The nadir of naught

It’s very difficult to write

when you are depressed

when you know depression

isn’t fleeting

isn’t because something happened

but the same as

a piece of string

will get affixed to tree limbs sometimes

and despite all effort

not be able to get

free

O

I envy (you’re not supposed to envy, but I do)

those without this malady

the world would call them stronger

they may blush slightly and say

aw shucks it’s a lottery isn’t it?

I could be just as glum as you if

my dog died, if my car broke down

and in those instances I want

so much to say

nononono

that’s not it

at all

it’s crying on your wedding day

from pain not joy

it’s feeling strong at a funeral because

the wires in your head don’t fire right

it’s understanding you’re going to have to try ten times harder

just to stand and be counted

and even then

you may wish

not to be counted

because perversity

is the twin

of sadness

she breaks you into shards

snickering as you

flail to put things back

It’s very difficult to write

when you are depressed

when you know depression

isn’t something you can push through

like your MFA teacher bid

one night when you contemplated

cutting your wrists with broken pottery

almost on a lark when hearing; try to work smarter!

desperation surging unbidden

fast and dark like unfiltered coffee

always leaves its gritty mark

on the ennui of fileted souls.

(This is for all those who were ever shamed for being depressed and having depressive symptoms, for feeling they were ‘less than’ because they could not function seamlessly as others appeared to. I see you. You are counted).

WordPress #2

I feel discouraged by WordPress (WP) banning my personal site (this) for life from following other WordPress sites. I have written letters of explanation to WP, explaining if I ‘followed’ 30 people’s sites in one day, it may be because I’m not on WP often (I pre-schedule posts) and follow handfuls of people at a time for the purpose of garnering talented writers. WP banned me FOR LIFE from following any further WP sites, and has refused my numerous appeals. It behooves them for people like myself to promote WP authors through publications, I did no harm but am treated like I’m Trump and it’s Twitter. After 7 years on WP it’s disheartening. I cannot leave WP because I’ve built my site and contacts there. The bigger picture discourages me. To work so hard and get slapped down. I feel social media can do this with us writers/editors/publishers when it ignores the hard work we do. I hear this from FB folk all the time whose personal pages are ignored. I wish there were some way to push back. When all we are doing is creative work. How is that in the same ballpark as spamming? Would any of those who I followed really have objected my following? When it gave them a chance to find out about publishing opportunities.

Truth or dare

I’m sorry I didn’t tell you

about the real me

she’s not happy with her subtefuge

it cost her heavily

the weight of deception has always

sat like curdled cream in a bowl

waiting to be thrown away

or consumed and in so doing

poison truth from her hiding place

she’d be forthright if

it didn’t cost more

than she had in her purse

purchased inexpensively

in a local artisan’s market

that closed years ago

when creativity waned

and people hoped their kids

would go to Business School.

WordPress

I have been given a life time ban of ever following any site on WP. This because once I was temporarily stopped from following other authors because I followed 25 WP sites in a day. Then they banned me.

I did that because I schedule posts and am not on WP every day. When I come and see comments from new authors and go to their sites and like their work, I want to follow them.

WP told me I couldn’t possibly read the number of sites I follow (700). But that’s not for them to decide given I read periodically great numbers and SIXTY percent of some books I’ve been part of publishing/editing are people we have met and read on WP!! Maybe higher.

I regularly promote OTHERS. How is this spam behavior? How does my behavior justify a life time ban of following people? It cripples me. I cannot change to another site because I built here and have many friends and colleagues here.

So it is not justifiable. Nor was it respectful. My job here is finding talent for our work. How is that spamming or undermining WP?

In fact, WP should be glad we highlight WP authors. Isn’t that the point of platforms like WP?

I’m not Trump. I shouldn’t be banned for life. I asked them what is a number I can follow without being barred from following? Instead of giving me that option they just banned me for life.

People may follow me and wonder why I don’t, when I want to. I won’t see their posts because I’m not able to follow them. I understand rules. But this isn’t right because it was wrong of them to assume I followed a writer for likes. I’ve never cared about likes that much, as anyone who knows me can attest. This is about doing my job. And highlighting work including a book of my own, I have coming out. How can I promote anything if I cannot freely follow anyone ever again?

I’m dealing with a very serious issue right now so I haven’t been able to act on this yet but I do intend to protest this legally when I can. Rules are great but they must also make sense and be intelligent.

Am sorry if you follow me as I cannot anymore follow you. I will fight to be treated fairly.

A dying art

(We’re in our 4th day of power and water outages here in TX but I had written this just before so I’m posting it now via my phone:)

I understand when people submit work to the publishing company I work with and they are rejected and feel badly. I understand because there is a formula in the publishing world that goes something like this;

If you are the IT person of the moment, if you possess the right age, gender, skin color, ethnicity, immigration status, political affiliation, tattoos, etc., etc., then you might get published on that basis alone. Whether good or bad, you are the dish du jour.

