Now with added…Flair!: The Pirate Costume

Melanie Atherton Allen discusses the intersection of creativity and costume making. See Melanie in her amazing costumes.

Fiction Can Be Fun

There are several ways in which Debs and I meet new writer-friends, one being through the shared experiences of the April A2Z Challenge.  Our reading interests overlap a great deal, as you might expect, and we share a great deal of admiration for this month’s guest, Melanie Atherton Allen.  Melanie has an amazing imagination, and the way in which she is able to produce coherent bodies of work from multiple perspectives is a joy to behold.  There is a temptation to compare some of her work to…well, I won’t say, because that would be to do Melanie a disservice.  She is herself, and you should check out her ‘blaugh’ for yourself.  But now, over to Melanie!

The DoctorThank you, David and Debs, for inviting me to do this! It has been a surprisingly difficult piece to write (because I am usually a 100% fiction kind of gal, and I’m actually not…

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Always

Anyone’s memory can be erased
except yours friend
seems your shadow will stay
haunting mind, heart, soul

from the moment you left
the pictures of you repeating
always

Understanding the Why of Actions: Curtis Smith Interviews Ayesha F. Hamid

Please check out my interview with Curtis Smith

Small Press Reviews

100879941_678076676306203_5147643859034963968_nAyesha F. Hamid is a poet and creative nonfiction writer, published in Big Easy ReviewPhilly Flash Inferno, and Rathalla Review. Her full-length memoir, The Borderland Between Worlds, is available through Auctus Publishers at Barnes and Nobles, Amazon, and Target. Ayesha also has a full-length poetry collection called Waiting for Resurrection. Ayesha holds an M.F.A. in Creative Writing and an M.A. in Publishing from Rosemont College. She also holds an M.A. in Sociology from Brooklyn College. She is the Editor-in-Chief at The City Key. Aside from writing, Ayesha also loves travel and photography.

Curtis Smith: Congratulations on The Borderland Between Worlds. I’m always interested in a book’s journey, especially with an independent press. Can you tell us about your experience?

Ayesha F. Hamid: During my first year at Rosemont’s Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, I took my…

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Escape, 2020

A woman scribbles with the movement of her pen
is able to change what’s unpleasant
and describes only water that drips below
or birds that sing above
a melody forcing her ear to pay homage
as she writes of sun rays lighting
the earth with yellow, green, blue
all the while avoiding thoughts of the virus
raging outside or asking if the pandemic
will bring humanity to its knees

Isolation

Even herculean imagination
will not bring the mind to reason
that newcomers mean no harm
mean only to lead
towards better destinations,
maybe, even to a place like Shangri-La.

Could they really be different
than the ones who arrived
lifetimes ago and left their scars?

In the beginning they too were sweet
yet always unknown
were calculations and secret needs
and the eventual picking off
of whatever was left of the flesh
fists thrusting further
to the heart underneath,
until reaching
the seat of the soul, Trust
which when shaken
is rarely ever the same.

So, imagination remains contained
as caution creeps up the spine
protecting the body from any more incursion
always parrying away to avoid a final blow.

The Book of Stone by Jonathan Papernick – A Book Review by Ayesha Hamid

A single event, in our lives, can make us question everything, changing beliefs we thought were permanent and moving the future towards a drastically different direction. The main character in Jonathan Papernick’s The Book of Stone, Matthew Stone, deals with precisely such a life changing event, which makes him question everything. Walter Stone, Matthew’s father and a well-known judge, passes away and leaves his son haunted by his father’s unmet expectations. While Walter Stone was alive, Matthew rebelled against everything he stood for, but after his death, Matthew changes significantly, trying to emulate everything his father was. In his effort to become more like Walter, Matthew starts interacting with his father’s associates who introduce him to new ideas about what it means to be Jewish.

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Although The Book of Stone is a work of fiction, Papernick fully immerses the reader into the book’s reality. As characters in the book consider important questions of morality and existence, the reader is also asked to consider the same questions. The Book of Stone is expertly crafted and creates a convincing plot sure to leave readers on the edge of their seats. Papernick’s use of imagery, language, and flashbacks helps to create an ever engaging reading experience. Wonderfully weaved throughout the book, well-researched historical references give the reader greater insight into Jewish history, the Holocaust, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Jonathan Papernick is the author of two short-story collections, including The Ascent of Eli Israel and There Is No Other. He is the writer-in-residence at Emerson College. The Book of Stone is published by Fig Tree Books.

