Dawn Pisturino's Blog

My Writing Journey

Poetry Book Reviews: Fritzinie Lavoile and Khaya Ronkainen

(Photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash)

Ruminative Words by Fritzinie Lavoile (2022). Available on Amazon.com.

Fritzinie is a young Haitian poet whose poetry reflects wisdom beyond her years. Her verses are tender, insightful, beautiful, and filled with hope. Though young in years, she freely shares her thoughts, emotions, and experiences on various topics: love, heartache, disappointment, betrayal, survival, racism, and the deep and abiding love and support found within her own family and faith. Her poetry is a vehicle for helping others find their “safe space” and become their own “safety net.”

From the very first poem in the collection, I was hooked:

“May our love be like the branches on a tree . . .

which not even the strongest of winds could break.

May our love rise above obstacles . . .

that block its path towards the light.

May our love stretch its every inch

as it reaches for life.”

Surviving an earthquake, she writes:

“Sometimes I feel like I am still that six-year-old girl in

Haiti.

In the middle of an earthquake.

Stuck under that brick wall.

Everyone tramping on top of me

yearning to survive,

deafened to my cries.”

In spite of difficulties and pain, she perseveres:

“I press my eyes

begging for tomorrow to come.

The night insists on being a little longer

teaching me the importance of longing.

Of being patient.”

Although I do not know Fritzinie personally, I feel a connection to her after reading her lovely collection of poems. Her strength and resilience shine through her words, giving me hope that even the darkest days will still produce young poets with the energy to shine through the clouds and write to inspire and uplift those around them.

Website: http://www.ruminativewords.com

The Sheltering by Khaya Ronkainen (2022). Available on Amazon.com.

Khaya is a South African poet living in Finland. Her impressive collection of poems is written with thoughtful consideration, deep emotion, and keen observation of the world around her.  Written during the COVID-19 pandemic, she addresses issues like depression, isolation, grief, friendship, and family. Her experience with the pandemic and lockdown reflects the experience of so many other people who suddenly found themselves suffering in silence and alienation: Why did this happen? Are we doing the right thing? Will it ever end? Will life return to normal? What is the end result of such a dystopian event? Finally, leaving the shelter of home prompted new concerns: Is the world a better place? Are we better people now? Did we learn anything new? Will it happen again?

The world is already divided

No sooner have we all agreed

that this pandemic knows no colour

than we witness reality

Life is cheap for those who can afford

The common enemy encircles

gathering strength, widening the gap

between the haves and have-nots

Inertia and action, fraternal twins

whose distinction seems unimportant

yet change hangs in the balance”

Expressing herself through poetry helped Khaya get through the pandemic. Yet, while humans sheltered at home, nature continued its orderly routine. Flowers still bloomed. Birds still warbled. The earth still turned. And when that final autumn came before the restrictions were lifted, leaves still burned with color and hope:

“Nothing depicts autumn like October’s blazing

sun before it dips beneath the horizon. While

I toast marshmallows in the evenings and

drink apple cider sangria deep into the night, I

acknowledge you are a multifaceted season of

the soul. A season to dance with things I

cannot control and reclaim freedom. I’ll

indulge and celebrate on your good days.

Because I cannot stop leaves from falling.”

We could not stop the pandemic, but we endured. What we choose to do with that is up to us. The world is still a beautiful place:

“A blue tit puffed up with boldness

reminds of its presence

and calm outlasts

the storm.”

Website: http://www.khayaronkainen.fi

~

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. today!

