Love and Home Grown Magic, by Patricia Bossano

When you hear the word ‘Magic’, what fills your mind? Stardust. Moonlight. Fairy god witches?

When you read the word, ‘Love’, what then sweeps your memories? Home, Family, Children, one’s first romance? Come, read this book, and let these things fill you.

The first time I read Love and Homegrown Magic it looked straight forward .. for a while. Here is the tale of a girl, Maggie, who grows to womanhood, falls in love, marries, and in time becomes the matriarch of an extended family. And the children grow and find love and marry, hard things sometimes happen, and love sometimes fades, and people die. But always dreams are nurtured..

Maggie dreams of her own garden and nursery enterprise. But ten years pass in raising three daughters, and then her husband, Angelo, insists on their return to their home country. A bleak feature looms. But Maggie rallies. She is sure her dream has heavenly endorsement. Beginning with tubs on the kitchen window sill, she creates the Jardines LunaRosa where the first roses- and Maries’ daisies- blossom from special plantings by moonlight by her small children. Reading this, I immediately saw and accepted that it was an enchanted garden.

Darkness cloaked the hillside home, but light, as if from a dozen chandeliers, spilled out of the kitchen window as the auras of the green witch and her daughters flickered in bright flashes to the rhythm of their chatter. … The stars looked down on their charges and twinkled approvingly.‘Ch. 23.

I read the book again; and again finished it with reluctance, because now it was over. “How does she do that?” I asked myself about author Patricia Bossano’s story telling skill. “How did she make it seem that way?” But you can’t look too hard into these sorts of qualities for fear the spell of it all, like dreams, will slip away.

Love and Home Grown Magic is indeed a story of family, for perhaps magic is created by ourselves at what we feel is home, if only, like Maggie, we look upon it that way.

Where to find Love and Home Grown Magic: published 2020 by Water Bearer Press: BookDepository (free shipping), Book Shop Org (supporting local bookshops), Amazon and more.

Patricia Bossano has also written Faery Sight, Nahia and Cradle Gift. I reviewed her Seven Ghostly Spins on this blog here.

Where to unshroud Seven Ghostly Spins: From BookDepository (free shipping worldwide) and Amazon in Kindle and soft cover, Barnes and Noble in Kobo and soft cover,  also Waterstones and Chapters Indigo. Hardcover editions are also available. Or, ask your friendly local bookstore to order it in for you, and for your friends who appreciate a frission of the supernatural.

Mark is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears.

When a Brave Bear Fights Cancer by Carola Schmidt: Review by Joey Madia (playwright and teacher)

Here are excerpts from the thoughtful review by Joey Madia. (Please follow the links to read the whole of Joey’s article.)

“When a Brave Bear Fights Cancer is filled with photographs by Mark O’Dwyer, the author of the Mawson the Bear children’s series. Mawson—sort of a Winnie the Pooh, especially when considered through the lens of books like The Tao of Pooh—is a dreamer and seeker who is a big fan of naps and working with his equally inquisitive friends to explore just what it is that drives and fulfills us.”

“Written in simple, effective language, the book (Brave Bear) starts at initial diagnosis and goes through the various treatments one many encounter. The text and photographs work together to demystify complex ideas, soften the edge of what can be a scary idea through use of adorable bears, and to provide visuals of the doctor’s office and other venues.”

Three of the bears in the book read their copies. You can see Dr Caddy wearing her specs, patient Stiches in his dressing gown, and Nurse Bree.
‘You are not alone! Hold a paw, hug one another, makes friends with others on the journey.’ (Joey Madia)

About Joey Madia:
Please take a look at Newmystics.com to see more reviews by Joey Madia. He is a playwright, author, actor, and teacher. He is also artistic Director/Resident Playwright of Seven Stories Theatre Company. See more at www.newmystics.com. Joey also kindly reviewed Mawson Bear’s little book called Dreamy Days and Random Naps. See the link here.

