Posts Tagged ‘writers’

“Autumn Poem of mid November”,

November 11, 2013


Sunset in a Violent Sky, copyrighted, 2007, janekohut-bartels, watercolor

Sunset in a Violent Sky, copyrighted, 2007, janekohut-bartels, watercolor

Recently I had the particular joy of having Nick Nicholson in our home for a number of days.  Nick is an old friend, or at least one of 7 plus years.  We met when we both were new writers on a particular website (ERWA) and through those hard years learned something about writing.  Nick was on holiday from Canberra, Australia.  He had spent around five weeks touring Paris, Venice, Prague, New York City, and then he came to us in Atlanta.  We didn’t get much sleep over those four days.  In part it was because we were working on a new book together.  Nick has offered to do the cover and photos (graphics, etc.) of “The Nightingale’s Song”, and I couldn’t  be happier. This is the first time in 5 books that I have had a collaborator.  It’s a different experience, and it helps that Nick is someone who is so larded with gifts.  He is a musician, painter, writer, poet and also a crack photographer.  He sent some shots of an afternoon’s work in a local park in Canberra, and just about everyone of these pictures could be used in “Nightingale”.  I was overwhelmed with the riches of his imagination and camera. Nick took back the manuscript and when his part of the work is done, it will be published from Australia.  Maybe later this winter, maybe this spring.  I’m not worried.  In Nick’s capable hands, it will be a better book than with the vision and poetry of just one.

Lady Nyo



Autumn Poem of mid November,


This waning Autumn season,

That bursts upon the mindscape

Through the vehicle of landscape

And mingles dazzling elements

Of color, odors, tangled undergrowth,

Where things are lost in each other

And plausible limits vanish,

And with the passage of days,

Or  a violent rainstorm—

The Earth is transformed in scarcity,

A stretching silence

Insulated by hoar frost and later snow,

Where color is corralled

Like old black and white horses

Barely moving against bitter grey of day.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2013

Book Review: “Can’t Sleep: poems, 1987-2007”, by Steve N. Isaak

May 17, 2010

It’s not easy to crit poetry.  Especially when it is the work of a friend.

In reading Steve Isaak’s new first book, my immediate thought was:  “You’ve waited 20 years before publishing this?  And Why?”

Twenty years in the wait, but I have to say  this is the best book of poetry I have read in years.

Many of us are uncomfortable in critting poetry: as we read, we try to ‘fit in’ the poet’s world.  We try to understand the rhythm and bones of their particular poetic expression, but realize poetry is such a subjective issue, we wonder if we can really understand the pulse coursing through a collection of poems.

I hold poetry has the power to make those links, to make that resonance in readers and to expand universes, to enlarge our own lives through the  shaped worlds of another poet.

Steve Isaak has written a book of poetry that has this particular power, that has so much going for it, it’s almost impossible to put down.  The richness of the imagery is cinematic, but loses nothing to emotional depth.  Steve’s power of observation and construction  in these poems is masterful.  They sing of a profound and original intelligence, and are not  easy or a casual read at all.  He takes a known poetic language and stands it on it’s head.  These poems….all 94 of them!!, demand attention, concentration, an openness to this particular ride and they create an introspection as an afterburn.

Steve twists the English language into something that carries his message well.  Most poets do this to some extent, bending words, meanings, fending to the left and going right, etc., but Steve does it and never loses our interest or us, maybe befuddling but enriching this particular stew poem he is stirring.

This is 20 years of work, and I would have liked to see some dates on the poems, just out of curiosity.  But that is just me. It’s not necessary, and there is such a compilation of  sentiments, memories, events ….he’s made poetry, and strong poetry out of very personal incidents but they transcend the particularly personal-of -Steve…and have a universality about them.  This, in my estimation…is that all-important resonance that so much poetry lacks.  I can’t say I understand all of these references, but that doesn’t matter.  There are so many poems to satisfy at a very deep level that it’s quite a cornucopia of delights.

Steve writes dimensionally. That’s the only way I can describe his poetry.  I kept thinking of 3-dim. something.  There’s the surface, what the words are saying…there’s the emotional middle, where Steve writes from the gut and isn’t ashamed to declaim it….and then that third level where the poem reveals itself, launches off, is given shape and form in our own understanding.  That resonance thing, again.  This is that Aha! moment where we recognize that web of connectivity between creations, between efforts.

Every poet has their favorite form of poetry.  Steve has 4 cinquains, 2 haikus, and 1 tanka and 2 haibun.  The rest are freeverse….85 by my count.  His two haiku are  exquisite.


Seasons no matter:

water links different stones,

placid, accepting.

And this:

October rain

Autumn drops tremble

leaves but don’t fall –us, wet or

not, balanced, held.

There are so many poems in this book that rise to a haunting level, one can feel quite overwhelmed in reading. “ Charnel”, a freeverse, made me wince.  It’s rock-bed reality that comes at you like a nightmare.  At least I hope it’s a nightmare.

I admit I have to go back to this book to reread it.  It is like falling down a rabbit hole:  There are so many layers to these poems, and so many poems, that this becomes a committed exercise.  But it’s so worth it.  The mosaic of these poems is complete and satisfying but they don’t come easy.