~

Dawn Pisturino

January 16, 2023

Copyright 2022-2023 Fritzinie Lavoile. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2022-2023 Khaya Ronkainen. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2023 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

16 Comments »

Spotlight on Aparna Jagannath, Writer

(Photo by Vigneshwar Rajkumar on Unsplash)

Today, I want to shine the spotlight on Aparna Jagannath, a dear WordPress friend who lives in Chennai, India. Her passion for reading and writing is unsurpassed. She is a prolific reader with an M.A. in English Literature. She possesses impressive knowledge about writers from various cultures. She also writes wonderful poems and stories that will knock your socks off with their profound wisdom, wicked humor, and keen insight into the human condition. She does not mince words but gets right to the heart of the matter. Aparna is also a strong advocate for women’s rights in India and around the world. Right now, two of her books are available on Amazon.com:

This collection of stories offers valuable life lessons for children and teenagers alike. Aparna covers many topics: cheating on exams, rude behavior towards family, making healthy decisions, coping with harmful friends, bullying, indifference to school, kindness to animals, and others. My favorite story is “Trapped inside a Smartphone” because it is clever, well-written, and thought-provoking. If your child enjoys reading books about other countries and cultures, he or she will find this book highly enjoyable.

Excerpt:

“A maze of wires surrounded him from all the sides. He was lying beside a giant motherboard. The place was air-conditioned. He almost started shivering. He looked around for his family, but couldn’t spot anyone. ‘Can you hear me, mom? Where are you, daddy?’ he screamed his lungs out, panicking. . .”

Aparna writes from the heart in this fine collection of poems. With honesty and openness, she speaks about the loss of friends, her father, and honor and compassion in the world. She fiercely advocates for herself, her daughter, and all women around the world in their struggle for freedom, dignity, and respect. Her hopes and dreams form the foundation of her writing. In spite of the crushing injustices she sees around her, she conveys a spirit of hope that the world can be a better place.

“Is it my dream? Are you really visible to my eyes?

Thirty long years have passed since we met each other.

Now we are chatting over a video call.

What a wonderful surprise! . . .”

~

“Why should women observe silence?

Why shouldn’t they raise voice against domestic violence?

Why should they submit to male chauvinism?

Why shouldn’t they protect their feminism? . . .”

~

“I thank you, Mother Nature, for supporting all forms of life.

You tolerate our misdeeds with a smile while we are busy with the knife.

I thank you, Mother Earth, for enabling us to live.

We have hurt you in many ways; yet, you always forgive . . .”

~

“Let’s tread carefully on this dangerous path of life forever.

These roads are sometimes narrow and slippery.

Let’s try not to lose our balance to their treachery . . .”

~

You can visit Aparna at her WordPress blog here.

Dawn Pisturino

December 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Aparna Jagannath. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

27 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Bartholomew Barker and Stephen Page

(Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash)

Milkshakes and Chilidogs and Other Food Poems by Bartholomew Barker (2017).

       Available on Amazon.com.

Bartholomew is one of the organizers of Living Poetry in North Carolina. Since he is also a food and wine aficionado, it is not surprising that he wrote a poetry book about food. What surprised me is what a great little book it is! His poems are witty, analytical, and chock full of delightful morsels about dining and the things we consume. You will not find any anorexic rejection of edibles here. Bartholomew is absolutely shameless in his love of food. And that’s what makes this book such a wonderful read and a delicious gift for other food-a-holics.

“Cold long nights

are best spent cuddled

with macaroni and cheese.”

Who can argue with that?

“Tomatoes

Firm as your breasts

Red as your lips

On a night out

Drenched in Merlot.”

Believe me, I will never look at tomatoes in the same way again! And finally –

“I want to die fat and happy

I want to meet my chiligod

With a milkshake in my hand.”

I know a lot of chili lovers who would agree with that!

Website: Bartholomew Barker, Poet

The Salty River Bleeds by Stephen Page (2019). Available on Amazon.com.

Stephen Page is an award-winning author whose work has appeared in numerous publications. In this unique collection, he uses poetry and poetic prose to create a realistic portrait of life on an Argentinian ranch. The ranch, its owners, and caretakers, are all fictitious; but Stephen writes with authenticity and conviction. For him, the story is real, from the ambivalent feelings of the owner about leaving the city and isolating out in the countryside; to the lazy, conniving employees; to dealing with bad hombres like cattle rustlers and horse thieves; to birthing calves, riding horses, and watching the crops grow. He expresses concerns about rain and drought; the effects of pesticides on the land; the annoying insects; mechanical issues; and constant repairs on the ranch. The owner’s frustration comes through loud and clear. Life is difficult. But it’s the raw beauty of nature that keeps him going. He has his family to provide for and a loving wife to lean on. In the end, the struggles seem to be all worthwhile.