Storytime Live on Facebook:
Joey’s and Tonya Madia do Live Facebook readings. Here they are reading When A Brave Bear Fights Cancer. They do the different voices and show the pictures in the book. Take a look too at Joey and Tonya reading on Crayola Education for the Read Along- Draw Along which featured another book by Carola Schmidt, Bald is Beautiful, an inspiring and uplifting story about loving your bald, beautiful head. (In When a Brave Bear Fights Cancer, our little hero Scotty also has the fur fall out after treatment! But with help from Little Teddy he realises he is still a wonderful bear.)

And now a word from Me, Mawson’s Guardian (Mark O’Dwyer).
I and all the bears in our house helped to make the pictures in this book In the pictures on this post you can see Brave Scotty, Little Teddy, Big Gus in the laboratory, and Stitches, a patient in the ward with Dr Caddy and Nurse Bree.

About the Book:
And now a word about When A Brave Bear Fights Cancer. The author Carola Schmidt is an award-winning author of children’s cancer books, and uses her experience as a pediatric oncology pharmacist to write scientific books for Springer Nature. You can usually find her on Twitter @_CarolaSchmidt. And you can find Scotty and his friends and Me, Mark, all over the bright web world including right here on this WordPress Den and at Baffled Bear Books.

Where to buy When A Brave Bear Fights Cancer: A Get Well Soon Gift:
Amazon everywhere, including Amazon UK and Amazon Australia and Brazil and Canada and India and Japan and Mexico and Sweden. Also Waterstones, Book Depository (with free shipping), Bookshop Org (supporting local bookshops) and Barnes and Noble.

You have wandered into Mawson Bear’s web-den. Mawson is a Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps) and the Writer-Bear of Dreamy Days and Random Naps and of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In  and She Ran Away From Love.

‘This little story made me well up. A lovely, poignant story with delightful illustrations.’ Jackie Law, Amazon Top 500 reviewer, about It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost in.

The book brings back such nostalgic memories that it made it comforting, like a  old security blanket.’  FNM Book reviews about Bright World.

When a Brave Bear Fights Cancer by Carola Schmidt: Review by Leanne


When a Brave Bear Fight Cancer a heartwarming book by Carola Schmidt and Mark O’Dwyer. This book breaks down the complexities of cancer. The text and images are simple yet informative making them accessible to readers of all ages!’

‘The explanation of tricky terminology is handled brilliantly and supported with brilliant visuals and images to support understanding. This is a great book to use with children who have been diagnosed with cancer or young children close to a family member diagnosed with cancer.’

The book is also positive and supportive and lets readers know they are special, unique and not alone. A fantastic resource everyone should invest in.”

What a lovely review. Thank you so much to Leanne. You can find her at @Lsignedstories on Twitter.

And now a word from Me, Mawson’s Guardian. I and all the bears in our house helped to make the pictures in this book You can see Brave Scotty, Little Teddy, Big Gus in the laboratory, and Stitches and Paddy who are patients too in the ward. Here is a picture of Scotty with Little Teddy.

About the Book:. And now a word about When A Brave Bear Fights Cancer. Carola Schmidt is an award-winning author of children’s cancer books, and uses her experience as a pediatric oncology pharmacist to write scientific books for Springer Nature. You can usually find her on Twitter @_CarolaSchmidt. And you can find Scotty and his friends and Me, Mark, right here on this WordPress Den and at Baffled Bear Books.

More LinksAmazon UK and Amazon Australia and Brazil and  Canada and India and Japan and Mexico and Sweden and Amazon all over the place. Also: Barnes and Noble and more soon.

You have wandered into Mawson Bear’s web-den. Mawson is a Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps) and the Writer-Bear of Dreamy Days and Random Naps and of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In  and She Ran Away From Love.

‘This little story made me well up. A lovely, poignant story with delightful illustrations.’ Jackie Law, Amazon Top 500 reviewer, about It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost in.

The book brings back such nostalgic memories that it made it comforting, like a  old security blanket.’  FNM Book reviews about Bright World.

Project Hail Mary, by Andy Weir

‘What’ is two plus two?’ With this thorny question, which our hero cannot answer, begins the epic space quest that will end all quests – especially if our hero (who doesn’t know who he is) gets it wrong.

