Poetry Review: Stupid Flowers

Stupid Flowers

Author: Brice Maiurro

Genre: Poetry

Stupid Flowers is a wonderful collection of poetry; unconventional, irreverent and with plenty of brilliant surprises.

About the Author

Photo by Jason Greashaber

Brice Maiurro is a poet and writer currently residing in Denver, Colorado. He hosts a monthly poetry series called ‘Punch Drunk Poetry’. His writing has been featured locally in Suspect Press, Birdy Magazine and The Denver Post.

Review

I had expected this poetry collection to be flippant, going by the title. But, flippant is one thing the poems are not. At various places, the poems have a depth that reflects the struggle of an intelligent mind with life choices. At other places, the poems create a psychedelic world of myriad impressions and thoughts careening around in the poet’s mind.

There are many poems that seared me deeply.

Color Test‘ talks of personality types, the ways people are reduced to and are judged by mere behavioral characteristics.

I liked ‘Mouseketeer‘, which succumbs to dark places in ones’ heart and yet it ends on a realistic note.

I am not a bottle of pills‘, is about love, friends, relationships, about life’s despairs and how to handle them.

“i am not a bottle of pills
but i love you
and if you need someone to listen
never don’t ask”

Sometimes, poems start with ‘and’ so that they feel like a continuation of a conversation.

Reckless‘ made me laugh at the futility of our rebellion just for the sake of it.

Moving Day‘ describes a physical movement and an emotional moving on, side by side.

“i packed up hope
and when there was room at the top of the box
i tossed in some doubt
to use the box to its full advantage
and i labeled the box
“brice. assorted nonsense.””

‘Whatif’ struck a chord, talking of the poet’s love for writing poetry.

There is Something Sad about Today and That is Ok‘, brings a feeling that there is someone out there, God or some presence that oversees us all.

Aquarium‘ bombards you with words, thoughts and images, bringing them together for a psychedelic experience of seeing a boy walking on water.

In ‘I blink and‘, there are infinite worlds and alternate realities that we are aware of.

‘i channel surf
the million lives I want to
live’

In the poem, ‘Doing the dishes‘, at one moment, the poet is talking of the very ordinary act of doing dishes in the kitchen, being involved in the here and now and the next he is out of his skin, expanding and being like God, moving across space and then back to the ordinary.

In the surreal poem, ‘Date with a beautiful woman‘, I loved the juxtaposition of the emotional side of love with the bestial emotions of a werewolf of violence. That is how minds are, we realise, they turn from one to the other at the speed of thought.

In ‘3015 kalmia‘, we look for beauty in unexpected places.

“i’ve been taught to look at the mountains
the sky the trees the murals on the sides of buildings
but you reminded me how god hides
in the places you’d least expect to see her”

‘Waiting Room‘ is like a punch. It is just a little description of two men in a waiting room but the mention of death is a shock.

The poems have so many themes and the collection has a very contemporary feeling.

The style is free verse and sometimes the poems feel like prose or like conversations running around in the poet’s head. But the poems touch on many universal ideas like love, the conundrum of daily life and death.

Some of the imagery is drawn from daily life, from things as mundane as a housefly or the dresser in a room but the confusion and the anxiety are real and the insights, profound.

The cover art is different, not something you would associate with poems but then the entire collection brings in a new experience to the reader.

Verdict

Read this poetry collection for a deep look into your own thoughts. Humourous, poignant and quirky, Stupid Flowers is captivating.

I rate this poetry book 4 stars.

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the ebook from the author for an honest review.

Buy Stupid Flowers here.

Find it on Goodreads.

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Derek Walcott: Poet and Creator of breathtaking beauty. 

Sir Derek Walcott, Nobel Prize-winning poet, playwright and essayist, died on March 17, 2017, aged 87. 

This post is written in the memory of Derek Walcott, of whom I have no memories at all, neither of the man himself, nor of reading his poetry. With the news of the passing away of the Nobel laureate, his poetry has surfaced and being read and analyzed and remembered all over the world. 

I now learn of the Caribbean island of St. Lucia that he belonged to, that shaped his poetry and that he borrowed from, all his life. I only knew of the other Nobel laureate from the Trinidad and Tobago islands, the inimitable V. S.Naipaul. There must be something about the islands that begets so much poetry and literary excellence. Incidentally, the two of them have been contemporaries, knowing each other well and later, falling out and having an acrimonious relationship. 

