Archive for the ‘History’ Tag

Gone Sane by Christal Rice Cooper   Leave a comment

 

Ms Cooper’s new book, Gone Sane, is a 197 page collection of poems based upon the lives of the famous and infamous. The book is split into six sections, each focusing on a particular point of view.

 

Christal’s experience as an editor and a free lance journalist is quite apparent throughout the book. There is a level of confidence in the facts of these cases that can only come from thorough research. At the same time, there’s an empathy that transcends the “just the facts” attitude of a reporter. Nowhere in the book is this more evident than in the poem Mark. It is prefaced by a quote from Cooper’s own story in the Altus Times about the case. Mark Gomez, at the age of one, was beaten to death. In the quote the journalist lists the injuries, in the poem the poet relates the purchase of a baby’s outfit which is then laid out over the grave,

 

as if I were dressing a baby

 

just before he climbs on a beer stained couch

to sit by Mommy’s boyfriend,

to feel his whiskered face.

 

The poem ends with Mark Gomez’s murderer’s death penalty sentence carried out, and the poet visiting her own child’s bedroom

 

His clothes are laid out for tomorrow:

red onesie, toddler jeans.

 

Someday I’ll say I knew

I’d hold him safe-

 

The skillful way she pulls the story full circle, into her own home, touches the heart and soul of every parent without being over sentimental.

 

If there’s anything to criticize within the book, it’s that certain sections don’t seem to mesh with the overall mood of the book. I’m not sure, for example, what a poem about Jim Carrey or the band U2 contributes to a book where the majority of the poems deal with murderers, rapists, and massacres.

 

Along the same lines, while most of the poems dealing with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis are quite lovely, they dominate the first half of the book to the point where you turn the page and groan to see yet another one. For the purposes of this book, Cooper and Onassis would have been better served focusing on either her life immediately after the assassination of JFK, or her life with Aristotle Onassis, but not both.

 

Finally, the artwork in the book, pencil sketches, appears unfinished alongside the professionalism of the poems they are meant to enhance. It might have been better for the artist to create artwork that more closely mimicked photography, or the heavier, cleaner lines of pen and ink drawings.

 

Overall, Gone Sane is a book that will make you think and make you feel in equal parts. It is well worth the read, and is available on Amazon as both a paperback:

 

http://www.amazon.com/gone-sane-christal-rice-cooper/dp/096507644X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1342543371&sr=8-1&keywords=gone+sane

 

and an E-book:

 

http://www.amazon.com/gone-sane-ebook/dp/B007HDVGNI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1342543371&sr=8-2&keywords=gone+sane

Advertisements

Pirene’s Fountain 2011   Leave a comment

This image was taken in 1986 by Thierry Noir a...

Image via Wikipedia

To read the poem, click here

Middle school is never easy. It’s especially tough when you’ve always been a little socially awkward. As I was. And, ok, continue to be. I think most writers, most creative people, live within their minds to a degree that interacting with other people isn’t always easy. Add to that an embarrassing childhood illness, and you’ve got a made for tv movie in the making.

Or, in my case, fodder for good poetry. A great example is the poem Pirene‘s Fountain published of mine earlier this year, entitled “When the Wall Came Down”. The wall of course refers to one of the big historical moments during my youth, Perestroika, and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. Also, great fodder. Especially when you combine it with preteen angst.

Today, make a list of all the defining historical moments of your youth. Thinks about where you were, what you were doing, how it impacted you, how it didn’t. Start brainstorming how one thing mirrored the other, how history could be used as a metaphor for the first person you kissed, the bully that pushed you into the mud, the joy of making the soccer team, the defeat of not gaining a part in the school play.

 

Thank You, Vagabondage Press!!!!!   Leave a comment

look on the bright side of life

Image by Leonard John Matthews via Flickr

For writing about moi today:

http://vagabondagepress.blogspot.com/2010/11/author-insides-helen-r-peterson.html

Seriously, it was a nice boost, especially on a day like today when my youngest woke up wheezing like an old woman whose been smoking 6 packs a day since 1932.  Needless to say, not much writing got done. I didn’t even go online to see the interview until this evening, when she conked out, vaporizer buzzing, Vick’s rubbed on her chest.

Another bit of craziness, my little pink flash drive is missing somewhere in the house. The most recent ms for Cain is on that flash drive. Ergo, can’t work on it. Taking it as a sign that I should go with my gut and cut out this new character, either that or at least go back to where he was introduced, before it got all campy like a bad 80s movie with nuns. (Think Eric Idle, not Whoopi). With that in mind, I’m going to devote at least a slice of time tomorrow to digging up the old draft and writing for at least ten minutes. More if it gets good and the house doesn’t burn down.

Poems about chicanery and skulduggery also didn’t get writ, I’ll do that tomorrow too. Maybe. See above.

Pirene’s Fountain   Leave a comment

Lincoln's death bed

http://pirenesfountain.com/archives/issue_05/current_issue/peterson_helen.html

Tomb Painter, the first of the two poems of mine that Pirene‘s Fountain published in May of 2009, was written after a pretty horrific prompt. A friend of mine, who at the time was working for a cleaning service, had been called to clean a home after a suicide, and had taken a picture of the bed where the person had shot themselves. It was pretty gruesome, but all I could think of, looking at this picture being passed around, is the inn in Washington DC where they took Lincoln after he was shot, across from the theater, and how, as an eighth grader, it had deeply affected me, walking around the bed, seeing the pillow with its faint brown stain.

I thought about this weird connection, how a person might fit in both places, how one place could lead to another. It lead me to images of Lincoln, his death mask, which lead me to the death masks and photographs of other dead persons, photographed in their coffins. I thought about the person behind the camera, was it a relative, a professional brought in, an employee of the funeral home? What about crime scenes, suicides, who dreams of being a photographer of the dead, as opposed to babies and weddings and school children?

The result of all of these threads, after free writing, sketching out a character, cutting and pasting, was the poem Tomb Painter.

What intrigues you? Have you seen a photograph, read a poem or short story, that reminded you of something else? Explore the threads that bind them together in your mind, see what other associations you can make from them. Create a story or poem of your own, using these threads.