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Book Clubs Book Reviews Books Featured Poetry

Space Struck by Paige Lewis

Consider this glowing debut from Paige Lewis a menagerie of near-extinction. Space Struck explores the wonders and cruelties occurring within the realms of nature, science, and religion, with the acuity of a sage, the deftness of a hunter, and a hilarious sensibility for the absurd. The universe is seen as an endless arrow “. . . and it asks only one question: How dare you?”

The poems are physically and psychologically tied to the animal world, replete with ivory-billed woodpeckers, pelicans, and constellations-as-organisms. They are also devastatingly human, well anchored in emotion and self-awareness, like art framed in a glass that also holds one’s reflection. Silky and gruesome, the poems of Space Struck pulse like starlight.

Space Struck by Paige Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


I really enjoyed this one. I read this one for Life’s Library Book Club. I’d recommend this book to anyone, whether a newby to poetry or a seasoned reader of poetry, anyone in between.

It was a very accessible book of poetry, it was a little generational, but overall encompassed a lot of shared sentiments through recognition.

This one engaged those parts of my brain, like the moments of slight panic or chaos followed by relief and serenity. Like reading Sunday comics after heavy news pages, finally finding the mate to the last pair of socks while doing laundry, sitting on the tarmac in a plane you thought you were going to miss. It’s this satisfying feeling of gratitude and calmness, things are ok, a type of feeling of accomplishment, entertainment, and relaxation for your soul.

I suppose I don’t read poetry enough.

Poetry to me takes a certain amount of discipline. Discipline I don’t always have. A certain amount of concentration. Concentration I don’t always have. It’s never my first pick when choosing a book, but when I do find something I enjoy, I ask myself why don’t I read more?

I think it’s because the audience for whom the book is intended is not always well-defined. And sharing one’s feelings, pondering, and outlook on life is so super subjective and often boring without context, plot, leading trajectory, as a lot of poetry goes from my experiences, that its appeal is somewhat limiting. My exposure altogether is limited so I can’t speak for all. Poetry typically has relational/social concepts, presented as overly complex, yet dubious, often incredibly specific to culture, upbringing, and life experiences that aren’t always commonly shared, ones I don’t understand or find far-reaching or weird, and then to put it into writing in a riddle-like stanza is like double dissatisfaction for me.

Anyway, about the book.

I loved the lines referencing nature the best. The observations and inquiring when to intervene, whether the subject matter stirs up anger, then confusion, let it be, it’s nature. It was an interesting concept for me.

I liked that much was intertwined with bits of history.

I liked that the format of poems where changed up.

Some more vague and personal than others, parts I felt a little naive, then though “Oh, ok.” Others I truly didn’t “get” still very intriguing to read. Some with bits of pop culture, childhood relatability, some depicting more intimate aspects of a relationship, some religious interest, some contemplative, some speculative. I liked the variety.

And I also liked that it was short and that single-subject concepts weren’t exhaustive/belabored/overly descriptive or too-trying. It expressed a feeling/concept and moved on.

But I think what makes this collection unique and interesting to me was how it balanced abstract thought and tangible, concrete circumstances, much relative to my own generation, which made all the difference.

MY FAVORITE CHAPTERS/POEMS:

On Distance

Diorama of Ghosts

MY FAVORITE LINES:

“It’s nothing. The sun, with its plasma plumes and arching heat, is five million miles closer to Earth than it was in July, and we are still alive.”



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Audiobooks Book Reviews Books Featured Humor Nonfiction Poetry

On Cats by Charles Bukowski

A raw and tenderly funny look at the human-cat relationship, from one of our most treasured and transgressive writers.

“The cat is the beautiful devil.”

Felines touched a vulnerable spot in Charles Bukowski’s crusty soul. For the writer, there was something majestic and elemental about these inscrutable creatures he admired, sentient beings whose searing gaze could penetrate deep into our being. Bukowski considered cats to be unique forces of nature, elusive emissaries of beauty and love.

On Cats offers Bukowski’s musings on these beloved animals and their toughness and resiliency. He honors them as fighters, hunters, survivors who command awe and respect as they grip tightly onto the world around them: “A cat is only ITSELF, representative of the strong forces of life that won’t let go.”

Funny, moving, tough, and caring, On Cats brings together the acclaimed writer’s reflections on these animals he so admired. Bukowski’s cats are fierce and demanding—he captures them stalking their prey; crawling across his typewritten pages; waking him up with claws across the face. But they are also affectionate and giving, sources of inspiration and gentle, insistent care.

Poignant yet free of treacle, On Cats is an illuminating portrait of this one-of-a-kind artist and his unique view of the world, witnessed through his relationship with the animals he considered his most profound teachers.

On CatsOn Cats by Charles Bukowski

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Libro.fm for providing me with a free copy.

A totally unexpected like. I listened to this one as an audiobook, narrated by Roger Wayne, which I’d highly recommend. He brought out a certain sentiment about the characterization of cat traits as well as the human perception and experiences with them using a calm, thoughtful, introspective quality to his voice.

This book was hilarious. It’s not a book I would typically pick out for myself, that being poetry and one about cats. First, poetry is not a genre I choose so often because typically it is so specific to one’s own experience and not usually relatable or entertaining enough for me in most cases. Second, I’m more of a dog lover myself. Specifically chocolate labs. But like any teenage girl, I had several cats growing up, a calendar of furry friends in a basket pinned to the wall, and wore purple sweatshirts with the most adorable kitty cats posing on the front. You can clearly see my love for cats as a little girl in the featured photo. It depicts a painting I made in grade school. Best friends with a cat forever. I also understand the love and dislike for specific behaviors and personalities that cats embody.

So this book was actually a little treasure, a quick, just over an hour long mix of poems and short stories about cats in the most reflective and accurate way. Some parts were a little crude for my taste however, the reality and idealistic silly and weird things that cats do and our human response to them were portrayed with such candor that I found myself being completely amused and intrigued by the allegory and sensibility found in a cat’s life, whether neighborhood annoyance or companion.

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Categories
Adventure Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Historical Fiction Humor Poetry

Cowman’s Wife Western Ballads by Dee Strickland Johnson

Collection of cowboy poetry, western ballads, and original art. Awarded the Will Rogers award in 1997 for the “Female Cowboy Poet of the Year” by the Academy of Western Artists.

Cowman's Wife Western BalladsCowman’s Wife Western Ballads by Dee Strickland Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved it! I’d recommend it to anyone.

It was a fun, thought-provoking, pick-me-up that I read in between my reads over the past year. Like a palate cleanser. It contains poetic stories of overall life perspective, the wild west lifestyle, culture, and history, romance and familial relationships, travel, and ranch life with cowboys, steeds, and hard work. Some were silly, some deeply reflective. It was refreshing and accessed parts of my brain that I typically don’t give enough attention to.

MY FAVORITE LINES:

I really appreciated The Warm November Sun poem and Arizona.

Arizona

Oh beloved Arizona, when God finished making you,
When He’d made your painted deserts and the sky’s deep azure blue:

When He’d made your wondrous canyons, and He’d laid his brush aside,
And looked down upon your beauty,
I think God was satisfied.

And I think, Oh Arizona, that He must have loved you best,
For He made you more like heaven than any of the rest.

He painted glorious sunsets, and put a soul in you,
Then splashed in the colored clouds above and let His love shine through.

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