Archive for the ‘poetry’ category

The Saturday Book Shop: The Poetry Deal

April 10, 2021

April is National Poetry Month. This is the 25th Anniversary of the Academy of American Poets celebration of the meaningful role poets and poetry play in our culture, our dreams, and our inspirations. It has become the largest literary celebration in the world with readers, writers, publishers, educators, librarians, and anyone who loves the written word uplifting the importance of poetry in helping us see life anew.

I thought I would share a couple of books from a poet I greatly admire: Diane di Prima, a legendary feminist Beat Generation poet and activist. To quote Allen Ginsberg, she was “… a learned humorous bohemian, classically educated and twentieth-century radical, her writing, informed by Buddhist equanimity, is exemplary in imagist, political and mystical modes. A great woman poet in the second half of the American century, she broke barriers of race–class identity, delivered a major body of verse brilliant in it particularity. — Allen Ginsberg”

Pieces of A Song is one of my favorite Diane di Prima books. It contains her Poems from Loba series as well as so many other gems, such as Rant, in which she reminds us in her bold caps refrain:

The Poetry Deal (San Francisco Poet Laureate Series, 7) is a collection of poems and personal reflections on her 40 years in the Bay Area, which became her home after moving to San Francisco from New York in the 1960s.

My ongoing thanks to Rob Brezsny, author of Pronoia: the Antidote to Paranoia—How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You With Blessings for introducing my the poetry of Diane di Prima via his weekly email news and vivid writings.

I’ve also written here about favorite Mary Oliver poetry books.

May April be a month of rediscovering your favorite poems, exploring new poets like Morgan Harper Nichols, or jotting down some lines of your own poetry or a brief haiku.

POETRY ALL AROUND

Poetry is an ongoing gift whether you’re reading it, writing it, or being inspired by it. I was delighted to find a list of collage prompts drawn from lines of poetry last month on Instagram, which both helped rekindle my collage joys, and also brought a talented new poet to my attention, Nayyirah Waheed, who has written a book called salt.

“remember,
you were a writer
before
you ever
put
pen to paper.
just because you were not writing
externally.
does not mean you were not writing
internally.”
Nayyirah Waheed

You’ll find poetry I’ve written over the years scattered throughout the posts here on this blog, as well as included in several books published recently, including these titles which are filled with visual poetry in the form of amazing art and fabulous photography. Was thrilled to be a part of both of these books:

Beyond the Surface: Art, Discovery, Healing and Transformation by Chantal e.y. Bethel

Exumas: The Kingdom of Blue by photographer Alessandro Sarno

Here’s to poetic days! Would love to hear about any of your favorite poets or books of poetry or anything else you’re excited about reading.

Thanks for checking in here at The Saturday Book Shop. Hope you have a great weekend with time to read …enjoy and see you back next week!

A book is a present you can open again and again.

The Saturday Book Shop – The Four Winds

March 20, 2021

I haven’t actually been reading much beyond a chapter here and there lately. I’ve been happily working on creating some new art in a creative collage challenge on Instagram the past few weeks. Am enjoying it very much, and will look forward to maybe starting a new novel after that. Here’s the one I have in mind … it’s one you might have heard about as it’s a New York Times bestseller:

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah.


The Four Winds seems eerily prescient in 2021 . . . Its message is galvanizing and hopeful: We are a nation of scrappy survivors. We’ve been in dire straits before; we will be again. Hold your people close.”—The New York Times

“Through one woman’s survival during the harsh and haunting Dust Bowl, master storyteller, Kristin Hannah, reminds us that the human heart and our Earth are as tough, yet as fragile, as a change in the wind.” Delia Owens, author of Where the Crawdads Sing.

Will look forward to reading this soon—the setting and storyline does indeed seem quite timely. In the meantime, have been getting reacquainted with my Devotions poetry book by Mary Oliver (a favorite!), and discovering a new poet named Nayyirah Waheed (author of Salt), whose wonderful writings I was introduced to via the collage challenge (as the prompts this month are based on excerpts from poems). 