T. Nicole Cirone’s Nine Nails: A Review by Ayesha F. Hamid

How much pressure can a spouse’s loyalty and fidelity withstand? How seriously do individuals take their vows of marriage? How many times can someone help another human being who is clearly lost and has no compass? The answer to these, as well to other questions, are explored in T. Nicole Cirone’s beautifully written novel, Nine Nails.

In the beginning of the book, things are going great for Nicole – she has a rewarding career as a teacher and has loving and close relationships with her family, including with her twelve-year old daughter and her parents who live next door. Nicole finds love in a charming, handsome, and successful man who was once a childhood friend. The couple marries, and everything is perfect.

Though not obvious at first, a troubling pattern emerges. Nicole’s husband has episodes where depressing and destructive feelings overwhelm him. Sometimes, he locks himself in his room. He spends a lot of time at the bar. He becomes abusive and calls his wife names. According to him, Nicole is the cause of his unexpected behavior, and she cannot do anything right. On the other hand, he can’t do anything wrong. Though another woman may have already ended the relationship by this point, Nicole continues to keep her marriage vows in the forefront of her mind, trying to help her spouse through addiction and turmoil. Her love for her husband abides through every imaginable test and speaks to something that is difficult to find, a fixed heart that continues to be able to withstand anything and everything to preserve the possibility of what could be. Will Nicole’s husband be able to change and keep Nicole’s love, or is the marriage doomed to fail?

Nine Nails is gripping and the author’s skilled use of pacing will keep the reader turning pages to find out what happens next. Cirone places us perfectly in scene with vivid descriptions of time and place. Her use of language is equally masterful as word choices are both meaningful and exquisite. The combination of language and craft details are sure to make Nine Nails a favorite book for readers as well as writers. Nine Nails rises to the level of great literature, transcending time and person and focusing on universal themes regarding human love and loss. It is also a cautionary tale from which much can be learned. Nine Nails is definitely a must-read.

Nine Nails is published by Serving House Books and is available on Amazon.com.

My Memoir: The Borderland Between Worlds

Hi Everyone, Please check out my debut memoir, The Borderland Between Worlds which explores issues of immigration, belonging, bullying and mental health. “Not fully belonging anywhere or with anyone is a great burden to bear..but it can be a place of incomparable strength.” The Borderland Between Worlds is available on Amazon https://amzn.to/38RanP5 and Barnes and Nobles: https://bit.ly/2G09M0

Newest Cover

Tori Bond’s Familyism: A Review by Ayesha F. Hamid

Family means different things to different people, and Author, Tori Bond, explores the vagarities and variances of family in her debut, flash-fiction collection, Familyism. Whether her stories consist of children spending time in nature and performing plays or townspeople, sitting in a bar and dreaming of a way out, Bond is able to create entire worlds with a sparsity of words. Bond perfectly captures the essence of the mundane as well as the extraordinary; she immerses us in the surreal and magical but keeps us rooted through her skillful exploration of human emotion. The author has the unique ability to make the reader feel deeply; her stories are crafted with care and are guaranteed to fill the reader with wonder. The powerful endings of each story will leave readers mesmerized.

Bond uses her ability to make the reader laugh, but Familyism goes beyond simply being funny; Familyism is equally sad and profound and joyful. While reading, I found that the veins of isolation, loneliness, and the yearning for escape crashing over me like a wave. Characters experience the loneliness of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the settings of the stories don’t offer characters an escape – Again, the reader is drawn into a world of powerful emotion. Regardless of the intensity of feeling Familyism elicits, Bond masterfully balances emotion through her well-timed use of narration and humor. 

I highly recommend Familyism; It is not just a book, it is an experience! The book is a quick read, and the stories flow easily. The book will make you laugh, and you will be moved. You will ponder, question, and reminisce. This book could make you laugh out loud, so I don’t recommend reading it in public.

Books

Of tears, exclusion, pain
among the darkness
sometimes comes the ray
from lives of tumult
the turning of pages
pen to paper to survive memory
with this, books are made