Stephen’s style is eloquent and simple:

“The tree frogs called the rain last night,

but the rain did not answer.

The intermittent croaking, about

every hour or so, was followed by

a gust of wind and the scent

of water, but no sprinkle, no pour.”

~

“When I am in the city,

I remember why I escape

To the ranch. When I am

On the ranch, I remember why

I want to live in the city.”

Website: Stephen Page

Dawn Pisturino

November 22, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

27 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Paula Light and Lamittan Minsah

(Photo by Arash Asghari on Unsplash)

Monochrome: Poetry from the Ashes by Paula Light (2018). Available on Amazon.com.

Paula is a California poet whose poetry collection is a delight to read. She writes with a gentle hand. Her poems are like butterflies which attract us with rich colors, feather-weight movements, velvety textures, and delicate wings. She explores the nature of love, loss, sadness, and acceptance with profound understanding and peace. At the same time, she has a sharp wit and approaches life with humor and positivity. When you read her WordPress blog, you will experience both sides of this very talented woman.

“Immersed in words,

Steamed in verse,

Lovesongs burning up my dreams . . .

It must be true:

I still hold

A torch for you . . .”

And from her poem, Grace:

“The night sky knows my sorrow:

An ice wind screams your name,

While thunder booms in horror

And lightning damns this place.

Then softly comes the music;

Gently falls the rainsong;

Rhythms drip down smoothly,

And the moon is bathed in grace.”

Website: Light Motifs

Let’s Talk Bride: A Poetry Collection by Lamittan Minsah (2020). Available on Amazon.com.

Lamittan is a Kenyan poet who has written a collection of poems about a very special person in his life, Apostle Darlan Rukih, also known as the Bride of the Lamb, a minister in the Bride of the Lamb Ministries International.

This book has a fascinating backstory. Darlan Rukih was born a hermaphrodite (someone who is born with both male and female genitalia and characteristics, also known as an intersex person). Since this condition is not accepted in Kenyan culture, Rukih grew up isolated, alienated, and rejected by others. But faith in God and the Lord Jesus Christ helped Rukih to overcome this disability and to serve by helping others. Rukih first married a woman and was blessed with a son. After that relationship failed, Rukih dated a man and got pregnant. Blessed with two children, Rukih is devoted to helping children in need in Kenya. Reference: Mpasho website.

Lamittan’s admiration for the Bride of the Lamb knows no bounds in this fine collection of poems which praise Rukih, God, and His son, Jesus Christ. Lamittan expresses both his joy and his sorrow in these poems:

“There’s beauty walking in Africa,

Traversing a lonely desert –

A damsel formed by the maker

Out of the ribs of Adam, long ago.

There is beauty

Such as one that never was before.”

~

“They nailed our Lord by force.

The heavens roared,

His pain had reached God,

And for a moment,

Darkness covered the firmament

And hid God’s gaze from his son . . .”

Follow Lamittan Minsah on WordPress to read more of his poetry and stories and to learn more about Kenyan culture. His business site, Laminsa Indies, encourages and aids “budding writers, musicians, actors/actresses, self-publishers, photographers, drawing artists, dancers and many other talents from the creative industry.” Check it out!

Website: Laminsa Indies

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 21, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

26 Comments »

Poetry Book Review: Gabriela Marie Milton

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Woman: Splendor and Sorrow by Gabriela Marie Milton (2021). Available on Amazon.com.

I met Gabriela a year ago, when she was editor for MasticadoresUSA. Impressed by the quality of the poems and prose I read there, I began to submit poems – both old and new – for her consideration. Well, she published them! And I have been following her ever since. It was her kindness and encouragement which prompted me to start writing poetry again after a long hiatus. She inspires me to reach farther and try harder than ever before.

