Racing The Sun — New Release!

Racing The Sun Book Cover Small

Leila and her friends are back with more adventures in Racing The Sun, a sequel to Miami Morning: A Leila Payson Novel. Leila must decide whether to continue as a high school teacher, or quit her job to run a new group that brings together people of varying abilities. She meets Doug, a paraplegic and former student, who wants to design and build better wheelchairs. Her relationship with Mark, the attractive “man with a book” is challenged by another love, and she discovers her mother and father both have secret lives. Leila goes head-to-head with Mrs. Grisjun, the combative guidance counselor, who thrives in a post-truth world. And what do those mysterious stones in the local park mean? 

Dov, the gay event planner from South Beach, and Maria, the female Don Quixote, are back, along with Raoul, Leila’s former hearing-impaired student. There’s lunch with Caroline, her oldest friend, who always speaks her mind. Cran Birdsall, father of Leila’s friend Charles, and husband of the erstwhile Berry, loves his vintage racing cars. But after an accident, his life takes a different course.

All the while, Leila knows she must slow down to admire the flamingos. But life now has a fast pace. Will she be able to take the wheel to control the speed and direction of her work, love, and life?

Racing The Sun is available on Amazon and Smashwords

Racing The Sun on Amazon                                   Racing The Sun on Smashwords

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Children of the Moon, Chapter 5: Refuge

bassroadSandy pushed aside saplings to reveal
a deer’s nest-like home;
Laurel ran her hands across fawn-soft,
red feathered grasses
and blackberries jetted in waves from the earth

A box turtle feasted on the berries,
leathery neck stretched out to reach
the lowest clustered branches

Laurel and Sandy picked berries,
washing them in a stream, and Laurel said:
I want to take all of them home.
My aunt is learning to cook Southern food;
she’s enchanted with the Florida lifestyle.

Sandy took off his shirt: Here, use this;
and they laughed as they wrapped the fruit;
Laurel led him across her lawn: Come with me;
but placing a hand on his bare chest,
Sandy hesitated

Laurel smiled at him: They won’t mind.
A woman flashed to the door, a platinum blonde
in frosty make up: Come in. Look at this.
She held a carrot-colored concoction:
Sweet potato casserole.

This is Sandy, Aunt Ida, Laurel said,
and she placed the shirt-wrapped fruit and berries
on the kitchen counter; Aunt Ida ran her hands
through Laurel’s unruly hair: Thank god
your grandmother thought of us.

Laurel and Sandy sat on the screen porch;
My mother died, and my father wasn’t able
to take care of me, she told Sandy;
Grandma Wing came up to get me,
and now my aunt and uncle have custody.

Mira’s home was suspended in a wave of light,
the tar paper roof sizzled and bubbled into blisters;
her father revved up the jeep:
We’re going to see your grandmother,
I want you to meet her.

In Fort Myers, they drove by parades of royal palms
and white bands of sidewalks on broad avenues,
date palms and flowering spires of yucca,
scalloped emerald lawns of St. Augustine grass,
and the winter palaces of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford

Her father looked grim: Fort Myers was born in the heat
of the Seminole Wars, in a garrison town
on the south bank of the Caloosahatchee River

Ponce de León landed on an island near here;
the Calusa were waiting and fought the Spanish,
sending them back to Puerto Rico;
Mira studied his face: So that was it?
He went on quietly: That was just the beginning

Ponce de León sailed to Spain to seek
permission to conquer Florida;
he returned with more soldiers,
the Calusa watched until they began to build villages
and then they attacked

Ponce de León was wounded by an arrow
and sailed away to Cuba
where he died a few days later

And that was the beginning and the end;
the Calusa were killed by war and disease;
years later the Seminoles came to this place.

