Poetry Talk: Sublimity by McKenna Hight

When a dear friend tells you they’ve encased their soul in paper, it is best to tread carefully.  Poetry is an intimate form of literature.  To translate your inner trials, triumphs, and longings into language and is a brave thing to do.  I deeply admire McKenna Hight’s courage in sharing her debut poetry collection, Sublimity, with the world.  It’s an act of hospitality I’m honored to receive.

Before proceeding, I’d like to say a few things about my relationship with the author.  Sometimes in life, you meet people and find instant kinship.  You may only be around each other for a few days, but that’s enough to form what will likely be a lifelong friendship.  McKenna, I think, is one of those people.  We met four months ago during my brief Spring Break stay at Rochester L’Abri.  She’s a writer from Atlanta and we bonded instantly over our mutual love for YA fantasy and Sarah J. Maas.  During our short time together, we had some really intense discussions about faith, struggles, and how we are to live.  Meeting McKenna was no accident and I value her friendship immensely.

As a blogger, bookstagrammer, librarian, and amateur book critic, it made complete sense to do a review of Sublimity.  I use the word “review” lightly.  This post is pretty long, as I get into some close reading, but that’s part of the fun.  While it’s definitely possible to critique a work of poetry by its structure and adherence to literary form, poetry is hard to pin down. So much of a poetic work is subjective.  Poetry is a conversation.  It’s about immersing yourself in the figurative language and gleaning whatever you can.  I don’t pretend to understand all of Hight’s poems.  I don’t think understanding is the point. There is no concrete meaning to poetry and there is space for a thousand interpretations.  Poetry is about the journey, so let’s journey together.

If you’re interested in picking up your own copy of Sublimity, you can do so at this link.  Follow the author on Instagram @yawnsters.

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Poetry Talk: Twirling in Flames by Tinu Bello

A couple of months ago, my friend Tinu approached me about helping review and publicize her debut poetry collection.  I hadn’t heard from her since college and, while I was swamped with grad school work at the time, couldn’t say no.  What’s the point of having being involved in the online bookish community if you can’t use your platform to support the creative endeavors of your friends?

It’s been a long time coming, but a short break between grad school semesters has given me the chance to sit down with the collection and pull together some thoughts.  This is by no means a comprehensive review, but I hope you get a sense for what the poems are about.  I had so much fun digging into them.

I hope you enjoy my scattered thoughts!

You can buy your own copy of Twirling in Flames by Tinu Bello on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  Be sure to add it to your reading list on Goodreads.

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Inbox // Outbox 3/22/17

I was supposed to put this out on Monday, but forgot to polish it up over the weekend.  It’s a big list this time around… Enjoy!  What have you been reading this week?

Inbox:

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

I keep seeing things for this book everywhere!  It hasn’t even been out a month and there is already a movie lined up.  I saw that the audiobook was available through Overdrive at the library and decided to jump on the bandwagon. The book was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and tells the story of a teenage girl who was in the car when one of her childhood friends is shot by a white police officer.  So far, although Star’s story is very different than my own, I really appreciate the perspective this book gives.

The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit

I’m about halfway through Solnit’s book of feminist essays.  This is a book I can only read in short bursts, but it’s good.  I absolutely loved the essay on silence.

Accidental Saints: Finding God in All the Wrong People by Nadia Bolz-Weber

I was introduced to Nadia Bolz-Weber a few years ago and loved her book, Pastrix.  She, like Anne Lamott, Rachel Held Evans, and Sarah Bessey, offer a broken and beautiful picture of Christianity. Books like these help me sort through the baggage of the fundamentalist evangelical church of my childhood. They help me stay true to my faith and grow in new directions.

salt. by Nayyirah Waheed:

I’ve been reading contemporary poetry lately and love what I’m reading so far.  Waheed’s collection came highly recommended by a friend and I’m glad that I followed through.

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A Sunday in Photos

I’ve been experiencing writer’s block lately, so I thought I’d tell you about my day through a slightly different medium.  Enjoy!


Sunday Morning:

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The Mother of All Questions by Rebecca Solnit at my local coffee shop.

Sunday Afternoon:

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Salt by Nayyirah Waheed at Interstate State Park

Sunday Night:

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To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han in my bedroom

How was your Sunday?

The Drunkenness of Things Being Various

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to camp in Northern Minnesota.  A friend and I stayed in my uncle’s self-built rustic cabin in the woods a few miles from Lake Superior.  We had a wonderful time going on hikes, sitting by the lakeshore, exploring waterfalls, discussing morality in Game of Thrones, and reading poetry aloud at the campfire.

It was a peaceful weekend.  I felt all the clutter in my life fade away.  The sounds of daily life fade in comparison to the rush of a waterfall.  Alone time in nature, for me, is soul detox.

In my quiet moments, I reflected a great deal on how complex the human experience is–how beautifully multifaceted we all are.  I wrote in the margins of my sketchbook:   “Personhood is a complicated, beautiful thing–what an adventure it is to live inside myself.  There are so many corners, so many contradictions–How can I be so many people at once?” Continue reading

Ten Things Books Have Made Me Want to Do After Reading Them

1.) Write – Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

My mentor at L’Abri this past Spring, upon learning that I write, got me hooked on Anne Lamott.  She leant me Bird by Bird and after tearing through it (laughing all the way), all I wanted to do was write for days.  Her writing style felt like coming home.

2.) Become a wizard – Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling

How can you engage in Rowling’s world and NOT want to become a wizard?  (Have you seen the new Fantastic Beasts trailer yet?  Doesn’t it look amazing?!) Continue reading

Poetry Friday: Orlando’s Poor Love Verses from Shakespeare’s “As You Like It”

Because I’m going to a Shakespeare-themed music in the park tonight, I thought it fitting to share the Bard this week.  Instead of going for one of the sonnets or eloquent, poetic soliloquies, I have chosen a selection from “As You Like It”–one of my favorite Shakespearean plays.  The following comes from Act 3, Scene 2 where Rosalind, Celia, and Touchstone find Orlando’s poorly written love verses pinned to trees.  I wish I could share the entire scene–it is so full of puns and plays on words that it never fails to make me laugh. Continue reading

Poetry Friday: When You are Old by W.B. Yeats

When You are Old by W.B. Yeats
When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.
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What is Poetry Friday?  Years ago, when I was in high school, we did poetry lessons every Friday.  I’ve always loved this idea and will continue the tradition by sharing poems on my blog.

Poetry Friday: There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale

Sara Teasdale was one of the first poets I truly fell in love with.  I discovered her work when I was in high school while doing unrelated research on the internet and liked what I found so much that I asked for her complete works for Christmas.  I’ve read the book cover to cover.  Most of her poems are short and sweet and many are dear to my heart.  This one got stuck in my head the other day.  (Fun fact: Ray Bradbury enjoyed it too–he wrote a short story bearing the same name.)

There Will Come Soft Rains by Sara Teasdale

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

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What is Poetry Friday?  Years ago, when I was in high school, we did poetry lessons every Friday.  I’ve always loved this idea and will continue the tradition by sharing poems on my blog.

Poetry Friday: God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

I recently discovered Gerard Manley Hopkins and… dang.  His poems are sometimes difficult to understand, but such a pleasure to read aloud.  I love the sounds and interplay between words–they fill my mouth like rich food and I slowly chew the sounds, savoring each bite.  I find certain lines getting caught in my head and, as the day goes on, I repeat them to myself over and over again.
Here is one of my favorites:

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