Happy Spring Equinox All. 🦋 Would love to hear what you’re reading, or what you’re doing when you’re not! The shift in time and seasons are upon us with a new moon arriving for an emotional reset and fresh new energy … enjoy & Happy Sunday!!🍍

written across the sky digital collage by paula boyd farrington © 2021

The Saturday Book Shop – All Along You Were Blooming

February 20, 2021

The words of Morgan Harper Nichols wrap you in gratitude, in grounded open empathy, in beauty, in heart song — and especially in hope.



All Along You Were Blooming: Thoughts for Boundless Living by Morgan Harper Nichols is one of those books you can pick up at any time of day, read a few pages, and come away with a perspective polished up with grace. As beautifully illustrated as it is written, these poems shine light through the bumps, the worries, the hard unknowns, the shadows, the joys & Love—as if her hand unfurled a prayer through the pages.

An artist, poet, and musician, Morgan Harper Nichols’ work touches the weary, the wisdom, and wonder of life. Her compassion and kindness beams through in her writings and art, and she quickly grew a devoted audience on Instagram. This book is a blessing. And Nichols has a new book, How Far You Have Come, slated for release in Spring 2021. 

Morgan Harper Nichols has also just launched a phone app called Storyteller, that delivers daily messages of encouragement alongside beautiful original art. Enjoy the inspired talents of this extraordinary bestselling young author and artist. ❤️

 

The Saturday Book Shop – The Snail with the Right Heart

February 13, 2021

Most book stores do not have a section labelled “Simply Enchanting”, but they ought to, and this book definitely falls into that category of undefinable magic (mixed with true science) that will no doubt make it a contemporary classic for young readers—and everyone young at heart too.

The Snail with the Right Heart: A True Story by Maria Popova with illustrations by Ping Zhu is a children’s book that holds a fascinating story with down-to-earth wisdom alongside soaring wonder of the ages within its covers. (And if you’re a book printing/design geek like me, you’ll notice that not only the stunning pages, but even the end papers of the covers are delicately and brilliantly illustrated. The tiny details of book production, along with the inner workings of tiny gliding snails zing me.) Three years in the making, the book is quite timely, especially in these times:

“A love story, a time story, an invitation not to mistake difference for defect and to welcome, across the accordion scales of time and space, diversity as nature’s wellspring of resilience and beauty.” – Maria Popova

Maria Popova’s name is familiar if you’re a reader of her fabulous BrainPickings site where she mesmerizes us all with her passionate and poetic writings about all things books, art, design, poetry, music, marvels, philosophy: LIFE.

Popova is after my own heart here when she describes so wonderfully what I have long felt about the best of children’s books:

“Great children’s books move young hearts, yes, but they also move the great common heart that beats in the chest of humanity by articulating in the language of children, which is the language of simplicity and absolute sincerity, the elemental truths of being: what it means to love, what it means to be mortal, what it means to live with our fragilities and our frissons. As such, children’s books are miniature works of philosophy, works of wonder and wonderment that bypass our ordinary resistances and our cerebral modes of understanding, entering the backdoor of consciousness with their soft, surefooted gait to remind us who and what we are.” – Maria Popova

There’s more to Popova’s behind-the-scenes about writing this gem, as well as more photos of the gorgeous inside pages of the book here.

And while we’re on the subject of snails, and because it’s the day before Valentine’s, I’ll leave you with a little poem I wrote back in 2014 about embracing the spirit of snails and all they can teach us about unexpected blessings of perspective, whether we’re in full tilt hummingbird-heartbeat doings mode or embracing the reminders of slow and steady rhythms of just being that come our way … Happy Heart Day All! ❤️❤️❤️

OF SNAILS AND TRAILS
by Paula Boyd Farrington

 

I read about Totem Animals
whose essence shows The Way
The article said if you don’t know yours,
Be aware: it will somehow speak to you; show up during your day
 
And there you were
when I went out to the car
In plain view—a darling little snail
On the rear view mirror: driver’s side
 
Oh no, I groan …
I don’t want my totem to be a SNAIL!
Sluggish. Slow. Escargot.
No, thank you. No. Just … no.
 
