Posts tagged ‘Poetic Book Tours’

2017, November 3

Fall Memoir Blog Tour: The First Signs of April, A Memoir by Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s Fall Memoir Blog Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout November.

It is the first memoir book tour held by Poetic Book Tours, entitled The First Signs of April, and it is a lovely one if I may say so myself.

Mary-Elizabeth graciously accepted to write a guest post for Life’s a Stage,  and answers a couple of my questions as I was especially curious about her splitting her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. Read on to find out!

~~~

Having recently sold my home, closed my psychotherapy practice, and resigned my teaching position; I boarded a plane for Ireland where I lived for one year.
It might read like the typical bucket list story of a middle-aged woman packing up and moving to a foreign country in search of a better life, but it’s not. Living in Ireland was never something I hoped to do one day before I died, not something to tick off the wish list of maybe someday events. Instead, the idea was one deeply rooted in the connection I have for the tiny town of Dingle on the southwest coast of Ireland.

It started twenty years ago on my first visit to Ireland. As the plane approached the runway I saw patchwork green fields speckled with white dots that turned into sheep as the plane came to rest on the tarmac. I noticed my body relax and soften as tears welled in my eyes. “Home,” I whispered. Something ancient stirred deep within and was awakened, a spiritual connection to the place, the history, the people.
Some have suggested perhaps a past life. Maybe. All I know is that every time I am in Ireland I have the exact same experience and I can’t explain it or even understand it. I just know I am home.

So, for one year I made my home in Dingle, Ireland. The story of that year is my next book, but it was in Dingle that I completed the First Signs of April. It was in Dingle that I rediscovered my authentic self and began to walk a different path on my life’s journey. I knew at the end of that year I couldn’t simply leave and return to the United States with only the memories to carry with me. So, I told the universe and anyone who would listen that I would return to the states and find a way to live my summers in Vermont, where I love to ride my motorcycle, my winters on Cape Cod where so many of my family and friends live, and travel twice a year to Dingle.
Choosing such a path without knowing where I would live or how I would pay my way has been and continues to be scary. I have been tempted by options offering financial security that would require living in places I don’t particularly like doing work that takes from my soul rather than feeds it, so I walked away, something most just shake their heads in disbelief about.
Sometimes, you just have to take the leap and trust that you’ll land exactly where you’re supposed to land.

It’s just a year now that I’ve been back in the States. I was able to live on Cape Cod for the winter, albeit helping to care for elderly parents. Funny how the universe delivers sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade the experiences. I lived the summer and most of the fall in Vermont where I have had an unusually long motorcycle – riding season and am about to head back to the Cape to set up my new home base in a little cottage nestled near to the sea.
I’m making it happen by finding work I enjoy and that allows for the time and space to focus more directly on writing. I am blessed in so many ways but one in particular is the gift of my willingness to take a leap without knowing the answers or outcomes, and to do it in spite of the anxiety and fear that always finds its way in.
I am beginning to understand that this is the only way for me to truly live my authentic life. It really is that simple.

~~~

Wounds fester and spread in the darkness of silence. The swirling reds, oranges, and yellows of fall’s foliage dance alongside Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe like flames as she tears through the winding back roads of the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont. Desperate to outrun memories that flood her mind, no matter how hard she rolls her motorcycle’s throttle, she cannot escape them.

Shut down and disconnected, Briscoe has lived her life in silence in order to stay alive. Her grief is buried, and shame is the skin that wraps around her bones—but then, following the brutal murder of a local teacher, she is forced as a grief counselor to face her lifetime of unresolved sorrow. Will she finally be able to crack the hard edges of her heart and allow in the light of truth so real healing can occur?

Published by She Writes Press, you can find Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s 280 pages long memoir, The First Signs of April, on Amazon and on BookDepository.

More about the author:

Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe is a licensed mental health counselor currently on sabbatical from her private psychotherapy practice in northeastern Vermont. She currently spends her time between Cape Cod, Vermont, and Ireland. She has a masters degree in clinical mental health counseling from Lesley University and is a licensed clinical mental health counselor and a Certified Trauma Professional. She has been a lecturer for Springfield College School of Professional and Continuing Studies St. Johnsbury, Vermont campus. She has contributed to Cape Woman Online and Sweatpants and Coffee magazine. This is her first book.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads, or on Facebook.

