The first thing I noticed about Writing the Life Poetic when I opened up my package was the beautiful cover. Already, before even opening the book upThe first thing I noticed about Writing the Life Poetic when I opened up my package was the beautiful cover. Already, before even opening the book up to the first page, my senses were heightened by the brilliant designs and colors. When I ran my fingers over the cover of the book I was pleasantly surprised by the raised designs (especially on the back cover) and the raised text. Just holding the book was a poetic experience. Then I opened it – Wow! I was struck by the contrast between the bright white paper, the text, the colors, and the illustrations. Without reading a word my creative mind had already been given a jumpstart.
I was a closet poet for nearly twenty years and when I finally had the courage to submit some poetry for critique I realized how much I did not know about poetry. I was discouraged and even considered not writing poetry anymore because it all seemed too complicated and then I saw an advertisement in Writer’s Digest for this book. I thought I would give it a try and I am so glad that I did. My reading of Writing the Life Poetic coincided with a 30-day poetry writing regimen that I participated in and I had the chance to incorporate much of Sage Cohen’s advice with great results.
Her instructions are clear and concise and so easy to understand even for a beginner like me. The chapters are short but provide a wealth of information and encouragement. I read one chapter per day and this easily fit into my hectic schedule. Eighty days later I was not only writing more poetically, I was living more poetically. What Cohen has taught me through these beautiful pages has helped me in all of my writing: poetry, personal essays, and memoir. She has taught me that there is poetry to be found in even the most minute and mundane of things; in the things that might be overlooked even discarded otherwise. She has taught me that it is the awareness of the world around me and the writing of that awareness that is so important even if at first glance I do not consider what I write to be “top quality”.
I recommend this book to beginner and experienced poets and writers alike. Beginners will get a guide book on how to embrace the poetry within and around them. Those with experience will get a fresh perspective on reading and writing poetry and expand their creative minds to higher levels. I also recommend Cohen’s book of poetry, Like the Heart, the World, which will, after reading, unequivocally convince you that she knows of what she writes.
Sage Cohen also has a Writing the Life Poetic blog that you can subscribe to and it is a must read for all the fans of her book. It will provide you with a continuation of the same fresh poetic view of life that is seen within the pages of this book. ...more
As I read through Like the Heart, the World, I was intrigued by the uniqueness and depth of Cohen's words. She has created surprising word combinationAs I read through Like the Heart, the World, I was intrigued by the uniqueness and depth of Cohen's words. She has created surprising word combinations such as "the metal taste of alone" that made me stop and contemplate their meanings. I love that her poems are like a maze of language; fresh and thought-provoking. The book is separated into three sections according to places that Cohen has lived and reflects her experiences in those cities. Through these sections, she intertwines the sensory world around us with the deep emotions that we feel inside. As the sections progress we see Cohen open up, giving us more of her, allowing us a bigger glimpse into the depths of her mind. Her poetry becomes more relaxed and longer signifying her growth as she moves through the different phases of her life. In the end, we see that she is comfortable where she is now, that she can sit within the pain, loss, and triumph of life and convey it all to us magnificently....more
Courage and Craft is a phenomenal inspirational guide for aspiring writers and experienced writers alike. I have been a closet writer for many years aCourage and Craft is a phenomenal inspirational guide for aspiring writers and experienced writers alike. I have been a closet writer for many years and recently enrolled in an MFA program. I have the same fears many new writers do and this book has really helped to inspire me. Not only does it give fantastic exercises to help spark your creativity, it gives lots of great advice about the writing process. Every time I feel like putting down the pen and quitting, I read a small section and it helps me realize that those fears come from the critic crawling around in my head. I pick up the pen and start writing again – even if it is bad writing. This book has something for everyone regardless of what genre you are interested in. It is also structured in small sections for quick reading. I don’t have a lot of time outside of writing and reading for classes, but I could pick this up and in a few minutes get the inspiration I needed to start my day. Courage and Craft will be a permanent addition to my writing desk so that I can turn to it any time that I need a boost, some advice, or just some suggestions on how to break free from my inner critic....more
As I began my journey into the writing life, I went in search of books that would inspire me - especially when I felt like giving up. This book did exAs I began my journey into the writing life, I went in search of books that would inspire me - especially when I felt like giving up. This book did exactly that and more. Some of the essays addressed the follies experienced by new writers when sending their work out into the world and others addressed the feelings associated with the inevitable rejections letters that follow. What I gained from reading this book was a sense of camaraderie with other writers that have blazed this trail before me and have experienced what I am experiencing now. It is good to know that others have had doubts, felt like giving up, or struggled with finding the time to write. This book will make a nice addition to any aspiring or experienced writer's collection and I believe each will find themselves reflected in these pages....more
What I like best about this book is its presentation. The information provided is not necessarily new and profound, but the way it is presented reallyWhat I like best about this book is its presentation. The information provided is not necessarily new and profound, but the way it is presented really works for me. The chapters are very brief and each ends with a writing exercise. Because of the chapters' brevity, I was able to read one each morning. It served as a kind of diet devotional. It gave me the motivation to start my day in a positive frame of mind. Cameron explains the importance of eating clean and this makes a lot of sense especially with all the mysterious "additions" that are now included in many of our foods. However, she recommends "diet" foods that include artificial sweeteners which I personally believe are not part of clean eating. I found the exercises to be effective and the personal and client testimony/dialogue to be inspirational. I especially like Cameron's emphasis on living in the moment even when we have chosen to eat something that is not healthy for our bodies. We do not have to continue our unhealthful eating for the rest of the day (as we often think) but can instead forgive ourselves immediately and start over right at that moment. Writing daily, in what Cameron calls "Morning Pages", can really help to uncover hidden links between food and emotions (both negative and positive) as well as other issues we may not be aware of that sabotage our efforts towards a healthier life. Anyone who is focusing on leading a healthier life and building a positive relationship with the food they eat should read this book. They will come away with many great tools - such as four questions to ask before making the choice of what and when to eat - to help them on their journey. This is a book that should be read more than once. I recommend reading it again and again as a daily dose of inspiration....more
