I want to talk about all this trendy poetry being published

It’s bad. Simply put, it’s bad. That’s the long story short. But I want to make the story long.

The bad:

All of these poetry collections by people like Rupi Kaur and others of the same ilk are made with zero care for the craft that is poetry. These collections are filled with one-liners that fill a whole page, sometimes a whole two pages. It is done not for beauty or poetry, but for the shock value, the trend of writing down profound statements and calling it poetry. Because of these poets, the real wordsmiths are forgotten. They aren’t popular, their works tend to be much more lengthy, and many people just don’t get poetry. They’re not taught how to get poetry, and this uneducated audience is what makes these frauds so successful.

Recently I tried to read Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer. I started reading this collection under the very wrong impression that it was going to be full of myth and the use of Aphrodite as a complex and interesting concept and character. This collection is full of those one-liners, full of the whines and self-pity that publishers seem to be eating up. There is no depth to the work, just the same old collection of nothings. I wish I could say this is the only time this year I have been promised a full and promising poetry collection and came away disappointed. Good news is that the art in Aphrodite Made Me Do It is rather intriguing. Perhaps Mateer should stick with the art and not the poetry.

The good:

One-line poetry isn’t bad. No indeed it can be used to great effect, setting off lengthy poems with anti-climactic ends, or even climactic ones. But those who put this type of poetry to the best uses are forgotten. The only reasons I know about better poets are the facts that I am a poet myself, that I go looking for it, that I’ve studied poetry in all its forms for some time.

Again, if only more people were exposed to poetry in well-rounded and in-depth ways. But, to all of you out there who want to have a better understanding of poetry, or want to read better poetry, here are some resources that will set you on the right track:

Medium: there are so many poets on Medium, it would take more than a lifetime to read them all. But that is good, and there is so much variety among the poems and poets themselves – plenty of niches to curl into.

Literary Magazines and Journals: There is a plethora of literary journals and magazines that focus on or include poetry, and most are easily accessible. You can just google “literary journal” or “poetry journal” and you’ll be given many options. However, if you want a comprehensive list, I would suggest looking at Poets and Writers and well as Poetry Foundation. Many colleges and universities also have their own literary journals, so look there too!

Here are some of my favorite literary and poetry journals:

Platypus Press

Fairy Tale Review

The Rialto

Short Édition’s Short Circuit

There are so many other wonderful poets to read. Let’s leave behind shock value, and embrace the beauty of wordsmithing again.

Book Review – Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn

Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things by Lafcadio Hearn

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Kwaidan by Lafcadio Hearn



As most of you probably know by now, I am a HUGE fan of ghosts and ghost stories and folklore concerning ghosts. I had heard about this book from YouTuber and author Jen Campbell, who recommended this book about Japanese ghost stories highly. I must say that I was hardly disappointed when I did read this book.

Not only did I get to read about ghosts, but in doing so I got to learn more about Japanese culture and folklore, a subject I wasn’t, and still am not, very familiar with. There were ghost stories regarding samurai, Buddhist ghost legends, and quite a few stories about death and ghosts regarding love and marriage, which I did not even consider could be a category in and of itself!

There are two main reasons I gave this book 3 stars instead of 4 or 5. The layout of this particular edition was only okay – I would have preferred it to be more organized in terms of style and layout. At the end of this book, we get a few essays about insects from Hearn, our early 20th century scholar and translator. I am fine with these sections, but Hearn didn’t relate them to Japanese ghost folklore as much as I would have liked.

In any case, this book of Japanese ghost stories was informative and intriguing. I recommend to all who want to learn more about ghosts in non-western settings.



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My Top 10 Favorite Classics

assorted books on wooden bookcase

I was inspired by Lauren Wade’s video on Youtube, where she talks about her own favorite classics. Some of my favorite classics are a bit more modern or a bit more unusual, but I think that’s what makes them classics to me! These are in no particular order, though based on my other posts I think you can tell which one’s are going to be more favorite than others.

Also doing this because I’m in a bit of a reading slump, but hopefully writing and thinking about books will inspire me to read more!