If you are not the above, then you either graft away for years, building a network until you are published. Or you give up.

But in between those extremes, there are those like myself who work long full time jobs and still want to occasionally publish something. We submit to submission calls periodically and many times are astounded at the rudeness of rejections. Or watch as less talented folk get published because of ‘who they know’ or they fit a criterion.

When we produced The Kali Project, we were told by many, that we were ‘so polite and thoughtful’ which saddened us to think (and know from personal experience) how unkind the publishing world can be and how it doesn’t have to be.

Why would you want to tear someone down just because you can?

We receive some really ‘poor’ work but we always treat people with respect. It’s surprisingly easy to do. Many ‘poor’ writers end up becoming quite accomplished, if you give them encouragement to improve.

Recently I was recommended to a publisher by an agent friend of mine, as being a good place to submit my own fictional book. The response to my submission was: “We did not find this interesting at all and have no wish to pursue.” Granted, that must be their opinion and they absolutely have a right to it, but could they have said it differently? Given 3 large heads in publishing pushed me to try to get the book published, I’m pretty sure it’s not without merit. There are just better ways of responding.

A dear friend of mine who is a famous, published writer, told me one of her first books was reviled by over 100 publishers before a small publisher took a risk and now, she’s a worldwide best-selling author. So, if this happens to you and trustworthy people have said you have talent, don’t let it stop you.

It is so easy to tear someone down and so easy to build them up. I don’t contribute as much as I would like to this world but I hope I support others and encourage them if nothing else. Obviously positive-criticism has a strong place at the table. But cruelty should not.

Review: Four (4) Poetry & Art by Tara Caribou (published by Raw Earth Ink, November 2020)

When has been more necessary than 2020 and early 2021 that we have needed beauty?

Stuck in sterile homes, we do the best we can. Nonetheless we stagnate a little, because we are meant to be alive, breathing, feeling creatures of the wind.

For most of us, we’ve never been indoors so much. For some, who reside in the unparalleled beauty points throughout the globe, they have been our divination to the lost world.

WordPress siren Tara Caribou author of Four (4) Poety & Art (Published by Raw Earth Ink (late 2020) has long been that paragon, that horse whisperer of beauty and the observation and offering of it.

Tara Caribou

As well as an accomplished photographer in her own right, Caribou is founder of Raw Earth Ink, an indie micro publishing house based in Alaska, publishing some of the hottest talent out there.

Consequently you would not be wrong to assume Caribou has little time to devote to her own abilities as a poetess, but there you would be wrong. With incredible self-control and discipline, Caribou has been blogging, building a reputation for her young dynamic company and writing exquisitely, all while running another business and producing some of the best poetry and art books I’ve seen in recent years.

Because I know this, I cannot be surprised at what Caribou achieves, she is a very quiet powerhouse of determining and mastery. She never does anything half-measure, she is a true old-school perfectionist and she happens to have the one thing few of us possess. Really good taste. From her logo to the choices she makes about whom to publish, and what project to embark on.

Why this matters so much, is related to the initial success of her second poetry volume. If you are going to publish something about the four seasons, life, the outdoors, you want it to be in some way, reflective of the indescribable beauty of the outdoors. At the same time you have the safe space to write your heart out and not apologize for doing so;

a hundred crumpled pages / glimpses of who I really am / for I am / alone.” (Filaments of Ink)

Using her own artwork, photography and uncanny design skills, Caribou has accomplished her goal. I’m inclined to leave it at that, but it’s really worth mentioning this is no easy feat, for the greater percentage of books I read are middling in design, occasionally very disappointing and never possess that wow factor.

Photo by Tara Caribou, Alaska.

From the moment I received my excitedly purchased copy of Four (4) I saw what Caribou had accomplished. She’s brought the outside inside for us all;

Without Pain I’d find no ultimate balance / for this my jaded soul.” (Lessons in Pain)

Four (4) is like a beautiful day and a sonorous night. The book possesses everything almost effortlessly. Her cover is thick and gleaming, the artwork sumptuous and dreamy. The colors vivid and reflective of a perfect day. This is both a classic design and modern enough to be appreciated by all and cherished for the loveliness of her wrappings.

Inside we find even more delight. Four (4) is so well thought through, again no surprise there, as I know Caribou’s prodigious work ethic, but the care and attention to every little thing really sets Four (4) apart from other small press books. I think this little wonder, is perhaps the best calling card Caribou’s company can have, because if you wanted your book to be as gorgeous as this, you’d need look no further for a publisher.

