Sunday, May 22, 2016

Pamela Carter Joern Guest Post + Giveaway

Pamela Carter Joern Guest Post + Giveaway

Pamela is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob for the month of May. She has written a guest post about a question one of her readers asked and it will make you think about what a reader brings to the stories they read.  Read on.

Written by Pamela Carter Joern

One of the best things about writing is the convergence of the writer’s world and the reader’s experience. I was reminded of this last Fall when I spoke at Anoka-Ramsey Community College as part of their Two Rivers Reading Series. The students had read my story collection, In Reach, and after our discussion a young man named Don came up to the podium to ask me a question. Each student had been asked to write about one of the stories, and Don had chosen “Solitary Confinements,” a story about a gay man whose father doesn’t accept him, his mother who is suffering from Alzheimer’s, and a neighbor who sleeps in an iron lung every night. The main character, Ted, works out his frustrations by gardening, and Don asked if I had chosen the flowers in the story because of their symbolism.
“I’m a gardener,” I said. “I know which flowers would be in season and available in western Nebraska, but that’s about it.”
Don seemed disappointed. “I was sure you chose them on purpose. Because geraniums usually mean someone is a fool, but red geraniums mean comfort, and Ted places those red geraniums on Flora’s steps when he leaves town.”
“That’s a lovely thought,” I said. “But I wasn’t aware of the significance of the flowers. I wish I had been.”
Later that day, Don wrote me this email:
“I wanted to say a bit more . . . The reason I thought so much about the flowers was not just the red geraniums, but also the tulips and petunias. Tulips mean love and petunias mean hope. So when Ted pulled tulips from his parents' garden, I thought you were saying the love between he and his parents had died. When he planted petunias, he was saying he hopes to reconnect with them. It made sense because his parents don't like him being gay, yet Ted talked throughout the story of how he wanted his parents to be in his life. I'm really surprised everything was a coincidence because it just fit so perfectly.”
I wrote back to Don and thanked him for his insights and his persistence. He couldn’t believe I didn’t purposely layer my story with this symbolism. This is the beauty of literature! He understood the intention of my story, but he also brought to it his own rich experience, deepening the meaning beyond even what I knew. Now, when I think of Ted and Flora, I also think of Don and the added resonance he brought to the flowers.

If you would like to win a copy of Pamela's book of short stories, In Reach, please click here:  In Reach Giveaway

Sunday, May 15, 2016

In Reach by Pamela Carter Joern Giveaway

In Reach by Pamela Carter Joern Giveaway

Pamela Carter Joern is the May Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob and she is giving away two copies of her book of short stories, In Reach to Booksnob followers who live in the United States or Canada.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

In writing both rich and evocative, Pamela Carter Joern conjures the small plains town of Reach, Nebraska, where residents are stuck tight in the tension between loneliness and the risks of relationships.

 With insight, wry humor, and deep compassion, Joern renders a cast of recurring characters engaged in battles public and private, epic and mundane: a husband and wife find themselves the center of a local scandal; a widow yearns for companionship, but on her own terms; a father and son struggle with their broken relationship; a man longs for escape from a community’s limited view of love; a boy’s misguided attempt to protect his brother results in a senseless tragedy. In the town of Reach, where there is hope and hardship, connections may happen in surprising ways or lie achingly beyond grasp.

Giveaway Rules:

Fill out the form
Open to U.S./Canada residents only
Ends June 14th.
Good Luck!!

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Saturday, May 14, 2016

Tether by Kirsten Dierking

Tether by Kirsten Dierking

I start every day with reading a poem in the morning and I end my day the same way, by reading a poem at night. It's a delightful way to begin and end your day and I encourage you to try it as well.

Kirsten Dierking's 3rd book of poetry, Tether, is a delightful and tender collection. Many of the poems have themes related to water and they are gathered into sections, titled, The Ebb Tide, The Visible Current, Body of Water and The Balm of the Sea. The cover of the book really reflects the contents of the book. The poems are calming, like a lazy day on the river.  They are full of nature and wildlife and once in awhile they bite like a big mosquito or hit you like thunder.

Dierking's poems are beautiful and exhibit a quiet strength, with a power hidden deep within.  The poems will make you think of thunder, soup and lilacs in a new way. I love how Dierking's poems look at everyday life and how she turns the mundane into something beautiful.
I felt grounded while reading Tether, connected to the earth and water and life.

