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Cover image ©iStockphoto.com/ChuckSchugPhotography

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The Suitable Girl by Michelle McGrane

Pindrop Press

 

The suitable girl wears many faces.  She is mythic, and she is contemporary.  She mourns.  She is sensual.  She walks on water.

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I felt like a kid at Christmas when my copy of The Suitable Girl arrived in the mail.  I know Michelle McGrane is an excellent poet, because I’m a big fan of her work.  But this book even surpassed my expectations.

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Edited by Jo Hemmant of Pindrop Press, the poems in The Suitable Girl are beautiful and powerful.  The often startling images are sharp and unique.

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This collection of poems offers so much variety!  Whether you are interested in shorter pieces or prose poems, mythic voices or modern day scenes, you will find it all in The Suitable Girl.

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As a poet, I cannot help but marvel at Michelle McGrane’s technique.  Her stanzas are well measured but don’t feel forced.  Her poems are musical, and she echoes sound throughout entire pieces.  The narrator’s voice is different in every poem, from a straight-talking beat style to elegant prose that rolls across the page.

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But I’ll try not to bore you with my urge to give a nerdy, technical analysis.

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Listen to her stories.

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You will meet Madame Bovary in this book, as well as Black Oak’s Daughter.  There is also the story of Glauce’s bridal robe, poisoned by Medea.                 The Bee Man tells a story in eleven succinct lines. The Suitable Girl even sends postcards from the moon.

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The voices in this collection are strong.  The dialect in ‘Terra Marique Potens’ is fantastic. The narrator is a force to be reckoned with, powerful on land and sea.  She gives birth aboard ship and then fires a muzzle at a “flinty crag of a man bawling like the divil hisself.”

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All of the poems in The Suitable Girl are excellent.  Some of the stories are heartbreaking.  In Skin Offerings, the narrator describes a young woman’s anorexia and self-mutilation.  4:00 am tells the powerful story of a young mother who is battling for life.  She leaves her mud hut to walk twelve kilometres to a government clinic for treatment.  She hums a hymn and wears a gaily-patterned headscarf, an astounding symbol of her unbreakable spirit.

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Other poems are humorous.  The Escape Artist, a “Lord of the Fleas”  runs off “with the ringmaster’s silver weimaraner.” One of my favorite shorter pieces is The Recalcitrant Muse, who fires up a cigarette and could use a drink and a few hours’ sleep.  This muse is late for an appointment with a middle-aged divorcée.  She is also a muse who realizes that “immortality doesn’t pay the bills.”

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Did I say beautiful?  Well, take a look for yourself at the sample poem below.  The Suitable Girl has many faces.  Sometimes she whispers her stories.  Sometimes she speaks with her tongue in her cheek.  Sometimes she screams.  Each one of her voices should be read again and again.

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She Walks On Water

by Michelle McGrane

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The air is heavy with salt spray and kelp.

The seagull’s tongue is dumb.

Dark hair hides the face

of the madonna on the beach.

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Hands like silver starfish

lift a long skirt, reveal pale knees;

a cerulean scarf flutters in the breeze.

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She turns away from

the promenade’s ice-cream smiles

and waving kites,

shrugs off the dirty-weekend hotel

moored in the harbour’s embrace.

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Her spirit becomes a sail.

Her eyes are the horizon.

Her bare, white limbs shine

with phosphorescence.

The stars lean over to plant kisses

on her forehead.

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In the morning haze,

wisps of fog drifting in with the waves,

she walks on water.

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A blue strand washes up on the sand

among splintered timbers, plastic wrappings,

sodden cigarette butts.

Perched on a guano-stained mast,

the seagull keeps her secret.

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The above poem and quotes are © Michelle McGrane 2010 and used with permission.  Please contact Pindrop Press or the author for permission before reposting.

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From Pindrop Press:

Michelle McGrane was born in Zimbabwe in 1974, spent her childhood in Malawi, and moved to South Africa with her family when she was fourteen. Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is the author of Fireflies & Blazing Stars (2002) and Hybrid (2003). She lives in Johannesburg and blogs at Peony Moon.

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To order The Suitable Girl, click HERE.

It is well worth the low price.