Tara Caribou is one of my most enjoyed poets. She writes a lot, she works hard at her craft, but she doesn’t hide her emotions behind theory and method, she’s very much in the real world. It is this bravery to reveal and knowledge of the value of deep observation and consideration in writing, that makes it so easy to revel in Caribou’s written work. At the same time, she is not convoluted, she is not pretentious, she is a writers writer, she writes about what we all at some time or another, consider and want to understand better;

Who am I really? / Can somebody tell me? / It’s dark in here / Smoke and screams / Is that me?” (No Escape)

If you are familiar with Caribou’s work you will also know her for her passion. Generally I run a mile from writers who ‘write out sex’ because invariably they leave me embarrassed or disgusted with their renderings. But there are those whose sheer voracity of unsated passion, lends them the quill for writing on intimacy and doing it well, usually because they know what to reveal and what not to and how. Those writers? I definitely read;

I’m trying to hide all my inside parts / the real parts / the something found beneath ribs and sinew / for it’s deep inside I hide all the truth.”

The four sections of seasons are reflected in mouthwatering chapters, with the really lovely (and original) idea of creating ‘considerations’ for each season. In Spring, we have time and light and dark, echoed through Dawn, Midday, Dusk and Night. Within that section, the poems speak of these themes. Summer possesses variations on the theme of love, Autumn speaks to the elements, Winter of the moon. I don’t want to say too much, because that’s the delight of unwrapping this gem, but you get the drift, and can appreciate alongside me, the tremendous thought gone into this collection.

I made my own / powerful lines spoken with weak knuckles / or perhaps just a weakness for love / well, weakness is weakness / but I never claimed to be strong.” (What I Meant to Say Was)

Even without her prodigious talent and drive, Caribou’s eye for beauty is unparalleled and it is this, her opus magnus, she lends us, in our darkest times. Four (4) couldn’t be more timely, it couldn’t be more relevant, and it honestly, truly, could not be a lovelier book of poetry and art. I am so impressed, it only makes me prouder of Caribou’s achievement as an artist in the world of publishing, where we all think we can never be surprised again … how wrong we are.

If you love the beauty of our world, I recommend Four (4) to you as the best of what you may currently be missing. If you are a romantic at heart and have no outlet, Four (4) is your new friend. Caribou’s willingness to plunge into the truth of what makes us human and the best things about it, are uncanny and she’s not one to shy away on paper from exposing realities we all can benefit from.

And I’m lying here / Wondering / About space and time / And where I fit.” (Space Between)

Ironically, it is Caribou with her vision, that helps US understand where we fit in this world. Her pure rendering of what possesses our core, is hard to reject. I believe she actually has known her place in this universe a very long time and that is why she is so wise and aware. But even sages should have their doubts, that’s what makes them relatable and ultimately, human;

Hold my hand / let’s move together forever / always forward / into the light.” (Echoes)

People say the quieter people are the ones we have to watch for, and they’re not wrong. While the rest of the world bleats loudly, Caribou is hard at work, producing and conceptualizing publications that will stand the test of time and give us something truly worthy to sink our teeth into. That’s no easy endeavor and she and Raw Earth Ink are among the most impressive creatives I have met.

I pluck a few motes without effort / they weigh heavily in my palm so / I relax my fingers and blow them out / little galaxies all their own.” (Far-Flung Galaxies)

Purchase Four (4) here.

Raw Earth Ink

Candice Louisa Daquin.

Submit your work to these two anthologies


BUT YOU DON’T LOOK SICK: THE REAL LIFE ADVENTURES OF FIBRO BITCHES, LUPUS WARRIORS, AND OTHER SUPER HEROES BATTLING INVISIBLE ILLNESS

AND

THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS: REFLECTING ON MADNESS AND CHAOS WITHIN

Indie Blu(e) Publishing is thrilled to announce that we will be starting off 2021 with sister anthologies, But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and other Super Heroes Battling Invisible Illness AND Through The Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within.

The focus of But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and other Super Heroes Battling Invisible Illness will be on writing and art from those living with a chronic but invisible physical illness or disability, such as fibromyalgia, lupus, multiple sclerosis, cancer, digestive disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, migraine headache, dysautonomia, etc.

The focus of Through The Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within will be on writing and art from those who are living, or have struggled with, mental illness such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, or psychotic Disorders.

Writers and artists are welcome to submit to either, or both, of these anthologies as applicable to your lived experience.

Given the high volume of submissions that we are expecting, we ask you to follow the submission guidelines as closely.  If you are submitting to both anthologies, please send your submission in two separate emails.  We will begin to review all submissions after January 1, 2021.

Please note that we are not able to offer monetary compensation or free print copies to contributors to these anthologies; however, all contributors will receive a PDF copy of the anthology they are published in. Indie Blu(e) Publishing has prioritized the accessibility of our titles and providing an outlet for artists and writers who might not otherwise get published over profits since we first launched in the fall of 2018.  Keeping 400 and 500 page anthologies affordable globally in a pandemic is challenging.


