Elizabeth Tornes' award-winning chapbook.
I had just made a commitment to myself to scale back on activities (such as this and this) that don't have a chance of producing at least some kind of income. At the top of the list is poetry, which actually manages to cost me money and gets ignored when I post about it across social media (this should surprise exactly no one). Poetry had to go, or at the very least, I can only indulge in poetry during April, for National Poetry Month.
And then two things happened.
First, a woman I barely know here in town took it upon herself to a) buy a print copy of my poetry collection from our local bookstore and read it, b) give it to her daughter to read c) rave to me the next time she saw me in our dance class and d) post a review of the book on Amazon.
"Her language is perfect as it is," she writes in her review. "Each poem a wide eyed tribute to the bits that make up our lives."
Readers tend to respond to Broom of Anger in a very personal way, and I have to say these reactions have been some of the most gratifying of my career.
The other thing that happened is this: My cousin gifted my book to a poet friend of his in Wisconsin, and she liked it so much she gave him a copy of her poetry book to send to me. In the inscription, she wrote, "With admiration for your work!"
The book, Between the Dog and the Wolf, pictured above, was published by Five Oaks Press as the winner of their 2015 "Say Elves" Contest. For one of her other books (she has three), Elizabeth Tornes won first prize in the 2012 Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets Chapbook Contest.
It's a lovely collection that time-warps me instantly to the Northwoods of Wisconsin, where my people are from. The link of spirituality and nature also resonates with me. Here's a sample:
They are still with us,
waving as oak leaves, roaring
wind through the pines. They echo
as woodpeckers hammering
hollow trees. They insist
that we remember, remember,
remember their stories
and their long-lived lives.
Remember the hand
they gave us when we slipped,
the kind looks and words,
a balm for soothing a heartache.
I miss the grandmothers
who gentled me, who taught me
how to speak, and give to others.
How to go beyond the self
to hear the pulse of the barred owls
the high-pitched songs of frogs
that lift the swamp
in the early evening,
the loon's tremulous call--
the voice of the Creator,
if we would only listen.
Mmm. So wonderful.
So there you have it. Poetry won't buy me groceries, but good words and a free book are great poetic karma.
One more thing: Hat-tip to my cousin Jay Halminiak for fostering poetic relationships! :)
And one ONE more thing: Happy Mother's Day!