Review: Butterflies Lost within the Crooked Moonlight : Matt Nagin

This is a cut&paste of a review that appeared on Kindle and similarly on GoodReads.

Butterflies Lost within the Crooked Moonlight      Matt Nagin

Dystopian power in forty-five poems.

five stars

Star counts are one person’s opinion. This book’s title should prepare you for its content, but not for Nagin’s power of communication. So, as always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let’s get to the point: Nagin’s work.

For a prose poem, turn to Immigrant Love Story, which begins thus: “Your face is my face and my future is your future and yet your face is kept behind a fence and coils of barbed wire and your face is told it needs signed documents….”

For an interesting piece of social commentary, turn to Outside Hotel Gansevoort, which ends with this: “Every man tries to look away; /seem nonchalant; fixates on /petty, obtuse concerns— uselessly. /These women run the show.” If you think that’s a spoiler, turn to this poem when you have the book.

For a fascinating relationship, turn to Wrong One, which has a surprise ending. For an even more disturbing relationship happening, turn to Night at the Waldorf.

I generally find myself annoyed about writing that’s about writing, but some authors can pull this off really well with an experience that takes you in. Nagin has done this in Report Card, which is mostly about life and other people’s expectations.

Nagin is writing experiences which will happen to you when you read. In Tinseltown Hierarchy you are caught up in a happening between various ‘actors’ and are part of this alien world. Here’s a snippet from the beginning: “The assistant spoke into the microphone /reflecting back the order from the publicist /who signaled to the grip who collaborated with….” It’s impossible for me to give you the speed of this ongoing development. Buy the book and turn to this piece.

Nagin does not live in a perfect world. For an unpleasant self-assessment, turn to Twelve Years an Adjunct Professor.

I have other favourites in this work, but the above should give you a decent feel for what’s on offer here. Now for my star count boilerplate.

My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. Nagin stands tall with the best of them, but in his own way: more personal than W.H.Auden (The Shield of Achilles,) more gut-wrenching than Robert Frost (The Lovely Shall Be Choosers,) a bit like Archibald MacLeish (What Every Lover Learns.) Five stars here feels right on; extremely recommended.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

Term Limits?

Canada does not seem to have term limits. This creates career politicians whose lives might collapse if not re-elected. (We’re going to see a lot of this in Ontario, eh?)

Chile’s president can only run for one term. Bachelet has been back repeatedly, but she had a one-term gap each time. This seems to work out well; Chile’s economic numbers look a lot better than Peru’s, for example. Bachelet either has a backup job or wealthy independence. She does not need to be re-elected because she can’t be.

The US President can only be elected twice. There’s also a ten-year limit to cover the case of succession.

I have two examples of long-running country leaders. One is Paul Kagame of Rwanda. Kagame was referred to by Romeo Dallaire as the best general in Africa. He is now, apparently, a despot.

Does this always happen after too many years in power?

My other example is Daniel Ortega. Ortega was the recipient of attacks funded by arms sales to Iran (Oliver North) used to fund the Honduran Contras. Ortega made positive changes in Nicaragua at the start of his rule. He is now, apparently, silencing the media and allowing dissenters to be killed.

Does this always happen after too many years in power?

Flashing?

We need a new word in Ontario, added to the Highway Traffic Act. It should mean ‘flashing’ but only in a special sense.

Our school buses carry signs that they are not to be passed when their signals are ‘flashing.’ This does NOT apply to four-way flashing, only to left-right flashing. Which only school buses and emergency vehicles can do.

I know a very competent bus driver. She once said that she never uses four-ways, as it stops traffic.

I suggest a new word, legally defined in the Highway Traffic Act.

What do you think of ‘flicking?’ Any other suggestions? How about winking? Flinking?

WordPress.org help sucks

Despite logging in successfully, I can Not ask a question nor add to any forum. I’ve read the instructions and I’m told to click an ‘add new’ button that is not there.

My problem is this:

I updated to 4.9.6 after backing up, as was suggested.

Then I got about 350 spam posts to my blog.

I think that all WordPress sites that updated were so targeted. I’ve seen a lot of c..p posting, but never at this volume. It was too fast to be manual, and several IP addresses were involved. I think there’s an alternate TOR being used.

Any ideas about this? I’m tempted to simply .htaccess the top level IP range for every spam I get.

Isabelle Kenyon: This is Not a Spectacle

This is a cut&paste of an Amazon Kindle Book Review.

This is Not a Spectacle      Isabelle Kenyon

A powerful poetry collection, an experience that will haunt you.

five stars

As always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later.

In the first poem, Lonely Hearts, Kenyon will ambush you. In the next, Mumbai, you will feel a sense of otherness, ending in irony. Then in sweat shop you will feel the discomfortable motivation of a worker. These fine poems are too short to quote from without giving them away.

I will skip forward to Car Park Scene, which like much of Kenyon is a trace harsh and strongly written, for example this: “but your tears are endless and /convulsing shoulder – shadows play in the /darkness. /She does not console you but…”

For a heartbreaking experience, turn to Hospital. Here’s a teaser quote, see if you can figure out what’s happening: “You couldn’t have known but you /Smiled when I said I loved you and /Told me how to cook rice: I said /‘We’ll talk about it later’ as they /Wheeled you away….”