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But You Don’t Look Sick: The Real Life Adventures of Fibro Bitches, Lupus Warriors, and other Super Heroes Battling Invisible Illness

Anthology Submission Guidelines

SUBMISSIONS ACCEPTED: December 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020

SUBMIT TO: IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com

SUBJECT LINE:  But You Don’t Look Sick Submission

SUBMISSION FORMATTING GUIDELINES 

  • The maximum number of pieces for submission per writer/artist is six (6).
  • Writing may include poetry, prose, short fiction, essay, and/or creative nonfiction
  • Individual pieces of writing should not exceed 1,000 words
  • Writing should be submitted as a single Word attachment to your submission email.  PDFs are the acceptable alternative if you do not have access to Word.  
    • Please use either 12 point Arial or Times Roman font with 1.15 line spacing.
    • Individual pieces of writing in your Word document should be titled, and separated by Page Breaks (not hard returns). A page break is achieved by using Control+Enter.
    • Special formatting is strongly discouraged.  Bold, italic, and multiple font sizes in a single piece are acceptable.
    • Please title all attachments starting with your first name,last name.  
  • The exception to this is if you design your submission as a ‘camera ready’ JPG or PNG image that we can import into our publication as we would a photo. In that case, you may use any formatting you wish, but the image must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white. If in doubt, please contact us at IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com before submitting.  Your ‘camera ready’ writing must be accompanied by the text in a Word (or PDF) version.
  • Artwork submitted for the Anthology must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white
  • You will be notified if your work is accepted. Please do not consider non- acceptance as any diminishment of your experience, but as with any publishing venture, we must try to fit the individual pieces together into a strong whole.
  • All contributors to the anthology will receive a PDF copy of the finished book

BIOGRAPHY: All submissions must include a professional biography and cannot be adjusted once submitted. Bios should be 75 words or less long and may include your social media links.

You will be contacted directly through your email when your work is safely received for submission.  If your work is accepted for the anthology, you will receive an agreement letter that you need to complete fully, sign and return to us within 10 days. 

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED WORK We will accept previously published work but must have written permission by the previous publisher attached with your submission if they retain rights to your work.

If you own the copyright, your permission and the date and title of the previous publisher must be included at the bottom of your submission. 


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Through The Looking Glass: Reflecting on Madness and Chaos Within

Anthology Submission Guidelines

SUBMISSIONS ACCEPTED: December 15, 2020 through January 15, 2021

SUBMIT TO: IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com

SUBJECT LINE:  Through The Looking Glass Submission

SUBMISSION FORMATTING GUIDELINES 

  • The maximum number of pieces for submission per writer/artist is four (4).
  • Writing may include poetry, prose, short fiction, essay, and/or creative nonfiction
  • Individual pieces of writing should not exceed 1,000 words
  • Writing should be submitted as a single Word attachment to your submission email.  PDFs are the acceptable alternative if you do not have access to Word.  
    • Please use either 12 point Arial or Times Roman font with 1.15 line spacing.
    • Individual pieces of writing in your Word document should be titled, and separated by Page Breaks (not hard returns). A page break is achieved by using Control+Enter.
    • Special formatting is strongly discouraged.  Bold, italic, and multiple font sizes in a single piece are acceptable.
    • Please title all attachments starting with your first name, last name.  
  • The exception to this is if you design your submission as a ‘camera ready’ JPG or PNG image that we can import into our publication as we would a photo. In that case, you may use any formatting you wish, but the image must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white. If in doubt, please contact us at IndieBluSubmissions@gmail.com before submitting.  Your ‘camera ready’ writing must be accompanied by the text in a Word (or PDF) version.
  • Artwork submitted for the Anthology must be crisp, 300 DPI, and able to be reproduced clearly in black and white
  • You will be notified if your work is accepted. Please do not consider non- acceptance as any diminishment of your experience, but as with any publishing venture, we must try to fit the individual pieces together into a strong whole.
  • All contributors to the anthology will receive a PDF copy of the finished book

BIOGRAPHY: All submissions must include a professional biography and cannot be adjusted once submitted. Bios should be 75 words or less long and may include your social media links.

You will be contacted directly through your email when your work is safely received for submission.  If your work is accepted for the anthology, you will receive an agreement letter that you need to complete fully, sign and return to us within 10 days. 

PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED WORK We will accept previously published work but must have written permission by the previous publisher attached with your submission if they retain rights to your work.

If you own the copyright, your permission and the date and title of the previous publisher must be included at the bottom of your submission. 

As The World Burns – Out Now!

Indie Blu(e) Publishing are very proud to announce the publication of As The World Burns. Our third socially-aware anthology. As The World Burns is available via all good book stores in Kindle and softback NOW. It is an incredible collection of writers, many of whom are from WordPress and are in our writing groups, writing some of our favorite work. We hope you will support them and our efforts to spread awareness of socially vital subjects. If you have felt frustrated with politics, Covid-19, Black Lives Matter, Homophobia or any of the things happening ‘as the world burns’ this is the collection for you.

