Four Star Review: ‘A Rather Beguiling Find’


Here’s a new four-star review of Drunk Dialing the Divine from Shane on Goodreads:

A rather beguiling find, a book I sculpted and stained into a peculiar shape and grotty hue , by carrying everywhere. The poems are an interesting exploration of youthful ,wounded humaness and religious certainty/ uncertainity -which becomes fresh when filtered through the eyes of someone wilfully distinctive in her abrasive dialoguing and defense of seemly fading traditions, and thought patterns, all mingled with unresolved deep human aches.

I’m honored by your reflection, Shane. Thank you for carrying my words with you everywhere- it means a lot.

 

Want to read what he’s talking about? Catch your copy of Drunk Dialing the Divine today!

On Loving Cold Weather


Yes, you can bet your sweet bottom that I’m one of those white girls who was putting Pumpkin Spice Creamer in her coffee as soon as September 1st hit. And I was so happy when the weather began to turn back down into the seventies that I was furious today that it was 85. I’m an autumn lover; lover of all things cinnamon and cold, crisp and cookie; I love wearing oversized sweaters and boots up to my knees and my collection of scarves and beanies is massive.

I’ve come to the realization that my mood tends to correspond with the way I feel about the weather. I know we’ve all heard about the winter blues and cabin fever, but I feel like I tend to have the opposite. When it’s summer I feel this immense pressure to be out doing something all the time. I get anxious if I sit down for too long (even if it’s to read or write), and I end up being really hard on myself if I don’t go out to enough social gatherings or don’t go on enough camping trips or experience enough new things. When it’s cold outside I feel like I can just be. I can type for hours with my tea in my hand, I can draft new manuscripts because it’s too cold to just go outside and hang out when all the shops have closed down. Fall and winter are my favorite seasons because I don’t feel so cramped, so sweaty and rushed. Something about the briskness in the air is just so energizing that I find myself in a better mood more often, and it’s easier for me to be productive.

Which just means that I need to get better with spacing myself out in the summer. I don’t think I’m at that point yet where I’ve shaken off the propensity to ‘prepare for fall’ the way that I had when I was still in school from kindergarten to college graduation. (By the time I do, I’ll probably be getting ready to do the same thing with my future children, so yay.) To a point, I think it’s alright that I go with this natural rhythm- to understand that I have this natural limitation in the summer that seems to run contradictory to what I think is going to be this time of boundless productivity. I need to work better with this limitation so that things don’t come to such a grinding halt (I get behind on my posts, I don’t submit manuscripts, I don’t produce new works, etc). It’s better for me to work at a slower pace for me not work at all, right?

So it might be too late this year, but next year I’ve got a plan: I’ll focus on working more efficiently during my summer time, instead of focusing to intently on working harder. The beginning to success if knowing where to start.

What’s your best weather, readers?

Things I Do To Stay Sane: Learn Cooking


So, lately the significant other and I have been trying this new thing where every weekend I go to his place and we learn to cook something new. Because neither of us really know how to do things slowly, that’s actually translated into us making at least two new things every weekend, which makes for a very busy and very messy kitchen.

And I’m loving it! (This coming from someone who normally hates mess and has a bit of a problem with doing ‘new’ things of any sort). I come from a very steak-and-potatoes family. We were never that into spices, never did much deviation with recipes, and maybe ate from a full menu of around twenty items. I’m mainly to blame for that, considering the tantrums I’d throw if my Mum so much as hinted at making me try new foods. Monkey, on the other hand, comes from a rather large family that likes cooking all kinds of stuff, cooking all the time, and using spices that I’ve never even heard the name of before getting into this relationship.

It’s been quite the learning experience, having two people with wildly different tastes in food and different ideologies about cooking trying to create new dishes together. To date, we’ve made mulled wine, Irish apple cake, fried potato chips, french fries, Sheperd’s Pie, bacon and potato cakes, and red velvet pancakes. Doing so, we’ve cut down on the amount of money we’ve spent each weekend going out for food, I’ve been losing weight while still eating delicious food, and we’ve increased the amount of time that we spend genuinely talking to each other and learning about each other’s likes and dislikes.