Derek wrote majorly of the Caribbean, of the landscape and the topography, of its colonial past and its rich and varied culture, which came about due to the intermingling of influences over the centuries. 
In reading his poetry, I learn of the pull of the native places and their place in our psyches, the ways they shape our narratives and the ways we go back to them in our memories, if in no other way. 

In his poetry, Derek turns back again and again to St. Lucia… 

…Didn’t I prefer a road

from which tracks climbed into the thickening syntax
of colonial travellers, the measured prose I read

as a schoolboy? 

– Omeros

I also learn of the anguish and the muse of a creative spirit, at the empty days, of the pain of not being able to create. 

… I am a musician without his piano

with emptiness ahead as clear and grotesque

as another spring? 

– In the Village 

Walcott was prolific, but he would still wait for inspiration, perhaps, waiting for the poems to arrive, without trying to force them. 

If you know what you are going to write when you’re writing a poem, it’s going to be average.

I learn of the power of the creation that is brought about anew, when things break and the ways they are then glued together. The pieces are better than the whole; it is the healing power of love that brings life to it. 

Break a vase, and the love that reassembles the fragments is stronger than that love which took its symmetry for granted when it was whole. The glue that fits the pieces is the sealing of its original shape.

 -Nobel Acceptance speech. 

I learn what home is and how exile affects the person with its pain and longing. All through his work, Derek talks of places and of being away from them, exploring them in his memory and the memories being even stronger than reality. There is a poignant nostalgia in his poetry. 

I also learn of lives and of journeys… 

Verandahs, where the pages of the sea

are a book left open by an absent 

master 

in the middle of another life –

I begin here again, 

begin until this ocean’s 

a shut book, and like a bulb 

the white moon’s filaments wane.

-Another Life

I learn about the beauty of greeting myself at the doorstep, waiting eagerly for me to walk through the door, to hear about my day, to smile at the good fortune I had and the little things that went wrong. About knowing myself, as I have known my fears and struggles and desires; the unfulfilled ones and the unrequited passion. 

…with elation, you will greet yourself arriving at your own door…

– Love after Love. 

Derek’s lyrical poetry is a sensory extravaganza. 

…I lived there with every sense.

I smelt with my eyes, I could see with my nostrils.

-Omeros 

There is not just his home that is in his poetry, it is the deep sense of the places he is in, the painting of a picture through words. Being a trained artist and expected to be a painter when he was young, his skill of seeing things as paintings and pictures comes through as breathtaking beauty. 

Roads shouldered by enclosing walls with narrow

cobbled tracks for streets, those hill towns with their

stamp-sized squares and a sea pinned by the arrow

of a quivering horizon, with names that never wither

for centuries and shadows that are the dial of time. Light

older than wine and a cloud like a tablecloth

spread for lunch under the leaves.

-In Italy

Derek talks of age that is no longer youth, 

I have come this late

to Italy, but better now, perhaps, than in youth

that is never satisfied, whose joys are treacherous,
while my hair rhymes with those far crests, and the bells

of the hilltop towers number my errors,

because we are never where we are, but somewhere else
– In Italy

In White Egrets, published in 2010, Derek muses on his own mortality. Beautifully, he says, 

be grateful that you wrote well in this place,

let the torn poems sail from you like a flock

of white egrets in a long last sigh of relief. 

And, as he famously said, 

No poems. No Birds. 

– In the Village. 

Phoenixes Groomed as Genesis Doves : Review of a poetry collection 


Title
: Phoenixes Groomed as Genesis Doves 

Author : Jasmine Farrell 

Genre : Poetry 

Synopsis 

Phoenixes Groomed as Genesis Doves is a collection of poetry that draws the reader into the world of personal identity, inner growth and the complexity of human relationships. Ordinary and common images, especially ones found in nature, are used to card poems that appeal to the uncommon, the suppressed and the others. Filled with incredible grace and accessible wisdom, the poems explore a wide range of complex emotional themes. With unexpected metaphors and sparkling similes, the pieces varying in rhythm and theme, making each one like a foul wrapped candy : something to savour, enjoying each new bright colour on the tongue. 

Summary 
Phoenixes Groomed as Genesis Doves is the poet’s second collection of poems to be published. Jasmine Farrell is a writer and a blogger, living in Brooklyn, New York. 

