Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Jet Li's Fearless: To Know Your Enemy

  Years ago I happened to catch some of a movie when my dad had it on. I had no idea what it was called, and when I later inquired, he could not remember. Only by accident, when looking for a movie by the same title, did I recently discover what it was called--Fearless. And needless to say I watched it.

jet li's fearless

    I appreciated it so much more than I even expected. It wasn't just another martial arts movie, with superb choreography, and that atmosphere of the culture that I have always loved. Though a popular theme in eastern storytelling, (and even elsewhere, but I have noticed it especially in eastern tales) this story carried itself well, with strength. It actually surprised me. It wasn't what I thought it was going to be.

  It was the true story of a man who realizes the cost of his own arrogance and recklessness. How much he had been his own enemy, and the cost of his sins and arrogance is the cruel loss of those he loved most--a direct consequence of his own failure to see the truth about himself. It took Moon, a sweet blind woman, to show him how to see.

  Huo Yuanjia is a young boy that his father won't teach, and grows up to know why. Despite this he grows into a formidable fighter, but with no real understanding of what a true warrior is. His arrogance and lack of responsibility lead him to reckless spending, gathering of "apprentices" that his true friend points our are little more than freeloaders. In his blindness Huo disregards the wise advice of his childhood friend and continues in his ways until his conceit leads him to disrespect and challenge a local enemy for beating his apprentice, when he wasn't even in possession of all the facts, (Something his enemy pointed out, who, at the moment, was showing greater courtesy), and loses the respect of his one true friend.
jet li's fearless
He ends up killing his enemy. And the cost for his reckless haste and conceit is his own family. Most notably, his little, precious girl. Without hesitation he takes quick reckoning for that, but even in so doing, it all catches up with him. He sees the worthless dog he is. And he flees from everything he knows, everything he is.

jet li's fearless
  When Huo Yuanjia comes back to awareness, he is in a place of peace, in the healing care of an elderly woman and her granddaughter, Moon. It is their kindness, mostly Moon's, that bring Huo to who he was really meant to be. Moon shows him how to see; her, a blind woman full of understanding and kindness. She shows him what kind of man Huo wants to be--a true warrior--and he spends the rest of his life trying to share that vision. He goes to those he has wronged, and pays his respects, destroys the reminder of his past victories, and becomes the new man--the one with a truth and example to share. It brings on a new chapter of his life, and his childhood friend back to his side. Together they create a school, Jin Wu Sports Federation--a real place, as this is based on the true story. Something for me to further study.

  But the wolves of money have it out for him, and while he knows that they have challenged him to a fight with their own champion only to accomplish something shady, he takes up their challenge in the desire to once again show people what he stands for. What it truly means to fight well--to show yourself for who you are. It is his honesty and true courtesy and wisdom that makes his final opponent respect him, and they prove both of themselves in their duel--both never backing down, even though Huo knows he's been poisoned.

jet li's fearless
  And this is how Huo finally proves himself. He finishes the fight, the challenge, even though he is spitting poison from his gut and every blow is breaking him down. This is his fearlessness--fearless in the face of death, and in the face of those who would hold wrongful gain higher than the merit of a honorable fight.

  He shows the world who he is and reveals the moneymakers as the dogs they are. He dies with a smile. He knows that he has died honorably. He could ask for no better legacy, this holding up of all he now stands for.

  This is a movie I would love to have on my shelf. The stories of real warriors are always stories that are needed. And I am blessed in that Huo Yuanjia was a real person. I can go and learn more of his real legacy, living still today. This story came full circle--the vices that made him into a wrong warrior, and the enlightenment and cost that forged the new one--one he fought for, and became and defended. The sort of man that enabled him to die with a smile on his face.