The Haunting of Hill House
  • The Haunting of Hill House
    This is the hauntingly atmospheric novel by Shirley Jackson about a group of people who stay at Hill House, a supposedly haunted house. Told through the perspective of Eleanor, we see a shaky view of the people she meets and becomes more intimate with, and her unreliable narration amplifies the uneasiness felt in the house.

    I love how uneasy this book makes me, both because I get a bit embarrassed for Eleanor, but also because you KNOW there’s something strange going on in and because of that house. Jackson really knows how to give chilling vibes.

Rebecca
  • Rebecca
    As you might be able to tell, I do love my haunted house stories, and I count Rebecca as one of those stories. In this book a young woman meets and then marries the mysterious Max deWinter, whose wife, Rebecca, died a year before. As the new Mrs. deWinter tries to get used to her new role, she realizes that the grand manor, Manderley, holds more secrets and ghosts of Rebecca.

    This book is so dark and sends the shivers up the spine. Like Eleanor in Hill House, the new Mrs. deWinter is unsure and uninformed enough to make the narrative shaky, unreliable, and eerie, at least until she is able to be in on things.

I, Claudius (Claudius, #1)
  • I, Claudius
    This historical fiction recounts the life of the Julio-Claudians in the early days of the Roman Empire, through the perspective of the emperor Claudius. The narration takes us from the rule of Augustus and ends when Claudius becomes emperor (the sequel Claudius The God tells of what happens after this).

    As a fan of ancient history, I love this telling. We get to know fun characters like the murderous Livia, the insane Caligula, and all who seek to impede Claudius’ life. Of course there are elements of this book that are not quite historically accurate, but it is still very, very entertaining.

The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)
  • The Lord of the Rings
    If you know me even a little, you will know that these are my favorite books in the world. I’m not going to go into the plot too much cause I assume if you haven’t read the book, you’ve at least seen the movie, and they’re pretty similar. The only think I will say that is missing from the films from the book is more of the folklore aspects that Tolkien fills his books with. I LOVE folklore and fairy tale, and reading about the elves, the barrow wights, Tom Bombadil, the mythology behind trees, it’s all just *chef’s kiss*. And the fact that all of this folklore has informed a lot of modern and contemporary folklore is what makes these books classics for me.

Sense and Sensibility
  • Sense and Sensibility
    One of my favorite romances EVER! I read this after I watched the movie with Emma Thompson and the rest of that all-star cast. I fell in love with Alan Rickman’s Col. Brandon, and so I had to see for myself if he is just as wonderful in the book and HE IS!! Also, a Jane Austen is always a classic, this just happens to be the best and favorite of mine!

Fahrenheit 451
  • Fahrenheit 451
    Ray Bradbury’s famous novella takes place in a dystopian (deceptively utopian) world where books are outlawed, so people do not have ideas that are non-conforming. Our protagonist, a fireman, is one of the people who burns books when found. But what happens when one day he decides to keep and read one?

    This is probably my favorite dystopian fiction because so many times have we almost lived this reality, where knowledge is kept secret and away from those who would learn and have their own ideas. Also, any book about books is for me, and a dystopian book about books? Oh ja.

Paris in the Twentieth Century
  • Paris in the Twentieth Century
    Another dystopian! This is a more obscure book by Jules Verne, imagining what life might be like in the late 20th century. In this version of modernity, the arts and humanities are considered obsolete, and our main character, a classicist and Latinist, has trouble fitting in this world.

    As a classicist myself, it is encouraging to read about those who will love the classics and language and art even in dire times, though it is sad to think about this decline. Even though it was in translation, I love the way Verne tells his stories.

The Last Unicorn (The Last Unicorn, #1)
  • The Last Unicorn
    I also read this book after I saw the movie, and I am happy to say that they are very similar! The book is so fantastic though, with a diverse and quirky cast of characters. I also love the theme of the disappearing fairy tale represented by the loss of the unicorns in this book. And a wizard named Schmendrick? I want him to be my best friend.
    Another more modern classic, but a fantasy classic nonetheless!

The Black Cauldron (The Chronicles of Prydain, #2)
  • The Chronicles of Prydain
    Again, I read this classic fantasy series after watching Disney’s The Black Cauldron, which takes its name from the second book in the series. In this series we follow three heroes, Taran, Princess Eilonwy, and Fflewddur Fflam as they overcome the evil powers that be in the lands of Prydain.