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I’m excited to have a brand new book of   poetry in my hands–THE LINE BETWEEN by Mark C. Durfee, aka The Walking Man.      Mark is my friend.  I’m proud to tell you that, because he is also a poet with a voice that is strong and honest.  Mark’s work comes from a place deep inside the bones.  Always, it is real.

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The Line Between is the second book in Mark Durfee’s trilogy from Motor City Burning Press.  I’m sure many people remember Stink, but on the off chance that you missed it, be sure to check it out, too.  You can read my take on Stink HERE.

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Cover Photo By Justin Harris

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The Line Between is not as dark as Stink, but it is equally as powerful.  While Stink focuses on life in Detroit, The Line Between gives us the human condition–not  necessarily from a specific location, but from the human heart.

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The book has a haunting and beautiful cover by Justin Harris, who is an amazing photographer of abandoned spaces.  The cover is a great complement to Durfee’s poetry, which rises up like an echo of life.

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As Mark Durfee describes on the first page of his book, the line between is that line we all walk from birth to death.  Sometimes the line is a zig zag.  Sometimes, it curves and takes us to places we never dreamed we’d be.  The way we act and the people we touch while we’re on the line is what matters.

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The book is divided into sections, which refer to different stages or “lines,” and logically begins with children.  In the first section, It Might Have Been A Wonderful Life is a small, powerful poem.  It reminds me of the horror in Stink, in that a mother places her baby in a microwave because she

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“…mistook you for the bottle

she was going to feed you,

to shut you up with

so she could go

pass out again.”

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Yet in the same section, we see the beauty of childhood, as in the piece, Small Happiness, where the narrator watches children who are holding hands and spinning:

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“They had just discovered

the loveliness

of being wondrously dizzy.”

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A poignant section of the book deals with the “Lines of Age.”  It contains the title poem, which was inspired by the author’s grandmother and is a gentle portrait of a family matriarch as she reaches the end of her life:

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“Comforted by her cup of tea

half gone, cold now, she dreams.

She has her chair turned towards the sun,

letting it warm her as she dozes,

snoring softly, occasionally smiles,

in her early afternoon sleep.”

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As a poet, I enjoy Mark Durfee’s portraits of people.  I also appreciate his surprising twists of language and phrases.  Eyes In The Back Of My Head contains one such twist.  Instead of just walking an edge, the narrator walks along the knife’s edge, as really, we all do:

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“I walk the knife’s edge,

the honed side, and am still amazed

that my feet are not cut to ribbons

with each step.”

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There’s no way to truly do the book justice here, because Mark Durfee’s work should be read out loud.  In I’ll Have Mine With Chemical Sprinkles, Durfee describes our modern society’s obsession with feel good consumerism and takes us on a wild ride of sound with lines like:

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“Start it with love for the Valium vellum

which allows not for the touching of the feelings

but the excretion of them so we’ll forget

what it was that was wrong that needed our dealing.

Piss on non-prescription pad paper.

Wipe yourself with Prozac then no emotions matter.”

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I would love to hear that poem read out loud!

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The Line Between is an excellent addition to your poetry collection.  My copy is becoming dotted with small smudges and is getting creased where I have turned the pages so many times.  I accidentally left a dog ear on page 57 when I was reading the poem to a friend.  It smells a little like my friend’s cigar.

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Those small marks and scents are the highest compliment I can give any book.  It doesn’t just sit on the shelf.

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For information on ordering The Line Between, click HERE.

The cost for The Line Between by itself is $10.00.

As a special, Stink and The Line Between can be ordered together for $18.00 total.  It’s well worth the low price.

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When John Dee Holeman

Plays The Blues

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Every dog crawling ache, empty tank, flat tire.

Each gold tipped lie on a sweet pink tongue.

Every no account boss, lost house, lost job.

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Each blue sky friend, slammed door,

poison pen.  All the lock jaw, rusty bucket,

soul sucking, rock crushing minutes.

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Every shit upon, mud stomped,

bone throbbing, trespassing,

tread flapping, sweaty eyed day.

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Every down-to-the-last

of everything

blues.

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It all rises up

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from his fingertips

on soft low notes—

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a whirlwind of humanity

humming its way to heaven,

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covered in cornbread,

grits and gravy

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and makes me feel

so fine.

