Brett Hursey 1, Dead White Poet

Modern-day poets have been jipped, ripped off, and robbed of the status that should be theirs because people hear the word “poetry” and immediately cease listening or stop reading.  Had these poets lived in the 1800’s, they may have been celebrities, such as Lord Byron, who was seen as the scandalous, womanizing, bad boy of his time.

I’m not saying poets should immediately run out and start womanizing or acting scandalous (especially since you likely won’t get any publicity out of it anyway), but a little attention from the general public would be nice.

With that in mind, I am declaring this “Brett Hursey Week.”  Brett Hursey is the poet and bad boy of East Carolina University*.  Okay, he’s actually an English Professor there according to this profile at Writers Net, but you never know, he could be a bad boy.  I’ve heard all sorts of stories about how wild teachers can get after that last bell rings.

Anyway, I’m making it my personal mission to get him a little more well-deserved publicity.

One of Hursey’s 3 poetry collections is called “Dead White Poet” even though he is still very much alive.  Here is an excerpt from the poem “Aquaman”:

“her insidious, other-worldly
plumbing

slowly saps away my super-
manly powers

until I’m as useless
as Aquaman–

the Superfriend I always laughed
at on Saturday morning–

whose super powers
were only superfluous–
like breathing underwater
and talking to fish.”

Read the entire poem here, or find out more about the book here.  Look for more posts about Hursey during the upcoming week.

*Edit:  I’ve been in touch with Brett Hursey who informs me that he is now teaching at Longwood University.

Adam

“Adam,” a poem by Janie Hofmann, appears in the most recent edition of Eclectica Magazine.

“I once watched a peach
fall and crack into
a beautiful wet smile
of pale orange pulp,
only to be pecked
by crows while the grass
took care to hide the stone.”

Read the entire poem here, or visit the edition of Eclectica Magazine in which this poem appears here.

East of Mina

East of Mina appears to be the blog of two friends:  Becky and Caitlin.  Becky, a deep thinker and the more prolific blogger of the two, relates this internal dialogue after accidentally running into a bolt sticking out of a metal post:

“Wow.  This is quite a gash.”
“It’s sort of like your life right now.  You know, the consqenences of foolish steps hurting you at every turn…”
“Yeah– it’s also a gash that is bleeding.”
“You short-sighted little girl, look at this as a opportunity to know your self.  This wound is a metaphor by which you can understand the inticricies of  your soul.”
“No.  Actually, I think it is just a nasty scrape.”

The posts on this blog are funny, deep, and well written.  To read the post from which the above quote was taken, go here; to view the main page of the blog, go here.

September 2007 Photo Courtesy of Samantha Villagran

Thank you to Samantha Villagran for the September header photo entitled “Sam Close Up.” You can view and download more of her work at the stock xchange here.

Bert and Osama

Bert, the Sesame Street muppet of “Bert and Ernie” fame, is a well-known co-conspirator of Osama bin Laden’s.  I know, I know — I didn’t want to believe it at first, either, but there are pictures to prove it (pictures carried by well-known news agencies, such as Reuters and Associated Press).

Shortly after the terror attack of September 2001, bin Laden supporters were seen demonstrating with signs featuring a photo of Osama…and Bert.  A printer had copied the photo off the internet and mass produced it, not knowing they had gotten the picture from a joke site.

Fox News ran a story about it in October 2001:

“Sesame Workshop issued a statement saying it was very unhappy with the sudden connection between a lovable character with a penchant for pigeons and bottlecaps and the most wanted man in the world.

‘Sesame Street has always stood for mutual respect and understanding,’ a spokeswoman said. ‘We’re outraged that our characters would be used in this unfortunate and distasteful manner.’…

When asked about Bert’s current whereabouts, however, the spokeswoman replied: ‘No comment.'”

Read the entire article at foxnews.com, get an overview of the story at snopes.com, or view one of the many sites with photographs proving Bert’s evilness (he is seen with Hitler, at the JFK assassination, etc.) at bertisevil.tv (warning:  bertisevil.tv contains at least one photo featuring partial nudity [not of Bert, though]).

The Stolen Child, Book Review

“I tried to picture my mother and father, and could not recall their faces or their voices.  Remembered life seemed as false to me as my name.  These shadows are visible:  the sleeping man, the beautiful woman, and the crying, laughing child.  But just as much of real life, not merely read about in books, remains unknown to me.  A mother croons a lullaby to a sleepy child.  A man shuffles a deck of cards and deals a hand of solitaire.  A pair of lovers unbutton one another and tumble into bed.  Unreal as a dream.”

I’m not a book critic by any means, but rather a book lover, so this review of Keith Donohue’s bestselling book “The Stolen Child” comes from that perspective.  (I keep wanting to misspell his name as “Donahue” as in “Phil,” but it’s Donohue with an “o.”)  His work can best be described this way:  Donohue writes poetry disguised as novels.

As you can see from the above excerpt, there is a certain peaceful flow to the language of the book, like a slow walk near a gentle stream in the middle of the woods.  Perfect for a book about faeries. 