But there you are again
In the evening dusk
climbing outside the kitchen window,
seemingly everywhere I look.
 
Oh my. Not what I wanted to see.
Why couldn’t I have glimpsed a National Geographic Gazelle?
A Lion. A Jaguar. A Hawk. A Flamingo!
Something powerful or exotic. Oh hell.
 
But there you are.
Carrying your likeness of a gratitude symbol
upon your mandala of a spiral shell,
your home right with you, wherever you may dwell.
 
Let me look closer, your antennae sweeping out
Stretching forward, inquisitively sensing the air
I watch you quietly know where you’re going,
on your own glossy path, climbing here and there.
 
Let me rethink this tiny powerhouse of Now
to warm to What Is
seeing anew the natural grace
In everything that lives.
 
This little snail is more than cute,
It fulfills an important role
Recycles organic matter,
Strong and steady it goes and goes.
 
And your giant ocean cousin?
All pink lipped with curvy shell,
known as an aphrodisiac,
her majesty feeds the islands well.
 
Named the Queen Conch.
She sometimes sports a pearl.
A royal snail in aqua seas
Classic beauty, a crown of whorls.
 
So can I embrace this totem tale?
As a celebration of gentler slower trails?
Of gliding along smoothly through time & tide?
The heart’s humble wisdom says: oh, snail—be mine! ❤️
Paula Boyd Farrington ©2014Oh! And one last time-oriented p.s. … I had the pleasure of getting to create the art for the cover of this Exumas: The Kingdom of Blue coffee table book (and wrote a poem inside about my first flight to Exuma!). The book is filled with gorgeous photos by Alessandro Sarno, holding a reverent gaze on life in this beautiful chain of islands surrounded by some of the most stunning clear ocean waters anywhere. It’s perfect for anyone who loves The Bahamas or whose heart wants to visit. The publisher is offering a 20% discount through Valentine’s Weekend. Link to the site is here.

 

Enjoy & see you back next week at The Saturday Book Shop!

 

The Saturday Book Shop – How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?

February 7, 2021

February is Black History Month—a nationally recognized celebration that asks all Americans to reflect on accomplishments, contributions, and the significant roles African Americans have played in U.S. history. This book, How Long ’til Black Future Month by award-winning bestselling author, N.K. Jemisin, asks compelling questions, weaving personal histories and vivid future speculations throughout her first collection of short stories. This contemporary science fiction is told with deftly bold imagination: thought-provoking + mind-and-heart-expanding.

  

From the back cover blurb:

“One of the most exiting and original new voices in modern fiction. N.K. Jemisin’s work has been described as “intricate and extraordinary” (New York Times) “astounding” (NPR Books) and “break[ing] uncharted ground” (Library Journal). The first writer in history to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel three years in a row, Jemisin equally challenges and delights in her first collection of short fiction with narratives of destruction, rebirth, and redemption. How Long ’til Black Future Month offers the perfect introduction to one of the most important writers of her generation.”

Black Imagination, curated by Natasha Marin, is a diverse sample of black voices, as noted on the fly leaf:

” … This dynamic collection of Black voices works like an incantation of origin, healing, and imagination. Born from a series of conceptual art exhibitions, the perspectives gathered here are nowhere near monochromatic. Each insists on their own variance and challenges every reader to witness for themselves that Black Lives (and Imaginations) Matter.”

• CLICK HERE FOR OPRAH’S LIST OF 125 BLACK-OWNED BOOKSTORES IN AMERICA THAT AMPLIFY THE BEST IN LITERATURE.