    This series is all based on Welsh mythology, much of which can be found in the Mabinogion. I think that’s why I was so drawn to it at all, cause Welsh mythology is so cool!

The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
  • The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton
    Not really a classic in terms of books, but definitely in terms of the author. Edith Wharton is famous for her novels, but some don’t know that she also wrote ghost stories! Very much in the same vein of horror as Shirley Jackson, Wharton sets many of her stories in houses that have ghosts or secrets, the perfect haunting and eerie atmosphere that I am just in love with!


    Those are my top 10! What are some of your favorite classics?

Book Review – The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories by Ambrose Bierce

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories by Ambrose Bierce

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Moonlit Road and Other Ghost and Horror Stories by Ambrose Bierce

picked up Bierce’s collection of ghost stories because I am a huge fan of reading ghost stories written around the same time and style – think Edith Wharton, E.F. Benson, Shirley Jackson, etc.

While these stories were VERY spooky, and definitely enjoyable, I encountered some rather unfortunate mannerisms of the time; that is, sexism, racism, making men either murderers or gamblers. It is unlike Wharton’s stories, which center around circumstances outside of the protagonist’s control – Bierce’s characters often put the supernatural experiences upon themselves while also being kind of horrible people. I didn’t ignore it as I went, nor did I excuse the behavior of the characters, but I did feel these traits were what made the stories so centered upon the characters’ downfalls.

I don’t know if I would recommend this book to anyone who doesn’t like period ghost stories as much as I do.



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Not book related but: My Poem is in a Contest!

Image for post
taken from Short Edition

I submitted my poem “Visiting a Jewish Cemetery, 2010” to the contest by Short Edition called “America: Color it in” and it is in the running! The winners get to donate to an anti-racism cause of their choice.

If you like my poem, please consider voting for it! Currently it is in 5th place.

Also read the other poems of these talented writers and vote for them too! We need to recognize more voices, especially more diverse voices during these times.

My poem

All the contestants

Results of the Reading Rush and a short reading wrap-up

So the Reading Rush didn’t go as well as I hoped it would for me, as I had a bit of a slump on Saturday, but I did get quite a bit of reading done otherwise! I finished three books and read halfway through a fourth.

The Changeling Sea

The first book I finished was The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip (137 pages). I won’t say too much about it here because I made another post all about it, but I will say it was so amazing, and I need MORE of McKillip’s work!!

Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children, #2)

The second book I finished was Down Among The Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire (187 pages). This is the second book of McGuire’s Wayward Children series, but a prequel to Every Heart A Doorway. I made a whole post reviewing this one as well, but I did not like it as much as the first book. That being said, I still enjoyed it, and the books in this series are great for listening on audiobook, which I did!

And the Ocean Was Our Sky

The third book I finished was And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness (160 pages). Again, I did make a whole review of it, but I will say that this retelling of Moby Dick is so much more than that. The illustrations by Rovina Cai are gorgeous.

Come Tumbling Down (Wayward Children, #5)

After these three I got halfway through the audiobook of Come Tumbling Down by Seanan McGuire, the fifth book of her Wayward Children series. Yes I do realize I skipped books 3 and 4, but upon reading the synopses I realized that they were more prequels, whereas Come Tumbling Down continues (kind of) where Every Heart A Doorway left off. I will make a review post as soon as I finish this one too.