-Julie Buffaloe-Yoder

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I LOVE this one!  Turn it up.

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Awesome

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This summer, I had the privilege of seeing John Dee Holeman and several other blues greats in concert, thanks to Music Maker Relief Foundation.  The concert was FREE!

I didn’t list all the performers’ names in the title of my poem (it would be way too long), but they are all among my favorites.

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Music Maker Relief Foundation supports talented (and often forgotten) Southern musicians with grants for day-to-day living, career advancement, and promotion of their music.

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Thanks to the support of MMRF, musicians have traveled throughout the world to share their talents.

Recently, Carolina Chocolate Drops was nominated for a grammy!

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Recipients of grants from MMRF must

*Be rooted in a Southern musical tradition.

*Make less than $18,000 a year.

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Many of the MMRF musicians are from an older generation that I love and adore.  John Dee Holeman was born in 1929.

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Benton Flippen, an amazing fiddler, was born in 1920.  I’ve been told that Benton is still going strong.  I can’t wait to see him perform.

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But they are all great.  Be sure to check them out.  You can browse the list of artists and listen to samples of their music or order CD’s, etc. You can also donate directly to MMRF.  If you have a few bucks to send their way, the information is HERE.

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Christmas is coming, so I must also throw out a subtle hint to my daughter about WHAT I WOULD LOVE FOR A GIFT.    :D

Only twelve bucks!  Put “To Dad and Mom” on the package, and it’s six bucks apiece.

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Music Maker Relief Foundation helps preserve the music, history and culture of Southern music.  They help many talented musicians.  But they also help people like me, who just love and appreciate great music.

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It was an experience I’ll never forget.

It’s also Reason #590 why I love Carolina.  John Dee Holeman will be playing again soon.

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Life has been crazy for me the past couple of years.  Right now, it’s

especially crazy.  The kind words people have given me here keep me going.

I’m not just saying that.  I doubt I would have lasted six months on the

internet without all the good souls who come along.

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Today’s post is a nod to two poets and bloggers who have been good to me

recently.  But please know how much I appreciate you all.

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Terresa Wellborn has posted one of my poems at her beautiful site,

The Chocolate Chip Waffle.   Thank you, Terresa!   You can read the

poem HERE.  If you’ve been reading here for a long time, you may have

read it in the past.  But I chose that particular poem as a tip of the hat to

Terresa’s life experiences.  The lady in the poem was very real.

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I love Terresa’s poetry.   Take a look at her poem, Checking Myself In.  Is

that awesome or what?   That’s exactly how I feel lately.  She nailed it.

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You can find more of Terresa’s work HERE or just by reading her blog.

Please do.  It is so beautiful.  I know I will be reading her work in journals

and books for many years to come.

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Another thanks goes to Ashley Capes, who posted one of my poems at his

site, kipple.   Now my face is turning red, because I should have thanked

Ashley ages ago.  I am a huge fan of his work.  Please check out Ashley’s

blog  HERE and read more of his poetry.   I was especially happy to

see there’s a new review of his latest book at Overland blog.

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I love all of Ashley’s work, but lately I’ve been loving his book of poems,

Stepping Over Seasons.  I plan on telling you more about this fantastic

work.   But don’t wait for me.   Read the review at Overland blog.  And read

some sample poems HERE.   You can also see Ashley’s first collection,

Pollen and the Storm, HERE.

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Now, don’t think that I’m saying good things  just because Terresa and

Ashley were good to me.  I was a fan already.  One of the best things about

the internet has been the awesome work I get to read and pass along to

others.  You may already know Ashley and Terresa, but if you don’t, please

read and link!  You’ll be very glad you did.

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My short story, Miss Fish Refuses To Evacuate, won the grand prize in the Carolina Woman 2010 writing contest.   Many thanks to the editor and publisher, Debra Simon, and her staff.

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Carolina Woman is a North Carolina lifestyles magazine with a readership of 100,000 professional women in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill region and beyond.  Debra Simon is a writer and editor whose work has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Seventeen Magazine, Adweek, Reuters, The Miami Herald, The Hartford Courant and The Financial Times.