• FOR MORE BOOKS ABOUT BLACK HISTORY,  CLICK HERE FOR A LIST OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND SELECTIONS FROM THE ICONIC INDEPENDENT NYC STRAND BOOK STORE.

• THERE’S ALSO A WONDERFUL Bravery Magazine LIST OF BOOKS THAT INSPIRE BRAVERY: BLACK HISTORY BOOKS FOR KIDS HERE.

And a reminder to check out Elizabeth Gilbert’s year-round Onward Book Club devoted to spotlighting, studying, and celebrating the work of Black female authors at the link here.

See you next week at The Saturday Book Shop …

  

 

The Saturday Book Shop – The Lost Spells

January 30, 2021

Just one exquisite little book today: The Lost Spells by Robert Macfarlane and illustrated by Jackie Morris.

The simple majesty of this book gently opens your heart with quietly elegant poetry, rhyme, and riveting watercolors—an artful honoring of the natural world that is truly spellbinding in its sense of wonder.

I am admittedly writing this while still in the thrall of getting to stand in the glow of the recent Full Wolf Moon. Bathing in the moonbeams of the moment is akin to the celebration of language and devoted images attentively rendered here. I adore how the pages lift the spirit to the stars while keeping your feet firmly planted in the earth’s exceptional and softly soaring beauty and magic. An excerpt from the Introduction:

” … Loss is the tune of our age, hard to miss and hard to bear. Creatures, places and words disappear, day after day, year on year. But there has always been singing in dark times—and wonder is needed now more than ever. ‘To enchant’ means both to make magic and to sing out. So let these spells ring far and wide; speak their words and seek their art, let the wild world into your eyes, your voice, your heart.”

The Lost Spells is a “little sister” to 2017’s The Lost Words — another treasure by the same author and illustrator. There’s a delightful video interview with the author here (thanks to the fabulous Waterstones in London). In the video you can glimpse some of the amazing illustrations and hear select readings by Robert Macfarlane along with his thoughts and backstory in creating these inspiring works.

Thank you for visiting The Saturday Book Shop. So wonderful to get to share enthusiasms for books here (or in the comments if you wish).

AND A REMINDER OF OTHER WONDERFUL PLACES WHERE BOOKS ARE CELEBRATED

I am especially fond of the marvelously thoughtful Brain Pickings by Maria Popova, Austin Kleon’s brilliant and eclectic weekly newsletter and blog, and Elizabeth Gilbert’s new Onward book club as sources of sharing a wide wealth of writings and books. Well worth being on their mailing lists.

That’s it for now, other than a plea to support local independent booksellers whenever you can—these intrepid entrepreneurs have made the publishing world go round for a long long time and are essential nooks of civilization and creative caffeine everywhere!

Here’s to all the writers and artists and wonder-seekers who creatively lose themselves in the zone of conjuring natural-found joy and magic through their reverent gazes.

The Saturday Book Shop – Trees, Glorious Trees

January 24, 2021

Welcome back to The Saturday Book Shop (which originally started here.).

The ongoing and everyday marvel of trees is on my mind this week. Books and trees. Trees and books. They are intertwined and connected at their very essence. We leaf through stories, ideas, adventures, wisdom, poetry, insights, and shared written human experiences thanks to pages made (mostly) from trees. 

I have long been enchanted by trees. And books. So many. Highly recommend these books for fellow tree lovers:

 This beautiful coffee table book, Wise Trees by Diane Cook and Len Jenshel, with gorgeous photography and writing, tells tales of 50 of the most historic and inspiring trees around the world. Wonderful to learn there is a tree that still stands on the site where the Magna Carta was signed, as well as learning where the phrase “knock on wood” originally came from. So many moving, uplifting, and poignant stories told here through the living spirits of wise old trees.