Thursday, April 17, 2014

The Measure of a Man: Captain America The Winter Solider

  I just enjoyed myself immensely, going to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It as absolutely worth the trip to the theater (which is always fun anyway). It was good, just sitting there enjoying a really good story, both well told and well portrayed through excellent performances and good, fresh cinematography.

steve rogers
  Going home, I wondered what exactly made it so great. That it was great, I had no doubt. I don't just like a movie for no reason. Then I realized it was because over all, the story was a test of Steve Rogers' faithfulness to who he is, what he believes in. He has come from a time that tested who he was, and to a point even made him--then he was asleep for 70 years only to get dropped in another time with further issues, some which aren't all that different. His life has been a roller coaster of things constantly challenging him. And here, there is yet again plenty to challenge who he is and what he believes to be right, through a mix of them that aren't all clear cut obstacles, good or bad--some come in the form of a friend. Or would be friend. Or used to be friend.

  An article that I read over at Confessions of a INTP made a very good point--hitting on a subconscious comparison even I had--likening Captain America to King David. Someone who had been a strong person with small things, who knew the value of having strength so as to do even greater good. I would greatly suggest you read the post Charity of Confessions of a INTP wrote on Captain America. It is greatly worth the read, hitting some points that I won't address as much in this review.

stever rogers and black widow
  In the beginning Steve is forging new friendships, friendships that will strengthen over the course of the story. What I really like is that it starts simply, a normal morning with a dude being outrun by another seemingly super-human dude with a sense of humor--yes, that being Steve Rogers. I liked how we were just eased into his story. It felt natural and easy-going, we were just back in the Marvel universe with one of our favorite buds.
steve rogers and nick fury pics  After a questionable mission Steve Rogers doesn't know if he can support everything Nick Fury stands for--not sure if he can stand with him. Shield has moved into something centralized around fear, not respect--but as Nick Fury puts it, they take the world as it is, not what they want it to be--and respond. I can understand them both at the same time. What Steve doesn't know is that Fury has his own doubts. And that before long, he will be doing what he can to help him. Steve recognizes the soldier in Fury, someone who fights, and dies for what he believes in.What do you do when someone you're not sure about shows you something about them that you know to be honorable and worthy?

bucky winter soldier
This sends Steve on the road to finding the truth about everything. And it also leads him to learn the true identity about the mysterious, fatal Winter Soldier. It's Bucky--his best friend, whom he thought had fallen to his death, leaving him with the burden of knowing he couldn't save him. Can he turn against his friend? Even now, now that he's changed almost beyond recognition, not even remembering who he was? This, I think, is the biggest challenge that Steve has--whether or not he will betray who his friend was. We would not judge him if he did--the Winter Soldier poses such a terrible threat to everyone, to what they're trying to accomplish. But it is because of Steve's resolve to continue to believe in himself, to not forsake believing that he can make his friend remember who HE is. Because, as he said, "I'm with you until the end of the line." When I saw the flashback scene where Bucky tells this to Steve when he needs it most, I knew it'd would come later at a defining moment in the movie, and I wasn't disappointed. However predictable, I love good lines like this that define a friendship, and I have joy when I see it--what their relationship had stood for--pulling through.

"And I'm with you--to the end of the line."

  Captain America is faithful. He fights for what he believes in, for what loves in his country, and values in those he fights alongside, especially those closest to him. And what is best is that we can believe that he always will, because he has proved it yet again. He has showed others in this story that they can be better, and he has learned from them as well. Those of Shield will have to start anew. But Steve Rogers will always be the same. A good man.

    If you haven't seen the movie yet, go see it. It will be worth it.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

A Desolation In Gold: A Hobbit Review, Part 1

  I held off on my review of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug for good reason, feeling like (not just because I'm a Lotr/Hobbit fan) I had to watch it a few times before I could really pass off a solid opinion. And I'm glad I did, and by this point, I am really ready to share why I love the movie. But, I'm finding out, it will have to be told in more than one part. Here, I will just share what the story meant to me.

  First and foremost, it showed how much the relationship between Bilbo and Thorin has changed, much for the better, if not tried by the end. There is a faith there. A subtle dependence on each other for hope and expectation. Bilbo wants Thorin to have his home back, and Bilbo again and again gives Thorin the chance to keep believing that they will succeed.  In this way, they are holding on for dear life. What is life, if there is not hope? That is what I love most about the movie, this relationship.