I got so caught up in this book that I missed my train stop twice. For me, this was a strange achievement for a novel more packed with science than a textbook. But what exciting science it is. Both the story and the science move faster than a detective thriller. Our hero must detect through rapid experiments and improvisations, not made any easier by being in the wrong gravity, how to survive. Next, there is the question of fulfilling his mission, if only he could remember what it was.

I don’t want to add more to my above comments and to what the blurb (above) says for fear of accidentally spoiling the story. But I will note that one fascinating thing about it is the reverse-take on climate change. In this story, the earth is going to cool down fast, too fast. I am going to quote a bit. I’m sure the author won’t mind -perhaps its even part of the reason he wrote the novel, for all I know. That and a love of science.

‘Nineteen years. That’s my estimate for when half the people now alive will be dead. .. The math of famine is easy. Take all the calories the world creates with farming and agriculture per day and divide by about 1500. The human population cannot be greater than the number .. The major crops are sensitive to temperature changes. Dr Leclerc, Ch. 14.

Dr Leclerc goes on in grim detail about how the messed up climate will mess up food production. The mission boss, Ms Statt, adds how once agriculture is disrupted, hungry populations go to war against one another for the remainder, causing further disruption to food production and thus intensifying the famines. So there it is: whether our climate cools down too fast, as in this fictional scenario, or warms up two or three degrees, as in our actual terrifying reality, bad things happen.

This is not just Science Fiction; it is SCIENCE fiction. By the way, it turns out that high school science teachers rock. Just as well. It’s looking like only young scientists can save us.

I will leave you will a list of Very Important Scientific Equipment: String. Tape measure. Stop watch. Pen. Something to write on (or use your arm or a wall. Optional extras include sticky tape and popsicle sticks. Never get stuck in space without these essential items! Do you want to know why? Well, now you have to read the book, don’t you!

You might also enjoy my revisit, after 50 years! to The Foundation Series by Issac Asimov.

Where to find the Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir – who also wrote The Martian– which got turned into a movie with Matt Damon. Find it at BookDepository (free shipping) and Book Shop Org (supporting local bookshops). Or visit the sci fi section of your revered local bookshop. There is talk of turning Project Hail Mary into a movie too. But there is no way it could be as much fun as this book. Read it before the movie spoils it for you.

You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a dark coffee tragic and bibliophile as well as the Guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears.

Asimov’s Foundation: revisited

Long ago, in the dawn of galactic history, way back in the 1970s, on the crust of a planet orbiting an insignificant star on the fringe of the star charts, a small bipedal creature hunched over well thumbed copies of secret lore printed on cheap paper and marvelled at the immensity of space and time.

From one end of the galaxy to another there was a crumbling Empire; and only Hari Seldon’s successors could save its billions of people from 30,000 years of barbarism. Maybe other kids like me felt like misfits as we fumbled at games and got relegated out of teams to merely keep scores on sports days. But we were involved in the sweep of galactic history. We also knew the Laws of Robotics by heart. We read Asimov.

I spent the earnings of my paper rounds (remember those?) on Asimov’s books. When I had enough cash (remember cash?) I made my pilgrimage to the sacred local bookshop. I’d approach the cash register already reading the first page and cycle home to read late into the night, straining my eyes at the tiny print and firing up ganglion after ganglion in my brain. Weeks would have to then pass before I could afford the next title, so what did I do? I read the titles I already had over and over again.

Asimov’s Foundation series appealed to me because they they were NOT space operas in which brawny jocks blew up green aliens and rescued females clad in scraps of cloth and leather. There are certainly wars in the story but they take place on the fringes. All the action is comprised of talk: talk and thought; people using their brains to solve vast problems of strategy, politics and the sweep of history. (‘I am .. not a clef-chinned, barrel-chested hero of a subetheric trimension thriller’. General Bel Rios to Brodig. Foundation and Empire.). To a teenager who was regularly pummelled by cricket balls because he never worked out how to catch them, this was great reading.