I'm going to share one poem, Lilacs.  Lilacs are one of my favorite flowers and I relate to this poem on many levels.  The beauty of poetry is that we can relate to a line, a thought, a concept and be reminded that we are human and connected to each other or we can just find beauty in the words and how they are placed next to each other and how that affects meaning.


On the day of my birth,
I bury my face in purple flowers
and breath a scent so familiar,

I can't remember a childhood house
with lilac bushes, maybe it was
my mother who held the baby up

to the dense blossoms, maybe it was
my first pleasure, my mother whispering
breathe deep, it goes so fast.

Kirsten Dierking

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Announcing the May Author in the Spotlight

Announcing the May Author in the Spotlight

Happy May!!  Happy BEA to those attending.

There is only one month of school left and then I can sleep and relax a little bit before my trip to Spain and Morocco in June.  Life is crazy busy in an awesome way. My son turns 18 this month and is super close to attaining his the rank of Eagle in BoyScouts.  My daughter has joined the a team competition for the Worlds here in October and she will be skating on the same ice as Gracie Gold for a day. So cool.  I'm probably more excited than she is.  My students are in the midst of two awesome projects.  My Hart class is painting a mural with acclaimed muralist Gustavo Lira.  My college class is done next week.  Phew! My 9th grade class is working on a Ripple effect project.  My trips for the summer are being finalized and fundraising is pretty much done.  Thank goodness for May! I'm exhausted.

I have an awesome author in store for you this month.  Her name is Pamela Carter Joern and she has written 3 awesome books.

Here are the three books she has written and their synopsis from Goodreads:

In Reach 

In writing both rich and evocative, Pamela Carter Joern conjures the small plains town of Reach, Nebraska, where residents are stuck tight in the tension between loneliness and the risks of relationships.

 With insight, wry humor, and deep compassion, Joern renders a cast of recurring characters engaged in battles public and private, epic and mundane: a husband and wife find themselves the center of a local scandal; a widow yearns for companionship, but on her own terms; a father and son struggle with their broken relationship; a man longs for escape from a community’s limited view of love; a boy’s misguided attempt to protect his brother results in a senseless tragedy. In the town of Reach, where there is hope and hardship, connections may happen in surprising ways or lie achingly beyond grasp.

The Plain Sense of Things

In prose as clean and beautiful as the stark prairie setting, The Plain Sense of Things tells the stories of three generations of a western Nebraska family. These tales of sorrow and hope are connected by the sinews of need and flawed love that keep families together. A farm wife struggles to support her children after the death of her second husband; a young woman grapples with the shift from girlhood to motherhood; World War II wreaks havoc on those left behind; and a failing farmstead breaks a family’s heart. Amid hardship and change, these interwoven stories illuminate the resilience and dignity—and the subtle sweetness—of a life lived in clear view of the plain sense of things.

The Floor of the Sky

In the Nebraska Sandhills, nothing is more sacred than the bond of family and land—and nothing is more capable of causing deep wounds. In Pamela Carter Joern's riveting novel The Floor of the Sky, Toby Jenkins, an aging widow, is on the verge of losing her family's ranch when her granddaughter Lila—a city girl, sixteen and pregnant—shows up for the summer. While facing painful decisions about her future, Lila uncovers festering secrets about her grandmother's past—discoveries that spur Toby to reconsider the ambiguous ties she holds to her embittered sister Gertie, her loyal ranch hand George, her not-so-sympathetic daughter Nola Jean, and ultimately, herself. Propelled by stark realism in breakneck prose, The Floor of the Sky reveals the inner worlds of characters isolated by geography and habit. Set against the sweeping changes in rural America—from the onslaught of corporate agribusiness to the pressures exerted by superstores on small towns—Joern's compelling story bears witness to the fortitude and hard-won wisdom of people whose lives have been forged by devotion to the land.

This month you can expect a giveaway, a book review, an author interview and hopefully a guest post.  Please check out Pamela's website at

Happy Reading
Hope the sun shines down on you and warms your days.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Kirsten Dierking Author Interview + Giveaways

Kirsten Dierking Author Interview + Giveaways

Kirsten is the Minnesota April Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob this month and I had a chance to ask her some questions about poetry, her writing life and her creative ideas. Read on to learn more about Kirsten Dierking and her beautiful books of poetry.