A Pushcart nominee. A #1 Best-Selling Author on Amazon. The 2019 Author of the Year at Spillwords Press. Gabriela has published two books of high caliber poetry, co-authored anthologies, and edited the recent Amazon Best-Seller, Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women, which she published with Ingrid Wilson of Experiments in Fiction. She resides in a higher realm of imagination, pulling ideas and images out of the clouds that Wow! the reader and transport him/her to another world. She employs language that is lush, exotic, sensual, and stimulating to all five senses. She is her poetry. Her poetry is her. She pushes the boundaries of creativity and encourages others to do the same. She is poet, teacher, mother, friend, divine goddess of the poetic art form. Many of her themes revolve around the strength, resilience, and beauty of women. She adores children, the magic of childhood, and the blessings of motherhood. And then, there’s Love! — and the perpetual tango between two lovers.

Woman: Splendor and Sorrow is a testament to the hypnotic power of love and its ability to elevate us to the heights of ecstasy or fling us into the burning depths of Hell. Every word is exquisitely crafted:

“each word I write cries on the tunes of spring,

a spring that ends in graveyards and in dreams

the night I abandoned you on that bench and left

snows in my mind the syllable of hell

I wanted to return

I wanted to love you . . .”

Poetry and love are the divine twins that rule Gabriela’s heart:

“Poetry?

Oh, poetry was too good to be read.

We tasted it and ate it with silver spoons.”

Gabriela runs her own publishing house now, Literary Revelations Publishing, which seeks to publish high-quality poetry and fiction that grab the reader unawares and trample down the boundaries of creativity.

Websites: Short Prose

Literary Revelations Publishing

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 20, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

28 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Barbara Harris Leonhard and River Dixon

(Photo by Hayley Maxwell on Unsplash)

Three-Penny Memories: A Poetic Memoir by Barbara Harris Leonhard (2022).

       Available on Amazon.com.

Barbara is a retired English teacher (ESL) whose award-winning work has appeared on Spillwords, MasticadoresUSA, and other poetry sites and magazines. Most recently, her poetry appeared in Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women (2022), edited by Gabriela Marie Milton, and a #1 Amazon Bestseller. She currently serves as the editor of MasticadoresUSA.

Penned with heart-felt love, devotion, and pain, this memoir is an honest family portrait that mirrors both the mother and the daughter. The bond between mother and daughter is complex, but Barbara beautifully describes both the comfortable and uncomfortable sides of this relationship. Anybody who has cared for a parent suffering from Alzheimer’s, will relate to Barbara’s experience. Anybody who has missed out on motherhood and lost a child, will find Barbara’s story deeply moving. But there is no self-pity here. She has written about her life with honesty and compassion. She has experienced trauma and heartbreak. But she accepts what life brings and looks hopefully to the future instead of staying shackled to the past. She presents herself as strong, determined, and willing to learn from life’s lessons. She has written a remarkable collection of poems that are powerful in their very simplicity. Whatever trauma and pain you have endured, her poems will edify and uplift you in a positive way. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!

In writing about her miscarried child, she says:

“You left my broken womb

as the bloody remains of what

was never to come. I still feel you

in the waves, the flow

of my sacral river – your tears?

Your fears I’ve abandoned you?

No, Honey. No! I’ll never forget you.”

Finally, her experiences with encephalitis and her mother’s Alzheimer’s:

“Not enough that I am

the spitting image of Mom

and her namesake.

We both experienced

a brain injury. The encephalitis

burned away my young memories;

       Alzheimer’s, her short-term ones.”

Barbara has been nominated for a Pushcart award for her poem, Mom and I Play Lassos with Our Hysterectomy Scars, a deeply provocative and sensitive poem which is included in this collection.

Website: Extraordinary Sunshine Weaver

Lost in the Hours: A Poetry Collection by River Dixon (2020). Available on Amazon.com.