Eons passed. Propelled by my interest in Table Top Wargames, I read much history, and realised that Asimov’s ‘pyscho-history’ was well based on the events on good old brutal Earth. The decay of his Galactic Empire is loosely modelled on the fall of Rome. General Bel Riose, who retakes parts of the old Empire but falls foul of a suspicious Emperor is obviously inspired by Flavius Belisarius who angered Emperor Justinian of Byztantium by being too successful. The “Traders” and their Association recalled to my mind the early aggressive European traders such as the Portuguese and, later, the powerful East India Company. There are many points of inspiration that I eventually spotted -and I imagine fellow Asimovians did too.

More eons passed – let’s call them ‘human decades’. There I was the other day browsing in the sacred local library, repository of the wisdom of the ages (and an astonishing number of Harry Potter books) when Lo! I chanced upon all three Foundation titles.

“Read us, Mark”, they called in that quieter-than-thought but unmissable voice that books transmit when they spot their likely readers (You all read a lot; you know the voice I mean.) “You’ve only read us a dozen times before. Take us home. You don’t even need to do a paper run in the rain any more. Borrow us. We’re free from your local library.” Readers, your Correspondent borrowed them.

What an intriguing return journey this is. It’s like returning to the town where you grew up but being now able to see it differently. Look, there on the second page are the ‘calculator pads’ that Asimov imagined in the 1940’s*. I thought it would be wonderful to have something like that – and now I do. I call it a ‘smart phone’. And there is the reference to the planetary power source that I did not understand at all in the 1970s but now know to mean thermal power. And look, there is the basis of all sci-fi travel, beloved by novelists and movie makers, without which their stories would be impossible even as improbable fiction – the notion of ‘Hyper Jumps’.

With the magic of hindsight, I can see too how Asimov was still stuck in the 1940s and 1950s despite the far reach of his imagination. For one thing, the characters read newspapers. Another oddity, is that although Asimov crafted his Robot novels on the idea of a ‘positronic brain’, there is little computerisation in the Foundation series – although, to be fair, he was imagining a decaying civilisation in which nothing new got invented. And there is the omission worthy of note even to a teenage boy in the 1970s: there are few women; and such who do appear, like Batya in Foundation and Empire, are introduced with cringeworthy emphasis on their looks. Tobacco smoking remains prominent and the men light up cigars at any excuse. Smoking inside space ships! The thought chokes me up.

*These stories by Isaac Asimov were first published in magazine form by Street & Street Publications and the first paperback editions in 1952 by Gnome Press. The 2016 edition by HarperVoyager is the one which I photographed above (with my calculator-pad-smart-phone.)

Where to find the Foundation series: At BookDepository (free shipping) and Book Shop Org (supporting local bookshops). Or visit the sci fi section of your revered local bookshop, repository of the wisdom of the ages and of books that will call to you from the shelves, “Take us home, take us home.”

You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a dark coffee tragic and bibliophile as well as the Guardian and blundering typist for Mawson Bear, Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears.

Mountaineering Bears Traverse Suilven

Mountaineering at its grandest. See Scotland. Be amazed by these intrepid bears. Grab your ropes, read on, and conquer the peaks!

These adventures are brought to you by Munroe, a bear with no fear of heights. (Mawson has climbed as many as four cushions but isn’t quite as skilled a climber as Munroe). Be sure to visit Munroe’s Web Den for all his climbs.

Munro The Mountaineering Bear

This summer four experienced members of the Mountaineering Bears and three instructors from Bear Lodge School of Bear Mountaineering set out for an adventure in the mountains of Assynt in North West Scotland. They planned to climb the two summits of Suilven Caisteal Liath and Meall Meadhonach .

The Route

The Team

Left to Right. Corbett, Emma, Archie, Miss Twiggy, Endon, LBB, Munro

As they prepare for their adventure the team were looking forward to exploring nature and some fine mountain views. They were also excited about making new pals as they worked together to tackle the challenges that lay ahead.

Big Ted the Principal of Bear Lodge has some advice for the furry adventurers ‘Have an exciting time, but don’t take unnecessary risks and don’t let the team get separated’

The bears started their adventure from Inverkirkaig and on route make a small diversion to visit the falls…

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When a Brave Bear Fights Cancer by Carola Schmidt: Review by Mrs Wylie


I loved this book for many reasons. It tackles a subject that is very difficult to explain to children in an extremely sensitive way, with beautiful pictures. It’s bright and colourful photographs are the perfect illustrations. I’m a big fan of Mawson Bear books. The use of photos is so unique!’