Hi Kirsten

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I went to Hamline University for my graduate degree in creative writing, but I've been writing poetry since I was a child.  Growing up I lived in Minnesota, Toronto, and Boulder, Colorado. I currently live just outside St. Paul, and I've been married for 27 years.  I run (slowly!) and finished my first half-marathon last fall (slowly!).  I have three dogs (small, medium and large).  The large dog is a Labrador mix, and she just turned sixteen and a half!

2. Why did you become an author of Poetry?

My mom read poetry to me when I was little instead of bedtime stories, so I always had poetry in my life, and I always had that rhythmic language in my life.  As a kid, I wrote poetry in school whenever I could, and sometimes I just wrote it for fun.  When I got older I did write fiction, and in fact, I went to grad school thinking I would write fiction, but once I got there, my voice kept going back to my first love, poetry.  Poetry suits the way I think in my own head the best.

3. How are poetry books compiled?

I usually write a lot of poems, on whatever diverse topics come to me, and when I have a good pile of them, I start to look at them for commonalities, to see how they might fit together as a collection.  I look for common themes, recurring imagery, things like that.

4. What is the back story behind Tether?

Tether was put together the same way.  I think of each of my books as a reflection of where my thoughts were at that time in my life.  When I wrote Tether (and I wrote it over a period of about 5
years), I was interested in the way time passes - sometimes it moves so fast, at other times you have these pockets of stillness where time seems to slow, even stop.  I wanted to capture both those things.

5. Where do you get your inspiration?

A lot of Tether was inspired by water - there are lake and river and ocean poems in this book, a lot of water imagery.  A lot of blue!  I am inspired by water, and by nature - places that allow my mind to relax so I can think.

6. Do you read?  What books or author/poets inspire you?

I am a big reader, I don't think I've ever been without a book since I learned to read - I read everything from poetry to mysteries to young adult fiction to classic literature.  See my earlier guest post for poets who I love and who inspire me.  As for fiction - I love Wuthering Heights, I also really liked the Red Rising series.  Kate Atkinson's A God in Ruins was the book that left the biggest impression on me last year - I was kind of shattered by the ending of that book.  I really like Hilary Mantel's historical novels, particularly Wolf Hall.  But I also enjoyed World War Z, a zombie apocalypse book.

7. I am intrigued by the other books you have written.  Tell us a little bit about your other books.

One Red Eye was about my experience as a rape victim when I was in college.  It was a very violent attack, I almost died, and I suffered from PTSD afterwards.  I had to write that book first, as it was, unfortunately, the dominant event in my life at that point.  I needed to get that story out of my head and onto paper, so I could move on to other things.  My second book, Northern Oracle, is more what I wanted to write, it's much more of an immersion in nature.

8. How do you carve time out of your busy day to write?  Are you a full time writer or do you have a day job? What is one of your daily writing rituals or habits?

I do have a full-time job teaching at a community college.  I used to teach part-time and write more, now that I teach full-time I do find it difficult to find time to write.  A lot of my creative energy goes into creating lesson plans and class activities.  These days I do most of my writing in the summer when I have a break.  Sometimes I just have to make myself sit down and write. Sometimes I need prompts or exercises to get me going.  Sometimes I have ideas that I've jotted down, and I’ll take those out and work on those. I get a lot of ideas when I'm out running through the woods, or around the lake - I try to remember them as I run home, and I'll write them down to work on them later.  Sometimes it takes me so long to get home, I forget the idea!

9. Usually poetry is autobiographical and personal. Is it hard to share your personal memories and experiences with the world? Why do you do it?

It was a little hard when my first book came out since it was about rape, I wasn't sure how people would react, but everyone I knew was so supportive.  I'm an introvert, and I feel like if I really want to communicate with the world, writing is a good way for me to do that.  And even though I might prefer to do it through writing, I do want to communicate, I like the idea of sharing thoughts and ideas with others, and particularly with readers, maybe because reading is one of the great pleasures in my life.

10.  In one sentence, tell readers why they should read Tether.

To pause with me, and think about our lives, and consider some lovely images -- while we let the world hurry on around us.

Thanks Kirsten!!

If you would like to win copies of Kirsten's poetry books please click the links.
Tether Giveaway
One Red Eye Giveaway

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Poem in My Post: Dedicated to Prince

Poem in My Post: Dedicated to Prince

Prince is one of the most iconic artists of my life and when I heard he died on Thursday, I was propelled down a rabbit hole of memories of my life and how Prince shaped it.  Last night I went to watch Purple Rain movie outside with thousands of people wearing purple and grieving.  It was so cool. Then we went to the Prince memorial outside of First Avenue and then we danced all night to Prince songs inside First Avenue.  When we left at 3:38 am, there was still a block long group of people waiting to get inside.  It was so surreal and awesome and sad.