If any of you have recs for books that are like Wayward Children, do let me know! I love listening to them.

~~~~~~~~~~

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Book Review – And The Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness (day 5 of the 2020 Reading Rush)

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

And the Ocean Was Our Sky by Patrick Ness


And The Ocean Was Our Sky is a retelling of Moby Dick, though the hunters we see are both humans and whales. Whales hunt humans to protect themselves, and humans hunt whales for the same reason. Bathsheba is an apprentice of a ship of whales, whose captain is obsessed with hunting down the almost mythical whale and human-hunting man, Toby Wick. But when Bathsheba has the chance to speak with a human herself, she realizes that the hunts and destinies of whales and men always prophesied to her may not be as fixed in fate as she thought.

First I want to talk about the illustrations by Rovina Cai. They are simply beautiful. Cai uses a palette of greys, blacks, and reds to make the images of the hunts and depths of the sea starkly stand out and draw the eye to the brutality of the story. Her style reminds me very much of the art by Emily Carroll in her book Through The Woods, which I also love.

For those who loved The Deep by Rivers Solomon, this is a logical choice for your next read. Patrick Ness also writes about humanity through the perspective of an endangered sea, and writes about characters going against the destinies that have been thrust upon their unwilling selves. It is interesting that both of these authors chose the sea as the perspective of their respective books. Is it because things are darker in the sea and contrast with the brightness of the air and land in which humanity lives? Is it because the vast sea allows for more room to grow? There are so many possibilities that I cannot answer or choose – only the author can do that – but the setting of the deep see keeps drawing me in, and is why I loved And The Ocean Was Our Sky so much.



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Book Review -Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Down Among the Sticks and Bones by Seanan McGuire


After reading and loving Every Heart A Doorway, I was eager to read more of Seanan McGuire’s other works. So when I saw she had written prequels to that first book, I jumped right in. This prequel is about Jack and Jill, who went through a chest into another world. The former became a scientist’s apprentice, the latter the adopted daughter of a vampire as mysterious and powerful as the legendary Count himself.

I won’t say too much about the plot of Down Among the Sticks and Bones, as a lot of it is explained in Every Heart A Doorway. The reason for this is also because I wasn’t too keen on the story. It explained the background of why Jack and Jill were the way they were in the first book, but other than that it was nothing special. What really had me hooked to this book, though, was McGuire’s writing, which continues to be amazing. It is poetic, full of wonderful imagery, and her characters seem almost alive.

I listened to this book on Scribd for day 3 of this year’s Reading Rush.



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Book Review – The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

This is the first book I read for the 2020 Reading Rush, happening this week!

The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

The Changeling Sea by Patricia A. McKillip

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


The Changeling Sea is about Peri, a girl who hates and fears the sea, and yet finds herself entwined in its movements and intentions. She meets a prince who longs for the sea, a sea-dragon that longs for the land, and a wizard that, along with Peri, knows more secrets than they care to tell.

McKillip was inspired by classic changeling stories to write this tale, and she does it magnificently. In this case we meet two changelings, one trapped on land that belongs in the sea, and one trapped in the sea that belongs on land. Peri acts as the liaison between the land and sea, herself almost a changeling, though enchantress is more like it, especially since she follows patterns of enchantresses that McKillip often engages, like Sybel from The Forgotten Beasts of Eld.

What I love as well as the changeling themes and the poetic descriptions of the sea, are the fairytale references. Images of Swan Lake and the Seven (sometimes Six) Swans come to mind when looking at the changeling princes, and Peri fits the well-known trope of hermit witch who guides heroes on their journeys. Peri does find love in the end though, through romance, friendship, and the love between a mother and a daughter.

McKillip once again did not disappoint, and I may like this book even better than the last one I read. I recommend to all who love and fear the sea with all its mystery, depth, and magic.



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Book Review – Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire

Every Heart a Doorway is about a girl named Nancy who gets sent to a boarding school for youths who have been to different worlds and come back. Like all those at this school, Nancy cannot get back through the door that led to her particular world, in this case the underworld, and so must learn to cope and live in the ‘real’ world. She makes friends, and bonds with others like her when a number of grisly murders happen at the school. Together, Nancy and her friends must find out who would commit such crimes.

I had no idea what to expect when I first started listening to this book on audio, but I absolutely fell in love. The way Seanan McGuire writes her characters is so detailed and wonderful, I wanted to know and be friends with all of these people. In addition, McGuire has created characters who represent those who do not receive much attention – Nancy herself is asexual, and there are nonbinary and gay characters as well.

This book made me feel like I did when I was a child, perhaps even how I feel now. I believed I could enter secret worlds that were entirely made for me, and like the young people at Miss Eleanor’s School, I find myself looking back to those days of whimsy and adventure, even if they were only in my head. And, much like the doors of those worlds, Every Heart a Doorway is itself like a door into a world where people can understand you. There’s so much folklore and fairytale in it as well that I now know that it is no wonder I was so enthralled with the story.

This is probably my favorite book this year, and I have read some amazing books. I recommend to anyone who wants a door back to whimsy.



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