We dedicate this anthology to those who have bravely fought the  encroaching darkness in 2020 with their writing and their art,  and who insist that racism, sexism, homophobia, and war are  not inevitable, or acceptable, facets of the human condition.  As The World Burns is a story of survival and an act of  resistance. We speak with many voices, to the damage  wrought in these violent, fevered months. Let us never forget or  turn away, from what is just, what is necessary, to keep light  alive in this world. 

If you are a fan of any of the following authors and artists please consider reading this incredible collection & if you see your name here, link me with your page or LMK and I will hyperlink it. Where I have not found your name on WordPress I have linked to work of yours on WordPress or to your website:

Susi Bocks (poet, SMITTEN), dani bowes (poet SMITTEN), Annette Kalandros (poet WordPress/Facebook/We Will Not Be Silenced), F I Goldhaber (poet We Will Not Be Silenced/WordPress), Kai Coggin (poet SMITTEN/Internationally recognized poet), Dawn McKenzie (poet We Will Not Be Silenced/WordPress/Facebook), Sean McGraw (poet SMITTEN), Rachel Kobin (poet/writer We Will Not Be Silenced), Melita White (poet WordPress), John Leys (poet WordPress), A. Lawler (poet SMITTEN), Irma Do (poet SMITTEN), Kendall Krantz (poet SMITTEN/Actor), Jamie L. Smith (poet SMITTEN), Jimmi Campkin (WordPress/Photographer), Robert Okaji (WordPress/Internationally recognized poet), Maria Gianna Iannucci (poet WordPress), Marisela Brazfield (poet), Aakriti Kuntal (poet WordPress/We Will Not Be Silenced/The Kali Project), Milly Webster (poet SMITTEN), Dierdre Fagan (poet SMITTEN/We Will Not Be Silenced/), Ali Grimshaw (poet We Will Not Be Silenced/WordPress), Dr. Sneha Rooh (poet SMITTEN/WordPress), Marcia Weber (poet, We Will Not Be Silenced), Sarah Ito (poet SMITTEN), Henri Bensussen (poet SMITTEN), Sarah Bigham (poet/writer We Will Not Be Silenced/WordPress), Charu Sharma (poet We Will Not Be Silenced/WordPress), Karissa Whitson (poet SMITTEN), Lindz McLeod (poet SMITTEN), Rachel Finch (poet/writer SMITTEN/We Will Not Be Silenced/Editor Indie Blu(e)), Crystal Kinistino (poet/feminist activist WordPress/SMITTEN/We Will Not Be Silenced/Medium), Dani Bowes (poet SMITTEN), Jaya Avendel (WordPress/We Will Not Be Silenced/The Kali Project), Erik Klingenberg (poet WordPress), Liz DeGregorio (poet SMITTEN), Sammie Payne (photographer/poet/Facebook/Instagram), L Stevens (poet), Jennifer Carr (poet SMITTEN), Matt Eayre (poet WordPress poet/writer/author), Rachel Roth (poet SMITTEN), Tony Single (WordPress/illustrator/graphic novelist/poet), A Shea (poet WordPress, SMITTEN, Facebook/Instagram), Rachel Tijou (poet We Will Not Be Silenced/Photographer), Emje Mccarty (artist/illustrator/poet/WordPress), Lola White (WordPress poet), Sally Zakariya (SMITTEN poet), Carol Jewell (SMITTEN poet), HOKIS (poet/philosopher SMITTEN/WordPress), Patricia Q Bidar (SMITTEN), Sun Hesper Jansen (poet/philisopher/MS campaigner WordPress) Erin Van Vuren (SMITTEN poet/internationally recognized poet on Instagram), Tremaine Loadholt (Medium/SMITTEN/WordPress writer & editor), Marcia Weber (poet/WordPress), Carrie Weis (artist/poet WordPress/We Will Not Be Silenced), Marvlyn Vincent (poet SMITTEN/WordPress), Sarah Ito (SMITTEN poet), Teresa Chappell (SMITTEN poet), Tia Hudson (SMITTEN poet), Aviva Lilith (SMITTEN poet), Anthony Glenn (writer/poet WordPress), Devereaux Frazier (writer/poet Facebook/Instagram/WordPress), Char Trolinder (writer/poet Facebook), Jesica Nodarse (poet SMITTEN/We Will Not Be Silenced/WordPress), Eric Syrdal (writer/poet WordPress/We Will Not Be Silenced), Sarah Doughty (writer/poet WordPress/We Will Not Be Silenced), Eleanor Knight (Singer/Songwriter Facebook/Instagram), Ashley Jane (Poet, WordPress, SMITTEN, We Will Not Be Silenced, Instagram, Facebook), Ruth Bowley (poet, WordPress), Mela Bust (Poet, WordPress, Facebook, Instagram), John Leys (Poet, WordPress), Hoda Esta (Poet, SMITTEN), Nicholas Gagnier (Writer/Poet Instagram/We Will Not Be Silenced/WordPress), John Cochrane (Writer/Poet WordPress), John Biscello (Writer/Poet WordPress), Jane Dougherty (Writer/Poet WordPress), DM Burton (Poet), Melissa Fadul (Writer/Poet WordPress/SMITTEN/We Will Not Be Silenced), Selene Crosier (Poet, SMITTEN), Tamara Madison (Writer/Poet WordPress), Irma Do (poet SMITTEN), Carla Toney (writer/poet SMITTEN), Philip Vernon (Writer/Philosopher WordPress), Linda Crate (poet SMITTEN), Sonja Beauchamp (poet SMITTEN), Elle Arra (writer/poet/WordPress), Merril Smith (Writer/Historian. SMITTEN Foreword/author of The Dictionary of Rape), Hanlie Robbertse (Poet Facebook/Instagram), Petru Vijoen (poet SMITTEN), Maria Gray (poet SMITTEN), Kristiana Reed (poet, WordPress/We Will Not Be Silenced & Editor of Free Verse Revolution), Velma Hamilton (poet SMITTEN), Katherine DeGilio (poet SMITTEN), Christine Ray (Co-Founder of Indie Blu(e) Publishing, Poet SMITTEN, We Will Not Be Silenced/WordPress), Kindra Austin (Co-Founder of Indie Blu(e) Publishing, Poet SMITTEN, We Will Not Be Silenced/WordPress), SA Quinox (poet SMITTEN/WordPress/We Will Not Be Silenced), Leslea Newman (foreword We Will Not Be Silenced/Internationally recognized poet), Amie Campbell (poet SMITTEN), Rob Plath (poet, WordPress), Jessica Jacobs (poet, Internationally recognized poet/SMITTEN), Megha Sood (poet, The Kali Project/SMITTEN), Nayana Nair (poet, WordPress/SMITTEN), Allie Nelson (poet, WordPress), Kim Harvey (Poet, SMITTEN), Cynthia Bryant (poet, SMITTEN), Nadia Garofolo (Musician/Poet), Rachael Ikins (poet/photographer, SMITTEN, We Will Not Be Silenced/WordPress), Devika Mathur (The Kali Project/WordPress poet), Destiny Killian (poet, SMITTEN), Andrew McDowell (poet, WordPress), Dustin Pickering (poet/writer WordPress).