Today, I knew I had to feature a poem about Prince and I read this one last year by Tanya Olson.  It was featured in the The Best American Poetry of 2015.  Enjoy!

54 Prince by Tanya Olson

There exist 54 Goldilocks planets
54 planets not too hot
54 planets not too cold
54 planets where the living
is juuuuuust right
in that particular planetary zone

54 planets like Earth
but not Earth Similar
not the same 54 planets close
but different Different
except for Prince

Assless Pants Prince
High-Heel Boots Prince
Purple Rain Prince
Paisley Park Prince
I Would Die For You Prince
Ejaculating Guitar Prince
Jehovah’s Witness Prince
Needs A New Hip Prince
Wrote Slave On His Face Prince
Took An Unpronounceable Symbol For His Name Prince
Chka Chka Chka Ahh Prince

54 planets each with a Prince
and every Prince
exactly the same
as the one we know on Earth
54 lace 54 canes
54 planets 54 Prince

These 54 Prince swallow 54 worries
The 54 worries become 54 songs
54 songs made of 54 bars 54 bars
using 54 chords 54 downbeats
where they pick up the worries
54 off-beats to lay the worries down again
54 worried skank-beat Prince
birth 54 worrisome funk-drenched songs

Once an Earth year the Prince
gather around Lake Minnetonka
When the cherry moon smiles
they thrust under their heads
Under the water the Prince sick up
the old worries Under the water
worry sacks rise empty again

It takes a worried man the Prince say
to sing a worried song
while beneath the surface of Lake Minnetonka
the perch in the shoals
and the gobies in their holes
nibble at the worries
our skimmed from the top worries
scraped from the bottom worries
spooned from the middle good enough worries
There’s worries now the fish sing
but there won’t be worries long

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Kirsten Dierking Guest Post + Giveaways

Kirsten Dierking Guest Post + Giveaways

Kirsten Dierking is the April, Minnesota Author and Poet in the spotlight here on BookSnob and she has just written a lovely post for National Poetry month on ten poems she loves.  I love this guest post and hope you do too.  What are some of your favorite poems?

For National Poetry Month, I thought I would just share ten poems I love.  I have to say, this made me want to do many lists!  (Ten Minnesota Poems I Love, Ten Animal Poems I Love, Ten Poems with Humor I Love, etc.)

1.  Raymond Carver, What the Doctor Said
That waterfall, where a moment of grace and beauty and something mystical beyond corporeal life enters this poem. The way the terrible tragedy of the news is discussed in casual language and with common courtesy - the way we mostly deal with the terrible news in life.

2. Linda Pastan, The Death of a Parent
"suddenly/there is nobody/left standing between you/ and the world"

3. Louis Jenkins, Rock Collecting
I think of the idea of this deceptively simple poem often - the burden of loving something, the freedom of few attachments.

4. John Berryman, #29 from 77 Dream Songs
The first four lines are the best description of depression (or perhaps great loss, grief or sorrow) that I have ever read.

5. Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII
An intense love poem about real love:  "I love you simply without problems or pride"

6. Mark Doty, New Dog
"So after I drive
to Jimi and Tony’s
in the Village and they
meet me at the door and say,
We can’t go through with it,

we can’t give up our dog"
What we love and what we have to give up in our lives - and how we find some way to bear that (dogs help).

7. Jim Moore, It Is Not The Fact That I Will Die That I Mind
That our fierce love for our own, particular world will be lost with us.

8. James Wright, A Blessing
Those last three lines - Wright's ability to convey a transcendent moment of grace in simple words - so very, very difficult to do.

9 . Lucille Clifton Homage to my Hips
Love the empowering tone of this poem, and the humor.

10. Robert Frost, Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening
The lovely moment of stillness between obligations, the being alone - but not quite (the horse is there), the sound of the harness bells in those snowy woods. That what is dark and deep is lovely.

Thanks Kirsten.