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I enjoy the articles in Carolina Woman, and I especially love finding out what’s happening in the arts scene in North Carolina.

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You can read my story HERE.  Scroll down to read the work.

You can also see the 2009 winners HERE.  Please stick around to read all the winners.  There is good work there!

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Thanks again to the kind folks at Carolina Woman magazine.  Please be sure to check them out.

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And thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read here.  You are most appreciated.

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Poetry Package by Hosho McCreesh

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It’s a rare treat nowadays if I happen to have a few bucks in my pocket to spend on luxuries.  When I do, I always buy a book.  If you’ve been reading here for a while, you know that I’m a big fan of Propaganda Press, because their poetry chaps are awesome, and the prices are low.   Even a broke ass hick like me can buy when payday rolls around.  That’s what I call poetry for the people.

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Here’s my latest treasure from Propaganda Press–a Deluxe Poetry Package featuring the work of Hosho McCreesh.

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Hosho McCreesh is an excellent poet and artist.  He’s one of those poets whose work I order without hesitation if I have any money.  I was especially happy to find out that in addition to his newest chapbook, I could order a package that contains “extra goodies.”  Yep, that’s a picture of it above.  I felt like a kid in a candy store when my copies arrived this week.  Here’s everything that comes in the package:

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* A 92 page chapbook (1/4 page size):   An Adamant, Unmitigated Hope Even Amidst The Doom… by Hosho McCreesh. The cover art is by Sean Lynch of Ten Point Design and wraps around both front and back covers.

*A powerful broadside poem signed by Hosho McCreesh.

*A small (2 1/4″ x 2 3/4″) pocket book, 4th Street Vagaries by Hosho McCreesh, filled with  poems and photographs.  I love the small pocket books, and this one is…I’m trying to think of a better word than awesome to describe it.

*A magnet that is a laser-printed full-color reproduction of original watercolors by Hosho McCreesh, Winter on 4th Street.  Set of 26 designs, each unique and featuring a different poem from 4th Street Vagaries.

Now, how cool is that?  A magnet with a poem on it!

*Bonus chapbooks…and the bonus books are so good that I’ll be coming back to tell you more about them, too.  The bonus books included in each package are by various authors and possibly for a limited time.

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Of course, I love it all.  An Adamant, Unmitigated Hope Even Amidst the Doom… contains poems that tell the stories and ask the questions that every human being should ask.  It is real–the darkness, the light, the struggle to survive.  The form of the poems is beautiful, and the writing is accessible to all readers.

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The price for the total package is $10.00 plus shipping and handling (I think it was thirteen bucks total).  The copies are also going extremely fast.  So if you’re thinking of ordering, don’t wait.

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The package can be ordered HERE.   You can also view more pictures of the package HERE.

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Check out interviews and more work by Hosho at one of my favorite sites, the outlaw poetry network.

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A review and sample poems can also be found at Poet Hound, which is another one of my favorite places to find good poetry.

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Now, I’ll quit yakking for two seconds, so you can go see it all for yourself.  It’s worth way more than the low price.

And, as always, thanks for reading!

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Michelle McGrane has a post about my chapbook, Price Reduced Again, at her beautiful site, peony moon.   Hit the link and take a look!  I’m thrilled to be there.  You’ll also see a sample poem, She Told Me Money Does Not Buy Happiness, Then She Hopped In Her BMW And Drove Away.  Many thanks to my editor, Crystal Folz of Backpack Press, for all her work!

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While you’re at peony moon, be sure to look around.  Michelle McGrane is an amazing poet.  She has been published in numerous journals and is the author of Fireflies & Blazing Stars (2002) and Hybrid (2003). Her third collection, The Suitable Girl, is forthcoming from pindrop press.  You’ll find a sample poem from The Suitable Girl at the pindrop press link.  I can’t wait to read it all!

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Michelle is also one of the most generous poets I’ve ever met in my life.  Most of her site is dedicated to promoting other poets.

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peony moon is a must read for the serious poet or lover of words.  Poems, new books, old books, interviews with poets, and reading lists are all beautifully showcased.  It is one of my favorite poetry sites, and Michelle is one of my favorite poets.

