Today’s book review is brought to you by yours truly, Morgen Bailey.
Synopsis: This anthology features the work of 33 talented new writers, representing almost all parts of the globe. Their pieces have been selected from the intercultural, literary showcase The Writer’s Drawer, run by academic editor and writer Beryl Belsky. The stories and poems in the anthology reflect not only literary merit but also the multicultural nature of the website and its contributors. The book is divided into three parts: Short Fiction, Stories from Life and Poetry. The Stories from Life, in particular, provide a fascinating look at the cultural mores and religious rituals of the countries of the writers. The book is an ideal gift for lovers of all genres of writing and for those who enjoy literature from different cultures. Its mix of cultural-specific and universal themes makes it an excellent tool for teachers to use in the classroom, too. Dip into a story or poem before sleep, in a coffee shop or during a trip.
The collection’s index starts with a list of the short fiction then stories from life followed by the poetry, and the latter is what I’m concentrating on today. I will be reviewing the short fiction but at a later date.
The first poem is ‘I Have Been in Love Twice’ by Syed Asad Ali. I’m a big titles fan and the title intrigued me and I wasn’t let down. It’s a consuming poem written in an average of five-line stanzas (verses). Often in creative writing, there are words, terms or phrases unknown to the reader and ‘Well of Zamzam’ was one of those to me. The important thing is the context of it, and this was clear. Poetry should be heartfelt and this certainly sets the tone for the collection.
Single-verse poem ‘Anchorage’ by Amita Chatterji is of another love – not human this time, but of books, although this piece makes them feel human. It is written simply and the end of the poem shows us why. It’s delightful.
Next up is Paige Lederman’s ‘Fear’, my kind of title. A combination of the first two structures; a prose-like poem in a single-verse short-line format, it wasn’t until I read the whole poem that I found out that the author is aged just ten. She should be very proud.
Another single-word title, Wiser, follows. I like writing that asks questions and although poetry often does indirectly, in Khadra Nuh’s poem we have two direct questions asked by the narrator of her- or himself, I suspect the latter given the you’s ‘blouse’. Sets of three work well and here we have ‘roughened’, ‘toughened’ and ‘life-softened’.
I’m foremost a prose writer / reader and admit that some poetry baffles me and Muli Peleg’s poem ‘Revelation’, started with promise but unfortunately lost me towards the end. It’s beautifully written but it’s a translation (from Hebrew) so I wonder whether it lost me because of this… or because of myself, rather than the writer.
Dev Pillai’s poem, Paradox, dedicated to Debarati Ghosh (I presume a close friend or partner, and the object of the poem), continues the love theme with another touching piece.
I loved the opening of Ruthie Segal’s piece ‘The Collection’: ‘I collect frogs’. Simple yet intriguing. Poetry is all about imagery and I immediately thought of a room full of hopping amphibians. With rhyming within each line, the poem hopped (sorry, couldn’t resist) along, although some lines worked better than others, always a risk with rhyming poetry.
I’m not normally a fan of repetition but it works well in Jane Tarlo’s poem ‘Debris’. I then read her second poem, ‘It’… and re-read it as the first time, the final verse felt unfinished. Reading it as a follow-on from the previous verse it then made more sense, but then poetry often should be read more than one to garner, or ponder, the meaning.
We come back to love for Graham Tritt’s poem, ‘Part of the Infinite’, and this had me stall at the first hurdle (line) by it ending with the word ‘thing’. It’s not a word I particularly like, especially in creative writing, but again that’s my taste. Reading on, the poem, but its repetition, has a rhythm and of course meaning, and is another thought-provoking poem, about us and the world we live in.
Another quirky title is ‘Amsterdam – February – Reflecting’ by Heather Walker which we’re told is a ‘View through the window of a conference center’. It’s a very visual poem and knowing the inspiration behind it certainly helped me imagine that I was there. We don’t usually have clues given to us by the author – which is one thing to remember when reading your work out to a writing group or family member – if you have to explain something then it’s not coming across clearly enough, but I loved that I had this with Heather’s poem. It’s soaked with metaphors and is one of my favourite of the collection.
We now move to on a subsection: ‘East Asian Style Poetry’. Of all the forms of poetry, I enjoy writing short forms the most and these are what start the final five pages of this eBook. Like flash and micro fiction, these haiku and similar-length show what can be done in just a few words. Quality over quantity for sure.
A touching slice-of-life collection.
Rating: 4 out of 5
Based in Northamptonshire, England, Morgen Bailey (“Morgen with an E”) is a prolific blogger, podcaster, editor / critiquer, Chair of NWG (which runs the annual H.E. Bates Short Story Competition), Head Judge for the NLG Flash Fiction Competition and creative writing tutor for her local county council. She is also a freelance author of numerous ‘dark and light’ short stories, novels, articles, and very occasional dabbler of poetry. Like her, her blog, https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com, is consumed by all things literary. She is also active on Twitter, Facebook along with many others (listed on her blog’s Contact page). She also recently created five online writing groups and an interview-only blog.
Her debut novel is the chick lit eBook The Serial Dater’s Shopping List ($0.99 / £0.77) and she has six others (mostly crime) in the works. She also has eight collections of short stories available (also $0.99 / £0.77 each) – detailed on https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/books-mine/short-stories.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app via Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List, various short story collections and writer’s block workbooks) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post a spotlight or interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique directly (see Editing & Critique) or for posting on the online writing groups.