Monthly Archives: March 2019

Poetry Review — Journeys: An Exploration of Being


Journeys: An Exploration of Being by Victoria A. Carella is a collection of traditional poetry. Carella is a Mystic, Master Shaman, master of human consciousness, Master Medicine Woman, transformational teacher, visionary, artist, author, poet, and gardener.

In the modern era of Instagram poets and platitudes as poetry, it is refreshing to see that traditional poetry is still being written. Carella relies heavily on end rhymes in either an aabb or abab format. Not only are her poems longer than a few lines, but they can stretch for pages. The combination of rhyme schemes and her narrative storytelling creates a new age Byronesque style of poetry:

A chill wind blows across the land

Night descends with heavy hand

Tempestuous energies within

Hands over the ears to shut out the din


The poem, “Mainstay,” continues with a morphing, talking cat which becomes a clown and an angel which reminded me a bit of Dante. Rather than purely divinely inspiration, the poet does mention mushrooms and the doors of perception in another poem. Either way, the story flows and the rhyme adds to the movement of the story. One must read the lines and not overemphasize the rhymes when reading. However, emphasizing or forcing the rhyme in reading tends to be distracting. Read naturally and allow the words to form the patterns.  

A later poem, perhaps autobiographical, tells the story of a girl becoming a woman and searching for her own path. As with many young adults drugs do come into play. Although the poet does not come out and say it directly, Patti Smith once said that she did not have a problem with drugs because she used drugs (marijuana) to create, not hide or turn off. Regardless, the woman in the poem becomes a little too dependent on drugs. She does turn things around and finds that the modern world was still filled with problems and threats even for an educated and conforming woman. She isolates herself and returns to the path she started on before drugs and worldly complications and becomes a master shaman. 

The collection ends with shorts bits of wisdom one would expect from a spiritual person. Throughout her work is a connection with the metaphysical. This is represented in mentions of Buddhism, God, and medicine meant in a sense of spiritual healing or the healing by a shaman. There is also a recurring theme evolving and growing. The poem “Butterfly” is also about transformation and discovery of what we are really capable of becoming:

Off they fly somewhere

Their destiny for a time they share

Yet being butterflies they are totally free

The way most of us yearn to be

Carella accomplishes two things in this collection. First, she writes poetry that works in a traditional sense. Secondly, she writes a spiritual book which isn’t heavy-handed or filled with dogma. Both her poetry and narrative work well together. Neither one forces itself on the reader, but instead, seem to join and compliment each other to create a natural feeling and experience for the reader.  


Joseph Spuckler has a Masters Degree in International Relations and a deep appreciation for poetry and Modernist writers. He is a Marine Corps veteran and works as a mechanic devoting his off hours for motorcycling and reviewing poetry. Originally from Cleveland, he currently resides in Dallas.

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Book Review — The River That Flows

The River That Flows: A book about life, death and the Universe. (Them 1) by [Blasco, Jordana]

Summary: A short story or prelude to a longer story. A fantasy fable centered on the children of the moon. A woman fleeing from her abusive people stumbles upon a group of highly civilized people.

Review: A new age fantasy that centers on power versus love and community, and how corruption can find its way into a Utopian society. Blasco also explores what happens when people don’t act and hope that evil will discover itself and correct its own mistakes. The language used in this tale is almost poetic and not only adds value to the story but also establishes a rich alternative world.

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Book Review — By Time Is Everything Revealed: Irish Proverbs for Mindful Living

By Time Is Everything Revealed: Irish Proverbs for Mindful Living by Fiann Ó’Nualláin is a collection of Irish proverbs and Eastern philosophy. Although it does not sound like a very probable mix, O’Nuallain not only makes it work, he makes it seem natural. The first part of the book covers the author’s journey through Karate, Hinduism, and Buddhism in a very Western and Catholic country. This is not the path that many would take.

Ó’Nualláin introduces the reader to meditation in a way that is easy to understand and not a foreign feeling.  Mindfulness is explained in a very Western style, and even compassion seems more like common sense that those of an older generation practiced than something foreign.  Sitting meditation is taking the time to connect to things around you rather than the dwelling on the tensions of life.  The author uses washing dishes as a time of mindfulness. Something that has been in Western practice for quite some time is walking meditation.  Thinkers like Nietzsche, Rousseau, Kant, and Thoreau used walking as a way to connect to creativity and remove oneself from the chaos of life.  Walking should be done in solitude and used as a way to connect with the environment you.  That means no phone or music.

Some of the proverbs sound very familiar to English and American proverbs.  “Need teaches a plan” and “Change is the breath of life” are familiar sounding.  “Do good in return for evil” seems close to turning the other cheek.   “The mountain is good mustard” and “A slow hound is often lucky” require a bit of thought.  Ó’Nualláin explains the proverbs, translating them for Gaelic into English,  and offers action points or practical examples, for each precept.  There are also fifty-two proverbs, one for each week of the year, that can be studied and put into practice in an organized manner.

By Time Is Everything Revealed is not only an instruction guide for the reader, it reveals that despite cultures that do not seem to have much in common, but there is also a commonality in mankind that goes beyond national or regional identities.  This commonality is where By Time Is Everything Revealed dwells.

