Saturday, November 19, 2016

"You must write, write, write...and have the courage to send it out."

When I was 14, I wrote a very short story (an impression really) about what a soldier lying in a foxhole might think about; and when I showed it to my father, he said: "That is exactly the way it was." Without hesitation, I sent it to "American Girl" for their monthly short story contest for its young readers. And it won the Nonfiction award. That was a happy occasion, but really what made it more special was this letter I received from the President of the National League of American Pen Women. I lived in Ft. Myers, FL and she lived in Miami (a 4 hour drive to the other coast from my home), and yet she somehow found the brief announcement in the Ft. Myers News-Press--and wrote me this thoughtful, lovely letter of congratulations.

I looked up the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW), and they are very much alive and well if you'd like to check that organization out at http://www.nlapw.org/: "Linking Creative Women Since 1897."

The letter reads:

Congratulations on your writing award. And welcome to the ranks of the non-fiction writers!

You seem to have learned at a very young age two of the important lessons that a lot of would-be adult writers never grasp: If you want to be a writer, you must write, write, write; and you must have the courage to mail it somewhere. I hope you will continue to write and to mail...and to win awards and make sales the rest of your life.

I am enclosing a spare clipping about your award, in case you need it for your scrapbook.

Again, congratulations and my very best wishes for your future.

Sincerely,

Nell L. Weidenbach (Mrs. M.J.)
Nat'l. League of American Pen Women

Encl. Clipping

Saturday, November 5, 2016

How to Love a Writer


I do not often write #poetry. But this one is for all you writers and the people & animals who love you.


Advice to the Lovelorn

If you value your privacy
 Do not date a writer.
If you have secrets
 Do not date a writer.
If you want to sneak around
 Do not date a writer.
If you want to lie your head off
 Do not date a writer.
If you want to see & not be seen
 Do not date a writer.
If you want calm and peace of mind
 Do not date a writer.
If you do not want to see yourself in Public
 Do not date a writer.
If you want to be cherished beyond all else
 Date a writer.
If you want to find new depths in intimacy
 Date a writer.
If you like the unexpected
 Date a writer.
If you accept your warts and all
 Date a writer.
If you do not care what she does as long as she’s with you
 Date a writer.

Advice to the Lovelorn, Warren, Marlan. November 5, 2016 

When Life gives you Lemons, make #poetry!


Thursday, November 3, 2016

My Midwest Book Review of "Imperfect Echoes in Nov. Issue! Huzzah!



My review of Imperfect Echoes is published in November 2016 Issue of Midwest Book Review: Reviewer’s Bookwatch!

Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 16, Number 11
November 2016


Imperfect Echoes: 
Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
HowToDoItFrugally Publishing
9781515232490, $9.95 Paperback, $2.99 Kindle, 148 pages
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Imperfect-Echoes-Writing-Justice-oppression/dp/1515232492

Marlan Warren, Reviewer
http://roadmapgirlsbookbuzz.blogspot.com

Genres: Poetry Anthology/Social Justice

Narcissus knows her reflection
well. She forgets to peer
under burkas, in our jails,
in the beds of the abused,
deeper, deeper into the pond...

―Howard-Johnson, Carolyn. Narcissus Revisited.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson's "Imperfect Echoes: Writing Truth and Justice with Capital Letters, lie and oppression with Small" is just perfect.

This Los Angeles award-winning poet lays out the landscape of her contemplative thoughts, feelings and reactions with such honesty and deceptive simplicity that they have the effect of offering a peek into her private journals. What puts this poetry on par with leaping tall buildings is the fact that each poem manages the feat of conveying personal and universal relevance at once.

Do not be scared off by the prospect of political rhetoric masquerading as literature; this is not one of those books. Although the book's subtitle may strike some as rather lofty, it is a quote from Czeslaw Milosz's poem, "Incantation," in his anthology, "The Captive Mind," which reflects Howard-Johnson's poetic themes. She has divided her prolific poems into a Prologue plus four sections: "Remembering What We Must"; "Nations: Tranquil Self-Destruction"; "Acceptance: Waiting for the Gift"; and "Future Stones of Distrust."

Howard-Johnson deftly blends the "Truth and Justice" observations with the "Small" moments of "lie(s)" and "oppression" as they intersperse through her poet's journey. The poems in "Remembering What We Must" address the stark realities of war and global misery, which Howard-Johnson treats with her practiced light touch that floats like the proverbial butterfly and stings like an outraged bee.

In "Belgium's War Fields," she compares the reasons for bygone wars to our present day confusion: "And now a war that takes from the mouths /and hearts of the stranded, the homeless. / How different from those who / marched with snares or flew flags / in a war when we knew / why we were there."

In the "Nations: Tranquil Self-Destruction" section, "The Story of My Missed Connection in Minneola" brings to life a brief rest stop during a road trip, which seems rather amusing at first as the wife relieves her bladder and the husband declines the coffee with "Let's skip it. Coffee's / probably been stewing for days..." but hits an unexpected bump of overt bigotry when the roadside store owner confides in them (in between the screeches of his pet parrot) that he left Los Angeles to get away from the "ragheads."

In the "Acceptance: Waiting for the Gift" section, "Relatives" takes on the ways in which "Small" minds can make a family dinner feel like a stint in Purgatory: "Perhaps you won't invite me back / if I mention that infamous / uncle. You know, the one who killed / three of his wives / but is candid / about who he is, / how many he's killed, / the methods he used / and never gets invited to dinner.

In the "Future Stones of Distrust" section, "Rosa Parks Memorialized" opens with "On the day our September losses / reached 2,000, a tribute / to Rosa..." and asks "If she were alive now.../ would her solo / be enough or do we need now a choir singing, / thousands screaming...?"

Imperfect Echoes allows readers to witness a poet's lifetime revisited in memory and with fresh wisdom. If the topics of oppression, prejudice and war seem to some "overdone," Howard-Johnson responds in her Prologue poem, "Apologies from a Magpie":

Magpies are born to sing others' songs -
stained notes, imperfect echoes -
until the world begins to know
them by heart.


Note: All proceeds from the sales will be donated to the non-profit human rights watchdog, Amnesty International.