  To put it concisely, this story was about having a fighting chance for what you believe in, hope for. Discovering how far you're willing to go--how hard you can hold on. Bilbo and Thorin and the dwarves, we know what the cost is for them.
laketown pics
bard the bowman
But I appreciate that the writers have brought in the hopes of the people of Esgaroth more personally--I feel it more acutely, I feel, than I did in the book.
We get to know Bard and his family enough that I care about them, wish them better than the hardship they have, along with their fellow men. And of course, that is contrasted well by The Master and his sniveling aide. Their very existence makes me think of a  nasty snotty rag filled with sick. These people, the people of Esgaroth, need hope. And the coming of Thorin and his warriors bring them that. Yet Bard knows the cost may be their undoing. He is the unclaimed champion of the people, a true leader--but like many before him, few listen to him.

tauriel and legolas screencap
Another aspect is in the hope of Tauriel, whose creation was subject to much skepticism. My own opinion of her is mixed, as I don't perceive her quite as a captain--she always seemed just to be one of Legolas's men. She didn't give me the impression of someone who was the captain of men. But perhaps in the next movie I will see improvement on that. What I did perceive, and what I loved--was that her great strength is her kindness. Her love of what is good. Not always do we get to see that in a person, their kindness giving them the strength to kill. I appreciated that she impersonated a worldwide concern for the evil growing around them.

tauriel pictures
It did create an interesting addition to the story though, in that she knows Thranduil is cutting their people off from the rest of the world. Her best remembered line, "Since when did we allow evil to become stronger than us?" is well deserved. Her love of what is good and beautiful in the world is what makes her a good character. It is also reflected in her developing love angle with Thorin's nephew, Kili. Many have said that he's the heart throb of the story, but--well. People can have their opinion. I did like what they shared while the dwarves were hostage, the simple sharing of things they held to be beautiful. They both were better than letting cultural differences and old hatreds form their perceptions of individuals. And of course, it was also rife with humor. Amusing to see Legolas get a little jealous over a dwarf that was "admittedly taller than some, but no less ugly". However, I did not really feel that their love story was that strong. Still, that is just my thought. It's something that I can overlook, and I do wonder how it will end in the final course of the story. Tauriel hopes to see good fought for in the world, to see it protected. Kili hopes, as stated later, that she could love him. Still, I find his hope for the fulfillment of the quest more believable.

thranduil desolation of smaug
Contrasting is Thranduil--who, with a supremely creepy performance, made it perfectly plain that he was interested having the white jewels that he counted his to begin with. And he is willing to wait however long is necessary. His performance I couldn't tell at first whether I found it just strange--but then I realized something. He very may well be under the same sickness that ran through Thorin's family. After all, the gems were part of the treasure that made others whose possession it was in'm just saying it would explain a lot, and this theory has me excited to see what will happen next. His character was in equal measure creepy, weird, and interesting. I saw glimpses of the strong leader I expected, along with an intriguing mental aspect to him. 

gandalf desolation of smaug
  Further, the stakes are raised when Gandalf, early in the story discovers what is really behind the Necromancer. And it fully unmasks itself in the end, in a truly climatic, fiery confrontation that I will never forget. Never have I seen Gandalf so out of his depth--and his only hope that Radagast can get word to the High Council in time. Because nothing was as it seemed--they had all been blind. (Not that we who are fans of the book were surprised, but it was filmed with incredible brilliancy). One of my favorite scenes in the entire film.

the dwarves desolation of smaug

  In the story hope within reach is symbolized physically, and dually by getting to the Doors of Durin in time and opened, and the regaining, most importantly, of the Arkenstone--but in striving for that, the dwarves and Bilbo truly waken The Dragon. And what I liked most about this portion of the story was that not only was it a physical threat with a presence that shadowed over everything--it was incredibly psychological like a relentless nightmare. Vain, mental, and almost seductive in his magnificence and smartly woven words, dripping like patronizing venom. Smaug is a true impersonation of the classic serpent--and I will never forget his golden magnificence.

smaug screencap

  Smaug was everything we could have hoped for. And what escalates the story is that Thorin almost sacrifices Bilbo to finally get back what he wants most--it has become an obsession. Everything is turning to madness, leaving us knowing that something truly devastating this way comes.

