I’ve saved some very special people for last on my list. I’m fortunate enough to belong to a group of local writers, every one of whom is extremely talented. If you think self-published authors just don’t make the cut for talent, you HAVE NOT read the work of these writers. Everyone’s self-published for a different reason. Sometimes you don’t want to jump through the hoops required for publishing. Sometimes you don’t want to write what the publishers want to publish. And sometimes you just want to cut the crap and publish your book already.
With that said, my group is made up of four of the most talented writers I’ve ever crossed paths with (and me), and all of them gave me feedback on UnSong. Three of them went so far as to offer a blurb for the cover. And here they are:
UnSong is a beautiful compilation with an amazing amount of breadth and variety. Ms. Flye is literally a song writer! I particularly enjoyed the themes of “staying” and “taking flight”.
—Tracie Barton-Barrett, author of Buried Deep in Our Hearts and Finding Her Spirit
Ms. Flye’s personality shines brightly through both her poetry and her illustrations. A lovely and relevant book to behold!
—Leslie Tall Manning, award-winning author of Knock on Wood and Upside Down in a Laura Ingalls Town
Michelle Garren Flye’s poetry, art, and photography excite my senses and touch my heart. Oh, what a talent!
—Padgett Gerler, author of Invisible Girl and The Gifts of Pelican Isle
Heather W. Cobham was the one who suggested I put dragonflies on the cover, which, in my mind, rounded out the book in a fantastic way.
For more information on these fantastic ladies and their writing, check out their websites:
Happy Poem in Your Pocket Day! If you read this on your cellphone and put your cellphone in your pocket, bam!, you’re all set!
Now we come to what is probably the review/blurb I worked the hardest to get. Poet Sam Love was one of the first people I approached for feedback on UnSong. He agreed to do it. Thank God.
I’m not sure how difficult it was for Sam to be a hundred percent honest with me, but when he replied there was no hesitancy. My book was sort of a mess. It lacked focus, some of the poems just didn’t seem to belong and it wasn’t organized into anything like a book. Just a mishmash of poems.
Don’t rush it, he said. You’ve got the beginnings of a good collection here.
I’m a seasoned professional so of course I didn’t think about never speaking to Sam again.
No, really, I have been writing seriously for long enough so I was able to receive Sam’s honest opinion and be grateful for it, even if it was hard to hear. I replied a sincere thank you and let the advice percolate for a bit, deciding what to do. I could put off the publication date, or I could work really hard and fix it.
Being the seasoned professional I am, I fixed it. I worked late into the evening, I worked between customers at the bookstore. And I got more opinions from other writers. Frank Hutton, a photographer and writer I have been friends with (we met on Zoetrope.com and have worked on other projects together), gave me some invaluable advice about design, as well as well as some great feedback on the poems themselves. I have some blurbs coming up from other writers tomorrow who also gave me some awesome feedback.
So…I fixed it and went back to Sam. Would he be willing to give me a blurb? I had no idea. Maybe he didn’t want his name associated with this mess.
He replied a day later with this:
Unsong is a bit like a buffet with nuggets of wisdom you can choose to embrace until it fills your soul. Wonderful nibbles of hope that you will return to when you need a dash of light to repel the darkness.
—Sam Love, author of Awakening: Musings on Planetary Survival
I call it victory.
For more information about Sam and his poetry, check out his website. His books are also available in my store.
For more information about Frank Hutton, check out his blog: In Search of Perfect Light.
My second review for UnSong comes from an extremely talented poet and musician who I’ve actually met in person. The truly incredible thing about this woman is that she works tirelessly for other authors while at the same time managing her own career and family. I count myself lucky to have been introduced to her, and you can imagine how much her feedback on UnSong means to me!
Here’s her review:
In UnSong, Michelle Garren Flye’s poems invite the reader to take a pause from the busyness and stress of modern life: “I know the wild world calls— / you want to spread your wings; / but, stay, a little longer, dear, / put off your springtime flings.” In “River Bones,” “time comes to a halt” after the wind uncovers “forgotten memories, a bucket, a plate, / a fishhook left on the line too late.” While in “Everything Grows,” Flye invokes Shakespeare’s famous line from Sonnet #15: “When I consider everything that grows / holds in perfection but a little moment,” in order to express how hard it is to make time stand still: “Everything grows, everything rushes into the night.” Other poems reveal Flye’s sharp sense of humor (“What Good is a Girl?”) and wonder of the natural world such as in “I’m a December Tree” and “Now That I Am in Mid-Fall.” … As an added treat, Flye’s oems are paired with her own illustrations. Savor this collection written by a romantic, and experience the wonder of reading joyful and optimistic poems—a true balm in these troubled times.
—Alice Osborn, author of Heroes without Capes
Alice is extremely talented and you really should look her up. To help you out, here are a few links:
We interrupt our regularly scheduled stream of illustrated haiku for a special message:
UnSong, my collection of illustrated poems (which does contain some haiku but also has free verse, sonnets, etc.), will be published on Friday, April 30! I’ve already seen a hard copy proof and it’s pretty darn good, if I do say so myself.
And I don’t totally have to say so myself. I’ve been lucky enough to get some glowing advance reviews for UnSong from poets and writers I respect a great deal. Of course, I’m going to smash all of them onto the back cover (I already have and I’m hoping the type will be big enough to read…) But I also wanted to take some moments to brag a little and explain why each of these advance reviews means so much to me. So this week, I’ll be putting up early reviews from these wonderful, talented people so you’ll feel more confident when you go to buy UnSong.
Here’s one from the best poet you may never have heard of but should:
UnSong by Michelle Garren Flye is a wicked-smart mash up of verse and graphic art. Early in the book, an elegy to Ruth Bader Ginsberg is paired with a portrait of a woman in a black dress, seen from behind, her arms raised as if to enthrall an unseen crowd. Later, a brilliant untitled haiku takes as its subject our “Covid Days.” My favorite work in the book is a piece called River Bones: “… water rolls back to caress and cover the river’s bones with the touch of a lover …” Illustrated poetry books are hard to get right. UnSong nails it, the book rising above any limitations of the format. Buy this book!
—Dennis Mahagin, author of Grand Mal, and Longshot & Ghazal
I’ve “known” Dennis for several years. We’re both what I consider graduates of an online writers group called Zoetrope. Dennis was one of the first poets I knew in real/online life that I became a fan of. His poems are edgy and true, with a sprinkling of genius in some of the ways he uses words that I have never been able to capture in my own work. So he was one of the first people I approached with a request for a blurb. When he responded with the above paragraph, I felt a little like I’d won a prize or hit the best-seller list or…something pretty awesome.
If you want to check out some of Dennis’s work (and I do encourage it), Google him for some of his many online publishing credits, but you can also find his collection Grand Mal on Amazon, and he has a tumbler blog.