Thursday, January 23, 2014

Expressions of Humanity~Poetry For the Masses

I've got another excellent review for you! Maja Dezulovic, author of The 360 Degree Heart, has released her second collection,  Expressions of Humanity. I was so eager to read it! I had enjoyed The 360 Degree Heart so much, I had great expectations. And I wasn't disappointed.

Maja Dezulovic
Maja Dezulovic, author

  To begin with, I was greatly inspired by the words,

Somebody once told me that human life is cheap. I disagreed at first but I realized his point.   People are cheap because we are an abundant commodity. Atrocities happen all over the world because we no longer value human life.   It is up to each of us as individuals to make an impact and create more out of ourselves than the world may think we are worth.

  And my enjoyment just carried on. I loved the simple and potent truth in He Called to Say His Mother Died. I was impressed by the natural circumstances, the point that things happen in a second and that there is this seeming paradox--someone is gone, that part is missing--but things go on, just the same. That's the momentum of life. It never stops.

I didn't know what to say so I just let out, "I'm so sorry. That's a shame." But before I could finish my condolences, he answered "It's okay. Life goes on. It all carries on just the same..."

expressions of humanity
  Where Did All the Night People Go was a personal favorite, as the thought process in the poem was something I've wondered too. People you see just along the road at night. What happens to them? What is their story? And absolutely everyone, (in my honest opinion) can relate to 25. Reading that, I was immediately nodding, saying "Amen to that! Just the exact words." There will always be expectations when we're young. But we, the young, have our own expectations--and it is better to live (while of course making sure we seek wisdom) and strive for our crazy dreams. It is by those dreams that the world is built.
  25 year old female in Africa  lingered in my thoughts, especially the ending line. I often think about the things people do, the reasons for them, and how desperation and a simple reaction to our own circumstances fuels so much. It paints a drastic, tragic picture. The human race is something that is always passionately in the war to survive, in one way or another, no matter what some may think.

Everyone’s in it for themselves. So is she. 
Whatever work comes through. 
So she can 
Survive today 
And ensure her doomed offspring’s tomorrow.

One that gave me pause was Icon dedicated to Nelson Mandela. He was an amazing person. He did so much good. And when I heard about him occasionally, (he passed on, on Dec 5th last year) it was always with the feeling like I was hearing about someone who had made history, and yet was also in the act of making it still. As if history itself, at that second of hearing his name again, was present.

  A poem that made me think of how I often feel, filled with frustration at my lack of progress (meaning not yet getting out on my own) were the words of Do You Know What It Feels Like?

Do you know?
That feeling of wanting to scream
and shout with all you've got,
throw about everything you see
and trash the place completely, 
because it already looks like rubbish - 
useless items that cannot help you nor feel with you.

What I really appreciated was the insight that followed it. The point. The thing that is always worth remembering.

Followed by growth. 
That's the whole point, isn't it? 
To grow, to love, to understand. 
To write stupid poetry like this, 
asking senseless questions because everybody who reads it will know.

  I LOVED 7 Cents For Your Soul. Plain speaking and honest, it makes a point as to how people often view themselves, as cheap things not worth their own work and endeavors. Their own care.
But man, I really enjoyed Ruby In the Rough. It's so important, when we encounter those people who can see us for who we are, and they give us back the courage to keep going. To make the scales fall from our eyes. It is so very important. And crucial that we remember them.

  In Maja's friendship poems, I appreciated her sharing her personal experiences and relationships. It touched me in a certain way, made me think of the individuality of many of the bonds we have with people. And what they do for us. One of the more memorable statements she made:

Ronnie was there for me at a time when I needed friendship and encouragement.   Her advice led me to wise decisions and handling my life in a better manner.   I once told Ronnie that I was afraid to do something.   Her response was: “What you need is a bottle of guts.”

Amen to that. We all need friends to tell us that.

An excellent example of her poems reflecting the effect of society was Riding the Bullet To Your Brain.

 And you’re stuck with a choice 
Bookless, brainless Barbies 
Who accept everything and laugh in pity and ignorance 
And knowledge snobs 
Who sip wine and flaunt their arrogance.   
Give me my middle class 
My middle class 
So that I can know a little more, and care a little less.

  How good is that? This was my favorite line in the entire poem. It wraps together many of the elements that I see all around, things I think about, sometimes very sorry for--other times just with scorn. The power of society comes from people who will or will not allow themselves to believe things that are real. All of us. We effect our own environment by what we do, what we say--and how hard we're willing to work to find out what is really worthwhile, what is true.

  My last two favorites were the concluding poems, There Are No Words, and Where Am I Going? Harkening back to the themes of youth in 25, these were an excellent choice to end the book. Having addressed so many topics, these leave us with the personal thoughts of what we will make of ourselves. We have this knowledge of things that are good, others that just take away from life--so what will we make of ourselves? What will we do with our time?

  I'm really looking forward to more work from Maja Dezulovic. Her words are never a disappointment. Like with anyone, some poems are better than others, but I didn't finish a book thinking, "Well, that was okay." I finished knowing it was well worth my time.

  ~E. C. Shore

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Eternal Endeavors~More and More and More Books

bookshelf pic
A sample of my bookshelf

  Of course the best way to start of a New Year is to tell yourself all the new books you're going to get read finally. And while this is a more than common refrain, it is nevertheless a good one. And I am going to read everything.

  Ha, hardly. But to cover some classics I have not yet read, and to get some books on my shelf finally read, I am making a goal of reading at least 40 books this year. (And it is also a way of finding out which books actually deserve a spot on my shelf). I think I can do more, but let's try to keep it manageable, shall we. Speaking to myself So this is my current list:

A Tale of Two Cities

Great Expectations (first on my list, really)

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Paradise Lost

The Lord of the Rings/ The Hobbit (an annual endeavor--my favorites)

The Lucy Montgomery Album

Grimms' Fairy Tales

The Wizard of Oz (five books at least)

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Secret Life of Bees


Uncle Tom's Cabin

Two Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Many of those on on my shelf, so that should take care of some "unread" space. And I am, of course, expecting many of those to completely earn their spots in my bookcase.

  Now--trying to finish all of Shakespeare's works before the year's end just might be too much. But that's just one of my habits--biting off more than I can chew. I enjoy the challenge. I have to have a challenge or I get incredibly bored incredibly quickly. So. I'm going to have to set the timer to see how long it is before my brain starts melting and draining from my ears. I have yet to actually order the edition of Shakespeare's Works that I want--I have to wait for another shipment to come in. This one (according to the descriptin, has some hitherto unpublished work. So I definitely want it. Hopefully it will be worth my while.
  We'll see though. And for some of  the other things...The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Great Expectations. Browsing British dramas on Amazon Prime actually introduced me with those--I have obviously heard of Great Expectations, just have never gotten my  hands on it. Both adaptions (speaking from a newbie's point of view) were absolutely enthralling. I enjoyed them so much, and intrigued me to no end. The characters and setting and the whole psychology behind motives/perceptions was incredible. Now I can't wait to read the books. That is the gift of good adaptions--introducing us into something that is definitely worth reading.

  So here's to a new year of reading, finding new stories, and hopefully learning good things along the way. That's the purpose of good writing. May this be a year of inspiration. (And from a writing perspective, I need it).

  ~E. C. Shore