Food, for me, has always been this kind of inconvenience. I don’t feel hungry often at all, but I need to eat or else I’ll pass out. It has enabled me to gain nearly thirty/forty pounds of trauma weight. It makes me sick on occasion if I eat something slightly wrong, or at the wrong time, or with the wrong things, since my insides are stupid sensitive. So this whole phenomenon of cooking food, trying new foods and enjoying the process, is new.

Part of that is Monkey. I enjoy being with him, I enjoy being around him and I am amazed by how much he can surprise me in the littlest ways two and a half years into this relationship. I could probably watch paint dry with him and still be amused somehow. (Don’t take that as an idea, love, it’s an exaggeration).

Part of that is the fact that I’m learning more about myself in this process too. I’d always kind of stuck to my old favorite foods the way that I stick to my routines. They are safe, I know they won’t bother me or trigger my disgust and stress me out. But in the past couple years of pushing the boundaries of what I can know about myself, both through research and through contemplative prayer, I am learning what new things I can broaden my horizons with. New foods may seem like a small thing to the average reader, but for me, it’s a big deal. I’m able to more correctly discern what kind of foods are less likely to be the wrong texture, or hurt my sensitive insides: Instead of walling myself off from new experiences, I am able to safely and comfortably branch out, one little step at a time.

Which, as a writer, I think is one of the most beneficial things about learning to cook with Monkey. Any opportunity that I get to learn more about myself, is an opportunity for me to better understand how I can best contribute to the world around me, whether that’s with my art, with how I should be focusing my observations, or in how I behave in everyday life. And doing it through the process of cooking and learning to cook, helps me to learn about myself while still progressing forward. While therapy and self-care ‘treating yourself’ is all well and good, a lot of times I believe it can lead to stagnation. Cooking new things helps me build up my skill set, helps me find new ways to show my care for others, or treat myself with healthier foods, and helps me learn how best to compliment my own taste with my significant other’s.

What opportunities have you taken lately to learn yourself in less-than-conventional ways?

‘But This Volume Was Beautiful To Me’: Five-Star Review from a Christian Author


A five-star Goodreads review from Raelee Carpenter, Christian author of Kings and Shepherds and The Lincoln High Project, states:

I can’t pretend to know much about or have extensive experience with poetry, but this volume was beautiful to me, gritty and profound, drawing tears from my eyes.

Thank you, Ms. Carpenter! I really appreciate knowing when I have been able to impact my readers, and am grateful that you took the time to review my first collection of poetry.

If you haven’t read Drunk Dialing the Divine yet, now is the time! Order now from Amazon or straight from the publisher. (If you order a paperback copy from the publisher, you automatically get a free eBook copy as well!). I would love to see what you think about it- don’t forget to review on Amazon, or Goodreads.

Holy Innocents


After thinking through some things, I have decided that I will now be posting on a bi-weekly basis, so every other Sunday. Pray that I will be able to keep up with this schedule.

So to start this off, have a fresh new poem written by yours truly. This was written way back in December 2014, on the Feast of Holy Innocents, which happened to also share a Sunday with the Feast of the Holy Family. This poem is a reflection of that juxtaposition of the suffering of innocent children with the impending suffering of the Holy Infant, as I was captivated by a young child in the pews in front of me at Mass.

holyinnocents

“Distance Makes the Heart Grow Fonder”


I haven’t posted personal work in awhile and I figured I probably should, seeing as this is a poetry blog. Recently I’ve been running into a qualm with the idea of ‘distance makes the heart grow fonder’, namely people believing that the sentiment holding true having some kind of say in whether or not love is true. I wrote a newer poem about the idea, and then realized that I had already written a poem about my feelings on the sentiment back in high school. So to parallel the two different points of my life, I have decided today to post the two poems one right after the other.

This first one was written when I was eighteen, so back in 2010:
distance

And this one was written this week, at the age of twenty-two in 2014:

distancesolves

What are your ideas on this well-used idiom?

