I keep finding jewels along the gravel road…

October 2, 2014

I haven’t been on Amazon.com too much, outside of looking for links to books, but I found this gem of a review for my own book. And how wonderful this one is. I am going to seek these people out and hire them to write reviews for Red Dashboard Publishing…

Before you go to Texas, do yourself a f(l)avor and read Stelling’s debut poetry collection, My South by Southwest. In this book she doesn’t mince words but barbecues them till they’re glazed and bubbling off the page.

On the surface, this is a poetry collection about Texas but it’s only the backdrop in which Stelling paints her portraits. She takes the landscape and brings it to life with her unparalleled voice for capturing the world around her. She employs the landscapes tastes, music, history, and language and weaves it into her poems. Her skies are denim-blue; her barbecue is cooking up ribs, steaks, pulled pork and shrimp, and her men have six shooters and tin stars.

She takes the simple and not so simple joys of the human experience and spins it like a coin leaving you wondering if you’re going to land on you A$$ or fall on your face.

The collection is an intimate look at her upbringing, recollecting emotional moments in unusual ways. She retells the stories of her youth, her family, and how the landscape connects and changes her into the woman she is today. In “Cowtown, Texas, 1975” she writes a poem about first love that ends with:

Does she know you plan to break others like us –
leading each one out to pasture
to chew on your words?

“Hearing the N Word in 1966” is a powerful poem about a girl bringing home a colored friend to play and her momma stopping it from happening. The poem ends with the child growing up and finding out her paternal grandparents were Native and African American and had fallen in love in the Alabama tobacco fields. The poem ends perfectly with:

Now that was something calling, many
years back from the dead,
their own kettle black.

Stelling is able to take something as simple as finger sucking as a toddler and turn it into “There’s a New Sherriff In Town”. Her finger sucking becomes the barrel of a smoking gun that her family tries to break with hot sauce and other ‘gross’ stuff. In the end the toddler wins with:

I packed up my rocking-horse and
Its shiny new black saddle
And headed into deep
(under the) cover.

Stelling writes openly in a witty and intelligent style. Her poems are narrative driven and confessional. She lets us see, feel, hear, smell and taste the landscape and even lets us laugh at it. Stelling shows us that poetry is from every place: the heart, the head, the hand, and by God–from Texas too!

Another one mentions ‘Not exactly Cowboy Poetry, but definitely cowboy culture.’, and I know that. But most who’ve met me in the past have actually asked if I ride a horse and where are your boots and hat? Just like I assumed everyone in New York weren’t friend, and New Jersey people were all ganstas, it’s all good, right?

I was talking with another poet friend, “you know reviews”, they are poetry. I might have to publish a book of reviews just to prove that point!

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