Random Thoughts

SMITTEN Is A Must Read

Indie Blu(e)’s Smitten should be your newest gift of poetry

By Mariah Voutilainen

Before I begin to review Smitten, a book that lays bare and re-frames (in a very personal manner) the love that women have for women, I must be equally open.  As I formed my thoughts, I realized that I was (and am) extremely nervous about how to respond to these poems from my own heterosexual, cis female lens.  I felt this because I am a woman of color, one who feels the simmering heat of frustration when those who cannot ever know my experience want to take a stab at relating to it.  What I can say is the following:  While Smitten is a book about women who love women (from every-which perspective), of course, it is about love.  And I can relate to love.  I can understand first love, last love, forbidden love, unrequited love, the love of someone lost, the love of someone found.  The love of someone who saves.

But in truth, even as a woman of color married to a white man, I have not experienced love that is criticized or fetishized by outsiders, that is closeted by well (and not-so-well) meaning family.  I will never feel the excruciating pain of those who are beat down because of whom or how they love.  So, as I opened up my advance copy of Smitten, it was with delicate hands, an open and reverent heart—because that is how I wish my own poetry to be read.

Over a hundred poems about women, by women.  Can I say how exhilarating it is to have read so many at one go?  I happily recognized quite a few of the poets—hailing from an independent poetry network often curated by Indie Blu(e) Publishing:  Tara Caribou, Candice Louisa Daquin, Christine E. Ray, Kindra M. Austin and Georgia Park, to name a few.  But there was a mélange of poets new to me, whose unique voices were employed in a variety of styles from musical to prose to concrete poetry.  Among my favorites were Paula Jellis’ “I want a woman with a big bouffant,” Katherine DeGilio’s “Sunburned Shoulders,” Nick Kay’s “The Value of a Rusty Coin,” Jessica Jacobs’ “Out of the Windfields,” and Susan M. Conway’s “Letters to my Love.”

Would that I could list every single poem (my list is long), as they touched my sensibilities in different ways.  Some entreat us to dance to an inaudible tune; others confide to us the secrets of nerve-wracked first kisses; they relate the early-in-the-morning and late-at-night mundanities of love. But we are also invited to the troubled history of these loves in poems such as “Love is Our Theory” (Sean Heather K. McGraw), “Letter from Lock Up to the NYPD, June 1969, Christopher Street” (Melissa Fadul) and “You Don’t Deserve to Read About My Life” (Georgia Park).  These such poems are the ones that will be hardest to bear, but among the most important to read.

This is a book that should be gifted.  In spite of its implied audience, Smitten is not just for women who adore women.  It is for those whose hearts flutter and skin goosebumps at romance, who know the flight of butterflies in their stomachs and who long for the feeling of home in another’s heart.

 

SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like: Poetry by Women for Women an Anthology is now available on Amazon in both print and Kindle editions.   Request it at your local/international bookstores.


Mariah Voutilainen writes poetry and prose about all manner of things at www.reimaginingthemundane.wordpress.com.

Poetry

The Color of Our Rights: A Reproductive Rights Collaboration

 

“The blood moving through my veins turned cold, freezing me from the inside out. That was the fear. That was the hatred. That was what awaited me. Every day, and every night.”

© Sarah Doughty

See the full collaborative effort of writers on their responses to the recent legal battle on reproductive rights on Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen. It was an honor to be among these incredible voices.

Heretics, Lovers, and Madmen

I will wear red
for my sisters whose health is at risk
for my sisters who have been raped
for my sisters who have been battered
for my sisters who are already struggling
to feed hungry children
for my sisters who need to finish
middle school
high school
college
grad school
for my sisters who are just not prepared

I will wear crimson
for their lifeblood
that will spill in back alleys
that will stain
wire hangers
knitting needles
other unsterilized implements
that become their only choice
in a country that questions
their ability
their very right
to decide

Christine E. Ray

*************************************************************************************

I have been seeing colors of all hues in my mind lately.

I walk down my street and notice the full bloom of the flowers.

Yellow daffodils.

Pink sunsets.

The rain brought growth and vitality.

Green grass.

My stomach turns as I am pulled from my…

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Updates

Just Released! All The Lonely People by Nicholas Gagnier


It is my pleasure to announce that
Nicholas Gagnier has released
All The Lonely People!

This collection of poetry
is a follow-up to Swear To Me.
And just like the Swear To Me,
I am humbled to have been a part
of a large collaborative effort
that was included in this book.

A heartfelt congratulations to my friend
for another amazing collection.
Here’s to many more to come!

Now available on Amazon.com
and Amazon.com.uk.

Poetry

This Is Me

“I made a home in this darkness.
But home is not a prison.
I am worthy. To be me.”

This life of mine has never been an easy one. That’s no secret. But I’m alive. And that counts for something, right? I may have made a home in this darkness. But home is not synonymous with prison. Home is not a place where I can’t be loved just as I am. Home is not a place where I cannot be happy in my own skin. Because these scars are proof of my resilience. To keep pushing forward. To keep fighting. And I no longer bear them with shame. That weight is no longer mine to bear. It was never supposed to be mine. Home is a place where I broke through every barrier that was erected against me. And you know what? I might be bruised, but I’m fucking brave. I’ve broken through barriers. I’ve overcome. I’ve risen. I’ve proven that I am worthy of love and happiness. I have proven that I am worthy. To be me. To become so much more. Just as I am. And I’m going to keep going without apologies.