In the 1830s and 40s, Mira’s father continued,
the federal government built a ring of forts
around the last of the Seminoles

The soldiers destroyed villages, killing many
and capturing women and children,
sending them to the hills of Oklahoma

One day, a hurricane drove the army
from the Caloosahatchee, but local people
were encouraged to ignore the treaty
and to move into Seminole territory;
soldiers retired and stayed on

Cattle ranching began to grow
and ranchers brought beef into port
at Punta Rassa; in the early 1900s the rich
began to build mansions
and snowbirds found a winter haven.

Mira smiled:
But in reality
we are still here.

When Mira came face to face
with her grandmother, she sat by her father
in the shade of sprawling live oaks
dipping into the mirror of a lake
creating a tranquil but lively darkness

The old woman said softly:
I cannot shelter everyone
but for many my sanctuary is lasting;
I place my roots in the earth
and rise graceful and wide;
my hands sing in the wind
as I embrace the air, birds fly from my hair,
and rain makes me stronger;
I am alive in all seasons;
my head rises high, but my roots
grow deep into the grain

To read Children of the Moon, The Prologue, click here
From there, you’ll be able to read the next chapter and so on.

To read Children of the Moon, Chapter 6: Renegade, click here

Illustration by Forrest S. Clark

Miami Morning: A Leila Payson Novel

cropped-cropped-miamibeach3.jpgLeila Payson, known to her students and friends as Miss Pacer, is always pushing the boundaries of her experience, to become a better teacher and human being. She enjoys her work as a high school Social Studies teacher, her adventures with her diverse friends, and her volunteer work at a local playground. But Leila is at a midpoint in her life.

When one of her students begins to lose his hearing, she immerses herself in learning about people with disabilities and the challenges they face. This takes her back to an earlier time when she spent a year teaching in South Africa. There she saw an occupational therapist at work, and met others working in the disability community. Now, years later, when the student asks for her help, she begins a pivotal journey.

Besides this, a mysterious man keeps appearing at her favorite places. Her friends keep her on her toes. And at Leila’s high school, a young guidance counselor sees Leila as a mentor, while the other counselor views her as a rival. Trouble is brewing in the paradise of South Miami. But are there new possibilities as well?

Publication date: Spring 2016. Publisher: All Things That Matter Press.

Children of the Moon, Chapter 4: Flight Path

Sandy watched a brightly-decorated train
trundle by, carrying circus animals;
a slow-moving wave of tigers, lions, elephants,
camels, llamas and horses, painted vividly
on the cars; as if a dream passing by

After the fanciful caboose cleared the crossing,
he was surprised to see a girl his age
magically appear on the other side;
he walked over the tracks to her:
I’m Sandy. Are you new here?

Laurel Wing, the girl answered;
and in her hair Sandy saw the fire of red maples,
in her skin white birch, and in her eyes
blue delphinium:
Where were you going now?

Laurel replied, I am new here
and I’m just walking around
to see where I am.

He indicated the way: There’s a town
with a store, a gas station, and a school;
and when she hesitated to follow him,
he said: Okay, then
and started off on his own

Wait, she asked and he turned back around;
Can we just stay around here?
They don’t want me to go too far,
I’m living with my aunt and uncle;
and she pointed toward the home

Sandy checked the sky: Gonna rain;
when they began to walk together a short way,
Laurel kept her distance:
I’m from the hills of Tennessee, she told him,
and I feel like I’ve lost my boundaries.

She recalled a land of ups and downs:
attics and cellars, and mountains smoldering
with bursts of redbud, dogwood and mountain laurel;
and Sandy could see when he looked into her eyes
all of this landscape

Sandy and Laurel and Will and Mira
visited Shadow and traveled to and from school;
they were the three, really, four Musketeers

Crossing a field by a stand of pines one day
Mira jumped aside, and Laurel and the boys
slid to a stop, all eyes riveted to a coiled rattler
camouflaged behind a delicate fringe
of Indian coontie and saw palmetto

The snake wavered in limbo between attack
and staying close to her tiny young
winding around one another,
inspecting the edge of the nest;
Mira stepped back and the snake veered away

In the field where a line of pines jutted into sky
a bald eagle, blue black wings, white head
and a quiver of white tail feathers,
gripped a branch with large yellow talons
watching them with hooded eyes

A huge nest floated in the tallest pine
below a widespread canopy
by the edge of a burnished auburn field

The eagle spread its wings, swooping down
over the field, white and black feathers shining;
they watched it soar up to fly toward the river;
Laurel asked Mira: How do you say eagle in Spanish?
and Mira told her: Aguila.