Edit: I had to re-do the poems in graphic form as the post editor isn’t letting me put the correct line-breaks in the poems.

Why Do I Write: With Such Weird Titles


Sometimes in my poetry, my titles make sense. They fit the mood of the poem, or reveal something more about the poem if you look up what that specific phrase (such is the case with Laughter of the Spirit and Liminal Space).

But then there are the others. Poems with titles like ‘Ponyboy’, ‘Sunshine’, ‘Monkey’, ‘Running Man’, ‘Aegipan’, ‘Snake’, ‘Mountain Man’ etc. If you’ve at all noticed, these kind of weirdly named poems tend to be love or lust poems. That’s because all of these weird titles are actually nicknames. Some of them are boyfriends I’ve had, some of them are flings, some of them are crushes or personal fantasies about people. Some of these men know their nicknames (and hence know which poems are about them), and some of them don’t (thank goodness). These weird titles are, in fact, dedications of sorts- while the poem itself may be open to being applied to the reader’s own sense of what love and lust may be, and may relate to the reader’s experience of such things in the consuming of the poem, the title belongs only to the person that the poem is dedicated to.

Now I’ve dated quite a bit, being a person who enjoys immensely the entire hoopla that comes with dating casually (dating seriously has always been an entirely different thing for me), as well as being someone who has always been fascinated by what I would consider to be the beauty of the opposite sex’s place in my own life, so I have a lot of poems about men and how I view them in different stages of awe, desire, longing and questioning. Not all of them are denoted with nicknames. Some of them have normal love poem names, ‘Your Fingers’, ‘Thirteen Years’, ‘I Like You’, ‘On the Shore of Coronado’, etc. These poems will never be as personal as the ones that have nicknames attached to them. While the poems themselves are always addressed to a specific person, the poems without nicknames are always a larger reflection on the feeling of love, desire, longing, etc. rather than the ways in which that specific man elicits those feelings, whereas the poems with nicknames will always focus on how a specific person makes me feel.

So there’s a little insight into how I name my poems (which all of my titles are important, I may expand on the other titles later). As a reader of poetry, do you take much notice of the titles of poems? As a writer of poetry, do you spend much time on your titles/ use titles at all?

Things I Do to Stay Sane: Get Out of the House


But Amber, getting out of the house is super fun, that wouldn’t take too much work would it?

If I was a more outgoing person and naturally enjoyed being out my room, sure. I’ve always been that person who could be locked up in her own room for pretty much ever and be perfectly content to do nothing but write, sleep, and maybe play some video games. I do have to force myself to text my friends most of the time- not because I don’t love them, I truly do, but because I am perfectly content being alone (as long as I can be productive).

Regardless, I am a firm believer in the idea that ‘alone’ was not the way that life was meant to be experienced. If it was, God would have made me and only me. (I may not agree with His sense of humor, giving me no desire to be with other people and yet putting me in a situation that begs me to be with other people, but that’s a whole ‘nother discussion.) Being as I am just one individual in this cosmic whole, it is my responsibility to connect myself to the whole, to immerse myself in the community.

Sometimes, I enjoy it. Nights when I go dancing at the Rose with my friends, or get to go to a small house party or new movie. I don’t regret leaving the house, and I feel good about it. Other times, I hate it so much I taste acid. These are the nights when we go out to sketchy bars or to a crowded party where I only know one or two people (and often there is pot around, which I really, really don’t like the smell of) or dragged to some celebration where I know there are people there who don’t like me or we had a falling out or there’s no set plan for the evening or people invite me to hang out only to zonk out in front of the television and completely ignore the fact that I’m there…. you get my drift. With my autism, I often lean towards anxiety about these sort of things- I weigh the numerous bad experiences against the ‘few’ good experiences and nearly talk myself out of leaving my safe, cozy room. Just thinking about all the ways that ‘going out’ could go very wrong, I freeze up.