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2017, October 13

Review: Diana Raab’s, Writing for Bliss

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Diana Raab’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout October.

Some of you may know her poetry, as well as her work in psychology.  She has a new book out called, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.

~~~

“… sometimes the simplest of inquiries require the most complex answers. When posing the more personal questions about our lives, sometimes it can take years to come up with the answers.” ~ Diana Raab, Writing for Bliss

I loved Diana Raab’s book, Writing for Bliss, because it is filled with so much knowledge presented in the most lovely form of writing. An experienced writer and Ph.D, her how-to guide doesn’t come off as condescending in its advice and teachings, but rather through Diana’s creative journey guides the reader through his own journey.

The seven steps to follow are: preparing to write, cultivating self-awareness, speaking your truth, examining your life, finding your form, unleashing with poetry, and sharing your writing.
By using the writing prompts scattered throughout the book, the writing techniques, topics and other tools, the reader is also encouraged to not follow the book to the T, since as Diana herself explains it, creativity is not a linear process. I certainly agree with that statement.

Reading this book has made me think about my own writing. A lot. Losing track of time is good.

I started my blog in 2008, and ever since then, I have written blog posts, poems, flash fiction and short stories for many different reasons; to lose myself, to let go of stress, to get together with my writer friends, to have some “me” time, to feel healthy, to be a part of writing events and communities.
There are many other reasons why writing is a part of my life, it is a part of me and who I am.
My dearest friendships have been formed because of writing…we often say that we solve the worlds problems during our writing. And certainly we have come up with amazing ideas that have been expressed and have been featured in several online magazines, on different writing websites and in both e-format and print anthologies.

Using the book as a guide has resulted in lots of writing on my part, and I am so happy for it!

~~~

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Published by Loving Healing Press, you can find Dr. Raab’s 238 pages long poetry book, Writing for Bliss, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as her other publications which range in a myriad of topics (see below).

More about the author:

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge.
Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust.

As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self.

Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Diana Raab’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook Author Page

2017, October 6

Book Spotlight: Writing for Bliss by Diana Raab

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on Diana Raab’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which began in September and lasts throughout October. I will also have a book review up, so make sure to check back next Friday, 13th of October.

Some of you may know her poetry, as well as her work in psychology.  She has a new book out called, Writing for Bliss: A Seven-Step Plan for Telling Your Story and Transforming Your Life.

~~~

A personal narrative can truly have healing and transformative powers. In her inspirational new book, Writing for Bliss, Diana Raab, Ph.D., examines how life-changing experiences can inspire you to write a compelling narrative of your life. A how-to guide for anyone interested in growth and personal transformation, Writing for Bliss will take you on a unique journey of self-discovery, and guide you to your own personal bliss.

Geared for the emerging writer, the seasoned writer, and those in academia, this book leads spiritual seekers down the path of self-discovery through writing prompts, tools for journaling, and embodied and reflective writing techniques; and offers ways to find the best vehicle for profound self-expression.

Those who can benefit from writing a life narrative may have been exposed to early-life trauma, loss, or addiction. Writing your story is a way to reclaim your voice, reveal a family secret, or simply share your story with others. Journaling is a cathartic and safe way to work through your feelings and “direct your rage to the page.”

With the help of this indispensible guide to therapeutic writing, you’ll understand yourself better and be able to deal with various challenges in your life, such as depression, anxiety, addiction, loss of loved ones, diseases, and life transitions.

Offering step-by-step practical exercises for journaling your thoughts, emotions, and memories, along with techniques to jump-start your writing, Writing for Bliss will help you achieve the therapeutic results of writing for healing, and provides essential information for using this technique to transform your life in a meaningful way.

Published by Loving Healing Press, you can find Dr. Raab’s 238 pages long poetry book, Writing for Bliss, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as her other publications which range in a myriad of topics (see author bio below).

~~~

The book has already received advanced praise!