Until the next part (where I continue to spill my guts)...

~E.C. Shore

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Real Definition: Excellence, and Perfection

excellent writing quote

  I can't say whether or not this is starting off on the right foot or not. Especially as this is the first post of the new blog. But I'll share something that I do know, something I've learned just recently. I've been caught up in this idea that I can find perfection if I just keep working. I'll just keep editing, revising, and changing and editing and revising again until I find myself looking at a story surprisingly different from the one I imagined, and so much more beautiful. Through continuous sweat and reflection I'll find something perfect.

  But what if not? Because I did find myself looking at my work, so completely changed from what it had been a long time ago...but no closer to this supposed idea of perfection that I had assumed I would see? So then I wondered--what if I never found it? What if I have been kidding myself?

  What is the definition of perfection? My idea was a vague one--that I would find myself staring it in the face someday. And perhaps I will find something of that in the end, as my work is far from over. But how can I strive for it, when I have no clear idea what it actually is?

  Then I found myself thinking of the classics, and modern books that I know will one day be classics. They are stories of excellence. I realized, when thinking about different points of them, that not one of them I would call perfect. Many had minor quirks or details that I thought were either silly or underdeveloped. I thought that Tolkien, my favorite author, had a strange way of not filling out enough of some of the characters. I love seeing more in depth storylines. Charles Dickens, in my humble opinion as a reader, sometimes felt like he was trying to show how impressively he could carry on a sentence without sacrificing proper grammar. Still, both are excellent writers, as time has proved. People continue to love what they gave. And I don't see how people won't continue to love them, as time goes on. This only reminded me of how I read how often Tolkien wrote and rewrote--and still he thought further changes should be made. Dickens gave an alternative ending to Great Expectations at one point. And I like both. Did they ever think that any one of their stories was finally perfect? Thinking on that, I found that I doubted it. I believe that they strove to find a truth in themselves, and they shared it. They strove for excellence. They just gave the best of themselves, truths they knew.

  Perhaps this is the truth between perfection and excellence. We can never find perfection until we are perfect--and that is something we will never find for ourselves, because we can't even recognize it. But we continue to strive to be better, to find our own truth--our own excellence. And by our striving, and the truth within ourselves, to share that--we will find excellence in our work. And nothing can be better. The definition of excellence is:

          "The quality of being outstanding or extremely good."

Whereas perfection is:

         "The condition, state, or quality of being free or as free as possible from all flaws or defects.

  So just tell your own truth, I guess--that's the telling of  a good story. I'll keep going, keep learning, and see what I'll end up with. It only seems appropriate that I end this post with the words of those who've gone before us.


 “Cheat your landlord if you can and must, but do not try to shortchange the Muse. It cannot be done. You can’t fake quality any more than you can fake a good meal.”
—William S. Burroughs

 “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”
—George Orwell

 “To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard.”
—Allen Ginsberg, WD

 “We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master.”
—Ernest Hemingway

*Post first published in Beyond the Pages blog, by E.C.S.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

The Art of Collaboration, A Look Into the Work of Two Authors and Their Creation of a Saga

  Hey readers--I just wanted to introduce you to a couple pretty awesome authors I have the privilege of knowing. Marie I met on Authonomy, and immediately fell in love with her writing. Truly epic and believable. Learning later that she and her sister are collaborating on a project called the Thiortha saga. I asked if I could interview them for more info on it, and they agreed. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

Beka and Sarah Marsh
Your current plans are to finish your Thiortha saga, right? How's the progress with that?

