#BookBingoNW2020 Poetry or Comics

One of the best things about Summer Book Bingo is how it challenges readers to step outside their comfort zones.  Of all the different kinds of books out there, however, poetry and graphic novels can be some of the most challenging. Readers not used to a visual format can sometimes struggle to make a cohesive whole out of words and images, and poetry can feel so nuanced and esoteric as to be indecipherable, even if you recognize its talent and value. If you are ready to dip your toe into the waters of alternative formats, here are a few to get you started:

Cartoonist Eleanor Davis is well known for her spare yet incredibly evocative work that can twist stories within stories until you aren’t quite sure where you’ve landed.  In You and a Bike and a Road, Davis uses a more conventional narrative to share her experience cycling across most of the southern United States by herself.  It’s incredible how much she can convey with a few plain pencil lines and, in this particular book, she exposes herself with a raw and beautiful honesty. Continue reading “#BookBingoNW2020 Poetry or Comics”

Pride Reads: BIPOC Trans/Non-Binary Poets

Pride month is a great time to be delving deeper into poetry, and in particular the kind of poetry that shares aspects of LGBTQIA+ experience. More specifically, voices that are often pushed to the margins of the queer community – the voices of trans and non-binary Black, Indigenous, People of Color – are especially important to seek out during this time. The books listed in this post are written by trans and non-binary BIPOC and whose writing is born directly out of those experiences.

Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul by Ryka Aoki
This is the first collection of poetry published by trans and Japanese American poet Ryka Aoki. The poems contained here are certainly working intentionally with her heritage and identity, but she has also been careful to make sure that her works appeal to a broader audience, as well. In an essay for Publisher’s Weekly, Aoki once wrote, “If a trans musician can make the audience cry by playing Chopin, how else, but as a human, can she be regarded? And if a book written by a queer trans Asian American can make you think of your own beaches, your own sunsets, or the dear departed grandmother you loved so much…. then what more powerful statement of our common humanity can there be?” This sentiment certainly shines through in her writing here. Continue reading “Pride Reads: BIPOC Trans/Non-Binary Poets”

The Last Note Begins with See Sharp: On Transforming Your Thoughts into Poetry

In the first four weeks of April, Shelf Talk published the series An April Quartet in honor of National Poetry Month.

Each blog post was centered around an accompanying resource list, An April Quartet: In Alto, Poets Face that Discordant Sound, An April Quartet:  Some Soprano Sops Up a Poem’s Bread (the Rising), An April Quartet: Bass Note of Blue, the Flowering and An April Quartet: Tenor, in the Tenor of these Times, Raise Your Voice High. While framed in music, the posts highlight the unique voice and range of expression each poet brings to their work as they “talk back” to life in all of its moments.

You can experience these poems in several ways. They can be read and heard. You can, also, watch poets read their work.

What if someone, perhaps you, wants to do more than read, listen and watch? What if you are so inspired that you want to take the next step and begin to write your own poems?

It happens! Some people are happy to just to relish the reading, not only the content, but are keen on the myriad forms and techniques by which poets write a poem into the world. Others, respond by beginning to compose a few words in their minds eye. Maybe they’ll write them down. Many people become overwhelmed at the idea of trying to figure out the rest of their fledgling poem and abandon it. Continue reading “The Last Note Begins with See Sharp: On Transforming Your Thoughts into Poetry”

An April Quartet, Part IV: Tenor, in the Tenor of these Times, Raise Your Voice High

What do you say, to yourself and others, about these days we are living through? How are you describing the events, people, known and unknown, the circumstances and situations you witness or find yourself encountering? Your words may be heard by a few, by many or you alone, either way you give voice to the tenor of these times.

Is the sound of your voice An Octave Above Thunder or is it filled with Planetary Noise? Poets endeavor to describe the indescribable capability of words to transform the ordinary into something newly imagined. The poet is a seeker, they seek to give voice, to answer the unanswerable hours of a day. Continue reading “An April Quartet, Part IV: Tenor, in the Tenor of these Times, Raise Your Voice High”

An April Quartet, Part III: Bass Note of Blue, the Flowering

This Spring greets us with peril and possibility. More than a movie, more than any play or book in which we can flip fast to the end and find out what happens, walk out, grab a snack or turn the dang thing off we just don’t know, do we, when this will be over?

We find ourselves in the unlikely circumstance of being in a cast of characters in the great play of life. We are finding our way across the set, learning our lines, taking in each scene and looking for clues on how to solve the mystery. The new role that has been thrust upon us can feel chafing, burdensome and is, for many, more dire by the day.

Continue reading “An April Quartet, Part III: Bass Note of Blue, the Flowering”