Another favorite story, beautifully written and illustrated is about Wangari Maathai: The Woman Who Planted Millions of Trees

Wangari Maathai’s story is an amazing portrait in courage, dedication, and commitment, where the simple act of planting trees sparked resistance and equal determination to reclaim the environment of her beloved Kenya. Her determination led to a movement of peace, reconciliation, and healing that lights the way for all of us going forward into this time of looking for common ground and changing the world one loving, earth-friendly tree-loving act at a time. This inspiring book soars with light and life and spectacular illustrations.

AND HOORAY for the new books soon available by Amanda Gorman, the young poet and self-described bookworm that wow-ed everyone at the Inauguration. Such heart and talent. Brava for her work and books that will be available in 2021


 

“… there is always light, if only we’re brave enough to see it; if only we’re brave enough to be it.” – Amanda Gorman

 Happy Reading and have an especially lovely tree-appreciating week ahead! Please feel free to share any special favorite book titles about trees in the comments!

The Saturday Book Shop: December 19, 2020

December 19, 2020

Welcome back to The Saturday Book Shop.

I’m sharing three books today that sort of sum up the moment here in the midst of the holidays, the pandemic, and looking forward with hope and faith toward 2021, even though we still have quite a ways to go.

Almost Everything: Notes on Hope by Anne Lamotte is just the right blend of funny-meets-unflinching faith that I’ve seen described as capturing “life’s imperfect moments perfectly”. She is also the author of so many favorite titles, including the classic Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, which is all the title implies and more. Love it, and have happily followed her writings long time.

Keep Going by Austin Kleon is a gem of a book by a “writer who draws”. It’s full of creative inspiration and reminder-smiles that do literally help keep you going, come what may. He has an excellent newsletter and eclectic fun blog you can sign up for too.  All of his books rock with  wisdom and wit and big riffs of delight.

And finally, Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver. I am grateful to have many many poetry books. Love them all. Especially this one. Mary Oliver and all of her quietly elegant words—which uplift the everyday well spring of nature and life with such a notice-everything-and-tell-about-it open heart—are all time favorites, to be sure. When I was pulling this book off the shelf to snap this photo, a little postcard I had painted for myself and stuck in the book fluttered out. I’d popped it in opposite this poem … seems especially apropos at the moment:

WHAT GORGEOUS THING

I do not know what gorgeous thing

the bluebird keeps saying,

his voice easing out of his throat,

beak, body into the pink air

of the early morning. I like it

whatever it is. Sometimes

it seems the only thing

in the world that is without

questions that can’t and probably 

never will be answered, the

only thing that is entirely content

with the pink, then clear white

morning, and gratefully, says so.

— by Mary Oliver

Wishing you and yours a Very Happy, Peaceful, Healthy, & Heart-full-of-Love-and-quiet-Joys kinda Holiday season❣️

“A book is a present you can open again and again.”

The Saturday Book Shop

December 12, 2020

Welcome back to The Saturday Bookshop!

This first book I want to show you today is near and dear to my heart because it is by my dear friend and internationally-acclaimed artist, Chantal Bethel. I had the honor of getting to design and handle the graphic layout for Beyond the Surface: Art, Discovery, Healing and Transformation—a coffee table treasure filled with 112 full color pages of her beautiful and powerful paintings, mixed media installations, and sculptures, along with a selection of essays, quotes, and poems by various writers, art historians, curators, artists, and art critics. Born in Haiti, schooled in Belgium, and ultimately finding her home in The Bahamas, Chantal Bethel’s work reflects her complex and multi-layered story. Chantal Bethel’s art continually delves “beyond the surface” connecting pieces of her own life with the fullness of humanity’s tragedies and triumphs. To see a flip-through of the hardcover book, click here. The book is available in Nassau at the National Art Gallery of The Bahamas (NAGB) Mixed Media Gift Shop, or in the U.S. and Canada by writing to me here.