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Book Review — The People v. Ferlinghetti: The Fight to Publish Allen Ginsberg’s Howl

Sir, you cannot translate poetry to prose; that’s why its poetry.
Mark Schorer in cross-examination

Lawrence Ferlinghetti will be one hundred years old this month. He is a Navy veteran, poet, activist, leftist, publisher, and a book store owner. San Francisco in the 1950s was a place of change. Old conservatives and the Beat movement clashed. Ferlinghetti’s City Lights bookstore became a hangout for the hipster crowd. One of the group was Allen Ginsberg. Among the paperbacks the bookstore was offering was the self-published Pocket Poets featuring Beat poets. One such copy would bring a great deal of notoriety to Ferlinghetti, City Lights, Ginsberg, and the First Amendment.

The Howl and other Poems was the centerpiece of a San Francisco obscenity trial in 1957. Ferlinghetti, as the publisher, was arrested. The trial, although it seems incredible that poetry would be censored in America of all places, would become a fantastic victory for free speech. It could have easily gone the other way. Judge Horn was a Sunday school teacher who sentenced five shoplifters to watch the movie The Ten Commandments and write the lesson they learned about stealing. He would hardly be a choice judge for the defense that chose trial without a jury. The parts of the expert testimony and questioning are included in the book as well as a tremendous amount of documentation, background information, and interviews after the fact. The trial played out more like a trial about free speech than against Ferlinghetti. Neither Ferlinghetti nor Ginsberg testified.

The authors Ronald K. L. Collins and David Skover both are experts qualified to dissect the case. Collins is the co-director of the History Book Festival. He was the Harold S. Shefelman Scholar at the University of Washington School of Law, and from 2002 to 2009, a scholar at the Newseum’s First Amendment Center. Skover is the Fredric C. Tausend Professor of Law at the Seattle University School of Law. He teaches, writes, and lectures in the fields of federal constitutional law, federal courts, free speech & the internet, and mass communications theory.

The trial, however, did not end the case. The judge did a commendable job of separating his personal beliefs from case law, and although the book was allowed, reading it on air became another fight. The use of some language is not permissible by the FCC. That fight is ongoing. WBIA (New York) wanted to air The Howl for the fiftieth anniversary of the San Francisco decision. The station backed down fearing a four million dollar fine. It posted the poem on its web page instead. The poem was, however, aired in the 1950s on public radio without any backlash. This book reminds the reader that poetry, and speech in general, can still be regulated in a free country and it is still something that is feared by society and governments. Poetry remains a social force and a weapon that some would like to see banished if it does not conform to their beliefs. Poets still stand up and speak; Publishers, like Ferlinghetti, will still publish. Resist.


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Book Review — Enemy of the Human Race

Enemy of the Human Race by Henry Balogun

Balogun’s voice rings out like a southern Evangelical preacher on a fifty thousand watt radio station. Hate grows when fears, false history, racial superiority, and messages go unchallenged. Hate expands when leaders use these fears as a form of populism and capitalize on amplifying the same hatred. Lies are repeated so many times without shame that they are accepted as truth. Even religion is not spared in Balogun’s fiery and fact-filled presentation. Enemy of the Human Race is a book that cuts deep into the problem of hate and its methods. It does more than describe the problem; it presents a cure.

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Poetry Review — The Beatin’ Path: A Lyrical Guide to Lucid Evolution

Image result for the beatin' path lane

The Beatin’ Path: A Lyrical Guide to Lucid Evolution by John B Lane is part poetry, part fable, and part science blended together to create something different and stimulating. Lane is an award-winning author and instructional designer, as well as a pioneer in online learning. He began his professional career as a journalist and has written for numerous publications, including The Washington Post and Huffington Post.

The first thing one notices when paging through The Beatin’ Path is the ink and illustrations. The pen and ink drawings or renderings of old photos from another century populate the pages of the book. The ink differs from most books. It shines and reflects light at the reader almost like a decal. These first notices set the stage for the reader that he or she will be in for something very different.

From short statements to poems of several pages in length, Lane takes the reader on a journey and an examination of the world. Mixed in with the science of life and the universe, is a little baseball which seems to fit perfectly into the work. Some of it is our views and beliefs against reality. The sun didn’t care that the Greeks thought it orbited the earth, or what the Catholic Church thought, or even what Galileo thought it did what it did undisturbed for the last four and a half billion years. Nature may abhor a vacuum, but it loves disproving a doctrine. That is why we are here we are the examiners and the thinkers. Did superstition conquer polio or land man on the moon?

Being thinkers, we can also create “lies” when nature does not align with our views or when we simply cannot understand why things happen. Our lucid evolution is using our mind to find the truths around us and examine our environment. Yet, sometimes we decide to do the opposite, and there are plenty of examples from flat earthers to snake handling preachers. At times it seems our beliefs are smarter than we are:

“All I can say is that my trust remains
in the Lord.” said the convicted fraud
on his way out of the courthouse.

When asked for a comment, the
Lord remained silent.
~ Scrutable

Lane presents the reader a thoughtful and insightful look at what it is to be human, a thinking and reasoning animal, and the achievements of the mind in science and the falterings when reason is abandoned. The writing captures the reader’s imagination and is inspirational in the most real sense. It is up to the reader to find his way off the beatin’ path (which, however, is a very nice play on words) and to investigate and question. I do appreciate the mention of my hometown even with its sullen sunsets and the final poem, “Manifesto,” is an elegant summation of everything   The Beatin’ Path is a marvelous mixture of all things that are an enlightened life.

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