What keeps me going out, time after time, is this simple realization: I would be a horrible writer if I stayed locked up in this room. I’d become one of those self-absorbed, self-righteous writers that I hated in high school, loathed in college, and still like to pretend don’t exist today. For me, a lot of writing (especially with poetry) is about taking your life experiences and condensing them into a kind of pure image for others. Those readers in turn adopt those images into their own plethora of experiences and, if the experiences together are rich enough, there occurs a broadening, brightening and deepening of one’s understanding of the human experience as a whole. I would consider this to be one of God’s greatest gifts to His creation: little collaborative glimpses into the grace of eternity.

That’s what I want to be a part of. I don’t much care for the party scene, for drinking or for being seen. But if I can see just a little bit more of the world, if I can learn a new nuance of humanity, I’m going to muscle through it.  I don’t ever know if the experience of getting out of the house will rejuvenate me, or just drain every strand of emotional energy that I have left. It’s always a toss up. But I have decided that in either case,  getting out, giving in to the cosmic mess that is being with other people, is worth the pain just as much as it is worth the potential grace.

What do you do to ‘get out of the house’?

Drunk Dialing the Divine: An Analysis


Recently on Goodreads, a fan named Shane reached out to me via messaging to discuss Drunk Dialing the Divine. These kinds of things usually make me super anxious (did they like it? did they not like it? will I be able to answer the reader’s questions? will I be able to handle the reader’s questions?), but Shane gave me a gift in sending his own analysis of the title poem, ‘Drunk Dialing the Divine’, which had led him to order the collection. I have gotten his permission to share his analysis here, which he apologizes for being “impulsive and impassioned…soul bypassing head…[with a] heartfelt scruffy photoflash quality to it”.

 

 “Drunk Dialing the Divine” from the excerpt online…. the title reminded me a St John of the Cross line about God being a hidden wine cellar in the heart. Or in this case the tragic consequences of heart and/or world intoxicated by every thing else apart from God… the phone call echoes the alienation and dislocation of modern relationships with each other and God. The narrator (Mediator????) is interesting because she voices a Pauline concept that when we come face to face with the supreme holiness of God it will be “terrifying”. The sheer righteousness and ultimate goodness of God demands that even angels must avert their eyes and I could witter on about cheap grace and the cost of refusing grace for pages and the blasphemy of this world.
I like the ‘lasso’ line- its bold and dramatic, suggesting Christ’s suffering but is also about control,(you lasso animals) Man tries to domesticate God… but here is the thing, the last line “staving off prayer” also points to the fact the narrator/”mediator” is out of step with God. He/she’s ( I’m assuming its a woman) vision of God seems smug, shrill and narrow, he/she  has domesticated God. I scribbled down- can you Drunk Dial God? I mean how many sinners have in a moment of despair screamed out to God and found in the morning they didn’t have to apologize to God. That’s the radical vision of redemption right? Jesus is the “mediator” between God and man he came for sick not the well. The narrator seems dulled to the possibility of mercy in some subtle way . The poem had me thinking of the Pharisees concept of God and the publicans God “forgive me I’m a sinner”.
As we never know what the drunk is saying in the poem we can’t work out if he is at rock bottom and truly contrite( what has he done? what is there relationship??) or as implicit just a another repeat offender. The poem is wrestling with the difference between piety and love, mercy and justice. Oh I really, really liked the change in gear or flow just after ‘lasso’-‘rope’. It had the effect of looping the poem back on its self like a lasso . There was also some nice lyrical flashes contrasted with pungent spikiness.

 

 

I really enjoy when people respond to my work like this. Shane touched on a lot of nuances that I intentionally put into the poem as I was writing it, as well as pointing out possibilities in interpretation that I hadn’t even thought of yet- but can accept as being a completely valid, and strangely refreshing, reading.

I am extremely grateful for this first in-depth analysis of my own work, and look forward to more in the years to come! Have you read one of my works and wanted to tell me how it made you feel (whether for good or ill?) Always feel free to either comment or contact me via e-mail. I love having these kinds of discussions with my readers!