Not quite natural enough

frida-review-dance2~21044987047..jpg

I would like to be

a bit more toward normal, ordinary, unnoticed

because when we hold hands

people stare

bubbles appear above their heads

they say without moving their mouths

she’s a lesbian?

what a shame.

a terrible loss

I bet her father sexually abused her

surely some man really mistreated her

don’t you remember how strange she was as a kid?

Do you think she watched me closely when we went swimming as teenagers? Gross!

I always thought she looked at me in a weird way. didn’t you?

I feel uncomfortable around her, (she’s not like us).

And so I do not

book double rooms in some hotels

for the stares of receptionists cleave my good intention into bitter twine

I do not cup your hand in mine on every street

sometimes I let go, when I see a certain type of glance

I see their flickering of disgust

read like braille, the unsaid words

Unnatural!

Filthy minded!

Disgusting waste of a female!

Around their pursed ashen mouths

as they talk about their dishonest children

as they talk about their cheating boyfriend’s and husband’s

the new grandchild, the latest form of contraception you

don’t even have to take it every day.

Even Plath and Sexton might have

raised an eyebrow and shuddered it was

so deeply entrenched to be judging even among

fine minds. When I read about you Radcliffe

I clutched the paper so tightly I thought I tore

your very sentiments out of print into my

aching lonesome chest.

I wear my hair long as a justifying act

I don’t use communal changing rooms

in case you think I’m looking at you, or worse, why

aren’t you looking? Why didn’t you desire me? IS

a woman who loves another woman supposed to

be the poster child? I don’t want my photo published

next to your intolerance and dissatisfaction in

your moldy marital beds just leave me well alone

I’m doing my thing, it’s not part of yours

don’t flatter yourself, just don’t flatter yourself

you’re not my type.

I know what you think, when I say I’m a feminist

you think; well those types usually are

I want to buy you flowers and bring them to your office

I want to propose a wedding no-one would attend

because people don’t think we’re the same as they are

we’re just girls who haven’t met the right guy

wounded, unnatural birds with confused identity

our parents lament us like Thalidomide babies born

without limbs, bespoken to no-one

if they could, they wouldn’t talk about us at all.

I couldn’t go to some countries, with you on my arms

they’d stone us for who we are

and I’d carry the stones in my mouth and walk into a lake

before I expressed my shame

my shame at being natural

for me

and not quite

natural enough for

everyone else.

Kristiana Reed Interview / her second book / Flowers on the Wall

Recently I had the great fortune to interview one of my all-time favorite modern poets Kristiana Reed and here, alongside her interview, is a short of her reading one of her poems from her second collection of poetry, Flowers on the Wall. This collection came out yesterday and can be purchased here.

