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CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (16): Victoria C. Slotto, Jacaranda Rain …

Victoria C. Slotto, the poet as captured in (c) photo by David Slotto

Plain as a needle a poem may be, or opulent as the shell of the channeled whelk, or the ace of the lily, it matters not; it is a ceremony of words, a story, a prayer, an invitation, a flow o words that reaches out and, hopefully, without being real in the way that the least incident is real, is able to stir in the reader a real response.” San Dabs, Seven from Winter Hours by Mary Oliver

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Thus begins Victoria C. Slotto’s 2012 poetry collection, Jacaranda Rain, which she dedicated to Oliver “my mentor unaware.”  Like Mary Oliver, nature is frequent inspiration for Victoria. The collection includes some fifty-five poems on nature, spirituality, death and dying, which are arranged rather charmingly in alpha order.

What haunts me,” said the dead man
to his wife whose ashes mingled with
his own, “are books I’ve never read –”
from About the Dead Man and Books

“What haunts me more,” the dead man said
for no one else to hear, “are books I never
wrote — ideas fanned to life by life …”
from More About the Dead Man and Books

Victoria certainly will have no such regrets. Since 2009 she’s been publishing her poetry on her blog  (Victoria C. Slotto, Author; Fiction, Poetry, Essays). Her original intention in starting the blog was to promote her first novel, Winter Is Pastwhich was ultimately published by Lucky Bat Books in 2011.

Victoria is however a lover of poetry and was drawn to write and published more and more poetry – Lovely! – becoming involved in poetry groups. (We met via Jingle’s poetry group for those of you who have been around as long as we have and remember that dear lady.)

Victoria eventually became involved with dVerse ~ Poets Pub, “a place for poets and writers to gather to celebrate poetry. We are many voices, but one song. Our goal is to celebrate; poets, verse & the difference it can make in the world. To discover poetry’s many facets and revel in its beauty, even when ugly at times.”  dVerse is a collaborative effort offering inspiration, encouragement and education. I highly recommend it, especially if you are just getting started online and want to make connections. Jacaranda Rain includes several poems that were part of an anthology published by dVerse (also recommended). Victoria was for a time a core-team member of The BeZine where she offered monthly prompts for poets and writers.

Victoria’s collection includes explanatory notes for some of the poems and these are engaging and not intrusive.

I dreamt
I flew among the stars
skirted between planets,
cracked open doors
to distant worlds
from Quantum Leaps in Jacaranda Rain

In all since 2009, Victoria has maintained a blog, been an inspiration to poets and a friend to many, written two novels (the second is The Sin of His Father) and a nonfiction book, Beating the Odds: Support for Persons with Early Stage Dementia. Victoria is a former registered nurse who worked primarily with the elderly. She writes from that experience and the more intimate experience of caring for her own mother. As her mother faced early stages of dementia, they worked together to devise practical steps to help her mom remain independent for as long as possible. Victoria offers memory prompts, health care considerations, ideas to help one find meaning in life, suggestions for preparing for the future and more in this very worthy book.

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Though I must leave you
I’ll come to you again
a shower of purple petals
on dew covered sod –
from the poem Jacaranda Rain in the collection

Victoria now has a second blog, Be Still and Know That I Am God.

© poem excerpts, book covers/art, and portrait, Victoria C. Slotto

 

OUR REACH WAS NEVER QUITE ENOUGH: but it was ~ Ray Bradbury at His Charming Best Reading his poem “If Only We Had Taller Been.”

Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), Americaan Fantasy, science fiction, horror and myster author, perhaps best known for the dystopian Fahrenheit 451
Ray Bradbury (1920-2012), American Fantasy, science fiction, horror and mystery author, perhaps best known for the dystopian Fahrenheit 451.

 

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Thoughts of Ray Bradbury can’t help but make us smile. They bring with them memories of the Golden Age of Science Fiction, editor John Wood Campbell (Astounding Science Fiction, Analog Science and Fact, Amazing) and pulp magazines with their staple writers (Bradbury, Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke… and others) who thrilled us with fringe politics, pseudo science and controversy. We don’t think of them as poets, but apparently at least one dabbled in the art.

I post this once every two years. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Celebrating American She-Poets (4): Pearl Buck “Words of Love”

I give you the books I’ve made,
Body and soul, bled and flayed.
Yet the essence they contain
In one poem is made plain,
In one poem is made clear:
On this earth, through far or near,
Without love there’s only fear.

Essence by Pearl Buck, novelist and humanitarian

No one will think first of poetry when they think of Pearl Buck. She was primarily a novelist and memoirist. She did write poetry though and one collection was published. I consider her a sort of spiritual mother and so include her early in this ongoing Thursday series: Celebrating American She-Poets.

Pearl S. Buck (1892-1973) was born in Virginia, the daughter of Presbyterian missionaries. She grew up in China and spoke Chinese before she spoke English. Her Chinese name was Sai Zhenzhu.

Pearl Buck was a prolific writer of novels and memoir who started publishing her stories and essays in the 1920s in popular periodicals of the day: The Nation, The Chinese Recorder, Asia, and The Atlantic Monthly. Her first novel was East Wind, West Wind (John Day Company, 1930).

Of her novels, The Good Earth is the best known. It won the Pulitzer in 1932. The focus of most of her writing was China and the Chinese. When Chinese-American author Anchee Min wrote Pearl of Chinaa fictionalized account of Pearl Buck’s life, she said that she was touched by the warmth and understanding with which Ms. Buck had written about Chinese peasants and their lives.

Pearl Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1938.

To my knowledge, there is only one small book of her poems. The collection is titled Words of Love. It is simply illustrated with Asian art by Jeanyee Wong and was published a year after Ms. Buck’s death by the John Day Company, the publishing firm run by Pearl Buck’s second husband, Richard Walsh.

I found a copy of Words of Love in a used-book store some years ago. The poem quoted above is an excerpt. In brief, eloquent, deft strokes, Ms. Buck’s poems do indeed express the themes of her novels. I can’t help but wonder whether there might be more of her poetry stored in some university archive awaiting discovery by an ambitious student or devoted biographer.

Dust-jacket, Words of Love by Pearl S. Buck.

© 2016,  Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; illustrations are in the public domain

Orhan Pamuk: The Fear of Being Left Outside, What Literature Needs to Address

Orhan Pamuk (b. 1952), Istanbul Turkey, Novelist
Orhan Pamuk (b. 1952), Istanbul Turkey, Novelist ~ photo courtesy of Mr. Pamuk

“What literature needs most to tell and investigate today are humanity’s basic fears: the fear of being left outside, and the fear of counting for nothing, and the feelings of worthlessness that come with such fears; the collective humiliations, vulnerabilities, slights, grievances, sensitivities, and imagined insults, and the nationalist boasts and inflations that are their next of kin … Whenever I am confronted by such sentiments, and by the irrational, overstated language in which they are usually expressed, I know they touch on a darkness inside me. We have often witnessed peoples, societies and nations outside the Western world–and I can identify with them easily–succumbing to fears that sometimes lead them to commit stupidities, all because of their fears of humiliation and their sensitivities. I also know that in the West–a world with which I can identify with the same ease–nations and peoples taking an excessive pride in their wealth, and in their having brought us the Renaissance, the Enlightenment, and Modernism, have, from time to time, succumbed to a self-satisfaction that is almost as stupid.”

—Orhan Pamuk, Nobel Lecture (translation by Maureen Freely), 2006

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Some thoughts for today for us as writers, artists, and bloggers and simply as humans being. How do you feel about this statement? Is it fair?
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… and thus we begin a new week …

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