The Art of Mending brings the reader along as family secrets are exposed and shows what the effects are on each of the characters. Berg did a great joThe Art of Mending brings the reader along as family secrets are exposed and shows what the effects are on each of the characters. Berg did a great job of capturing the family dynamic and the reaction of those that hadn't yet put the pieces together. It is a painful story of how abuse, if not revealed and given the chance to heal, can destroy a person's life. The reader follows along as each memory is rediscovered and feels the confusion and disbelief that occurs when the siblings are told about something horrible that happened right in front of them without their being aware. It was interesting to me that there was not a likeable character. There was no one to grab a hold of and cheer for. Each character's dark side was exposed. Overall, I thought this was a good, quick read that kept my attention. Every time I put it down, I wanted to return to it to see what happened - to learn the truth. I liked how Berg included a narrative description of a photograph at the beginning of nearly every chapter. Each description pushed the reader closer to the truth, providing them with additional insight into the childhood of these characters. ...more
I was disappointed about the misleading title and description of this book. I felt that Janine Latus' story was compelling enough that it could have sI was disappointed about the misleading title and description of this book. I felt that Janine Latus' story was compelling enough that it could have stood on its own without leading the reader to believe that the book was mostly about her sister's murder. It was knowing that the book was eventually going to cover her sister's story that built tension and kept me reading. I believe I would have taken the book in differently if I hadn't known that before reading. That being said, I believe that Latus is very courageous to share her story. I understand, after finishing the book, that she could not cover her sister's story because she was not there to know the details. She wove her life with what she could of her sister's and the comparison was stunning. Though Latus went one way and her sister another, they both could have ended up the same way. It was heartbreaking to see how much Latus' sister had gone through only to end up murdered by her boyfriend. Latus covered some very important beliefs, feelings, and errant thinking that women have when involved in domestic violence situations. We get an inside view of the thinking that kept her in her marriage for so long. Overall, I felt this was a very good book and something every woman should read. I found the afterword to be excellent and really showing Latus' purpose in writing this book. This surely was not an easy book to write, but clearly one that needed to be written. ...more
The Soloist follows Steve Lopez's journey as he tries to help a former Juilliard student, Nathaniel Ayers, who is now homeless and diagnosed with mentThe Soloist follows Steve Lopez's journey as he tries to help a former Juilliard student, Nathaniel Ayers, who is now homeless and diagnosed with mental illness. What is so compelling is the honest, close-up view of those whom are mentally ill and the abandonment that has left them with nowhere else to go but the streets. Lopez hails the often unseen mental health workers and volunteers that have dedicated their lives to turning this tragedy into something made of hope. His struggles with the differing viewpoints on treatment and his own impatience bring to life the reality of trying to save the world or even just one person. As I was reading, I felt like I was taking this journey with Lopez. That I was learning just as he was learning. Lopez makes it clear that important life lessons can be learned in the most unsuspecting of places. It is an eye-opening and heartbreaking look at the unpredictability of life and how in an instant everything we know as real can be challenged or even worse - for some - taken away completely. ...more
A mix of romance, history, magic, mystery and so much more keeps the reader on edge wanting to know what happens next. The prose is magical, transportA mix of romance, history, magic, mystery and so much more keeps the reader on edge wanting to know what happens next. The prose is magical, transporting the reader into the story with elegant descriptions and depth. I especially enjoyed how the chapters were set up - short bursts of story that bounced back and forth between present and past. It added a unique element to be taken back to the roots of the story to gain important knowledge and understanding of what was happening in the present. It was a story that stayed with me long after I had put the book down and certainly piqued my interest in the history of Salem and witchcraft. It helps that the author, Katherine Howe, is a descendant of two accused witches from that time period. Howe did a fantastic job of combining truth and fiction highlighting the importance of family history in how we live our lives and how the decisions and actions of our family - however distant - are a part of who we are - our essence. I have to mention how much I love the cover as well. It is truly intriguing and perfect for this novel....more
This is a wonderfully written coming of age story. The prose is thought-provoking, humorous, and engrossing. Colson Whitehead uses humor to effectivelThis is a wonderfully written coming of age story. The prose is thought-provoking, humorous, and engrossing. Colson Whitehead uses humor to effectively bring important issues to the reader's consciousness. He brings the reader back to the 1980's and all the quirky happenings of that time; New Coke - need I say more. We also get a view into the issues that race and class present for teenagers just trying to learn how to fit in to such a complicated world. Also important is the realization and subsequent respect of our history and what generations before us went through and accomplished so that we may live as we do today. It is coming to terms with/recognizing that things we take for granted now were fought for and a price was paid by those who fought for them. The book starts out somewhat light-heartedly and then slowly weaves in the darkness that comes with family dysfunction and alcoholism. It is a well-rounded, funny, and sometimes heart-breaking story of growing up in a world full of choices and consequences. ...more