River is a multi-talented poet, fiction writer, and publisher at Potter’s Grove Press. His fiction leans toward the dark side. But his poetry is honest, raw, straight-shooting, and direct. The first thing you come to realize when you read his poems is that River is a realist, not an idealist. There are few hearts and flowers here. He writes with power, intelligence, profound understanding, and articulate expression. He shares a healthy cynicism about life and the world in general. I like his poetry because he says what many of us are only thinking. He’s not afraid to criticize the status quo:

“While you drown in a shallow pool

Of only three inches of self-worth

They taught you well

How to hold your own head under

And convince you of rainbows

While they blot out the stars

One by one . . .”

His works are also available from Potter’s Grove Press, along with other avant-garde authors.

Websites: The Stories In-Between

                 Potter’s Grove Press

~

Dawn Pisturino

November 19, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

20 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Kym Gordon Moore and Patricia Furstenberg

(Photo by John Jennings on Unsplash)

We are Poetry: Lessons I Didn’t Learn in a Textbook by Kym Gordon Moore (2022).

       Available on Amazon.com.

I’ve known Kym for about a year now and regularly follow her blog on WordPress. Although we don’t always agree, I’ve always found her to be intelligent, funny, well-educated, and articulate. And, she’s fierce! Whatever causes she embraces, she puts her whole heart and soul into them.

In her latest book, Kym provides a general overview of poetry and her vision for the future of poetry as an art form, a therapeutic tool, and an educational medium. She views poetry as a living, breathing thing that can transform the poet, the community, the country, and even the world. Poetry should be as rich, colorful, and diverse as life itself.

Her book is almost a textbook on creating poetry and would be a useful tool in the classroom. She introduces the concept of ArchiPoetry, which employs architectural ideas to design and perfect poetic creations. As she writes: “By combining the use of language, imagery, metaphors, and specific patterns, the design elements in ArchiPoetry have different disciplines and poetic variations.”

While journaling has been an accepted therapeutic tool for a while in mental health, Kym developed the concept of TheraPoetry, a process through which people can find emotional relief by expressing themselves with poetry. Kym speaks from experience. After the death of her mother, it was poetry – and writing poetry – which helped her through the grieving process.

Illiteracy is an issue about which Kym is very passionate; and she wants to use poetry as a medium to teach our children how to read and improve their reading comprehension skills. We all remember rhymes that we learned as children. Those rhymes stick in our heads as rhythmical pieces of our childhood, bring back fond memories, and encourage us to pass them on to the next generation.

Poetry is creativity, mental gymnastics, lyrical composition, and inner fantasy. Poetry is emotional release, mental growth, and spiritual expression. This is why Kym championed the cause of poetry in 2014 when she persuaded mayors all across North Carolina to submit proclamations officially recognizing April as National Poetry Month. Kym also endorses and supports the Academy of American Poets as a valuable resource for educators and poets everywhere. As she says, “Poetry is a revival and reminder of our aspirations, possibilities, and achievements for all people.”

Finally, I close with Kym’s own summation of poetry:

“Poetry paints emotion

art is imagination and passion

poetry inspires art

expressionism through creativity is art and poetry

-transformation-

poetry and art is creativity through expressionism

art inspires poetry

passion and imagination is art

emotion paints poetry.”

Website: From Behind the Pen

Christmas Haiku by Patricia Furstenberg (2018). Available on Amazon.com.

Patricia is a Romanian poet living in South Africa. Her poetry appears regularly on MasticadoresRomania, Spillwords Press, and other poetry sites and literary magazines. With Christmas right around the corner, I was drawn to read her book of Christmas haiku. Charmed by the simplicity of her verses and photos, I sincerely recommend this little chapbook as the perfect way to get into the candy-gingerbread-tinsel-lights holiday mood! Patricia has written numerous books for adults and children, which are all available on Amazon. So, grab a steaming cup of hot chocolate and enjoy!

“Christmas, snow, giggles,

Young and old around the tree.

Scent of fresh cookies.”

Website: Patricia Furstenberg, Author

34 Comments »

“The Girl on the Bus” on Spillwords

(Photo from Spillwords)

I’m pleased and honored to announce that my poem, The Girl on the Bus, has been published today on Spillwords. I want to thank Dagmara K. and the staff at Spillwords for publishing it. Please visit Spillwords and show them your support. Thanks!