‘As a cancer patient myself, I’ve thought a lot about what it must be like for children . It’s such a scary thing, but this book will definitely help calm some of those fears with it’s clear explanations. I would love to see copies of this book in every hospital that treats children with cancer.’

What a lovely review. Thank you so much to Book Addict. You can find her at @bookaddict.twlie68 on Bearagram (Instagram) and on Twitter.

And now a word from Me, Mawson’s Guardian. I and all the bears in our house helped to make the pictures in this book You can see Brave Scotty, Little Teddy, Big Gus in the laboratory, and Stitches and Paddy who are patients too in the ward. Here is a picture of Scotty with Little Teddy and Dr Caddy and Nurse Bree.

Me Scotland The Brave sitting with Dr Caddy and Nurse Bree. I am holding my own Little Teddy.

About the Book:. And now a word about When A Brave Bear Fights Cancer. Carola Schmidt is an award-winning author of children’s cancer books, and uses her experience as a pediatric oncology pharmacist to write scientific books for Springer Nature. You can usually find her on Twitter @_CarolaSchmidt. And you can find Scotty and his friends and Me, Mark, right here on this WordPress Den and at Baffled Bear Books.

Mer, Scotland the Brave showing the wonderful book with Me in it .Its called When A Brave Bear Fights Cancer: A Get Well Soon Gift.

More LinksAmazon UK and Amazon Australia and Brazil and  Canada and India and Japan and Mexico and Sweden and Amazon all over the place. Also: Barnes and Noble and more soon.

You have wandered into Mawson Bear’s web-den. Mawson is a Ponderer of Baffling Things (between naps) and the Writer-Bear of Dreamy Days and Random Naps and of It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In  and She Ran Away From Love.

‘This little story made me well up. A lovely, poignant story with delightful illustrations.’ Jackie Law, Amazon Top 500 reviewer, about It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost in.

The book brings back such nostalgic memories that it made it comforting, like a  old security blanket.’  FNM Book reviews about Bright World.

 Landing On All Four Paws: The diary of a kitten called Ollie, by Ollie Cat

Cats rejoice! Ollie is here. By perusing his diary, the discerning cat (and aren’t all cats ‘discerning’) can be taken through important questions such as how to successfully enter a new household, how relate to the other established felines, and how to manage the Two-legged-furless-food-bowl-filler-person.

‘There’s a lot of work involved in being a kitten. It’s not all lying around looking cute and adorable, you know, although that is part of my job description.’ Ollie speaking (on the day of The Great Toilet Paper Debacle.)

The Lazy Paws Guest House for Discerning Felines

The Pet Shop Man phoned The Cat Lady of Brook Street about a kitten who had lost his home. She called him Ollie, ‘and he didn’t stop crying.’ Meeting a line up of six huge cats, Garfield, Sam, Billy. Timmy, Ricky and Charlie, when he arrived only frightened him more.

Great Garfield, the Obi Wan Kenobi of Felines

But Garfield takes kindly to the kitten and helps him to understand important things. ‘Cats live alongside, humans and … we help them, guide them, show them the way.’ Mentored by wise Garfield, Ollie learns the ways of the Guest House and how to enjoy his life. Napping, eating, exploring, watching the birds, and dancing with butterflies are important parts of his curriculum.

Some Things To Not Do, Apparently

Trying to dig a way out of a laundry by making an artistic hole in a new mat. Peeing on a cushion. Leaping out from behind doors on unsuspecting fellow cats. Peeing on the cushion again. Jumping on other cat’s tails. Chewing the knitting wool. Helping to sweep by standing on the broom. Bounding on to Mum’s bed at 4.30 am.

The Great Cat In The Sky

As he gets a bit bigger, Ollie also learns how to swing from the curtains, do daring roof climbs, and to make neighbourhood friends. From Garfield he learns the stories of cats who have lived before in the house, and how to Say Goodbyes.

‘The Great Cat gives us a certain amount of time with the two-legged furless ones … and its up to us .. to teach humans about life and how to get the best out of it.’ Garfield to the house hold cats.