Suzanne: Well, we had kind of a breakthrough a week or two ago, and we decided to break the series into two separate story arcs, tentatively titled Bloodlines and Battlelines, though collectively they will be known as The Thiortha Chronicles.  Although Bloodlines occurs first in our timeline, we’re working on the five titles associated with Battlelines at the moment.  This includes Poisoned, Tuned, Cursed, Locked, and Rejected.

Marie: We have decided to go back and start working on our third draft of Poisoned right now. The third draft will fill plot holes and provide some much needed development for the characters in Poisoned. After the third draft, we hope to be sending it to some beta readers, which will begin the process of getting Poisoned published.

What inspired the story?

Suzanne: One day I was going through my iTunes playlist and I found a song that I hadn’t listened to before.  It was “If I Could Cry”, a song from a British production of Sleeping Beauty, and sung by Paul Byrom, one of my favorite soloists.  The song contained such a poignant quality and promised an interesting backstory. Naturally, my imagination kicked in and filled in the rest.  The original result my listening to that song was Cursed, which is now book 3 in our Battlelines series.

Marie: Not to be a copycat, but a song also brought me into this as well. The song was "Midnight Well," performed by Ryan Kelly from Celtic Thunder. Suzanne had been talking to me about her Sleeping Beauty story idea and wanted some advice on other possible fairy tales that could be connected to form a series. When I was listening to "Midnight Well" at work, an idea popped into my head. I listened to the song for the rest of my workday, and all the way home, letting the thought blossom. When I told Suzanne my idea for the story, it became Poisoned, Book 1 of Battlelines.

What stages has your process gone through?

Suzanne: While writing Cursed (then known as The Pearl of Aireland) during my sophomore year of college, I thought, Hey, why can’t I bring in some other fairy tales and make this a series? I remember talking to you about my idea, Elora, and you actually gave me a great idea that became the basis for the magic system in our books today.  My sister Marie became my sounding board and Resident Fairy Tale Expert during this whirlwind process.  Eventually I asked her to just help me write the books, since she was giving me so many good ideas anyway.

Marie: So I went from not wanting to be a writer to writing a book in a month. Quite a shock to one's system, I dare say.
Suzanne: Like she said, we wrote the first draft to Poisoned in approximately 28-29 days. It was a ton of fun, and working with a co-writer was a lot easier than I expected it would be.

Marie: Sometimes--it's nuts--we have the same thought at the same exact time. Then, when we do, we go absolutely berserk. Jump around the house and high fiving each other, exclaiming how brilliant we are...we are quite humble, as you can imagine.

Suzanne: Sometimes I think we scare our family, especially when we talk about killing characters.

Marie: It's funny. Occasionally, when we're walking in the store or something, one of us might say "NO! I don't want to kill [insert random character's name here]! But it has to be done!"...and then one of our parents will give us the weirdest look that says "Who are you wanting to kill?"

Suzanne: No, Mom, we’re not turning into serial killers. Promise.

Who would you say has inspired your writing the most?

Suzanne: I’ve always wanted to be a writer, but didn’t think I would be able to until I was older, you know? Especially since all of my favorite authors at the time (Beverly Cleary, C.S. Lewis, etc.) were all either old or dead.  But with the success of Christopher Paolini’s Eragon (which he published at age 19) came the realization that I could start writing whenever I wanted. So I started my first novel, Darkstar, at age fifteen and finished it at age 18.

Marie: I don't know exactly. There are a lot of fantastic authors out there. Tolkien, Lewis, Rowling, Riordan, Collins, Austen, Paolini, to name a few...I think Suzanne helped me find my desire to tell stories, but other than that, I can't necessarily pinpoint my inspiration to write.

Suzanne: It’s not just “who” that inspired our writing, but “what”. We’re big fans of the groups Celtic Thunder and Celtic Woman, which inspired a lot of the Celtic/Gaelic influence in our stories.  BBC’s Merlin and ABC’s Once Upon a Time have also been influential, as well as C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, and Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series.
Marie: The novels in the Thíortha Chronicles are all loosely based on fairy tales. Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, the Pied Piper, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Rapunzel, and several more. Suzanne describes it as putting the original fairy tale in a blender and using the product of that. Which is very true. We do have some of the key items or ideas that carry over, like the poisoned apple, or the rose from Beauty and the Beast, but we give it our own interpretation, which is good. Originality is best. And we completely do away with wicked stepmothers: they are rather over used.