Again in Identity: Granny Olga we find this: “You in a hospital room, becoming a bionic woman.” Kenyon’s voice in this collection is a powerful one that is not for the faint of heart.

Spoiler warning: this is the ending of Teenagers at a Bus Stop: “Who are we? /We are drink, we are music; we are pretending, we are stumbling, we are lost-In the dark we are only teenage hunger. /We are always famished, starving: /Love us. Feed us. ”

I have other favourites in this book, but the above should give you a decent feel for the voice, power, and experience which Kenyon has captured for you. Now for the star count boilerplate.

My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. Kenyon brings strong description and powerful emotions into your brain. Roughly equal to best in genre? I think so; five stars it is, and extremely recommended.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

Digging Holes to Another Continent : Isabelle Kenyon

This is a copy of a review that will eventually appear on Amazon Kindle when the subject book is available there. It is essentially identical to a review on GoodReads that is available now.

Digging Holes to Another Continent      Isabelle Kenyon

Recovery in a strange land.

four stars

This is an unusual and very personal work of twenty poems. As always, do not let my star count override your judgement of content. More on the stars, counting, and my rating challenges later. Let’s get to the good stuff: Kenyon’s work.

The first poem, The Journey, sets up the context of the work. A trip to New Zealand, apparently to attend a wedding, becomes a healing experience.

For an insight into recovery, turn to Wave Meditation, where we find this: “Lifted, /further from shore /by waves of fury /their ferocity sudden, /awakening animal instinct…”

For a complex poem, turn to He Married a Faith Healer, where we find this: “Faith healer /what does it mean /when you speak for my dead Grandmothers /in their tone, /without meeting them,…”

In the fine metaphor Beach Thoughts  you will read: “You are not who I thought you were.” Buy the book and turn to this poem.

For a good laugh, turn to Did You Hear the Possum Last Night.

Now for my star count boilerplate. Twenty poems is enough to capture a personal recovery, and Kenyon has done this extremely well. It is a bit harder for this reviewer to evaluate a ‘voice’ from a small collection. My personal guidelines, when doing an ‘official’ KBR review, are as follows: five stars means, roughly equal to best in genre. Rarely given. Four stars means, extremely good. Three stars means, definitely recommendable. I am a tough reviewer. I try hard to be consistent. I find four stars to fit my criteria as a tough reviewer. Your personal rating may well be higher. Definitely recommended.

Kindle Book Review Team member.

(Note: this reviewer received a free copy of this book for an independent review. He is not associated with the author or Amazon.)

Smile: you’re on Photo Radar (again)

Here in Toronto, Canada, there is a push to start up photo radar again.

It was used on highways several years ago, was hugely unpopular, and eventually scrapped. Now they want to bring it back, but with a twist:

It will be employed in school zones.

That sounds so impossible to oppose: don’t you want our school children to be safer?

One of the serious safety concerns for school zones is that parents block the street by parking illegally while waiting for pickup children. Other kids cross the street hidden by these parents’ cars – a significant additional risk. Nobody seems to have the cojones to address this problem.

Why I’m against using photo radar in school zones is based on how radar is used in school zones today.

The school zone is NOT patrolled during times of student arrival or departure. I live across from a school and have spoken to patrolling officers. I know what I am talking about.

One school zone is only patrolled on Sunday. Since the reduced speed limit is easily forgotten in the total absence of traffic, single cars are ticketed over and over with no safety benefit whatsoever.

The school zone across from me has not been patrolled in quite some time. I tried to explain to (patient, friendly) officers that a nearby school, on a lower speed limit road, was much more of a car-student hazard due to the curving street, shortening driver and student sight-lines. Amazingly, the radar effort did move to that road.

What happens in front of my house with radar is legal but annoying. Mothers arriving home at six o’clock experience a downhill, wide road with no other traffic and no pedestrians. So they accidentally increase speed, and get ticketed – for the record, in a school zone. But school has been out for 2.5 hours.

Photo radar is, imho, a cheap way to issue tickets. That’s OK if the usual ‘tolerance factors’ are applied. But don’t pretend you’re protecting school children if you’re not there when they are.

Binder Proof

Netanyahu has added gasoline to the fire on Iran. With peccable timing, he has ‘proven’ that Iran reneged on its dealings with regard to the sanctions/nuclear research agreement.

Here you will find (if you haven’t seen it already) how this proof was demonstrated. I use the word demonstrate for a reason: it’s all, imho, just pure show.

In this writing room I have a large shelf-full of binders similar to those shown by Netanyahu. I could, with a curtain and a helpful TV crew, unveil these and claim they are historical proof that Netanyahu has ordered slaughters in Palestine, mostly by bombing. If you search for ‘Israel bombs Palestine’ in YouTube you’ll see there are lots of confirming instances of my claim.

Netanyahu’s proof is simply pointing to a set of binders and claiming what is in them.

Contrarily, the inspections of Iran are surprisingly invasive, and have given the international community strong evidence that Iran is indeed fully complying with the agreement.

But, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the USA are all dead set against Iran. Thus the ‘proof’ and its acceptance by Donald Trump, POTUS.

Who would deal with this president? Expert advice goes unheeded. Deals are broken due to a publicity stunt. I guess that’s today’s dumb question.