Book Review: Why Poetry

Why PoetryHave you ever shaken your head in frustration after reading a modern or contemporary poem, certain you didn’t get the “real meaning?” Matthew Zapruder’s Why Poetry? will convince you to try again. In his book of essays, Zapruder argues that poets do not write in coded messages. Instead, poetry can be understood by anyone by starting with the meanings of words and relying on the power of association, leaving room for leaps of imagination and the possibility of a “central unsayability.” Written with an awareness of our current political situation, Zapruder eloquently contends that, for the very reason that poetry relies on ways of understanding that are not purely logical or rational, we need poetry now more than ever for its ability to help us create a space where we can bridge the many divides we face.

For the reader or writer of poetry and for the person simply seeking a way to be in the world in these troubling times, Zapruder’s essays will prove enormously compelling and thought provoking. This book simply should not be missed.

(Originally reviewed for a free copy of book for Seattle Book Review.)

365 Somethings Project: Week 9

I get bored easily, so I decided to change things up a bit this week.

1.  Ashley cowl: DONE!

Ashley Cowl – Done!

I think this is next on my fiber agenda, if only because I need the bright colors at this time of year. I picked this kit up a few years ago at Knit Purl in Portland, but I’ve been a bit intimidated by the pattern. However, the time for intimidation is over. Besides, what’s the fun of a project without a bit of a learning challenge?

Onami Cowl Kit

2.  Beading: I swapped the Color Workshop this week for two beading kits that I had tucked away a year ago. They made a nice change of pace, and I have one more to complete, but I think I’m ready to start creating my own bead combinations.

Bead Kits

3.  WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: This week’s challenge topic is A Face in the Crowd. Truth be told, I’m not thrilled with my entry. Then again, I can say that people never figure in my art or photography. So, I think mediocrity was probably my fate on this one.  🙂

Have a great week!

Book Review: Journal Sparks

Journal Sparks: Fire Up Your Creativity with Spontaneous Art, Wild Writing, and Inventive ThinkingIn Journal Sparks, Emily Neuburger delivers exactly what she promises. This delightful book simply brims with ideas to fire up the reader’s creativity with “spontaneous art, wild writing, and inventive thinking.” Organized around seven themes, including invention, color and construction, wordsmith, and journal making and hacking, each section uses colorful photographs, illustrations, and guest journalers to provide numerous prompts to spur the reader’s own creativity. For example, Neuburger suggests making a visual record of the day, creating and naming new colors, and creating alphabetical lists of interesting things. As an added bonus, Neuburger includes over ten double-sided, pull-out pages of collage paper and stickers to nudge the reader to begin. However, what makes this book really stand out is Neuburger’s abundant enthusiasm for creative journaling that is so apparent in its pages. That enthusiasm is contagious and will make it hard for the reader to resist trying at least a few of the prompts. For the person who fears the blank page or the experienced journaler looking for new ideas, Journal Sparks is an excellent choice.

(Originally reviewed for a free copy of book for Manhattan Book Review.)

A Little Snow, A Little Sun, and A Camera

Last night, we received a nice layer of snow or hail, depending on which of my sons you ask. Today, the sun came out, providing all the excuse I needed to head out of doors with my camera.

Hummingbird & Chickadee

Leaf Buds in Sunlight

Tiny Blossoms

365 Somethings Project: Week 8

I’m pretty happy with my progress this week, so let’s get right into it.

1. Ashley Cowl: I think I see the end in sight, and I like what I see! (And I can legitimately start pondering the next project. *she types with a happy gleam in her eye.*)

Ashley Cowl progress

2. Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop: This week’s project involved stippling, or taking a gel pen and dotting the page until you start questioning your sanity. Truth be told, I’ve never been a real fan of pointillism, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I’m not fond of stippling. Bottom line: I completely agree with Rachel’s comment that it provides a nice texture for the mushrooms and I see that it provides a great deal of control for both mixing colors and creating lighter and darker areas. I’m glad I understand the technique, but I’m pretty sure it will make rare appearances at best in my work.

Rachel Reinert’s Color Workshop Stippling Project

3. WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge: I also post an entry for this week’s challenge. The topic was “Sweet.”

Overall, I feel like I accomplished something this week, and it does seem the challenge keeps creativity in the back of my mind throughout the week. Probably most important to me, I’m noticing that, whenever I’m working on something for my challenge, I generally have a feeling of satisfaction. That’s good information to have when planning the rest of your life. 🙂

Book Review: A Well-Timed Murder

A Well-Timed Murder: An Agnes Lüthi Mystery (Agnes Luthi Mysteries)A well-known watchmaker, Guy Chavanon, dies at a reception at his son’s boarding school from anaphylactic shock resulting from his peanut allergy. Was it just bad luck, or was it murder? Chavanon’s daughter insists her father was murdered because he was an eccentric genius who had made a great discovery. Others argue that Chavanon was mentally unbalanced. Agnes Luthi, barely back on the job from her last case, dives immediately into the intriguing, but tight-knit world of Swiss watchmaking. Alternating between a glamorous trade show and an exclusive private school, Luthi deftly sorts numerous loose ends, while occasionally tangling with her mother in law, dealing with her own grief, and trying not to think about the handsome, wealthy gentlemen who seems to be ever present. In A Well-Timed Murder, Tracee de Hahn has written a well-paced murder mystery in an alluring setting that will keep the reader interested and guessing until the end.

(Originally reviewed for a free copy of book through Netgalley.)

Book Review: Merton’s Palace of Nowhere

Merton's Palace of NowhereAs a young contemplative, James Finley had the opportunity to learn under Thomas Merton at the Abbey of Gethsemani. Years later, he shared those insights into Merton’s thinking in his book, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere. Now forty years later, Finley’s work is being reissued, and this book remains as startlingly insightful as it was when first published. Merton was capable of seeing through to the truth of our reality in a way that few us achieve, and Finley’s writing makes that wisdom all the more accessible for us. This small volume, which begins by distinguishing our true and false selves and ends by instructing on the two selves’ ultimate conclusion in death, provides sufficient material for a lifetime of contemplation. Whether revisiting this volume or discovering it for the first time, Merton’s Palace of Nowhere should not be missed by the serious contemplative, lay or otherwise.

(Reviewed for a free copy of book through Netgalley.)