The book chronicles a journey of personal transition over a span of two years, from unwanted dogmas to faith and peace. The angst gives way to questions and affirmations, seeking leads to finding and the various experiences touching upon love, racism, spiritual beliefs ultimately lead to an understanding in the poet’s heart. 

Review 

There are 80+ poems in this poetry collection. There are many themes, moods and emotions and the simpler wonderings in the poems at the beginning give way to complex issues such as love, spirituality and social inequality as we read on. 

This is a journey of the poet from self doubt and bitterness to faith and peace. It touches upon the search for identity, walking the true path and finding the life’s purpose to infatuation, love and betrayal moving on to feminism, racism and her personal idols. The difference in tone for the different themes is striking although there is a constant undertone of personification and of using metaphors and similes to her advantage. 

I’ve always wanted to be a Poet‘ sets out the reasons this volume came into being. She talks of the complete reasons of how an artist chooses the art, how poetry helps her to express her deepest emotions and how she can get others to relate to her experiences. 

Followed by ‘Letter to the Pretentious Poets ‘, the poet makes clear the ways she would not want her poetry to be. And thus follows a stream of poetry that is not bound to a structure. Some of the poems have a stream of consciousness feel and the others sound like affirmations. Many sound like narration, telling a story. 

The struggle from the now to the new comes up again and again in her poems. In ‘There will be Days ‘, 

The war between old, new and true 

reigns heavily within my thoughts on these days. 

There is a joy gushing forth in ‘I’m livin’ (To Zora)’. 

Capturing peace with wild spins and heavy slides. 

I dip to the down beats ’cause joy is hidden there. 

Verdict 

There is a lack of structure in the poems. Sometimes the lines are short and sometimes they are long and complex. It feels like prose packed as a poetic form. 

The metaphors seem mixed up and the contrasts are put in the wrong places and for the wrong reasons. 
There are also a few grammatical errors and editorial slip ups. 

Incoherence shows up in some places. A poem starts on a premise and yet ends on a very different note. Some poems pull multiple threads from many other pieces, making it a mish mash of emotions. 

At the same time, the themes are good and the range of feeling is very broad. There is no pretention in her poetry. It is straight from the heart. 

The emotions are deep felt and come through in ‘black ink’, bleeding on paper. There are gems shining through. There is a marked maturity in the treatment of subjects and in her inner universe from the beginning to the end. From self doubt to celebrating the exuberance of life, it is a fruitful journey. 

Rating 

I rate the book 3 stars. 🌠🌠🌠 

I received an ebook of the poetry collection for an honest review. 

6 different moods in poetry that I love 

There are so many emotions and moods that the poetic form expresses, bringing us closer to the deeper feelings within. Here are some of the poems that I love for the moods they evoke. 

1. Love, the emotion that makes the world go round. In How do I love thee, let me count the ways by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the poet talks of love in many different ways. This sonnet is about the quality of love, the sublime heights and the unfathomable depths of feeling. It is about the beloved and yet it transcends a person. The spectrum of love that the poem covers is amazing and is described so maturely. 

I love thee to the level of everyday’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle light. 

Read the complete love sonnet here

2. Transcience, as depicted by time, the great healer, the quicksilver entity, the unit that we use to measure our lives. Time can be fickle, it can be on our side and it can slip away while we wonder what happened. Dog Days by Derek Mahon examines the ways we live our lives, how days seem never ending and yet the years fly by. It hints at the regret men have as they dream and never get down to doing the things that they dream of. Simply, gently, the poet reminds us of the clock that is ticking away. 

When you stop to consider

The days spent dreaming of a future 

And say then, that was my life. 

Read the complete poem here

3. Pretension, the thing we do when we try to come up to others expectations and the norms set by society. In the little epigram, To Someone Who Insisted I look Up Someone by X. J. Kennedy, in just three lines, the poet talks of travel, friends and pomposity. Humour and brevity marry! 

Read the poem with another two epigrams here

4. Acceptance, what we as humans need the most. Love, appreciation and acceptance are what we crave for. This poem, Masks by Shel Silverstein, written for children, has a profound message for adults as well. It underscores acceptance; self acceptance, acceptance of others and knowledge that should be shared. 

