Archive: December 2017

Book Review: Helium by Rudy Francisco (2017)

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Reflections on race, gender, mental illness — and love, naturally!

four out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Goodreads.)

Your God stole my God’s identity.
So next time you bend your knees,
next time you bow your head
I want you to tell your God
that my God is looking for him.
(“To the Man Standing on the Corner Holding the Sign That Said ‘God Hates Gays'”)

Once, a friend of a friend asked me
why there aren’t more black people in the X Games
and I said, “You don’t get it.”
Being black is one of the most extreme sports in America.
(“Adrenaline Rush”)

Some days I forget that my skin
is not a panic room.
(“My Honest Poem”)

###

The first poem in Helium, “Water,” took my breath away – and more or less set the tone for the entire volume.

I have a terrible time reviewing poetry; I can’t tell you whether a poem is “good,” technically speaking, only if I liked it. Even then I fear I’m a poor barometer, since I’m as likely to understand it as not.

But Rudy Francisco’s poetry is accessible AF. Also daring, insightful, passionate, and unfiltered. I especially adore the poems that tackle mental illness – which is no surprise, as I struggle with anxiety and depression myself, and thus find this genre incredibly relatable and applicable to my own life.

Many of these pieces appear in Parts I and II; but it’s those poems centered on social justice issues (Part III) that really stunned me speechless. “Adrenaline Rush,” “Rifle II,” “To the Man Standing on the Corner Holding the Sign That Said ‘God Hates Gays'” — these poems will stick with me long after Helium claims its permanent home on my bookshelves. Not that it will stay there indefinitely: this is a book I’m likely to revisit again in the future.

Though Francisco is at his best when writing about social justice issues – toxic masculinity, misogyny, religious intolerance, art as resistance, police brutality, etc. – I cared less for his love poems. Though I suppose it could just be the jaded, 39-year-old widow in me silently screaming, “Please don’t be a love poet!”

I also actively disliked “Complainers” (to paraphrase: if you’ve never had to saw your own arm off with a rusty butterknife, stfu!), which is kind of a bummer: the second-to-last poem in the book, it left a bitter taste in my mouth.

I rarely read physical books anymore – I’m more an ebook kind of gal – but I found the font a little on the small side, and unnecessarily so, since many of the pages are dominated by white space. Borderline hard-to-read for my nearly middle-aged eyes.

These are all fairly minor complaints, though, given the sheer genius and raw emotion embodied in Helium.

(More below the fold…)

tweets for 2017-12-11

Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

tweets for 2017-12-10

Monday, December 11th, 2017

tweets for 2017-12-09

Sunday, December 10th, 2017

tweets for 2017-12-08

Saturday, December 9th, 2017

tweets for 2017-12-07

Friday, December 8th, 2017

tweets for 2017-12-06

Thursday, December 7th, 2017

tweets for 2017-12-05

Wednesday, December 6th, 2017

Book Review: 30 Days to Joy: A One-Month Creative Journal by Waterbrook (2017)

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Would make a nice gift for Christians.

three out of five stars

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review through Blogging for Books.)

I have a bit of an addiction to journals, even though I don’t write nearly as often as I should/mean to. That said, 30 Days to Joy isn’t something I’d normally buy for myself, since it’s explicitly geared towards Christians. So, grain of salt.

As the title implies, 30 Days to Joy is unusual, as far as journals go, in that it’s meant to be completed in a month (although there’s nothing stopping you from taking as long as you want; while each exercise is labeled “Day 1,” “Day 2,” and so on, you could just as easily pencil in the date next to it, if you prefer). Each day features a different prompt that encourages you to reflect on the topic of “joy,” whatever that means to you.

Examples of this include:

* How is joy different from happiness?

* In pencil, write those things that most frequently steal your joy. Next, in a colorful pen or marker, write ways you can choose joy in those situations.

* If joy were a person in your life, who would it be and why?

* Write down and illustrate a quote or Bible verse that brings you joy.

As you can see, the exercises featured are a mix of secular and Christian prompts, with the majority skewed secular. However, most of the quotes peppered throughout the book are explicitly Christian, including a fair number of Bible verses. For this reason, I wouldn’t even assign the more general “New Age” or “spiritual” labels to this book; it’s really just meant for Christians, which is kind of shame, because we could all use more joy in these dark times, don’t you think?

Aesthetically, the book is pleasing to the eye; the interior color theme is red and white, making this a great Christmas gift. The cover has a rich, textured feel, which is undercut a bit by the large white sticker containing copy placed on the back cover.

The dimensions of the book are small, which normally bugs the heck out of me – but the book is thin enough that it’s easy to write in. There’s enough room to respond to each prompt, too.

Great idea, though the execution isn’t for everyone.

(This review is also available on Amazon, Library Thing, and Goodreads. Please click through and vote it helpful if you’re so inclined!)

tweets for 2017-12-04

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

tweets for 2017-12-03

Monday, December 4th, 2017
  • RT @iamlaurenp: This is so sad. https://t.co/5TwDQjm1zr ->
  • RT @EdimaInwang: Guys, I need a favor again.
    This belongs to a friend of mine who is struggling with insecurity.
    How many RTs can she get… ->
  • RT @JoyAnnReid: And 18 years later, the Nixon administration sued your father and your company for housing discrimination for having applic… ->
  • RT @joffeorama: A Christmas Carol is good because it recognizes that rich people suck and will only change their ways if they are made to f… ->
  • RT @TheDweck: Congrats to Ted Cruz on killing more people than the Zodiac ->
  • (More below the fold…)

tweets for 2017-12-02

Sunday, December 3rd, 2017

tweets for 2017-12-01

Saturday, December 2nd, 2017
  • RT @south_sab: My friend was refused service at a McDonalds today in London because she was wearing a Hijab. When she started recording the… ->
  • RT @IEarths: #ChimichangaTime! We're giving away a #Marvel #Gwenpool #Pop figure! RT & Follow for a chance to win! Winner DM'd in 30 days!… ->
  • RT @SethHanlon: UPDATE: We just got a copy of what I think is the last-minute amendment to the bill. It's 479 pages long. An unsearchable… ->
  • RT @mic: A descendant of Pocahontas reveals the disturbing truth about this storied figure — and it's something all Americans need to hear.… ->
  • RT @Amy_Siskind: It's going to take years if not decades to unbury all the hidden ways lobbyists for the far-right inserted lines to hurt w… ->
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tweets for 2017-11-30

Friday, December 1st, 2017