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Since I began reading peony moon, I now have some new books on my shelf and a “must buy” book list that is several pages long.  Check out the favorite poetry collections for 2009.  It runs for eight posts, from November to December.  I also love the interviews with poets and beautiful artwork at peony moon.

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Thank you very much, Michelle, for highlighting Price Reduced Again.  And much appreciation to you all for your kind words and encouragement.  It has kept me going!

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Art Coelho is one of my favorite poets.  I love all of his work, including his fiction and art.  So you can imagine how happy I was to see that some of his work is highlighted at Irene Maria F. Blayer and Lélia Pereira Nunes’ Comunidades.  It is a beautiful site.

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Art Coelho’s poem, Like A Good Unknown Poet, is posted at Comunidades.  Like A Good Unknown Poet received the Pushcart Prize in 1976.  It’s one of those poems that will never leave me.  It reaches down into my soul and holds on hard.  It makes me want to howl at the moon.  It does everything a poem should do.

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You can read Like A Good Unknown Poet by Art Coelho at Comunidades by clicking HERE.

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Another must read is one of Art’s newer poems, Azorean Immigrant Rites of Passage.  You can read it on Comunidades and see his artwork by clicking HERE.   The poem is amazing, as is the picture.

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Art also has some very interesting posts on Comunidades about his brother, Michael Lynn Coelho, who was known as Badger Stone.  Badger was an artist, song writer and folk singer who touched the lives of all the people he met.  I wish I had known Badger, but just reading about him makes me feel like I have met him.

The tribute Art has written to Badger is excellent.  It is in four parts called Hard Road To Freedom.  You can read all four Badger posts by clicking HERE HERE , HERE and HERE.

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Art Coelho’s art website is HERE.  Take a look at his beautiful prints.  To purchase a print or if you have any questions, Art can be reached at artcoelho@cablemt.net.

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Be sure to bookmark Comunidades to see all of the future posts.   A big tip of the hat to Art Coelho for his excellent work.  He doesn’t do it for “recognition” or fame, because he is a true poet and artist.  But I like to give credit where it is due.  His work has taught me many things.

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My poem, Pentecostal Girls, has been published in the January issue of Southern Women’s Review.  Edited by Alicia K. Clavell, SWR is full of beautiful poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and photography.  I’m very pleased to be included with such fine poets, writers and artists.

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Layout of a journal is one of the things that always catches my eye.  In my opinion, the way work is presented is a testament to the love and commitment the creators of a journal have for the work involved.  Southern Women’s Review is gorgeous.  I love that cover!

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The next submission period for Southern Women’s Review will begin on March 1.

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You can read my poem HERE.  Look on the right side of the screen for the files.  I’m on pages 14 and 15.  But please stay to read it all.  Check out their premiere issue, too.   The work is excellent.

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As always, thanks for reading!

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Issue number four of ouroboros review is out!  It is jam packed full of excellent poetry, photography, articles, and interviews.

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Some of the poets in this issue are already on my favorites list, like Michelle McGrane, Scott Owens, and J.P. Dancing Bear.  Some of the poets are new to me, and I am happy to have become one of their fans.

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As always, I will probably regret mentioning individual names, because I will leave someone off the list who deserves a big shout out.

But I just have to say…on a personal level…how much I enjoyed Julie E. Bloemeke’s poetry and photography of abandoned places in the Southern US.  Check out her poems Mobile Home and Mailbox.  If you know me, you’ll know why I love her work.   Sophie Mayer’s poetry also felt beautifully personal for me.

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Of course, it’s all excellent and worthy of praise.  Congratulations to the contributors and to the editors–Jo Hemmant, Carolee Sherwood, and Jill Crammond Wickham on a fantastic job.

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You can read ouroboros HERE.

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Yes, it’s completely free to click the link.  But I urge everyone who has funds to purchase a copy.  Ouroboros Review is a great treasure to keep on the top shelf.   The first issue of ouroboros was in December of last year, but it’s not too early to say Happy Birthday Ouroboros Review! Here’s wishing you many more.

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Blog note:  Please excuse me for being slow this week.  We’re having a holiday in the US, and I’m traveling this week.  I will be around as much as possible to chat with everyone.  But I may be even slower than usual, if that’s possible :)

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Have a beautiful week!

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