Undercurrent Blues Has A Rhythm of Its Own - Poetry Book Review
On July 17, 2005 Cahuenga Press released Undercurrent Blues by James Cushing (Cahuenga is a cooperative press and Undercurrent Blues is the 14th book they have published since their inception in 1989). The collection includes poems written from 1989 through 1991 and 1997 through 2002. If you're like me, you immediately ask where 1992 through 1996 went. Mr. Cushing explains the skip in time in his Author's Note at the beginning of the book. Basically, the poetry included reflects the first 25 years of his writing life.
In Undercurrent Blues, The poems from 1989 through 1991 are from Mr. Cushing's first book, You and the Night and the Music published by Cahuenga Press in 1991. The titles and poems are inspired by 20th Century American songs that have become jazz standards. In Fly Me to the Moon Mr. Cushing's lyrical style matches the desire for transport in that old standard but he offers us a deeper yearning in his stanzas.
We picked roles (insomniac shepherd, complaining nymph) from
a basket of fruit. Orisons rise from every third house, a glow like
a broadcast ending, and we wanted this, to live near the sun, that
constant burnt offering.
His poetry from 1997 through 2002 is a reaction to the death of both parents and the end of his second marriage - to put it in the author's words "darker stimulation". In spite of the dark stimulation, these poems have a sly sense of humor, an acceptance of life's slings and arrows. Of these, The Turn of April shows the author's recovering hope:
I think we are moving, slowly and patiently,
within a great walled garden along an eastern path,
and I think I can assume we keep walking, lightly
and with kindness, until the garden ends, and we fall off the edge
where the next dream begins in a rush of kisses and cameras.
Undercurrent Blues by James Cushing asserts that music shapes us but also encourages the reader to play with its rhythms in order to fully incorporate its influence on our psyche. In the second half of the book, Mr. Cushing acknowledges the darker moments of life but offers hope and a bit of a lesson in maintaining one's sense of humor.
Sanora is a co-creator and founder of www.LAwritersgroup.com">http://www.LAwritersgroup.com. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from North Dakota State University. From 1995-2001, she studied under Cathy Colman ("Borrowed Dress") in her Unleash the Writer Within workshops and was included in her Master Poetry Class in 1996 and 1997. In April 1997 she won a Poetry Reading contest sponsored by Borders. In 2000 she studied under Ron Koertge ("Making Love to Roget's Wife") in Pasadena. She was one of several featured poets at scheduled readings at Midnight Special Book Store in Santa Monica, The Rose Café in Venice, CA and Projectile Poetry. She has taken part in several open mike readings in the Los Angeles area and believes poetry is meant to be spoken as well as read. Two of her poems, Elegy and Untouchable, appeared in the 20th edition of Wordwrights! magazine. Sanora is currently working on her Master of Professional Writing degree at the University of Southern California.
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The winners are:
Fiction: Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing
Nonfiction: Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
Poetry: Frank Bidart, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016
Young People's Literature: Robin Benway, Far from the Tree
Annie Proulx received the Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters.
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The Observer is the sister newspaper to the better known British newspaper, The Guardian. The Observer publishes on Sundays, The Guardian publishes on all other days of the week. Both newspapers combine their content into theguardian.com website.
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Howard Jacobson in the Guardian asks how many of us still read a book in bed?