If you would like to win copies of Kirsten's poetry books click here:

Go forth and read poetry!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Tether by Kirsten Dierking Giveaway

Tether by Kirsten Dierking Giveaway

Kirsten Dierking is the Minnesota Author and Poet in the spotlight here on BookSnob for the month of April.  She and her publisher, Spout Press, are giving away 2 copies of her lovely poetry book, Tether.  The poems in this volume are beautiful and the cover is truly lovely.  This is a book of poetry you could give as a gift to someone you love or cherish it for yourself.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

Poetry. In her third book of poems, Kirsten Dierking explores the way our everyday desires shape themselves into the miraculous, like "antlers branched in sprays of bone against the sky." In selecting Dierking's work for a McKnight Artist Fellowship, three-time National Book Award finalist Marilyn Nelson wrote, "I found these slight, reticent poems tender and thoughtful. They demonstrate the virtue of withholding, showing that sometimes less is definitely more." TETHER is an exploration of fluid, unseen grace as it manifests around us, building an uncanny and potent now.

Contest Rules:
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Fill out the form
Ends May 16th
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Monday, April 18, 2016

Poem in My Post

Poem in my Post:  The Lanyard by Billy Collins

This week I chose Billy Collins poem, The Lanyard.  I think this poem will bring a smile to your face as you think of the lanyard you made at camp and the love you have for your mother.  And as a mother it says to me that nothing compares to the love you have for your children.  I love my children so much and would do anything for them.

Billy Collins is a former Poet Laureate and probably the most popular and well known poet today.  I love him for his witty poems that make me fall in love with all the complexities of life.

Photo:  I took this photo of a colorful art sculture in San Antonio, Texas on a bike ride from one Mission church to the next.

The Lanyard by Billy Collins

The other day I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room,
moving as if underwater from typewriter to piano,
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
when I found myself in the L section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word lanyard.

No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one into the past more suddenly—
a past where I sat at a workbench at a camp
by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid long thin plastic strips
into a lanyard, a gift for my mother.

I had never seen anyone use a lanyard
or wear one, if that's what you did with them,
but that did not keep me from crossing
strand over strand again and again
until I had made a boxy
red and white lanyard for my mother.

She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard.
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted spoons of medicine to my lips,
laid cold face-cloths on my forehead,
and then led me out into the airy light

and taught me to walk and swim,
and I , in turn, presented her with a lanyard.
Here are thousands of meals, she said,
and here is clothing and a good education.
And here is your lanyard, I replied,
which I made with a little help from a counselor.

Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth,
and two clear eyes to read the world, she whispered,
and here, I said, is the lanyard I made at camp.
And here, I wish to say to her now,
is a smaller gift—not the worn truth

that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took
the two-tone lanyard from my hand,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless, worthless thing I wove
out of boredom would be enough to make us even.

Monday, April 11, 2016

One Red Eye. Poems by Kirsten Dierking Giveaway

One Red Eye by Kirsten Dierking Giveaway

It's National Poetry Month and poet Kirsten Dierking is giving away 2 copies of her first poetry book, One Red Eye to Booksnob readers.  You are so lucky!  I'm jealous because I really want to read these poems.  Holy Cow Press, the publisher is also awesome.

Try and read one poem a day.

Here is the synopsis from Goodreads:

"In reading these poems, we experience beauty-paradoxically-as well as come to understand the complexity of the crime, its aftermath, and the relief and joy of recovery."—Roseann Lloyd

Perhaps the first full-length work of its kind, One Red Eye is an unexpected book, an intimate story of violence and survival, rape and re-birth, told in verse. In concise, candid, and understated poems, Dierking shares the brutal truth of her own rape experience, while at the same time, demonstrating the possibility of spiritual recovery from sexual assault. This is the story of a life brought to a disasterous standstill, and the subsequent acts of common kindness that allow the author to recapture hope, and move into a changed, but salvageable future. Tough and articulate, One Red Eye defies the silence and guilt that so often surrounds the crime of rape.

I Might Have Dreamed This

For a short time after
the rape, I found I could move things. Energy birds
swarmed from my brain. With a witch's sense
of abandoned physics, I set dolls rolling.
Back and forth. Like a breathing sound. Using only my night-powered
eyes, I pushed the lamp to the dresser's edge.
I buried the mirrors in avalanches of freshly
laundered underpants. I never slept. I did all these things
lying down.

Kirsten Dierking received a bachelor's degree in International Affairs and History from the University of Colorado, and a Master's degree in Creative Writing from Hamline University. Her writing has appeared in Sing Heavenly Muse, ArtWord Quarterly, Water-Stone, and Xanadu. She lives with her husband in Saint Paul, Minnesota. This is her first published collection.

Contest rules:
Fill out the form
U.S. residents only
Contest ends 5/11 at midnight
Good Luck

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