The Girl on the Bus

by Dawn Pisturino

The bus driver watched you in the mirror,

His eyes wide with fear,

When you stood up in the middle of the bus,

Crying like a terrified child.

Passengers waited with bated breath,

Wondering what you would do.

The sharpness of your pain . . .

Please visit Spillwords here to read the rest. Thank you so much!

Have a beautiful day!

Dawn Pisturino

November 17, 2022

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

35 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Jeff Flesch and Ingrid Wilson

(Photo by Digital Content Writers India on Unsplash)

Today, I’m continuing with more Poetry Book Reviews.

Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow by Jeff Flesch (2022). Available on Amazon.com.

In his newly-published collection of poems, Jeff teaches us how the human heart, mind, and soul are intimately connected with the natural order. All the pain, sorrow, and happiness which are part of the human experience can be offset and complemented by the awe-inspiring beauty and wonder of nature. WE ARE ONE with the natural world, and Jeff expresses this beautifully through his poetic vision:

“pausing to breathe

fireflies come in a whisper, a wide grin

cascades over the clouds, revealing

the stars’ hearts.”

Jeff is a regular contributor to MasticadoresIndia, MasticadoresUSA, and Spillwords Press.

Website: www.jeffflesch.com

40 Poems at 40 by Ingrid Wilson (2022). Available on Amazon.com.

In this collection of poems commemorating Ingrid’s fortieth birthday, we are given a glimpse into the mind, heart, and soul of an incredibly talented and articulate poet. Ingrid contemplates the misgivings and successes of her own life in astounding verses that speak to the minds, hearts, and souls of her readers. Her honest examination of herself and her world can be summed up here:

“As my own treasure house is my own soul

I have fought long, I have fought hard to keep it

and in self-keeping, still my dreams are whole.

I have fought long, I have fought hard to keep it

you cannot have it now, e’en if you would:

it’s my reward, and only I shall reap it.”

Ingrid has her own publishing business now, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream.

Website: www.experimentsinfiction.com

~

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

26 Comments »

Poetry Book Reviews: Bogdan Dragos and Michele Lee Sefton

(Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash)

I recently embarked on a Poetry Book Reading Marathon since so many of my WordPress friends have created and published poetry collections. Since they’ve been supportive of me, I want to support them! I will be posting a series of reviews of their books.

The Muse’s Bad Touch by Bogdan Dragos (2021). Available on Amazon.com.

Bogdan is a Romanian poet who appears regularly on MasticadoresIndia, MasticadoresRomania, and Gobblers & Masticadores. His poetry is dark and rich, like strong expresso, and leaves you questioning your own reality. He explores the darker side of life with characters that can only be described as eccentric, exotic, and deeply disturbing. His ability to test acceptable social boundaries and express a point of view that would shock most people, is what defines his work. In this collection, he writes about his dark muse:

“After all

a poet can’t live without

his demoness

to which he sometimes refers to

as muse.”

Website: www.bogdandragos.com

My Inspired Life: A Poetic Journey by Michele Lee Sefton (2020). Available on Amazon.com.

When I met Michele on WordPress, I sensed right away that she is a woman who possesses a beautiful soul. I regularly follow her blog, which truly is inspiring; so, it was only natural that I would read her book. Michele’s inner music resonates as a lovely song, a joyous dance, a raucous cheer for the strength and beauty of women everywhere. She shares her inspiring journey with positivity and hope, reinforcing those qualities in others. Her uplifting thoughts, words, and emotions make the daily struggle worthwhile. She approaches the world with quiet dignity, joyful pride, and a sincere expression of faith in herself and the people around her. She embraces life for all it is worth:

“Before the brush and palette are put away a final time

I too will live vibrantly and outwardly —

living a life that is uniquely mine.”

Website: www.MyInspiredLife.org

~

Dawn Pisturino

Copyright 2022 Dawn Pisturino. All Rights Reserved.

30 Comments »

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