Evening came, and in a dream
Laurel led a group into the wilderness
to look for eagles

As time passed without a sighting,
many were discouraged, but as they were walking
the ground began to tremble:
and Laurel sensed the eagles’ beating wings
triggered the rumbling in the land

The group moved forward again
and the trembling grew until it seemed the earth
would break open

Let’s go on, Laurel implored them:
The eagles have promised they will come;
the promise was in the land, the sky and the dream

Coming onto a plateau with views in every direction,
the group saw a solitary eagle rise from the horizon,
flying in an elliptical arc, in the eternal present

The eagles coasted across the sky filling their sight,
one after another in a dance of flight:
they changed formations and patterns
like semaphores
and transformed into a multitude of colors

The rumbling in the earth grew louder
and some of the group ran from the field;
the earth cracked open across their path;
Laurel and the others heard their cries
as they stood on the brink

Laurel and her group raced toward them, hoping
all could jump across before the chasm was too wide;
but with a roar a wide canyon opened its mouth;
the explorers huddled at the divide:
How do we get back home? Will we survive?

In slow motion one by one they were in the air
and Laurel saw them land on the far side;
she was unsure if they were flying on their own
or being lifted by the eagles,
when she felt herself take flight

At her home, Mira rose from dreams of sailing,
and when she opened the door, the sky
flew away like a wing

She dressed in second-hand clothes
and hearing her mother move about escaped
to the yard to watch her father leave the house,
pulling up his collar to ward off the storm
following at its own pace, sure of its power

After Kissing Mira on the forehead
Mr. Apaksi jumped into his battered jeep;
a cloud of dust curled across the yard

As he sped away, there was a change
from one level of quiet to another,
a shift of light as the heat creaked
and fluttered, lifting and falling,
like a sail in a fitful breeze

All the plants, trees and grass
gave off a heavy stifling aroma,
lingering like the smoke of gun blasts

Mira followed a road around the swamp
and she heard Will’s voice as she approached
the boy’s rambling ranch home,
where giant branches of live oaks touched down
and then soared up again into new trees

After lunch, Will led a stallion into the corral,
and swung into the saddle;
Sandy sat on the fence as ranch hands gathered;
Watch this, Will said to Mira
and the crowd along the fence began to murmur

The chestnut horse stood eerily at an angle,
head tilted back; in the bat of an eye
the horse rocketed off the ground,
back arched, suspended in air,
sun-fishing into the sky

The stallion came down without its rider;
Will, arms out-flung, plunged down;
teeth chattering, stars wheeling in his eyes;
he struggled to his feet, hands covered in dirt
and blood, transfixed by the clarity of the world

Will and Sandy’s mother, a champion rider
promptly ended the impromptu rodeo,
taking Will inside for first aid
while Sandy walked the horse to the stable
to brush him down

In the golden hour Mira loped home;
twilight winked and in a blink of her eye
the sun was gone

Mira ran along the railroad tracks,
her feet landing squarely on the wooden ties:
in the darkness, she could not see
where she was going,
she just knew

To read Children of the Moon, The Prologue click here
You can read the first three chapters from there.