“Poet and memoirist Raab (Lust) credits her lifelong love of writing and its therapeutic effects with inspiring her to write this thoughtful and detailed primer that targets pretty much anyone interested in writing a memoir. Most compelling here is Raab’s willingness to share her intimate stories (e.g., the loss of a relative, ongoing struggles with cancer, a difficult relationship with her mother). Her revelations are encouraging to writers who feel they need ‘permission to take… a voyage of self-discovery.’ The book’s seven-step plan includes plenty of guidance, including on learning to ‘read like a writer,’ on practicing mindfulness meditation, and on addressing readers as if ‘seated across the table from [your] best friend.’ Raab covers big topics such as the ‘art and power of storytelling’ and small details such as choosing pens and notebooks that you enjoy using. She also helps readers with the important step of ‘finding your form’” —PUBLISHERS WEEKLY

“Writing for Bliss brims with the truths of Raab’s life, as well as that of other established and beloved authors and philosophers. Writing for Bliss is far more than a “how-to-manual”; it enlightens the creative process with wisdom and a delightful sense of adventure.  Bravo to Bliss!’   LINDA GRAY SEXTON, author of Searching for Mercy Street: My Journey Back To My Mother, Anne Sexton and Bespotted: My Family’s Love Affair With Thirty-Eight Dalmatians

More about the author:

Diana Raab, MFA, PhD, is a memoirist, poet, blogger, speaker, thought leader, and award-winning author of nine books and more than 1,000 articles and poems. She holds a PhD in psychology—with a concentration in transpersonal psychology—and her research focus is on the healing and transformative powers of personal writing. Her educational background also encompasses health administration, nursing, and creative writing.

During her 40-year career, Dr. Raab has published thousands of articles and poems and is the editor of two anthologies: Writers and Their Notebooks and Writers on the Edge.
Her two memoirs are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal and Healing with Words: A Writer’s Cancer Journey. She has also written four collections of poetry, her latest collection is called, Lust.

As an advocate of personal writing, Dr. Raab facilitates workshops in writing for transformation and empowerment, focusing on journaling, poetry, and memoir writing. She believes in the importance of writing to achieve wholeness and interconnectedness, which encourages the ability to unleash the true voice of your inner self.

Dr. Raab serves on the board of Poets & Writers (Magazine Committee), and Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Santa Monica, California. She is also a Trustee at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

To find out even more and keep up with her writing, visit Diana Raab’s website, or follow her Twitter, Goodreads or Facebook Author Page

2016, September 30

Review: George HS Singer’s, Ergon

PoeticButton

Today’s blog post is a stop on George HS Singer’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, this Autumn. Last month, I received the poetry book, Ergon, for review. At first, even though I do love poetry, I wasn’t sure I’d have the time to finish reading it, but after securing an end-of-the-month date for the blog tour stop, I said “Yes.”

Ergon is a mix of poems about George HS Singer’s life as a monk and in the monastery and about his life after he left to marry and have a family. As he tries to balance his spiritual principles with every day life as a husband and father, these poems utilize nature as a backdrop for his quest.

ERGON_coverPublished by WordTech Editions, who describe this book as: “George Singer’s Ergon is precise, delicate and fierce in its engagement with the world.”, you can find the poetry book, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as his other publications which range in a myriad of topics from education & teaching, parenting & social sciences, to medical books.

My copy of the book arrived in the week before I left for holiday, and given it’s 86 pages long, I decided to take it with me. I’ve taken novels on holiday with me before and then after arriving home felt all sorts of bad about not having enough time to read more than a couple of chapters.
Well, Ergon was the perfect holiday read!

The book is composed of four parts: Visiting, Ergon, Our Quotidian and Immensity. They, in George’s own words, cover the themes of:

  1. “The beauty, humor, and difficulty of living as a Zen monk.
  2. Coming to terms with a very mixed childhood and its insistent residue.
  3. My sense of gratitude for having found a soul mate in my wife.
  4. My sense of the unutterable wonder of existence and that there is enough of it that can be taken in and joined with to keep from staying down after inevitably and repeatedly falling down.
    the stars across the axis of the sky,
    light enough to walk without stumbling.”

The poems aren’t too long, they can be read in a fast pace, and as you can see listed above, their themes are varied in complexity. I can honestly say I haven’t read a poetry book quite like this one before. The poems give the vibe of being written with such ease despite the depth and warmth carried through.

My boyfriend read some of the poems as well, we read together; and I highly recommend this book for any couple if they want something truly interesting to read and talk about curled up on the couch together.