A lot of people have a “set up” for when they're about to start writing. The proverbial coffee, a favorite artist, etc. Usually, for me the coffee helps. Preferably a latte. But Starbucks doesn't live on my doorstep unfortunately. What is your preferred set up?

Marie: Well, for me, I like to be secluded in my room and uninterrupted, but I think that is fairly common among writers. I also like to be plugged into my writing playlist while focusing on what I'm trying to get across for the scene I'm working on. Occasionally, though, a song starts to play that you just have to sing and dance to, if you know what I mean.

Suzanne: For me, it’s all about the music.  I listen to a mix of Celtic Thunder, Celtic Woman, Disney soundtracks, Broadway, John Williams (Star Wars, Jurassic Park, etc.), Hans Zimmer (Pirates of the Caribbean), and The Piano Guys.  Occasionally, there’ll be a song that’s simply PERFECT for the scene I’m writing, and it will go on repeat, sometimes for hours.

I do like to have a snack and a drink of some sort when I write, but it’s not necessary for creativity.  I have to have (at least) two hours of uninterrupted time; spending a half hour listening to music and playing a mindless game (like sudoku or solitaire) to “get in the zone” (basically clearing up my horribly cluttered mind).  Then I write like a madwoman for at least an hour. When I’ve finished that scene, I have to just listen to music for another half-hour to slowly zone back into reality.

You have several things in the working, whether or not they're in active work in progress. Do you have any ideas for those? Judging from their descriptions on your website, they sound interesting. The first really grabbed my attention.
When a prince tries to help a mysterious young woman, he unwittingly upsets the long-laid plans of her power-hungry fiancé.
Sounds like a story told from the point of view of the men, instead of the typical “girl in the center of things” fairy tale. Just from this, in my opinion it sounds humorously promising. Looking forward to seeing some of it.

Suzanne: Originally, yes, it started from the man’s point of view, but with that recent breakthrough I mentioned earlier we sort of switched the series around to feature the heroes, heroines, antagonists, and antiheros equally, almost so that you can’t tell which is which.  This new development was intended to make all the characters seem more realistic, instead of their simply playing the part of an assigned role (the villain is always maliciously evil, the hero is always irreproachably moral, etc.).

Marie: I like to think that we're giving the characters more depth…that we're giving the villain a reason to hate the protagonist not just being mindlessly and stupidly evil. We're trying to come up with a reason for everyone's actions, however rational or irrational. Nobody's perfect, and we want to portray that in our characters.
Suzanne: One thing I’m hoping to stray away from in our books is the horrid depiction of women in literature/entertainment today.  The feminists, in an attempt to stray away from meek and mild-mannered pushover female characters, have insisted that we have “strong” women, which creates the nauseating Strong Female Character.  Essentially, this SFC is a male personality in a female body.  We don’t just want our girls to be strong: we want them to be witty, fragile, vain, vengeful, scarred, manipulative, resourceful, vivacious, clever, spoiled, passionate…whatever their story demands. We want them to be real girls who aren’t afraid to pick up a sword or go have a good cry, who love to get in a pretty dress but are willing to get down and dirty if they have to.

Individually, do you two have plans for future writing?

Marie: For my part, probably not. I'm not making any promises though. Who knows what strange thought may pop into my head that is just begging to be written? I will say, we do have plenty of stories--other than the Thíortha Chronicles--that we have plans of writing together.
Suzanne: I would really like to go back and finish my Darkstar trilogy some day, but I might get Marie to help me with that.  Not sure yet.  Also, I have plans to do a set of serial short stories (almost like a TV series, but in book form) set within the Darkstar universe that revolves around a popular woman’s singing group and their orchestra that travels with them.  That’s way off in the future, though.

