Reviewed by Sarah Moore for WITS (06-09)
I did not approach the latest collection by John Yamrus, titled New and Selected Poems, with any pretense of providing a critical and academic perspective on his rhythmic flow or line structure. I certainly am no expert on poetry, but instead I am simply a lifelong admirer of anyone who can weave together language and create beautiful art. Besides, I always felt that deconstructing a poem and writing a five-page essay on its symbolism or a specific word choice removed some of the unfiltered emotion I could experience from a well-written poem. Despite already learning that works by Yamrus have been studied by both high school and college students, I was able to open his book without viewing it through the lens of academia. I knew that my approach towards the work of John Yamrus would simply be to open the pages of his book and share my personal reaction.
In his poetry, much to my delight, Yamrus himself challenges the notion of academic poetry. In fact, he shares an automatic suspicion of those poets who are embraced by the ivory tower community. The poem “The Academic Poet” describes such a writer as one who
has been included in
he’s received fellowships
however his poetry shows that
there is no soul
it’s so much empty air.
This sentiment, repeated in several of the pieces in New and Selected Poems, resonated with me as I often felt frustrated by professors telling me which writers should be studied and honored and even how I should react to their words. I was thrilled to meet, at least through his words, a poet who displayed a true passion for the purity of the craft.
Most of Yamrus’ work focuses on everyday observations made as he sits with his loyal dog, responds to letters and emails written by those who have read some of his previous work, or makes a trip to the neighborhood drug store. While the circumstances may seem ordinary, Yamrus’ wry perspective and sharp use of language make each poem a piece to be read over and over again. With the risk of sounding trite or simply offering the expected praise, I will freely admit that I found a connection, or at least a personal understanding, with each selection. I appreciate Yamrus’ matter-of-fact approach to each topic that he addresses and the self-awareness that he holds for his place in the world of poets.
The new collection by John Yamrus, New and Selected Poems, includes pieces that he has written over the past twenty-four years as well as sixteen new offerings. Whether is he railing against “poets” who are
saying nice things
only to get the same nice things
said about their own
(my personal favorite) or sharing his tiresome reaction to television news with lines such as
bored with it all,
i turn it off
and walk down the hall…
film at 11
Yamrus employs humor, irritation, reverence, and resignation to engage the reader in the various subjects that demand his response. New and Selected Poems was my introduction to John Yamrus, and offered a greeting that guarantees I will reach back to discover what he has written in the past and wait with anticipation to see what he produces in the future.
Audio Book Review
Reviewed by Sarah Moore for WITS (06-09)
When we diligently read our history books as part of our school’s curriculum, we learn about the famous men and women who earned their spot in print as world leaders, great businessmen, explorers, military heroes, or even criminals. While all aspects of history fascinate me, I must confess that my interest has always been more with the everyday folks who loved their families, took pride in their work, and, although they may never be studied in a classroom, made a lasting impact on the people who knew them. My ninety-eight-year-old grandmother has an amazing memory and can recount in detail an incident that happened with a playmate in 1917. She is also a musician who shares songs and piano melodies that remind her of being a teenager or raising her children during a war. I know from her that the retelling of family history and traditions is the best way to capture a picture of a bygone era. I have discovered a treasure that beautifully captures this appreciation for the warmth of family and home. The new audio book Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry & Music by Janet Riehl is a compilation of very personal music and poetry that is not to be missed.
Riehl’s audio book developed from her written text, Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary, which was published in 2006. With the new release, Riehl adds the elements of down-home music and her own voice bringing life to the poems she created. The musical component features her father’s singing and fiddle playing as he is joined by other musicians for recordings that took place in his living room. The fact that the music was not performed in a high-tech professional studio makes its inclusion even more appealing and appropriate. As you listen to old friends gather to play music, you feel so fortunate to be let into the intimate gathering. I felt that I should be sitting in a rocking chair with my eyes closed as I let the simple beauty fill my soul. Each piece provides a seamless transition for the subjects of the poems it connects.
The poems by Janet Riehl are divided into five groupings that are spread over four CDs. The first section is devoted to her sister Julia (also known as Skeeter), who was tragically killed in a car crash several years ago. The emotional images Riehl creates through her words examine Julia’s work, her love of life, the moment of her death, and the longing of those she left behind. Riehl goes on to share equally captivating poetry about her father, her mother, and two places that have special meaning to her— the family home in Evergreen Heights and her later residence of Clear Lake in Northern California. In addition to the poems themselves, Riehl provides emotional commentary that fills in the missing pieces and develops a more complete memory for the listeners to enjoy. Her words are straightforward, beautifully crafted, and offer a wonderful piece of storytelling.
From beginning to end, the new audio book Sightlines: A Family Love Story in Poetry & Music is a delight for its listeners. The passion that Janet Riehl has for her family, her history, and the beauty that surrounds her is obvious. Even if you already read the printed version of Sightlines: A Poet’s Diary when it was released several years ago, you will want to enjoy the extra features and meaning that are offered through this listening experience as well. The audio segments have been expertly compiled and edited to create the comfortable atmosphere of someone’s home while also displaying professional detail to recording quality and content progression. Each moment of the CDs is filled with warmth, humor, and a deep connection to those who have come before us. Sightlines is a must-have audio book for anyone who appreciates a good love story with the perfect musical accompaniment!
Talk Radio Wants You, An Intimate Guide to 700 Shows and How to Get Invited
Author: Francine Silverman McFarland and Company Publishers (2009) http://www.mcfarlandpub.com/
315 pages, perfect-bound $75.00 Order this book on Amazon .
Reviewed by Patricia Fry
You probably know Fran Silverman from the Book Promotion Newsletter. What you may not know about Fran is that she is also a publicist and a radio host. She has done an enormous amount of research to bring authors a new book to help them locate appropriate radio programs where they can promote their books. But this is not just a list of shows, each listing includes the theme of the show and a description, bios for the show hosts, the contact information, a detailed guest profile and even a description of their "guest from hell."
I especially appreciate that Fran has gone to the trouble of listing each show in categories in the Table of Contents and she has a detailed and complete Index.
Some of the 700 shows listed will be familiar. But there are hundreds of others that you were not aware of and that could, conceivably, give your book incredible exposure.
Joe Sabbah suggests, "Stand while speaking. Pretend you're presenting a seminar. Your voice will carry further. And you'll sound more animated."
101 Tips For Survivors of Sexual Abuse: A Pocket Book of Wisdom
Each tip has a paragraph space underneath it which also will allow the reader to make personal notes for themselves. This will be helpful because as they go through their recovery, they will probably be experiencing a myriad of emotions at different times. By taking notes, they will be able to address the feeling that they are experiencing at that moment in time, and they will also be able to look back and reflect on how far they have come with their recovery.
At the end of the book is a list of suggestions and exercises for people to do when they are having bad moments. There is a suggested reading list. I think that all of these will make excellent tools for people who need some guidance when they are dealing with their painful thoughts and negative emotions. It will give them something practical to do to help with their healing.
Shooting an Albatross
Steven R. Lundin
The 170th Field Artillery Battalion of the Army took over and occupied the El Rancho Golf Course in Hollywood, California. Recently discovered facts of history give substance to this fictional account of Shooting an Albatross written by Steven R. Lundin.
This is a book for anyone enjoying the genre of intrigue, suspense, or romance. Lundin includes the use of comedy and the game of golf to draw the reader into a look into the past, a heartwarming story, and a madman’s psyche. Shooting an Albatross by Steven R. Lundin is a great read.