Children of the Moon Chapter 1 The River’s Eye

Reflections1Children of the Moon

Mary Clark

The first soul is in the pupil of your eye, the second soul is in your reflection in the water, and the third soul is in your shadow. —Calusa belief

Chapter 1 The River’s Eye

If you see the rim along the river you will also see
a rare and threatened Florida elm slender and straight,
and in its shade, a broken figure hunched in misery

And this Sandy saw, a boy high in a swaying pine
perched on a bough as rough as twine
as he gazed over fawn-spotted prairie, pinewoods
and cypress domes cresting about the Myakka River
coiling its way to the Gulf of Mexico

All around Sandy and this landscape rolled
the timpani of thunder morose and monotonous
as billowing clouds on the horizon flamed with lightning

A deeper heat ignited a spark, empty heat
with a chill at its heart, lightning feet and thunder blood
as Sandy spotted a covey of young men and boys
crossing an open field, a swift arrow aimed
at the heart of the river: and he heard the cry of the hunt

His breath caught in his throat;
he knew where they were headed:
the riverbend, the sugarberry
and the lone elm:
that was where Shadow lived

Sandy swung to lower branches,
lost his grip and landed hard, knees buckling;
jumping to his feet he followed the gang
through sedge and thistle,
focused on a younger boy at the back of the pack

Sandy tackled the boy and they wrestled
in the lanky grass, Sandy shouting:
Will, don’t go. This is how it begins.
But Will shook him off and the brothers
stood at odds in the field

Sandy told his younger brother:
Shadow said it’s his own fault
he ended up this way,
he made the wrong decision, just once.
He’ll tell you his story if we save him.

You mean, fight all of them?
Will raised his fists, but Sandy replied:
I know a place where Shadow can hide.
And then they raced together, apart, together
like twin deer

Over the field a black-haired girl sprinted sure-footed;
Mira leapt a dry creek:
I saw the gang and you —
She batted rampant saw palmetto with a stick,
and a harsh rattling broke the eerie silence

Long drifts of Spanish moss on slash pines
whispered, and tiger-striped dragonflies
balanced on tall sheaves of sun-roasted grass

Away they went, tangled vines snaring their feet
as they startled bobwhite quail in a gentle swale:
birds erupted from swirls of grass, and at the tree
border an old Indian trail’s entrance winked
like the pupil of an eye

A screen of palm fronds, an eyelash lowered above
the path, marked the gateway and one by one
they ventured into the forest’s half-light

A giant golden orb spider swayed before them
on a circular web; bowing, they passed beneath
to follow the hidden trail

Stirring decaying leaves on the narrow ribbon
of cracked palm and snail shells, with reflections
of sun, the three climbed to a shell mound
and there they stood in a merciless glare
surrounded by twisted trees and parched shrubs

The trail snaked down one side into thickets
and soon they saw glimpses of savannah;
windblown seeds drifted over the Myakka,
and the river flowed into their reflection,
taking them in, and offering them up again

Sandy pointed upriver: I saw a boat by the bend there.
He looked below a sugarberry tree among slim stalks
of green-white wandflower: Here it is.

The way appeared before them
leading to the lonely elm;
Mira hazarded a step toward the shade,
one hand down to turn quickly around,
as Sandy and Will edged closer

Unraveling to eclipse the elm’s trunk,
the shade spoke to them:
Dark green to the sky,
a shadow below but evergreen
I need no other to give birth;
my skin is warty, dark brown;
I am often small, but may grow tall
with a single body and rounded crown;
and now my cousins have been overthrown
by a flesh-eating alien, and so unknown
I stand alone

Sandy moved forward: You have to go!
They’re coming after you.
I know, Shadow replied. It’s meant to be.
Will and Mira joined in: No, come with us.
We won’t let them get you.

They staggered back as the form moved toward them:
You see, you are afraid.
Will ducked his head at this; his brother’s passion,
his caring for this unusual creature moved him,
but he was afraid

But you can escape, Sandy pleaded,
All you have to do is come with us in the boat,
and we’ll all help you, and we can row upstream.

They heard machetes slashing vines and trees.
Hurry, Sandy urged Shadow while Mira and Will
walked backwards facing the apparition

Shadow hesitated, head tilted, a tree in a gale
and then took one huge stride to join them;
Will turned and ran in the other direction;
Sandy spun around: Where are you going?
Will called back: I’ll head them off.

