Book Review. Poetry Collection – The Sea Refuses no River. Bethany Rivers.

This is a vast collection of poetry on grief, loss and place. I don’t think I have read anything like it. I did struggle to connect emotionally with the poems, but I didn’t dislike them. The way the poems were written, and the images in the poems were stunning. I love how poets can take one idea and run with it. This seemed evident in The Sea Refuses no River. For example, in poem It’s not about the Broccoli. The Gate at Shrewsbury was one of my favourite poems in this collection.

In this collection, the sea refuses no river, there is an acceptance of the pain and an acceptance of the healing moments; the healing journeys. To quote Adrienne Rich: I came to explore the wreck’, and in this collection, Bethany discovers how, ‘The words are purposes. The words are maps.’

She had fallen in love once. It had cost her

She spent years befriending the river:

It was her only escape

The Sea Refuses no River – Bethany Rivers

I would certainly want to read more from Bethany Rivers. I was so intrigued after reading The Sea Refuses no River.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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Book Haul

I’m poor, I don’t usually buy books brand new and so it was a real treat buying a few in August and September.

August

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The Woman with an Owl Tattoo by Anne Walsh Donnelly.

This life-affirming poetry collection reflects on the author’s growth since the ending of her marriage and what it means to unearth one’s true sexual orientation, in mid-life. Anne Walsh Donnelly’s intimate exploration of sexuality and identity is both brave and touching, marking this debut collection as a triumph.

Will you Still Love me if I Love her by Elfie

A debut poetry chapbook exploring queer realisation, self-discovery, and search for acceptance. This sapphic collection features poems ‘Attraction’ and ‘Fraud’ first published by Royal Rose Magazine and ‘TV’ featured in Issue 3 of Constellate Literary Journal.

Lady Saturn by Wanda Deglane

Lady Saturn by contemporary poet Wanda Deglane is in itself a navigation through depression and anxiety to find love – the utmost important self-love. These personal poems traverse the backdrop of what it means to be born into chaos, to feel unwanted and unloved, to be constantly seeking and attempting self-discovery, to struggle to sleep with a racing mind or to defeat depression and anxiety with the help of a pill that makes her brain like her ‘mother’s old microwave, / constantly short-circuiting and casting the whole room / in darkness.’ Take this quest through beautiful, lyrical stanzas and vivid imagery depicting pain, trauma, depression, anxiety, and a deep yearning to land softly at a place on the verge of inner acceptance and love, just the way you are, seeking that happy-go-lucky soul you once inhabited.

September

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Potential by Isabelle Kenyon

Published as part of the much-loved Ghost City Press summer series, Isabelle Kenyon’s micro chapbook is a brave and prickly collection which touches on new relationships, the-thing-between-her-legs and sexual assault. Light in tone, it is an exploration of the wonderful and the horrible things which can occur alongside love.

the sea refuses no river by Bethany Rivers

In this collection, the sea refuses no river, there is an acceptance of the pain and an acceptance of the healing moments; the healing journeys. To quote Adrienne Rich: I came to explore the wreck’, and in this collection, Bethany discovers how, ‘The words are purposes. The words are maps.’

What Comes After by Melissa Toppen is now out & available to buy

What Comes After
Melissa Toppen
Publication date: August 9th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Life is full of many things.

Love.

Loss.

Heartbreak.

Laughter.

No matter how small, each moment has value.

Then there are the big moments.

The moments that define us.

And the people who shape our very existence.

Abel Collins is that person for me.

From the very first time our eyes locked, I knew there was something about him. That he was the person that would change everything.

And he did.

But Abel isn’t just any man…

His past is his prison.

His guilt keeps him chained.

His grief defines him.

And now it’s up to me to set him free.

To make him see that life isn’t just about what we’ve lost but what we still stand to gain.

Because it’s not about what came before, but what comes after.

Goodreads / Amazon

 

Author Bio:

Melissa Toppen is a Bestselling Author specializing in New Adult and Contemporary Romance. She is a lover of books and enjoys nothing more than losing herself in a good novel. She has a soft spot for Romance and focuses her writing in that direction; writing what she loves to read.

Melissa resides in Cincinnati Ohio with her husband and two children, where she writes full time.

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An interview with Beth Gordon. Author of chapbook Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe, published by Animal Heart Press.

 

Bio Photo - Beth Gordon 6.19.19

 

 

Beth Gordon Bio:

Beth Gordon is a poet, mother and grandmother, currently landlocked in St. Louis, MO. Her poems have been published in numerous journals including Riggwelter, Into the Void, Five:2:One, SWWIM, Verity La, Califragile, Pretty Owl Poetry and Yes Poetry. She is the author of the chapbook, Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe, published by Animal Heart Press. She is also Poetry Editor of Gone Lawn.


 

  1. Tell us a little about your new book and the inspiration behind it?

My new book published by Animal Heart Press is Morning Walk with Dead Possum, Breakfast and Parallel Universe. Since 2014, my poetry has been informed by loss, grief, and realizing that I live in a world where my experiences of loss are shared by more people than not. The poems I wrote 2014-2016 were explicitly about death and grief. The poems in this book were mostly written in 2017 and 2018 and are about what survival looks like, what life looks like after loss, how to find joy in a life that will end. And how to think about that juxtaposition of joy and death/tragedy on a more universal scale.