Buy this book and settle in for at least a weekend of reading.  Steve has written 94 poems, some of great, luminous beauty.  This book is a startling and exhilarating example of what poetry can be.  You might be lost in one or two of them….but that’s because you blinked.

Can’t Sleep: poems, 1987-2007, Steve N. Isaak, published by—2007/6470659

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Damn….I’m slow. GET A GRIP, Jane!

March 20, 2009

I should mention here that I have been invited this weekend to guest blog on “OhGetAGrip”.

Lisabet Sarai invited me a while ago, right after “A Seasoning of Lust” came out.  I am very grateful to her (and others… ) for the invite.

Her topic was belly dancing and the effects on her earlier life.

I am posting a blog entry on belly dancing, so hit that site if you want to read.  However, hit that site anyway because it’s a great site with some GREAT writers:  Helen Madden, RG, Lisabet, Garce, and others.

FIRST DAY OF SPRING and I’m ready for some big changes.

Later for that, next week, but have some new news…

Lady Nyo

95 year old Aunt Jean wrote yesterday,

December 2, 2008

and since she won’t be reading this blog, I will spill the beans…

I have few living relatives…but those that are seem to reach their 90’s. At least if they are women. That’s the good news for me because I am one.

Aunt Jean and I have been writing casually for years. That is something that you do. However, she and I have discovered so much in common over the past year, that we keep the letters going every month, health issues allowing.

Aunt Jean is Hungarian. She was born there, and her family was that class of land owners who were rather from the feudal times. That isn’t remarkably unusual in pre-Communist Hungary, but it’s interesting to know her history.

Her family owned a villa and a vineyard in I believe in the Northeast part of Hungary, near the Russian border. Of course with the Revolution of ’56, they lost the property, but the Russian government gave her (as the surviving relations-owner) a plane ticket their every year. She goes back every year to look over the family property (or what was…) and the vineyards, and she is treated like royalty when she does by the townspeople. Feudalism dies slowly in those parts of the world. That’s why it’s called “Old World” I guess.

Aunt Jean is quite the international traveler. Apparently she is well connected in Europe and knew the Gabor sisters. Some bad blood passed between Za Za Gabor, and they have to be seated at opposite ends of the table because they snipe at each other in Hungarian. Or so the stories go.

Aunt Jean is quite the matriarch in our family, and probably the most interesting woman. She told me in her letter yesterday:

“As per your comment on us being much alike! you are quite right. Hope you are sitting down, Jane-Elizabeth as you read this letter! As a teenager, I too wanted to be a dancer on stage!! Dancer with the Radio City Rocketts!!! A far reach! Only the wish was there. Not strong enough to pursue it!!!…As I grew older, another wish was to write articles and be my profession. One great wish was to write the plight of the black people of Africa. (came up with the title, but can’t spell it..will mention it in my next letter..)”

I am in awe of this woman. She raised two girls (cousins) one who died, (Carole) years ago, and Pam who lives her late 60’s I believe. Life and marriage got in the way of her ‘life-plans’…but Aunt Jean is a writer of great repute in any case. She is known for her letters …sometimes over 30 a month, (and they are hand-written and long letters) and she keeps correspondence going all over the globe. At 95, with painful shingles and failing eyesight. Her writing is beautiful and testimony to a careful education in those things that were valuable to a woman of her class.

Aunt Jean is probably the biggest and strongest family influence in my life as a writer. She ‘loves my poetry’ (tanka) and even though it’s erotica, she doesn’t buck. I have a feeling that Aunt Jean probably doesn’t know what erotica is, but she does love Tasha Tudor, and 65 years ago bought her books for her two daughters. She wrote just a few weeks ago, mourning Tasha Tudor’s passing at 93. She still has Tudor’s books on her coffee table.

Aunt Jean writes “Jane-Elizabeth! Yes, this is the most amazing time of technology and digital time we live it. Not enough people stop and pause to think about it as the cycle of the Earth turns~! What will it reveal next? As I watch a plane take off, I marvel at the power it has to lift tons and tons of people and all else!! Each generation born, has new technology already in mind. Hope you can read most of this letter. I keep trying!!”

Dear Aunt Jean. If I could do and appreciate a fraction of what you have done in your life,…I will die a good and completed woman. Your spirit and deeds are remarkable for any time, but your ambition shows a keen intelligence and drive, and that you held these wonderful ambitions all your life, and especially that you sacrificed it all to marriage and raising my cousins, is merit enough.

I love you so much Aunt Jean, and as you say: “Coming in haste (answering my last letter fast…) because the future is fading faster than the setting sun!! At this age, I have to ignore Emily Post!~

Well, I wish you another 95 years because you are one of the most fascinating woman I have ever met. I am so proud to be your niece and to have so much that we share in common. You called the other day, and I feel so ashamed that I have not kept up with our phone calls. Life gets in the way. And I am also ashamed that my Hungarian has fallen off, and you can’t really understand my accent anymore. And that the only words I can remember you wouldn’t use in ANY company….

I love you, Aunt Jean, and my first book, “A Seasonings of Lust”…the one that you have pushed me and pushed me to publish….and even though it is all erotica, and your toes would probably turn up if you read it, well,…

It’s dedicated to my dearest Aunt Jean…because you are the roots of it.

Lady Nyo and Jane-Elizabeth (Aunt Jean, being the only one in the family that consistently calls me my proper name…except my mother when she is mad at me…)

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