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.
Denis Johnson, the award-winning fiction writer, poet, and playwright whose best-known and most influential work, the story collection Jesus' Son, turned 25 this year, has died. He was 67. The cause of his death has not been disclosed.
Jean Fritz, an award-winning writer whose work helped transform historical biographies for children from leaden recitals of battles and dates into warm, human narratives full of quirks and crotchets and satisfyingly strange facts, died on Sunday at her home in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. She was 101.
The author of more than four dozen books, Mrs. Fritz was known in particular for her biographies of many of the signal figures of 18th- and 19th-century American history.
America's libraries got a major boost this week on Capitol Hill as a group of leading publishing, information, software, and other businesses unveiled an organized effort to advocate for federal library funding. The move comes in response to the Trump administration's proposal to eliminate virtually all federal library funding, and the agency that distributes those funds to all 50 states.
Margarita Engle has been named the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. Awarded every two years, the $25,000 laureate title is given to a living writer in recognition of a career devoted to writing exceptional poetry for young readers. The laureate advises the Poetry Foundation on matters relating to young people's literature.
Suite Française, adapted from the bestselling book by Irene Nemirovsky will premiere on the Lifetime network May 22.
Represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, Book Passage--with stores in Corte Madera, Sausalito and San Francisco, Calif.--and co-owner Bill Petrocelli have filed suit against a state law that, the plaintiffs say, "will make it extremely risky, if not impossible, for stores to sell autographed books or host author events."
Petrocelli said that the law's "expensive mandates--with voluminous reporting requirements and draconian penalties--create a nightmare for independent booksellers that thrive on author events and book signings. Consumers will also suffer. The tradition of author events at bookstores, with opportunities for direct interaction between writers and readers, will be shattered. The cost of record-keeping and major liability threaten to make book signings impossible, and stores such as mine do not want to engage in the massive intrusion on customer privacy that is mandated by the law's reporting rules."
Several publishers and authors organizations have officially joined the many book world people criticizing Amazon's new policy allowing third-party booksellers to "bid" for the primary spot in buy buttons.
A statement from the Authors Guild called the move "deeply disturbing" and said it "has the potential to decimate authors' and publishers' earnings from many books, especially backlist books." It noted, too, that the policy might be connected with Amazon's desire to force publishers to use its print-on-demand services, if POD availability will essentially guarantee a top spot on buy buttons. Such an arrangement, the Guild wrote, "looks an awful lot like a 'tying' arrangement under the antitrust law."
The statement concluded: "Amazon has already done enough damage in the book industry. It has devalued books by setting the price and consumer expectations for e-books and hard copy books artificially low, even taking a loss to do so. And it extracts an unreasonable fee from the sale of any book through its site, as compared to the services it provides, and charges extra for things it calls 'marketing services,' such as making a book discoverable on its site. Amazon gets away with this because it has monopoly and monopsony power over the retail book industry. Without a fair and open publishing marketplace, publishers will soon lose the ability to invest in the books that advance our knowledge and culture."
A new program from Amazon is drawing a range of reactions from those across the publishing industry, from fear to downright anger. The e-tailer has started allowing third-party book re-sellers to "win" buy buttons on book pages. The program, publishers, agents, and authors allege, is discouraging customers from buying new books, negatively affecting sales and revenue.
Once every 10 years Granta issues a special issue focused on new American fiction, "showcasing the young novelists deemed to be the best of their generation--writers of remarkable achievement and promise, still in their twenties and thirties."
It's Best of Young American Novelists of 2017 list includes "21 outstanding writers who capture the preoccupations of modern America." The authors are: Jesse Ball, Halle Butler, Emma Cline, Joshua Cohen, Mark Doten, Jen George, Rachel B Glaser, Lauren Groff, Yaa Gyasi, Garth Risk Hallberg, Greg Jackson, Sana Krasikov, Catherine Lacey, Ben Lerner, Karan Mahajan, Anthony Marra, Dinaw Mengestu, Ottessa Moshfegh, Chinelo Okparanta, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Claire Vaye Watkins.
Robert M. Pirsig, author of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values, died yesterday at age 88.
First published in 1974 by William Morrow, the book was a spectacularly popular philosophy book that was loosely autobiographical, tracing a father-son motorcycle trip and flashbacks to a period in which the author was diagnosed as schizophrenic. Its thesis was that quality is the basis of reality, and that this understanding unifies most East Asian and Western thought. Pirsig called this system of thought the Metaphysics of Quality.