2. What experiences or people have had a significant impact on your writing?  

The most significant experience that impacted my writing over the past five years was the death of my granddaughter at the age of seven months – November 2013. And in the 9 months that followed her death, I also attended five other “significant” funerals. In the middle of the “year of the funeral” I met another writer, John Dorroh (JD) who has become my writing partner (and muse). Not only did he help me as a friend during the darkest time in my life; he led me back to writing.

 

3. Since you started to write how do you feel you have changed, and your writing developed?

 

I’ve been writing poetry since I was seven years old, so I’ll speak more narrowly about changes in my writing over the past five years. I would say that like many writers, I was very attached to the subject matter of my work, especially when I began writing about my granddaughter’s death. I relied heavily on the emotion of that subject matter. Over the past five years, through a willingness to let my work evolve, I’ve tried to rely more heavily on my craft…on the art of writing…to carry the weight of each poem. If I’m successful, the emotion will surface through a more deft use of language.

 

4. Which period of your life do you write about most often?

I tend to write about the present. I may pull in elements of past experiences, but usually I’m writing about recent experiences and external events. If I write about the past, it’s because it is relevant to a certain theme.

 

5. What did you edit out of your book?

 

This book started as a full-length manuscript, with a section that included some older poems that were peripherally related to the other poems in the book. I decided to pull out that entire section. I thought it would be hard to do, a kind of emotional amputation. But I was happily surprised to find that what was left was so much tighter and powerful. I’m a brutal self-editor as it is…I have no fear of ripping apart poems and re-assembling them…which is what I did with the book.

6. How many hours a day do you write?

For four years, I know I wrote at least an hour a day during the week (I have a fairly demanding day job) and 4-8 hours a day on weekends. I would say now I write about 10 hours a week, on average.

7. In terms of receiving feedback for your writing who or what do you use for a sounding board?

My main sounding board is my friend and fellow writer, JD. If we are both in town, we get together every Friday night (and sometimes Saturday night). We share what we’ve written the week before and spend focused time writing new poems. I’ve been asked if we are writing collaboratively, i.e. are we creating poems that are co-authored. Except for one poem recently, the answer is no. What we do instead is read our work out loud…which is so important. I hear so many things I would not otherwise notice if I’m just looking at words on a page. It’s easy to become self-absorbed and convinced that no editing is required. But I hear glitches when I read out loud and can also get a sense of how the poem is being experienced by the listener. I’m also part of a writer’s group in Carlinville, IL and get feedback. And I’ve been fortunate enough to meet some poets along the way (both through social media and “in person”) who are willing to read/critique work in progress.

 

8. What are the aspects of writing that you find challenging?

The biggest challenge is making sure that I continue to evolve. I go through phases where I become proficient at writing a certain kind of poem – whether it’s form or subject matter or both – and then I explore that “type” of poem for awhile. Eventually, it becomes too easy to write multiple version of the same poem and I know it’s time to switch things up. That period of time when I push myself to improve my craft…for me, it feels like I’m lifting something very heavy. Pushing to the next level is difficult…then I’m there and writing feels “lighter” again. Until the next plateau.

9. Other than your writing, what else occupies your time?

I have a job that often takes up 50-60 hours of my time (weekly) and I spend as much of my “non day-job” time writing. I also like to spend time with my family which includes a son in St. Louis, a daughter in Richmond, VA, a daughter, son-in-law and 3 grandkids in LaBelle, FL, a brother, sister-in-law and nephew in Winchester, VA and parents in Asheville, NC. If I can find time, I also like to travel for fun. This year I’ve been able to spend several days in Portland, Oregon for the AWP Convention and I’m wrapping up a week in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi (on the gulf coast).


 

 

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From What’s Broken by R. M. Demeester.

From What’s Broken
R.M. Demeester
Publication date: June 21st 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance

Amanda and Matthew are on the cusp of their happily ever after. They have a stable marriage and a lovely daughter, and they are eagerly awaiting the birth of their second. Suddenly tragedy strikes and the couple’s picture-perfect life crumbles. Ivory, their firstborn child, dies in an accident. Not knowing how to deal with their pain, Amanda and Matthew blame each other for their loss and drift apart. They soon realize their relationship might not bear the burden, leaving their surviving daughter to cope with the aftermath of two grief-stricken parents.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“I want a divorce.” The words slipped out in a stream of gloom and ambiguity.

My husband, Matthew, glanced away, his mouth tight and his eyes constricted. He had no words, but I wasn’t surprised. We stared at each other like two strangers, two entirely different people—cold, distant, and doing what we needed to do in order to survive.

The decision hadn’t come easy for me. For weeks, the idea of putting this limbo to rest had been on my mind. I couldn’t live like this. Neither of us was happy.

“Did you hear me?” I whispered. I knew he had, but I needed confirmation. I needed some kind of response. Sad, happy, or mad, I didn’t really care, but he owed it to me. He owed me a response.

“Yeah.” He hugged his legs and glared past my gaze to the wall behind me. His eyes looked dead, calculating, and cold. Much of how they had been for most of the past year.


Author Bio:

R.M. Demeester lives in Saskatchewan, Canada. She is the mother of three young children, and owner of a rescue dog, a chocolate lab, Gainer. R.M. Demeester has been writing for as long as she could hold a pencil. She writes women’s fiction, new adult, and sweet romance primarily. She has two women’s fiction novels set to be released in 2019, along with several short stories.

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