‘I, Ollie, ,the award-winning Diary writer Extraordinaire, have danced with Butterflies’. Ollie, in May

 Landing On All Four Paws: The diary of a kitten called Ollie, by Ollie Cat, is now available on Amazon. (FREE too, if you use Kindle Unlimited.) The author dedicates it to “all the cats I’ve known and loved, and those I’ve yet to meet.” Take a look. You will purr, you will growl, y ou will discover cat Tai chi, you will curl up for a nap, and you will get a bit teary. And look out for his further adventures – coming soon.

Don’t miss Ollies further adventures.

The author: Pauline Dewbery helped Ollie to record his adventures. She trained to be an editor and had many articles published in teen girl’s magazines. Pauline is a pet bereavement counsellor. The Daily Mews is Pauline Dewberry’s popular website for cat lovers. With cat humour and jokes, caption contests, guest articles about cat care and cat antics, it is your ‘purrfect way to start the day.’ It provides, among other things, a space to respectfully reflect on feelings of grief for our passed pets, for instance, in the tributes called “Napping on A Sunbeam”.

Cover of For Such A Time As This, by Pauline Dewberry

Pauline also wrote For Such A Time As This: My journey through cancer. How love and my cats sustained, fortified me, and helped take the pain away. This is listed at Amazon UK and Amazon USA and on Amazon Australia. and more. It’s about $3 on Kindle and in some regions its FREE to read with Kindle unlimited.

You are at Mark’s blog called Baffled Bear Books. Mark is a dark coffee tragic, bibliophile and Guardian of Mawson Bear, a Ponderer of Baffling Things and one of this bright world’s few published bears.

What is it that makes the Attack at Fromelles resonate with Australians? ‘Don’t forget me, cobber’

Fromelles Anniversary Book Bundle.
What is it that makes the Attack at Fromelles resonate with Australians? Fromelles Anniversary Book Bundle from Odyssey Books comprises three fascinating WWI stories from Australian authors July 19-20, 1916 The Battle of Fromelles was Australia’s first action on the Western Front. It was disastrous. Arguably the worst 24 hours in Australian […]

Don’t forget me, cobber

Clare Rhoden, who wrote the above blog post, is the author of the novel, The Stars In The Night. Nora waits through the years for Harry to come home. But he harbours fears whether she can accept him after what he has been through. Eddie hopes for a life with French girl Claudelle. It is a story too of love between men, between the brothers-in-arms, Harry and Eddie, Wallis, Hartigan, Alex. From Gallipoli to Flanders the war thunders over all of them like the endless numbing artillery barrages. But it does not end for them when the guns fall silent. My review is here.

Another novel about WW1 that I have reviewed here on this blog ‘Nursing Fox‘ by Jim Ditchfield which focuses on the nurses who worked in field hospitals closer to the trenches than many people realise. You can read about it here.

Acknowledgement: The graphics shown here are by courtesy of Clare Rhoden and Odyssey Books.

Mark, your reviewer here, is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears.

Subliminal Dust, by Pooja Mittal: Poetry from Odyssey Books

Silence is never silent so long as there is a listening ear. (Back cover of book.)

After four readings of Subliminal Dust I am still finding lines to enjoy differently. The poems bring out voices in movements, whispers amid chaos, sounds trapped in small rocks, the stretching voids of unspoken emotions, terribly pale silences.

There is music in this triangle, as in a shell ..

subliminaldust 2865

Iain Sharp of The Sunday Star said of Pooja Mittal, ‘Exceptional … A voice rather like that of a Zen master – insightful and enigmatic in about equal measure‘.  Zen often springs to mind on reading her poems, in particular the notion of koans.

Kōan, in Zen Buddhism of Japan, is described as a succinct paradoxical statement or question. The effort to “solve” a koan is intended to exhaust the analytic intellect and the egoistic will, readying the mind to entertain an appropriate response on the intuitive level.

I don’t suggest that Mittal intended her work in quite that way but certainly her images and unexpected juxtapostions had that effect for me. They set you loose from the usual tightness of linguistic meanings and adrift into the spaces and arenas of one’s own mind.

