth of a cave,
Back into them dank, dark smells of England’s thorn and fire,
Green-oaks tall as a bluebell’s spire,
English yews, soft scented, with a slow-growing desire.

In “Betel Leaves,” he gives us a more structured verse (many in his collection are melodic yet structured and with random rhyme). Lines 5-12:

And much like them tasty betel leaves
She folded in and around me, tucked me
Into her opium mouth, tucked me
Inside a secret sacred part of herself.

“Our eternity has no windows,” she said:
“Whatever direction you take yourself,
Be sure your heart has partaken and dined,
And your soul is well fed.”

Then placing an emerald leaf around my head,
She embellished me with a silken thread.
“Our eternity has no windows,” she said,
“But we too are butterflies jointly cocooned in a web.”

“Graced Am I,” lines 3-11:

Sunlight is our first brush with love
But moonlight, even when eclipsed
In its shadowy bloom
When it falls on our lips,
Is second to none:
It tugs at us in its ocean swell
It points us in ever unexpected new directions
It is the eye of a hurricane
It is the lily pads swaying…

In “How Wrong Was I,” we feel again what too many of us have felt at least once in life, and we empathize. The first half:

Once I came close to your Magnum Opus
I thought I was your inspiration
How wrong was I
Once I came close to your whispering soul
I thought I was its constellation
How wrong was I
Once I came close to the vortex of your heart
But I never entered; you didn’t want me there
Oh, how I drowned in deep despair.

And the first stanza of “Steps of Heaven”:

Morning glory must open
To seed the steps of heaven
And on her nap of cloud
Might yours be a halo, a crown
Opening the gates of heaven.

We see a common theme of the contemplations of a thoughtful, romantic soul who poured his human experience into this poetic heart-full collection. In Perpetuity serves to remind us that we are not alone in our struggles and our moments of joy through the beauty of the simple things. It’s available via Amazon.com and is also formatted for a free Kindle download, but of course I recommend a print copy.

 
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Posted by on January 12, 2017 in Literary News

 

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Chicken Train: Poems from the Arkansas Delta by Terry Minchow-Proffitt

Our latest Middle Island Press release, Chicken Train: Poems from the Arkansas Delta by Missouri poet Terry Minchow-Proffitt, is already selling like cookies at a bake sale. Unlike cookies, though, this title will always be available via Amazon.com.  Terry is looking forward to a release party within the next few days. I wish I could be there!

His daughter, Hannah Minchow-Proffitt, did all of the design of Chicken Train and specializes in design for nonprofit organizations. She is also the choice of Middle Island Press if ever we have design needs that are beyond my capacity. It was a pleasure to work with both of them on this meticulous project with beautiful results.

Read more about Terry Minchow-Proffitt at the Middle Island Press website.

chicken-train-for-website-01

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2016 in Literary News

 

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Songs of the Mist by Loni Hoots

Middle Island Press just released its third title of poet Loni Hoots. Songs of the Mist (ISBN 978-0-9980732-3-1) is a collection of clear and concise poems in which the poet’s specialty, imagery, continues its starring role alongside personification in the forefront of fine poetic qualities. Loni is a young lady who understands the value of being One with nature for maintaining clarity of mind and heart.

hoots-songs-of-the-mist-cover-jpegFrom page 37, “Made from Nature”:

The sound of the water roaring fills my ears
As the sight of the fog devours the scenery.
The sweet smell from the air captivates my soul,
Making me yearn for it even more.

Although I am certainly lost,
I do not feel that way when I am trapped in the fog.
For the river is the blood I bleed,
The fog is the skin that covers every inch of me,
And the sweet delicious smell has created my heart, mind, and soul.

(Songs of the Mist is available now at the Middle Island Press website and will soon be available via Amazon.com.)

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2016 in Literary News

 

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Every Chicken, Cow, Fish and Frog: Animal Rights Haiku

Robert Epstein, psychotherapist, haiku poet and anthologist, has recently published his sixth Middle Island Press title with the assistance of co-editor Miriam Wald, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist and animal rights activist. They poured their hearts and souls into this 218-page anthology with a considerable amount of well-wrought front matter and a lot of selection and arranging of the poetry of some of the most bright, witty and compassionate animal-lovers in the world. I consider Robert Epstein to be a ground-breaker in animal rights awareness (with this current title, Every Chicken, Cow, Fish and Frog: Animal Rights Haiku, as well as his Turkey Heaven: Animal Rights Haiku) and feel that no vegetarian’s library is complete without these books.

epstein-animal-rights-haiku-cover-jpegcrimson dusk–
the cowbells tinkling along
their last journey

~ Shrikaanth Krishnamurthy

a caged chimpanzee
injected with hepatitis
signs hello

~ Allan Burns

Every Chicken, Cow, Fish, and Frog is a special compilation tribute to animals. The magical place where human and non-human animals briefly connect, and share an understanding, is here, in this powerful book.”