The premise of the book is that a hobgoblin steals a child and takes his place, while the stolen child turns into and takes the place of the hobgoblin.  The stolen child must then await the time when he can steal yet another child and become human again, continuing the cycle.  Only every hobgoblin in his new tribe must go before him, in the order they were stolen, so he potentially has many decades of waiting ahead of him.

Much of the beginning of the book consisted largely of the internal thought processes of its 2 main characters with very little dialogue, which took some getting used to.  But the dialogue and interaction increased as the book went on, mirroring the pair’s increased acceptance of and involvement in their separate lives.

Beyond faeries and hobgoblins, this book is about the two finding themselves and their places in the grand scheme of things, something everyone goes through.  Only in this case, the search takes on both an emotional and literal meaning, as the imposter searches for clues to his life a century before when he himself was stolen, and the stolen child struggles to remember his life as a child as he grows more wild and goblin-like, into more of a thing of the forest than that of the human world.

Most books follow a familiar pattern, one being very similar to the next in its underlying structure.  “The Stolen Child” is very different from any book I’ve read before, dictating its own patterns and rhythms.  If you’re looking for something new and different to read, something well written both from a story perspective and in the beauty of the language itself, then you should go out and get this book today.

I also have to give credit to whoever did the cover artwork.  As far as book covers go, a pair of eyes staring out of the forest has been done (to death), but the cover art on this book makes it new again.  The blue/green color combination, shadowy middle, and sharply defined edges all come together for a striking overall effect that is beautiful, eyecatching, and complimentary to the subject of the book.  Well done.

Michael Marshall Smith

I just discovered British screenwriter and sci-fi/horror author, Michael Marshall Smith, even though I’m an avid reader of sci-fi and horror, and he has been publishing for almost 2 decades now.  What took me so long?

I have no idea why this guy didn’t show up on my radar sooner, but if his short story “This Is Now” (which I previously blogged about) and his ever expanding following of devoted fans is any indication of his talent, then I predict I will soon have a shelf dedicated solely to Michael Marshall Smith books.

James Moore at bloodlettingbooks.com thought the same thing…

“Have you ever wondered how in the name of God you ever missed an amazing writer for as long as you did? Well, I have now…There was a time when I would have said that no one could ever match Ray Bradbury for the power of his coming of age stories. THE HALLOWEEN TREE and SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES are incredible works and even King and Straub’s amazing novel THE TALISMAN never quite hit the same levels for me. Well, guess what? I do believe we have a contender.”

Information Database had this to say about the author:

“Michael Marshall Smith writes in a dark-humor style. All his books are futuristic adventures in action. Street-style cyberpunk. His dark view over the future is spiced with personal insights and does not copy the mainstream of known cyberpunk styles. His books grab you from the begining and when finished, leave you with a long-lasting feeling of insight.”

Now is a good time to get a feel for Smith’s personality and writing style as he is currently guest-blogging at powells.com.  In post #4, he relates the following true story of an experience he had when researching Seattle as a setting for his book, The Intruders, which, incidentally, the BBC is said to be planning to turn into a dramatic television series.

“It was raining, and the sidewalks were slick. As I walked down Madison — which is ludicrously steep — I slipped and fell quite painfully between 2nd and 1st (an event that made it into The Intruders, complete with the pair of halfwit tourists who saw this happen, stood over my prone form and said ‘Slippery, huh?’). When I got to the Bookstore Bar I asked for an Alaskan Amber. It was off, but the waitress — a different one to last time — said they had another. I asked if it was a similar kind of thing, and she said ‘Well… it’s an amber…’ with the utter lack of humor or friendliness which can suddenly make you feel like a stranger in someone else’s town. A guy at the counter was meanwhile droning on and on, evidently one of those work trip duty drinks where you know the female side of the ‘conversation’ has been listening to her boss all day and is now dying to get back to her hotel room so she can take off her too-tight shoes and skirt. I moved away and sat at the table I’d had the previous night. Almost immediately, a guy sitting a few yards away vomited copiously onto the floor.”

The Intruders is not the only work of Smith’s that has caught the eye of the film and television industry.  His short story, “Hell Hath Enlarged Herself,” is also reported to be in film production.  You can read more about it at the UKSF Book News site.

The author’s latest book, The Servants, was recently reviewed by Mario Guslandi at Infinity Plus.  Guslandi gives a brief overview of the plot:

“Eleven-year old Mark has to leave London to settle down in Brighton, with his mother and her new husband. The mother is very sick and Mark’s stepfather appears to be a heartless, distant man unable to create a bond with the kid. Trying to escape the dullness and the difficulties of his new household Mark makes friends with an elderly lady living in the house basement. Which, in turn is the door to another section of rooms inhabited by a group of servants whose task is to provide any kind of service for the proper functioning and maintenance of the house.

Are the servants real or only ghosts from a distant past? Is Mark’s father a victim or a culprit?”

The author also publishes non-horror/sci-fi under the shortened name of “Michael Marshall,” such as with his novel, Straw Men.

Find out more about Michael Marshall Smith by visiting his homepage, which offers, among other things, a list of his upcoming appearances (look for him at the Nottingham Fantasy Con in late September 2007).  If you want to learn even more about this talented writer, consider purchasing the limited edition, signed biography available at biblio.com.