NEXT UP IS A GREAT READ & NEW CHRISTMAS CLASSIC

Smelling Roses: A Tale of Connection and Transformation is a debut novel by another dear friend and celebrated multi-talented painter and mixed media artist, Claudette Dean, who also writes poetry and now: brilliant books as well! I was honored and delighted to get to put together the cover design for this new Christmas classic—a tale of different dimensions of tide and time coming together to channel light during the tumultuous era of the 1960s. Sparkling with wit and mystical wonder, the story is amazingly in synch with today’s changing world and the challenges of trusting the growing waves of love rising against huge opposition. This novel is available via Amazon, or check with Claudette Dean via her website. It’s a Christmas page-turner and heart warmer all at once.

AND SPEAKING OF CHANGING TIMES …

With the votes finally counted and President-elect Joe Biden and VP-Elect Kamala Harris bringing new leadership to the United States, it’s important to remember the work that yet needs to be done and to say: Black Lives STILL Matter. Works by gifted new talent, like the marvelous writer/artist Morgan Harper Nichols, and a dynamic collection of black voices curated by conceptual artist Natasha Marin, share life experience alongside longtime greats, such as the legendary writers Maya Angelou and Toni Morrison. And I’m enjoying President Barack Obama‘s memoir so much. Those of you reading this who’ve known me for any length of time know how enthusiastically I campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012. Reading A Promised Land reminds me of his intelligence, cool head, solid strength, and passion for a fair playing field that he brought to bear—all while rebuilding a crashed economy into a thriving one while battling unprecedented political obstruction. I’m cheering now for the election of Senate candidates Jon Ossoff and Rev. Raphael Warnock in Georgia. Even a very small donation to their campaigns at this moment would be a huge gift to a smoother path toward helping us all build back better. Here are links to the titles pictured above:

All Along You Were Blooming by Morgan Harper Nichols

Black Imagination curated by Natasha Marin

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry

A Promised Land by Barack Obama

..AND A BIG GRATEFUL SHOUT OUT to my longtime dear friend and bookshop connoisseur and mentor, Vanessa Hammill, who specializes in designing books about the history of her family’s native North Carolina, while also handling special orders and classroom recommendations for teachers and professional groups. She has a wide depth of book knowledge about all sorts of books, and first introduced me to classic children’s books, way before my now-just-graduated-from-college-daughter was born. These classics were well-worn with happy repeated readings. I dusted them off here from the storage box of childhood keepsakes. Well worn and well loved. Such wisdom in children’s books. And I am especially enchanted with the vibrant and joyful art and illustrations of Eric Carle, Lois Ehlert, and Ashley Bryan.

… well, I see the clock has just ticked past midnight as I type this, so here’s hoping you’ll enjoy this chapter of The Saturday Bookshop even if you’re not seeing it until Sunday morning! I forgot how long it sometimes takes to link things up on blogs! (smiles) The wonderfully self-fluent writer Havi Brooks says “All timing is right timing.”  I love that. And I’m very much enjoying sharing about my love of books here, and it would be wonderful to hear what you’re reading, or looking forward to reading, or any longtime book favorites. See you next week & happy reading!

“Books are a present you can open again and again.” 

Yellow Butterfly of JOY, I Salute You

December 31, 2012

Yellow Butterfly of JOY

 

Yellow Butterfly of JOY, I Salute You

You dance through the wild blue skies

where sunshine floats

asking nothing more than to be noticed

your vivid essence of daffodils, golden butter, and dappled dawns

flits across my radar screen

and the world stills

as I embrace the wonder of you

aflutter, holding you deeply in my heart

a sunlit reminder of the serendipity

and lightness of being that flows freely

as we gather the nectar of flowers

timeless and fleeting all at once

Wings of YES

Wings of Ooh

Wings of Love

Wings of Praise

Gratitude & Grace

Dazzling Days

– Paula Boyd Farrington · 12/31/2012

Happy New Year All!


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