Gentle universes that float past 
like tall, starry ships .

A favourite poem for me is ‘Seducing A Poem’ (p. 26), which so well conveys the frustrations of writers and the patience needed to bring to the fore that elusive something that you know you must write down, somehow.

.. come here poppet on little black shoes ..

Pooja Mittal has been widely published  since the age of 13. At 17 she was the youngest Featured Poety ever in Poetry New Zealand. In 2007 she was featured in The Best Australian Poetry 2007. Her work has been performed in Moscow in Russian translation.

Subliminal Dust was published in 2010 by Odyssey Books . This publisher also brings out more fine poetry by artists around the world. For instance, consider looking at How To Wake A Butterfly by Loic Ekinga and at When No One is Watching by Linathi Makanda, poets based in South Africa.

Where to read and buy Subliminal Dust:
See the links here to publisher Odyssey  Books, to Amazon (where it is FREE on Kindle Unlimited, to Bookshop Org, to BookDepository (free shipping) and Waterstones UK.

Mark is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears. He is the writer-bear of She Ran Away From Love and  It’s A Bright World To Feel Lost In

When No One Is Watching: Poems by Linathi Makanda

The poetry of Linathi Makanda is both universal and about searing personal experiences. I think each reader will find something here that particularly resonates for themselves. Often poems can each be read as stand alone experiences whether or not they are linked with others. This compilation cries out to be read as one poem and journey.

‘Love Rising’

The four parts begin with ‘Love Rising’ and here the poet’s thoughts may at first seem to concern the common enough subject of poems, looking for love and yearning to be wanted for oneself. The poet is young and confident. She trusts in her love and her lover.

‘.. I am liberated.
Let us join hands on arrival, let us celebrate.’

But even in early pages there are suggestion that this is not going to be about starry-eyed love somehow resolving itself. The poet is already thinking beyond her situation to that of other women.

‘My mother never talks about love
Only about the men she’s lost.’

I was also intrigued that next to a joyous poem about her lover she places memories of her grandfather, good memories, which will be a contrast to her later bitter thoughts on men.

‘Love Lost’

Now the story evolves into one well known to too many, one of hurt, betrayal and self doubt while struggling to put on a brave front. The poet offers lines about thoughts people hide tightly within and do not share even with those they trust ( … ‘My mother doesn’t know’..). The poems are not complex, the language is the easy rhythm of spoken English, yet time and again Makanda can express the universal feelings of self doubt and insecurity in a few plain words.  This question, for instance, asked by all wounded souls, will inform the rest of the book.

Why can’t you see me?

‘Internal Uprising’

In the bitter lines of ‘Internal Uprising’, we see doubt and hurt rise to anger, anger directed to oneself as much as anyone. As the narrator curls up into depression, her thoughts turn again to where she could surely seek support, her mother. But she cannot ask:

‘How do I tell my mother I attract men who do not stay?
How do I tell her I attract men like my father?’

In the midst of lines about blaming all on men, she can still see that they are not the whole crux of her turmoil.

‘Sometimes these men do not hurt us.
We hurt ourselves.’

And then she is taken down and taken very low.

It smells like it wasn’t my fault but it feels like it was.

At this point, I just stopped reading.  I felt I had seen something too private and raw for some reader or other like me to stumble over even in a published book. I picked it up again because the poet has chosen to express the dark hour known to far too many women, and so it is for knowing.

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Hope Rising

 Because within this book each reader will find lines that resonate with their own memories, experiences and dark hours, I think it is important to know that the last part concerns Hope.  The narrator thrashes her way back above chasms of suicidal thoughts by caring about herself and expressing hope through art and poetry for fellow women. She is writing now:

‘ .. A letter to all the mothers who have daughters that hurt when on-one is watching.’

When No One Is Watching is an emotional journey for the reader and one well worth taking.

Linathi Thabang Makanda is a South African-based writer of poetry and prose. She strives to portray genuine emotion through her writing and photographic art. She believes in creating a home, through her crafts, for people trying to find their voices. Her website also offers work beyond her poems such as the videos Letters To The Ones We Miss. (Please be mindful of the trigger warnings.)