Where else can we find you?

Marie: You can find us online at the following places:
Our website/blog: (we post every Friday)

Any other news you'd like to share?

Suzanne: Our plan right now to get Poisoned published by October of this year.  We are looking for a cover artist, by the way.

  Thank you so much guys! It was fun, and we have a lot to look forward to. Thanks for taking the time. And expect for me to beg for another interview in the future. Can't wait to see how things progress!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

Expressions of Humanity~Poetry For the Masses

I've got another excellent review for you! Maja Dezulovic, author of The 360 Degree Heart, has released her second collection,  Expressions of Humanity. I was so eager to read it! I had enjoyed The 360 Degree Heart so much, I had great expectations. And I wasn't disappointed.

Maja Dezulovic
Maja Dezulovic, author

  To begin with, I was greatly inspired by the words,

Somebody once told me that human life is cheap. I disagreed at first but I realized his point.   People are cheap because we are an abundant commodity. Atrocities happen all over the world because we no longer value human life.   It is up to each of us as individuals to make an impact and create more out of ourselves than the world may think we are worth.

  And my enjoyment just carried on. I loved the simple and potent truth in He Called to Say His Mother Died. I was impressed by the natural circumstances, the point that things happen in a second and that there is this seeming paradox--someone is gone, that part is missing--but things go on, just the same. That's the momentum of life. It never stops.

I didn't know what to say so I just let out, "I'm so sorry. That's a shame." But before I could finish my condolences, he answered "It's okay. Life goes on. It all carries on just the same..."

expressions of humanity
  Where Did All the Night People Go was a personal favorite, as the thought process in the poem was something I've wondered too. People you see just along the road at night. What happens to them? What is their story? And absolutely everyone, (in my honest opinion) can relate to 25. Reading that, I was immediately nodding, saying "Amen to that! Just the exact words." There will always be expectations when we're young. But we, the young, have our own expectations--and it is better to live (while of course making sure we seek wisdom) and strive for our crazy dreams. It is by those dreams that the world is built.
  25 year old female in Africa  lingered in my thoughts, especially the ending line. I often think about the things people do, the reasons for them, and how desperation and a simple reaction to our own circumstances fuels so much. It paints a drastic, tragic picture. The human race is something that is always passionately in the war to survive, in one way or another, no matter what some may think.

Everyone’s in it for themselves. So is she. 
Whatever work comes through. 
So she can 
Survive today 
And ensure her doomed offspring’s tomorrow.

One that gave me pause was Icon dedicated to Nelson Mandela. He was an amazing person. He did so much good. And when I heard about him occasionally, (he passed on, on Dec 5th last year) it was always with the feeling like I was hearing about someone who had made history, and yet was also in the act of making it still. As if history itself, at that second of hearing his name again, was present.

  A poem that made me think of how I often feel, filled with frustration at my lack of progress (meaning not yet getting out on my own) were the words of Do You Know What It Feels Like?

Do you know?
That feeling of wanting to scream
and shout with all you've got,
throw about everything you see
and trash the place completely, 
because it already looks like rubbish - 
useless items that cannot help you nor feel with you.

What I really appreciated was the insight that followed it. The point. The thing that is always worth remembering.

Followed by growth. 
That's the whole point, isn't it? 
To grow, to love, to understand. 
To write stupid poetry like this, 
asking senseless questions because everybody who reads it will know.

  I LOVED 7 Cents For Your Soul. Plain speaking and honest, it makes a point as to how people often view themselves, as cheap things not worth their own work and endeavors. Their own care.
But man, I really enjoyed Ruby In the Rough. It's so important, when we encounter those people who can see us for who we are, and they give us back the courage to keep going. To make the scales fall from our eyes. It is so very important. And crucial that we remember them.