5. Absurdity, the implausible and the incomprehensible. Much of poetry is like that to the readers especially when the verses are profound. And yet, written for children, The Walrus and the Carpenter by Lewis Caroll, the absurd and the impossible happen through the story of a walrus, a carpenter and oysters. There is personification of these characters and the nonsense verses are fun. This narrative poem is recited by Tweedledee and Tweedledum to the protagonist Alice, in the book, Through the Looking Glass. 

The sea was wet as wet could be, 

The sands were dry as dry. 

You could not see a cloud, because 

No cloud was in the sky: 

No birds were flying overhead-

There were no birds to fly. 

Read this long poem here

6. Character as in Ethics, the principles that we live by. There is no comprehensive description of the guiding principles that a man ought to follow than in If by Rudyard Kipling. 

If you can keep your head when all about you 

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you 

Read this moving poem here

Which poems do you love the best? Do share your favourites! 

Friday Listicles‘, are running into their second month. It is a weekly feature that professes our love for anything that is presented in a numbered or bulleted form, paving the way for a happy weekend. 

Small Stones 

mild breeze 

the rain of tiny leaves 

from the tree 
​What are small stones?

A small stone is a short piece of writing (any style) that precisely captures a fully-engaged moment for you. The process of discovering small stones is as significant as the finished creation. Searching for small stones encourages you to keep your senses on the “alive and alert” status. Involve yourself with a new set of eyes, ears, nose, mouth, fingers, feelings and mind. This is Mindful Writing at its best. 

Let Me Count the Ways 

There are two kinds of people : the ones who make lists for everything and the ones who abhor list making. I firmly belong to category one. 

I feel that lists are made not just by type As but by perfectly normal procrastinators as well. List making is in fact an art form. 

    There is plenty of poetry in making lists. Lists and poetry put together remind me of the iconic sonnet by Elizabeth Barrett Browning… How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. 
    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
    I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
    My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
    For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
    I love thee to the level of everyday’s
    Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
    I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
    I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
    I love thee with the passion put to use
    In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.
    I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
    With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,
    Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
    I shall but love thee better after death. 

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning 

    Let me count the ways in which I love this sonnet. 

    • Before I was introduced to ‘Sonnets from the Portuguese ‘ the 44 sonnet sequence from which this 43rd sonnet has been taken, I read Pearl S. Buck’s short story of a plain, nondescript school teacher, leading a staid life, governed by routine. She gets a chance to play the poet Elizabeth, in a drama based on her life. Buck’s story is essentially about how a seemingly plain woman finds the wild passionate side of hers through playing that role. I loved the unpredictability of the tale as well as the astounding metamorphosis of a person. It created an aura of the great poet herself. I was intrigued by the life of the legendary poet who was widely read in her times (the sonnet was written between 1845-46 and published in 1850) and whose poetry transcends time. 
    • I am always impressed by the fact that Elizabeth wrote poetry that was deemed good by the male dominated literary society of the time. She was more popular than her husband Robert Browning, another notable poet. She conquered the male bastion of poetry, turning a very masculine poetic form to convey the feminine viewpoint. 
    • The Sonnet 43 from the Portuguese is about love, the quality of love, the sublime heights and the unfathomable depths of feeling. It is about the beloved and yet it transcends a person. 
    • There is so much maturity here. This is not merely a first crush or the fantastical musings of a love lorn person. There is romantic love which is grounded in the reality of an ‘everyday need ‘. 
    • I am always amazed by the spectrum of love presented in the sonnet. In just fourteen lines, the poet counts eleven ways in which she loves her beloved. From the poet’s ‘childhood faith’, it moves on to love beyond death. 
    • I love the idea that here is a woman expressing her love in a deeply powerful way. It is straightforward. It is philosophical. It is unapologetic. It is intellectual. The intense emotion is the most inescapable thing in her life, as is her breath. 
    • It is very comforting to read of a mature love that knows itself for what it is and knows its own power.

          Which is your favourite poem? I would love to hear from you. 

          Those tiny flowers

          Those tiny flowers peeping through the wooden slats of the gate remind me of ragworts and Anne Stevenson’s beautiful poem… 

          Ragworts

          They won’t let railways alone, those yellow flowers. 

          They are that remorseless joy of deteliction

          darkest banks exhale like vivid breath 

          as bricks divide to let them root between. 

          How every falling place concots their smile, 

          taking what’s left and making a song of it. 

          Anne Stevenson (b. 1933)

          Posted for the Mundane Monday Challenge