Here’s the early praise for the book:

“Singer’s work is wise, vulnerable, empty and full, erotic and spiritual, intimate and lonely, his source of metaphor the keenly-witnessed natural world. Ergon  is a book about abiding love but also illness, lobotomies, and long-held grief; its landscape is one in which the buffaloes with ‘eyes sad as Lincoln’s’ plow through the fence and break into the temple, where the Buddha is ‘poised with one palm open, one touching the trampled ground.’ Go to the forest or the shore and read this book, and while you’re at it, don’t underestimate the ferocity of these deeply adult and nuanced poems.”—Diane Seuss

“With his first book of poems, Ergon, George H. S. Singer takes his place among a rich tradition of California poets for whom the literary sphere is outlined not only in aesthetic terms but in natural, ethical, and spiritual dimensions as well.  This humane poetic runs recently from Hass to Hirshfield, Snyder to Herrera, but traces its origins to the ethos of Aristotle, who defines ‘ergon’ as ‘the core function or purpose of something or someone’; virtue then ‘arises when ergon is realized fully.’  Singer is a maker of contemporary devotions out of the dross and commotion of a daily life—out of false teeth, frayed cords, mouse nests and into the sphere ‘of celestial fire where the souls / of extinct birds are turned into gems.’  It’s not alchemy but faith. It’s not caprice but capability to see the spirited world within the known one, capability to approach in language the ‘eternal silence of these spaces between the stars.’”—David Baker

“With dignity and that slight irreverence that convinces you he’s telling the truth, George Singer creates his rich, lucid poems about the core of our human condition, our Ergon. Moving, surprising, erotic and profound, Singer’s poems take us around the world and through personal history—from the unexpected humor of daily life inside a Buddhist temple to the terrible inverted logic of a sanitarium for the insane, or from a sexual spark in a long marriage, to eons of geological time. Ergon marks the debut of a splendid poet with a sensibility that might make you more observant, and far lighter on your mental feet. A person could get wise reading poems of such warmth and depth.”—Molly Peacock

GeorgeSinger_AuthorPicMore about the author:

George HS Singer is a former Zen Buddhist monk and student of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett, lives with his wife of forty-two years in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he works as a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was educated at Yale, Southern Oregon University, and the University of Oregon. He wrote poetry in college but took a twenty-year break before taking it up as a regular discipline. He has been a long term student of Molly Peacock and has had the opportunity to work with other marvelous poets through the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H.  He writes about life in and out of a Zen monastery, trying to live mindfully in a busy and troubled world, his love of nature and of his wife. The arts have become more central to his life.  Singer’s poems were published in the Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry.

2016, September 2

Where George HS Singer’s poetry comes from, in Ergon

PoeticButtonToday’s blog post is a stop on George HS Singer’s Poetry Tour run by Poetic Book Tours, which lasts throughout this month. I will also have a review of the book up, on September 30th, so make sure to check back in for that.

In her description of the blog tour, Serena Agusto-Cox, mentioned that George Singer is a former Buddhist monk and professor in his 60s, who has written his first poetry collection with the help of Molly Peacock. That immediately drew my attention, and I wanted to know more about George’s background.

