Passionate, Accessible Poetry: Vogue Robinson

Poet Vogue Robinson, author of Vogue 3:16

On Sunday I had the pleasure of doing a 30-min. reading of Winter Light and a Q&A session with the Henderson Writers Group in Las Vegas. Then I got to hear two other writers do the same. One of them was poet Vogue Robinson. (I’ll post about Brett Riley and his newest book at another date.)

What a treat! Vogue’s poetry reflects her demeanor: emotionally accessible. The way she read her ode to British singer Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning in 2011, was unbelievable. She cried during the recitation, the emotion such a natural outpouring of her powerful words. She’s a truly talented spoken word performer! If I get a chance to share the Zoom recording, I will.

I bought her book, Vogue 3:16 (the number references her birthday), via her website.

She’s also on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

She was the Poet Laureate of Clark County, Nevada, during with she read her poetry during events now posted on YouTube.

Do you feel unqualified to read poetry? If so, try reading Vogue’s work, or listening to her speak her work, because she’s clear and passionate in talking about universal topics: love, loss, self-doubt.

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An essay about fear — its affect on humans and who uses it and why — just published in Spill It!

Now available via all online booksellers.

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For a full list of reading and workshops, visit my website.

A Plan in Case of Morning: Prize and Review

by Phill Provance

Coming Sept. 29, 2020, preorder

I received an advanced reader copy (ARC) of veteran poet Phill Provance’s first full-length collection. I was immediately delighted with the book, which amounts to a meaty, accessible memoir of a man’s life written via poetry. Fascinating!

Though I read poetry almost every day, most people are leery of the form, believing poetry to be too high-brow and only for those who’ve taken courses in that realm. That’s absolutely wrong-headed, in my opinion, and neither does the anonymous donor who’s putting up $10,000 to the winner of a contest for this book that runs from now until April.

A journalist by training, to me the deal sounded too good to be true. So I got confirmation from Vine Leaves Press, which will publish Provance’s book Sept. 29, 2020. Apparently a benefactor who loves the poet’s work believes the book deserves a wider audience, a hence began the contest that will end April 16. The promotion states a winner will be chosen from those who do the following:

  • publicly post a selfie on Instagram or Facebook
  • along with a person you consider to be a hero (I assume this means either stating who your hero is or posting a photo of the person if you have one)
  • a favorite line from Phill’s book
  • and the hashtag #APlanInCaseOfMorning

What an amazing opportunity for the poet and his work to help convince more readers that poetry is for everyone and should be embraced with joy, rather than trepidation.

To do my part in encouraging more regular consumption of poetry, I’m posting the review I wrote for Goodreads. Whether you win the $10,000 or not, I hope you enjoy this collection as much as I did.

Review

Phill Provance’s new poetry collection, A Plan in Case of Morning, is truly a fast-changing landscape of emotion riding on varying currents of form.

Just as sculptors and other fine artists allow ideas to choose their medium, so Provance allows each poem to choose its own pace, rhythm and tone to best express the impassioned flow with an end clarity that’s eminently satisfying. In subject matter, Provance flies us around the world, both literally and proverbially, as we visit times and places in his life and within his heart.

That mix of shifting fluidity, instinctual word choice and unpretentious honesty — sometimes gentle, sometimes melancholic, often brutal — make this collection a swift ride you want to prolong.

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Preorder Winter Light, due out Oct. 6, 2020

For a full list of my book launch events, visit my website.

Passion Demands A Vocabulary of Desire, Vol. 3

by Bauke Kamstra

Simplicity is difficult for almost everyone, and especially us writers. We take a simple concept and allow other distractions to crowd in: adjectives and adverbs; side stories and backstories; trifles, that though beautiful, should be cut.

But poet Bauke Kamstra doesn’t fall prey to such dead weight. In his Passion Demands a Vocabulary of Desire, Vol. 3, he exerts a breathtaking discipline of 1 idea + few words = a thought that will stick with you all day.

—I can still fight this
my legs strong
(if weak in the knees)

& it yet lies
beyond my grasp

for how can you hold
the sea?—

Because I don’t know the poet personally, I can’t tell if the succinctness of his poetry came first, followed by the collection’s secondary title — 101 Tweets to Inspire Your Followers — or vice versa. I suspect the former, with the latter capitalizing on what people can relate to.

What I know, however, is that for me, poetry is abstract art. I have to find an artist whose abstraction speaks to me in a language I understand, which I find that to be true for this poet’s verse. His choice and combination of each poem’s few words sing in my head, rather than confuse me.

—a held remark
stiff in the craw
a stone in the belly baked
at oven temperatures you know
I must let it go so I run
into the wood.—

The abstractness of poetry in general comes in all textures, from soft to bed-of-nails harsh. I’m fondest of the comfort level this poet from Nova Scotia exudes: a firmness that drives out the sentimental to leave a form of salt residue like that along the ocean. In other words, a rough natural beauty. Because all too often when dealing with themes of passion, desire and love, the temptation to rose-color the human experience proves irresistible. Not so with these poems, which leave me feeling true in a windswept, scoured way.

Nicely don, Bauke Kamstra!

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