Candice: You have a background in Classics and you write a lot of very high-quality poetry that pays homage to your learning. Do you feel that helps you as a writer? And if so, how?

Kristiana: Thank you. The fact my degree is in Classics has afforded me a knowledge of mythology, of empire, of how history repeats itself, of the beginnings of poetry in the oral tradition, and of some of our earliest poets (Sappho, Theognis and Hesiod). Consequently, I find myself alluding to the past, our legacy and ideas which perhaps enrich the poetry I write. I think I’m very influenced by Homer’s descriptions of nature, Ovid’s darkness in Metamorphosis and Virgil’s idyllic landscapes in his Eclogues and The Georgics. This said, the study of Classics is very Westernised and Eurocentric and is therefore limited in this sense; I would love to learn more about the ancient empires in the East such as the Abyssinian and Persian empires and explore the literary tradition which was born there.

Candice: What inspired you to write poetry over say, prose or some other art form? Was there a specific genesis or was it almost an outpouring that became something more formal?

Kristiana: I still write lots of prose but I am more confident with poetry. I have a love for the brevity in poetic storytelling and I am insecure in regards to prose and the development of plot, characters and action. Poetry was my way to write about my Nanny’s (Grandmother’s) garden (which I still refer to as a fairy garden) and my way to express moments of fear, indecision and love as a teenager. I was told I was good at writing poetry from a young age so I guess I stuck with it and I remember my A-Level English Literature teacher telling me even my essay writing was poetic. It was never a conscious decision but I’m happy with my choice.

Candice: Who influences you as a writer/poet and why? This can include any type of artist or non-artist – explain what about their output influences you.

Kristiana: Again, I have no specifics here as such. I am an avid reader and I absorb storytelling. I remember images or phrases for years so sometimes these become a starting point for me when writing. Musicians are an influence – I have vivid memories of sitting cross-legged in my bedroom, aged twelve, reading the lyric book inside the CD case for Avril Lavigne and Evanescence. Even now, I often judge a song based on lyrics because for me they are just like poetry. Lyrical poetry was poetry set to a lyre; nothing much has changed apart from whether we pair our words with music or not.

Kristiana Reed reads one of her incredible poems “Tattoos for the Living” from her collection Flowers on the Wall

Candice: Your work is very pastoral in some respects, something I deeply appreciate as modern poets often stay in the navel-gazing pews and you are unafraid to really stretch outward into any genre. But your appreciation of the pastoral stays with me because you really know how to bring to life your surroundings. Do you feel where you live has influenced how you write?

Kristiana: I have always got lost in my surroundings and this stems from childhood. Already I have mentioned my Nanny’s garden which was a constant and burgeoning with blooms (I could easily watch the seasons from my slide on the lawn). My favourite memories are often associated with places and so I felt such freedom when I moved to where I live now which is an area between the town and country. There is a wheat-field at the end of my garden, woods a short walk away and the quay. To me, the natural world is magical. I always thought I was magical in these places and I guess I still hope to harness this feeling of hope, space and joy. I would also argue the cycle of nature is the best metaphor for life.

Candice: I noticed how prodigious you have been since Covid 19 and your wonderful movement of writing a poem in response to a poem that inspired you – almost daily. Do you find moods change your writing or are you able to work through any mood and produce solid work despite how you feel? Was it always this way? Is discipline in writing something you learn or something you are born with?

Kristiana: As a teacher, from the moment lockdown occurred in the UK, I was secure in my job. This meant I could work from home safely and found I had more time in my day. No longer standing in a classroom for 4 – 5 hours a day, I began to write more often and then the ‘on Reading’ prompts were created. The process of sourcing these poems and then sharing my responses with people and reading their pieces has been wonderful. I’ve had to teach myself the discipline of writing every day or every few days and I am aware that come September, this discipline will give way to full-time teaching again. So, in short, discipline is taught. I do not believe any one is born disciplined. In regards to different moods, I’ll often try to harness it where I can and let it fuel the work. If not, I’ll cheat and post a poem from my first collection and unashamedly plug it that way…

Candice: Do you see a future for poetry once we get over our immediate love affair with online memes? What does poetry bring to 2020 and going forward that prose does not?

Kristiana: I think the argument ‘online poetry is nothing but memes’ has been raging for so long I’m not sure it is even valid anymore… It is a very cynical view of a community which thrives. Through my use of social media platforms, I have met talented, fascinating and brilliant people. I’ve had the pleasure of reading collections I would never have discovered if I had stuck exclusively to my local bookshop. I think we are too quick to belittle online communities for what they are, communities.