I always find it fascinating to find out where poetry “comes from”.

~~~

ERGON_coverHow has being a monk and professor, and publishing a first poetry book later in life shaped you?

Becoming a Zen monk has shaped my life as much as any of the major influences most of us experience— the family we are born into, school, friendships, the encounter with history, and marriage. I became a monk as a young man of 20, took up the practice and the relationship with my Zen master with great enthusiasm and stayed with it for ten years. Although later in life I developed a bit of distance from the belief system, I have meditated everyday since in one form or another and my experience of it is central to my on-going experience of life. I was never very good at being a monk. I’m very spacey and so as an example of a mindful person I am an embarrassment. However, the tradition I was exposed to (Serene Reflection Meditation—Soto Zen) has offered me the experience of something fundamental that I think of as mercy. Early in my time as a monk one of my brother monks lost his sister to suicide. One of my poems in my book is about how my teacher helped him through his grief. There is a lot of silence in a Zen monastery and much is communicated through bells, clanging of mallets on wooden blocks, drums, and chimes:

…each ting of the little bell,
the inkin, rode time all the way

to the periphery, trailing off out
of reach of the ear— the same
with the in and out of breath.

The silence and the wordless signals came in time to say something to me about mercy. Here, from the same poem, is my imaging of how my friend gained some relief from his terrible loss:

He thought then that Jean, his little sister,
would somehow be alright and, if
there were to be rain, he would be
the downpour. And he was taken up
by something like mercy.

Regarding being a professor, mostly, I feel that academia has offered me a kind of safe harbor where I am able to exercise my strengths and where people are generally tolerant of my several weaknesses.

I found that the kind of writing and teaching that I do as an academic rarely allows for expression of the emotional and spiritual dimensions of my life that seem closest to my sense of who I am and how I belong (or not) in the world. Initially I thought that I might use poetry to honor my Zen teacher and our tradition. However, I soon branched out and also eventually realized that I was sounding preachy in my writing and needed to try to be less some kind of font of wisdom and more simply to express the voice of the mixed and necessarily limited person that I am. If I have a credo in my poetry it is the notion that nothing is unmixed—that life is inexpressibly wondrous and terribly painful and both arise together at the same time. I also know that the experience, which is most fundamental to me, is wordless and so there is an inevitable limitation in trying to write about what is most important. To me the tool kit available through the art of poetry allows the possibility of at least hovering over that which I wish could be said, if not to enter into it. I am forgetting who said that language does violence to experience but that poetry is the language that does the least of such violence.

Probably anyone who is reading this remembers a first experience as a child of reading a poem or a passage that really spoke to them. For me this happened in 6th grade after the death of my best friend. It seemed to me that everyone around acted as if death was not real or should not be talked about. A poem by Longfellow with the phrase “foot prints in the sand” struck me like lightening one day in class. I realized that I was not the only one who had thought about mortality. I started finding that literature was a balm for loneliness and that it offered a way to touch upon, if not enter into, other people’s minds and that there were extraordinary writers who offered this communion. So I hold onto the ambition that one of my poems might serve this purpose of dispelling isolation for someone else who might be in need of communion with another mind concerned about some of the basics.

What themes have you covered in the poems?  

  1. The beauty, humor, and difficulty of living as a Zen monk.
  2. Coming to terms with a very mixed childhood and its insistent residue.
  3. My sense of gratitude for having found a soul mate in my wife.
  4. My sense of the unutterable wonder of existence and that there is enough of it that can be taken in and joined with to keep from staying down after inevitably and repeatedly falling down:

the stars across the axis of the sky,
light enough to walk without stumbling.

Have you always written poetry or only after “retiring” from the monastery?

I wanted to be a poet when I was in college. I fell in love with French literature and thought the musicality of the language got at something beyond the meaning of the words. I stopped writing after dropping out of Yale and becoming a monk and did not take it up again until I was 40. I entered into a wonderful mentoring relationship with the poet, Molly Peacock, who continues to help me with my writing over a quarter of a century later. I also have benefited greatly from the wonderful opportunities to learn at the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H., summers. I’ve been particularly appreciative of faculty there including Patrick Donnelly, David Baker, and Diane Seuss. Over the years I have developed an intense love of poetry as an art. It gives me great joy to encounter a new poet or to be given the gift by a fine writer of a new poem.

Thank you for your questions and the opportunity to address them.

~~~

Ergon is a mix of poems about George HS Singer’s life as a monk and in the monastery and about his life after when he left to marry and have a family. As he tries to balance his spiritual principles with every day life as a husband and father, these poems utilize nature as a backdrop for his quest.

Published by WordTech Editions, you can find George’s 86 pages long poetry book, Ergon, on Amazon and on BookDepository, as well as his other publications which range in a myriad of topics from education & teaching, parenting & social sciences, to medical books.

GeorgeSinger_AuthorPicMore about the author:

George HS Singer is a former Zen Buddhist monk and student of Rev. Master Jiyu Kennett, lives with his wife of forty-two years in Santa Barbara, Calif., where he works as a professor at University of California, Santa Barbara. He was educated at Yale, Southern Oregon University, and the University of Oregon. He wrote poetry in college but took a twenty-year break before taking it up as a regular discipline. He has been a long term student of Molly Peacock and has had the opportunity to work with other marvelous poets through the Frost Place in Franconia, N.H.  He writes about life in and out of a Zen monastery, trying to live mindfully in a busy and troubled world, his love of nature and of his wife. The arts have become more central to his life.  Singer’s poems were published in the Massachusetts Review, Prairie Schooner, and Tar River Poetry.

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