  In Maja's friendship poems, I appreciated her sharing her personal experiences and relationships. It touched me in a certain way, made me think of the individuality of many of the bonds we have with people. And what they do for us. One of the more memorable statements she made:

Ronnie was there for me at a time when I needed friendship and encouragement.   Her advice led me to wise decisions and handling my life in a better manner.   I once told Ronnie that I was afraid to do something.   Her response was: “What you need is a bottle of guts.”

Amen to that. We all need friends to tell us that.

An excellent example of her poems reflecting the effect of society was Riding the Bullet To Your Brain.

 And you’re stuck with a choice 
Bookless, brainless Barbies 
Who accept everything and laugh in pity and ignorance 
And knowledge snobs 
Who sip wine and flaunt their arrogance.   
Give me my middle class 
My middle class 
So that I can know a little more, and care a little less.

  How good is that? This was my favorite line in the entire poem. It wraps together many of the elements that I see all around, things I think about, sometimes very sorry for--other times just with scorn. The power of society comes from people who will or will not allow themselves to believe things that are real. All of us. We effect our own environment by what we do, what we say--and how hard we're willing to work to find out what is really worthwhile, what is true.

  My last two favorites were the concluding poems, There Are No Words, and Where Am I Going? Harkening back to the themes of youth in 25, these were an excellent choice to end the book. Having addressed so many topics, these leave us with the personal thoughts of what we will make of ourselves. We have this knowledge of things that are good, others that just take away from life--so what will we make of ourselves? What will we do with our time?

  I'm really looking forward to more work from Maja Dezulovic. Her words are never a disappointment. Like with anyone, some poems are better than others, but I didn't finish a book thinking, "Well, that was okay." I finished knowing it was well worth my time.

  ~E. C. Shore

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Eternal Endeavors~More and More and More Books

bookshelf pic
A sample of my bookshelf

  Of course the best way to start of a New Year is to tell yourself all the new books you're going to get read finally. And while this is a more than common refrain, it is nevertheless a good one. And I am going to read everything.

  Ha, hardly. But to cover some classics I have not yet read, and to get some books on my shelf finally read, I am making a goal of reading at least 40 books this year. (And it is also a way of finding out which books actually deserve a spot on my shelf). I think I can do more, but let's try to keep it manageable, shall we. Speaking to myself So this is my current list:

A Tale of Two Cities

Great Expectations (first on my list, really)

The Mystery of Edwin Drood

Paradise Lost

The Lord of the Rings/ The Hobbit (an annual endeavor--my favorites)

The Lucy Montgomery Album

Grimms' Fairy Tales

The Wizard of Oz (five books at least)

The Other Boleyn Girl

The Secret Life of Bees


Uncle Tom's Cabin

Two Thousand Leagues Under the Sea

Many of those on on my shelf, so that should take care of some "unread" space. And I am, of course, expecting many of those to completely earn their spots in my bookcase.

  Now--trying to finish all of Shakespeare's works before the year's end just might be too much. But that's just one of my habits--biting off more than I can chew. I enjoy the challenge. I have to have a challenge or I get incredibly bored incredibly quickly. So. I'm going to have to set the timer to see how long it is before my brain starts melting and draining from my ears. I have yet to actually order the edition of Shakespeare's Works that I want--I have to wait for another shipment to come in. This one (according to the descriptin, has some hitherto unpublished work. So I definitely want it. Hopefully it will be worth my while.
  We'll see though. And for some of  the other things...The Mystery of Edwin Drood, and Great Expectations. Browsing British dramas on Amazon Prime actually introduced me with those--I have obviously heard of Great Expectations, just have never gotten my  hands on it. Both adaptions (speaking from a newbie's point of view) were absolutely enthralling. I enjoyed them so much, and intrigued me to no end. The characters and setting and the whole psychology behind motives/perceptions was incredible. Now I can't wait to read the books. That is the gift of good adaptions--introducing us into something that is definitely worth reading.

  So here's to a new year of reading, finding new stories, and hopefully learning good things along the way. That's the purpose of good writing. May this be a year of inspiration. (And from a writing perspective, I need it).

  ~E. C. Shore