Where to find When No One is Watching, by Linathi Makanda.
Publisher Odyssey Books, from BookDepository (free shipping worldwide), also Bookshop Org, Waterstones, Amazon (in Kindle too) and Barnes and Noble .  (The images here are courtesy of the author and the publisher, Odyssey Books).

I encourage you to also consider the poetry of Loic Enkinga. How to Wake a Butterly can be found at Bookshop Org, at BookDepository (free shipping), Waterstones, Amazon in Kindle and also in paperback, and Barnes and Noble, among others. My review of this collection can be read here. This too is published by Ensorcellia, an imprint of Odyssey Books where you can find more fine poetry.

Mark is the guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears.

Poetry: How to Wake a Butterfly, by Loic Ekinga

The author wrote How To Wake a Butterfly during a lockdown, when he was forced to look at his life and retrace the many things that have nurtured his character. His starting point is the famous reflection by Zhuangzi that begins, ” Once upon a time I dreamt I was a butterfly ..”

.. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was myself. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know if I was then a man dreaming I was butterfly or whether I am now a butterfly dreaming I am a man.

Within a few pages I sensed something of an irony in that choice of quote, for it becomes clear that the poet has too rarely been conscious of happiness until recently. Even birth was traumatic.

‘ .. the baby (you) is out out of here .. its a boy/ its a problem/ its a screaming caterpillar … Will the baby grow wings/ he has known so much hurt already (How it Began).

When he is about ten, mother leaves, leaving behind the boy and his brother with a hurt, silent father (‘We grew into hollow men, my brother and I’ ). Many years later he asks her why she went away (‘while I’m trying to hold her hand through the phone’).

‘I’ve found no comfort, son.
I left for you, because sometimes,
To save the hand, you cut off a finger’.

So young, he turns to comfort in prayers and religion but to no avail.

‘I was told, God listens to little boys’ prayers,
Yet I felt my heart sink and dry
On my pillow at night
Lke my parents’ marriage, In Jesus’ name, Amen.’
(On my Parents Divorce)

The poems move through Loic’s boyhood memories and he mentions terrible things – war, bombs, machetes. But he does not dwell on these. He reflects instead on the people who helped to form him: his parents, brothers, and in particular his grandmother. ‘Theres’s a father that never came close, A child that never left for school, a little boy crying in an unfamiliar neighbourhood. There’s an uncle telling him to man up, There’s a mother that never left a note ‘. Always he returns to the most important struggle of his life, as it seemed to me, to unlearn the silence that he had learned from his father.

‘My father taught me to be a wielder of silence’.

The sections on the poet’s early years and young manhood, Caterpillar and Cocoon, I found to be a challenging read, to be honest, with line after line sending me off on reflections of my own. However, in the last section, ‘Butterfly’, the poet emerges from the cocoon of heartache and doubts and is able to accept himself, He can allow himself not only to love but to be loved. And isn’t that what we all search for in the end?

So how do you wake a butterfly?

‘If you can, I say, – Without bruising its wings -With a hug’.

Loic Ekinga Kalonji is a Congolese poet, storyteller, and a screenwriting enthusiast. His work in poetry and fiction focuses on the human experience and memories.Loic has been featured in many online publications such as Type/Cast Magazine, Ja. Magazine, Poetry Potion, and The Kalahari Review. His experimental chapbook Twelve Things You Failed at As A Man Today was an honourable mention by JK Anowe for Praxis Magazine Online. His short story ‘Loop’ has been adapted into a short film. He is a finalist of Poetry Africa’s Slam Jam competition 2020. Loic currently resides in the south of Johannesburg where he reads, writes, and daydreams.

How to Wake a Butterly, by Loic Ekinga, is published by Ensorcellia, an imprint of Odyssey Books, in 2021
You can also find it at Bookshop Org, at BookDepository (free shipping), Waterstones, Amazon in Kindle and also in paperback, and Barnes and Noble, among others.

I encourage you to also look at, from Odyssey Books, When No One Is Watching by Linathi Makanda. See my review here.

Mark is guardian and blundering typist for Mawson, one of this bright world’s few published bears.