As we return to normal, I’m seeing lots of signs of people forgetting. It’s human nature, of course, to want to forget pain and sorrow and fear. Part of our makeup as a species. But I had big hopes we could come through this more together than ever. That’s the poet in me, always wanting to be optimistic even when reality nips my heels like an annoying chihuahua.
Anyway, this poem has been on here before, but never like this. It’s in my book of illustrated poetry UnSong, also.
I haven’t shared anything here in a while because I’m working hard on 100 Warm Days of Haiku. And my daughter thinks I share too much of my books before they’re published. She’s not wrong. It’s a delicate balance sharing enough to intrigue you but not enough to make it not worth your while to buy the book when it comes out. However, today is my 26th wedding anniversary and I just drew a very romantic haiku. 🙂 So I thought I’d share it. Here, for your reading and viewing pleasure, is Haiku 52, which will be in my upcoming poetry book, !00 Warm Days of Haiku.
I cannot tell you how much it means to find a positive new review for one of your books. The surge of triumph, heartwarming and uplifting… For poets, this feeling may be elusive, but it’s just as powerful, if not more so. It’s why we writers risk rejection so willingly. Because we’re basically junkies for that feeling.
So you can imagine how I felt when I found this review on Amazon:
If you haven’t read UnSong yet, you’re missing out. Reviewers (my fellow poets) had already proclaimed it “wicked-smart” (Dennis Mahagin, author of Grand Mal), “joyful and optimistic” (Alice Osborn, author of Heroes Without Capes), and “a dash of light to repel the darkness” (Sam Love, author of Awakening: Musings on Planetary Survival). Now it’s got five stars on Amazon!
Has it really been more than a week since I posted an illustrated haiku? Trust me, I haven’t been idle. I’m working hard to get out my next illustrated poetry book 100 Warm Days of Haiku by fall. Which basically means I need to keep pace with what I did in April. Today I’m slowing down a little, but I have one ready for Mother’s Day, anyway.
This one is for the mothers. All the mothers. The mothers like me who were lucky enough to go the traditional route. The mothers of fur babies. The male mothers. The single mothers. The childless mothers. The adopted mothers. The old mothers, the new mothers, the tired mothers, the sad mothers, the happy mothers, the proud mothers, the I-don’t-know-why-I-did-this mothers, the will-this-ever-end mothers (yes…and no), the confused mothers (all of us), the grandmothers, the unexpected mothers, the I’m-supposed-to-be-an-aunt mothers… All the mothers.
My heart is with you all. Because we all know what it is to love someone else more than ourselves.
We shouldn’t be so damn hard on ourselves, but those precious lives we take on our souls are a burden we willingly bear—and often worry we didn’t bear well enough.
For you, mothers.
Today is usually both a relief and a sad day for me because I love National Poetry Month. 🙂 In case you couldn’t tell. I enjoy challenging myself by writing a poem a day. I love reading others’ poetry, and this month I took it a step further and invited local poets to submit recordings of themselves reading one of their poems, which I then posted on my store’s social media.
It’s a been a good month.
If you’ve enjoyed my illustrated haiku, thank you. They’ve been a great deal of fun to come up with. I’m planning to continue through the summer (though not posting them online, sorry) and at the end I hope to have something I can be proud enough of to publish with the title “100 Warm Days of Haiku”. This one will be different since I’m getting more confident with my use of color. It’ll still be pretty cheap as a Kindle book, but the physical book may be a bit more expensive since I’d like to publish it in color this time.
In the meantime, please consider giving my first collection of illustrated poetry, “UnSong”, a try. It’s available online today. I don’t have physical copies in my store yet because I worked on it right up til the deadline to make sure it was something I could be proud of (and I am).
So here it goes. I’m releasing UnSong on the world. I hope it doesn’t hurt too much.
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.