I make no apologies for who I am. Because this is me. Scars and all.

© Sarah Doughty

This is me,
so take me as I am
or get out of my way.

This was inspired by the song
“This Is Me” by Keala Settle
from The Greatest Showman.
This is my anthem.

PTSD and Awareness, Updates

The Importance Of We Will Not Be Silenced

When I began reading We Will Not Be Silenced, I was shocked at what waited for me. It wasn’t just the staggering statistics from the Forward. It wasn’t just the vivid, albeit brief, moments of just a few things a survivor may have experienced.

It was the onslaught
of my own history
coming back
up my throat like bile.

While this anthology needs to be read with great care – especially for those that have experienced some kind of abuse or assault in their lives, as it will no doubt be triggering – it is definitely something everyone should be aware of. These things are real. They happen at a staggering rate every day. And the more awareness we can spread about it, maybe – just maybe – we will be able to save someone from enduring some of, or escaping from, their own.

 

If you haven’t already done so, consider giving this anthology a read, as both print and Kindle versions are available. Or, consider gifting a copy to the Wish List to donate to organizations in need.

~ Sarah Doughty

PTSD and Awareness, Updates

Indie Blu(e) Publishing — We Will Not Be Silenced

 

front-cover-wwnbs

We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Told Powerfully Through Poetry, Prose, Essay, and Art is the result of survivors feeling compelled to do something after the strongly triggering Kavanaugh Confirmation Hearings. Ultimately, it was decided to advocate, educate, and resist through art by creating an anthology. The final collection includes 166 pieces of writing and art from 95 contributors around the globe.

The truth matters,
our stories matter,
and you can help.

We Will Not Be Silenced is now available in print and Kindle editions and reached #1 in Amazon’s New Releases in several categories.

Reviews are trickling in and they are overwhelmingly positive. Check them out here and here. I even had a few things to say about it here.

To help spread awareness about this important book, the editors and many contributors will be participating in two live Facebook events. The first takes place on Friday, November 30th from 4-7 PM EST. The second on Friday, December 7th from 7-10 PM EST. There is also going to be a big giveaway going on, including a short, exclusive chapbook of my own (emailed as a PDF), so it’s definitely worth checking out.

Here’s more info about my exclusive giveaway.

In addition to these live events, the editors and contributors will be sharing various details and information across their social media channels. Feel free to do the same.

Additional information:

The editors decided early on that this was a project of passion and compassion, not profit. Find further information about the use of royalties earned from this anthology here.

To help provide copies to others who might not otherwise be able to afford them, please visit the Go Fund Me page.

For individuals and organizations such as rape crisis centers, gender studies departments, and public libraries that that would like to receive a copy, but otherwise are not able to afford one can be added to a Wish List by emailing the editors at indieblucollective@gmail.com.

Special thanks to the editors
for graciously including me
by accepting three donated pieces
for this anthology.

wwnbs-back-cover-11-28-2018

Updates

Coming Fall 2018

I am happy to be a part of this incredible cause from Indie Blu(e), which is something I think many of us need. Not just fellow survivors, but for everyone. To help spread awareness of how these kinds of things affect us as victims, as survivors, and beyond. But furthermore, I think it’s important for people who have never experienced anything like what will be included in this collection — both men and women. It will help everyone understand the impact their actions can have upon a person.

We Will Not Be Silenced is coming very soon! Stay tuned for more details.

Updates

Sudden Denouement’s First Short Story Literary Prize – Open For Submissions

Be sure to check this out!
I’m definitely intrigued by this prompt.


Since its inception in 2016, The Sudden Denouement Literary Collective has had the privilege of featuring some of today’s most fearless writers. With members that span the globe and editors who share a passion for pushing boundaries, we as a collective have enjoyed reading, promoting, and watching the success of each individual artist as they […]

via Sudden Denouement’s First Short Story Literary Prize – Open For Submissions Nov 1, 2018 — A Global Divergent Literary Collective

Poetry, PTSD and Awareness, Uncategorized, Updates

Testify! – A Collaboration

A piece of grave importance that is very relevant and needed in today’s society. Please take a few minutes to give this one a read.

Blood Into Ink

Testify

Elephants in the arena,
drowning out the stories as
we all hear them,
stomping on
the flowerbed scenery
they’ve built around your garden of rot,
and without a
second thought,
sold the world a
wilting centerpiece
(Nicholas Gagnier)

I
And His Daughter Prayed for Her
She didn’t really know why
She prayed she’d not meet a guy
At a party; ‘cause he’d liked beer
That sudsy stuff she’d now fear

II

The louder we toast
The better the truth we spew
Just another pint
The truth becomes toxic stew
We’ll all agree
Got the votes of the old crew
Now let’s all meet
At Four P’s and grab a brew
(Stephen Fuller)

Oh! look at him
when the venom drips from his slithering tongue
and he moans and screams
to validate his flagrant lies
and the white privilege
agrees in complete unison

Hiding behind the female prosecutor

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