~ Hope Bohanec, Executive Director of Compassionate Living, Projects Manager of United Poultry Concerns, and author, The Ultimate Betrayal: Is There Happy Meat?

Every Chicken, Cow, Fish, and Frog presents us with a unique, engrossing and deeply thought-provoking anthology of poetry and haiku from a global authorship for the animal- and planet-conscious reader. The subtle power of this word art will inspire many to think with greater clarity, vision and focus about some of the greatest challenges we face today.”

~ Robert Grillo, Executive Director of Free from Harm, and author, From Farm to Fable: The Fictions of Our Animal-Consuming Culture

 

(Every Chicken Cow, Fish and Frog is available online and will shortly be available also in Kindle format.)

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2016 in Literary News

 

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Jack Phillips Lowe: “A Poet With His Boots On”

I recently received a letter from poet Jack Phillips Lowe, author of Middle Island Press titles Cold Case Cowboys and Jupiter Works on Commission, among several others by this dedicated writer. Attached to his letter was a photocopy of a few pages from Poets International, a print publication from India which published a review of Lowe’s Cold Case Cowboys written by Toledo, Ohio reviewer Teresinka Pereira. Poets are always elated when their works are reviewed; and overseas reviews, whether in print or online, are especially gratifying.

For copyright reasons I cannot scan the pages, but I’ll summarize:

Ms. Pereira seeks to review the work of American poets with truly enjoyable, non-angsty, out-of-the-ordinary subjects, so she was happy to order a copy of Cold Case Cowboys. One of her favorite poems therein is “Think Highly” from which she quoted (in prose formatting), “Prayer tower, I answered him, is a convenient term. I meant this to be a place for free-ranging introspective thought of every creed and idiom…” She also quoted from (my personal favorite) “Cured”: “After the fifth time, I quit seeing the doctor. If my issues were dull enough to lull him to sleep, I figured I must be cured.” Then she commented on another: “The poem ‘Him Alone’ is the most original reference of the 9-11-2001 terrorist attack of the Twin Towers in New York. He remembers (or read…) that ‘in 1974, a French daredevil crossed a tightrope that had been stretched between the Twin Towers,’ and wondered how the acrobat he calls ‘Bastard’ felt when the towers were destroyed… ‘He might have mourned the loss of two giants he’d come to know intimately as they performed the stunt of the century together. And perhaps he mourned the fact that no one would be able to recall their outstanding achievement without it being shrouded in gloom.'”

Pereira, as many readers, appreciates her ability to connect with Lowe’s many references to real-world characters such as J.D. Salinger, John Wayne, John Lennon and so on, which helps to paint clear mental images; as well as Lowe’s ability to make readers laugh, smirk, chuckle. She says, “He satirizes society and comes out clean. Readers always agree with him. I do. I could have written a poem like ‘A Damn Thing At All’ about the use of Twitter, YouTube, etc… His poems express my thoughts in ways I cannot explain.”

So all is well that concludes well!

Cold Case Cowboys and other titles by Jack Phillips Lowe can be purchased at Amazon.com. Ms. Pereira can be contacted at ptereira@buckeye-express.com.

 

 
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Posted by on November 27, 2016 in Literary News

 

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Obsessions: A Novel by Gene McCormick

mccormick-obsessions-cover-jpegObsessions (“A cup of coffee and a walk in the park through the feral cityscapes of daily life”) is a novel written in poetic form and is the latest work of Illinois poet and author Gene McCormick. This is his second title published by Middle Island Press this year.

From the Middle Island Press website:

Obsessions of daily life including passion, mystery, and even a minute or two of off-center romance provide emotional heft to a highly nuanced, uniquely evocative exploitation of minutes and hours ticking by in a multi-layered, thought-provoking, genteel insanity. Obsessions is, on the surface, accessible to the brink of literal transparency but a walk in a forest preserve, being parked in a shopping mall in a thunderstorm, going fishing, rubbing on lotion prove not so routine. As Neil Gaiman has said “Things can mean more than they literally mean.” 

McCormick’s titles are available via Amazon.com and elsewhere online. I recommend Obsessions to people who are naturally curious about humanity and enjoy the humor that abounds through observing the nuances of others. It’s an intriguing read!

 
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Posted by on October 10, 2016 in Literary News

 

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Turkey Heaven: Animal Rights Haiku by Robert Epstein

epstein-turkey-heaven-cover-jpeg

Animal Rights is a theme that California poet, editor and anthologist Robert Epstein takes rather seriously yet sometimes in a playful fashion. Turkey Heaven: Animal Rights Haiku (ISBN 978-1535070829), recently published through Middle Island Press, is witty and wise in its approach and persuasive “food for thought” regarding Epstein’s respect for animals and the vegetarian diet.

what about your shoes / the cheeky carnivore asks? / broccoli

Read the poet’s comments on Turkey Heaven at the Middle Island Press website.

Copies are available through Amazon.com and elsewhere online.

 
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Posted by on September 13, 2016 in Literary News

 

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