Mainstream media will tell you the boom has come from Kaur’s Instagram poetry and for some reason we should be ashamed of this. In fact, whether you agree with the accounts boasting thousands of followers for two-line statements, who are we to judge what is art for some people? The fact an audience exists suggests people enjoy it and I’m not prepared to sit on a high horse and extoll what we should and shouldn’t be seeing from poetry. Poetry is an artform and thus subjective. It is a different entity to prose and so again, I do not think it will be anything more than prose will. I often read several books at one time – novels, poetry collections and non-fiction. All genres have their merits and reasons for why we should get lost in them. Life is far too short to get caught up being critical about how others consume art.

“I have learned so much about editing, designing and formatting through the process of creating and releasing two collections. It means I am perhaps prouder of them because I know how much of myself I have put into them beyond the written words.”

Candice: Bravo. well said. I completely agree with you! How has teaching influenced your writing if at all and what would you eventually like to do with your writing if you had the chance?

Kristiana: Directly, some of my poems are inspired by interactions in the classroom and what I endeavour to achieve as an educator. Teaching English also exposes me to a lot of poetry from the poets we may consider the ‘greats’ which has helped me construct the ‘On Reading’ prompts each month since June. Eventually, I’d love to have a series of collections which very much chart the passing of time and how I will no doubt change and, hopefully, publish the novel I’ve had in the works for almost two years now…

Candice: What is the most important thing you have been told about your writing that stayed with you and helped engender your next step in being a writer of poetry?

Kristiana: Nothing necessarily springs to mind here… when I wrote poetry as a teenager I shared it with very few people. The moment I realised I wanted to be a writer of poetry and to share my work with others was in the early hours of a morning in 2016. I couldn’t sleep so I wrote. Then suddenly I had an urge to let what I wrote out into the aether, if you will. Thus, my blog My Screaming Twenties was born. I wanted to document my twenties (kicking and screaming). And actually, I’m glad it was an inner voice which drove me to take this step because I haven’t regretted it once.

Candice: How does building a community of writers versus FVR and other mediums, help you personally as a writer and what are your goals in doing so?

Kristiana: Taking over FVR from the wonderful Nicholas Gagnier has been so incredibly rewarding and that certainly translates into building up a community around myself. I know we often look at creating a platform and audience in the frame of ‘How can I market myself?’ when FVR and spending the last few months working hard to establish and maintain the platforms I have, has taught me the value of genuine connections with like-minded people. Sharing the work of others not only makes you feel good but it draws connections between yourself and others. I’ve found through putting the work of others forward, I’ve benefitted in a way which feels organic and true. In regards to this community, I may or may not be considering an FVR anthology on the suggestion of a regular contributor.

Candice: What inspires you the most in this life and why? Do you find more in darker emotions or lighter or is there some other force that lights your pen?

Kristiana: Inspiration definitely tumbles, falls and surges like waves. Sometimes darker emotions fuel my words and sometimes it’s a love for my partner or simply the slow movement of the Earth. It truly varies. I very much tap into myself as a source whenever I sit down to write. I think this is why I struggle with set metre and form. My work is more often than not an outpouring of a feeling or a moment or memory and thus I write freely rather than write to a pre-defined structure. I suppose in this sense I lack a certain discipline. Poetry is something I seek in order to not feel tied down.

Candice: I agree and feel similarly about meter and form for exactly the same reason(s) although I think it’s good to understand how to do it, then you have a choice, much like Picasso did when he decided to do less realistic (cubist) work, he knew all the forms and chose what worked for him. Would you consider Flowers on the Wall similar to your first collection, Between the Trees, or would you consider it a departure? Why?

Kristiana: The treatment of nature in Flowers on the Wall definitely echoes pieces in Between the Trees. Certain images reappear like a wheat field, meadows, the sky and the ocean. Yet, I would consider Flowers on the Wall a departure too. Between the Trees was the documentation of a journey from depression to acceptance. Although, I still very much experience bouts of depression and healing, Flowers on the Wall is what I would consider a poetry collection. This collection says more about me as a poet rather than a person. It has a maturity I was only just beginning to grasp with Between the Trees.

Candice: Both of your collections are self-published, can you describe this experience and share any advice you might have with those who are considering the self-publishing route?

Kristiana: Self-publishing can feel like quite a lonely journey. Unless you have the pennies to spare, you’re often your own formatter, cover designer, editor, agent, and, of course, publisher. Not forgetting the marketing which follows. But, this also means it can be incredibly rewarding. I have learned so much about editing, designing and formatting through the process of creating and releasing two collections. It means I am perhaps prouder of them because I know how much of myself I have put into them beyond the written words. My advice would be to research every element of the process, speak to as many people as you can who have experience, map out exactly what you wish to achieve and steps one and two should help you achieve this. Stay open-minded and be realistic; you will be constrained by how well you are able to do something so plans will change.

Flowers on the wall – is available NOW via Amazon. (click link) Kristianas first book Between the Trees is for sale on Amazon now.

For the foreword written by Candice Daquin for this gorgeous book please go to Kristiana’s brilliant page on WordPress My Screaming Twenties

https://linktr.ee/KristianaReed

My Screaming Twenties