In the boat Sandy and Mira grabbed the oars
while Shadow clambered in between them;
a maverick current muscled them to the far side
where Shadow jumped to shore
and disappeared into a host of trees

Will ran at top speed in the sweet bay swamp,
changing direction, leaping small streams;
he whistled as the gang crashed its way
through the bramble, and taunted them:
Can’t catch me, I’m a shadow.

A chill ran down Will’s back as he said this,
and his foot caught on a vine; he fell
face forward into the fermenting mud

Will lurched to his feet and whirled about
just as a blow smacked into his chest;
Take that, a young man spat out,
and the gang began to shout: Who are you?
Where is that freak who hangs out here?

A piercing cry severed sky from earth
and set the grass quivering with overtones
of victory and undertones of despair;
Will and the gang were frozen in fear and awe,
and then they scurried away in every direction

Will slipped away in the confusion, discovering
a path to the river; Mira and Sandy rowed hard
to bring the boat against the wily channel,
turn toward the riverbank to pick him up,
and in a blink of an eye glide into the river’s maze

To read Children of the Moon, Chapter 2: Shadow, click here

Children of the Moon, The Prologue

Children of the Moon

A Novel in Verse

Evening comes,
………a night of birth,
and from the cocoon of morning,
………children bloom,
winged children,
Children of the Moon

Will, blown in night winds into meadows soaked with dew
grew deep-rooted, a new seed maturing in rains;
Sandy, light and elemental as fine grains of shell and stone,
was fleet-footed, tawny and sleek as a Florida panther:
together they were one bone, one sinew,
original brothers by the river, explorers of the stream

Laurel’s long limbs were on solid ground, embracing
fire and water, sashaying with the wind;
within Mira unrolled an infinite plain and a winding river;
from amber springs flowed endurance and abundance
feeding gardens of eternal life
from which they were never banned

In time, through time, beyond time
they become matter, dark matter,
liquid, vapor, fire and pure energy,
connected by whatever it is that arranges things
to the other force-field wrapped, rapt
raptured beings around them

Children of the Moon is a novel in verse, or poetry novel. It is a prequel to Children of Light, which was published by BardPress/Ten Penny Players.

Copyright by Mary Clark 2005 (some parts copyrighted in a previous publication, The Sailor Circus, in 1974).

Children of the Moon, Chapter 1: The River’s Eye

Tally: An Intuitive Life, Excerpt from Chapter 1

PJ_1979“But by God, two people have met in the maelstrom, by the fragile thread of human involvement, and intuitively (shall I imagine it?) become one.”

Chapter 1, Entangled

It all began with an invitation, this intersection of lives. Rogue invited me to meet him in Greenwich Village. We came together on the corner of Greenwich Avenue and West 10th Street.

Rogue’s dark eyes had a deep inner glow, his smile a wild spark. “I need to prepare you, Erin, for what you’ll see.” Rogue’s voice was hesitant but melodious. “PJ was a recluse for some time before I met him.”

Rogue took out a key and opened the side door of a three-story colonial building. Steep stairs led along the outer skin of brick wall to the upper floors. Rogue’s sandals and my sneakers fell lightly, but the stairs creaked with age and neglect. A narrow hall with a rickety wooden railing stopped at the only door on the top floor.

Rogue’s call was laughing, tongue-in-cheek, but I heard a note of euphoria. “PJ.”

I followed him into a Village garret stripped bare of any amenities.

“I’ve brought someone to meet you.”

A tall, gaunt man with a bent hawk nose and intense blue eyes peered at me. His whimsical smile was wreathed in a white beard and curving mustache. His white hair fell back from his forehead and almost to the collar of his light blue dress shirt.

The garret was every artist’s twilight nightmare. Walls were scuffed, doors scarred and furniture scourged down to the flesh. In the cluttered front room, art claimed every perspective.

PJ’s long bony fingers swept over drifting stacks of books, papers, paintings, typewriter ribbons, photographs and found objects, all jumbled together, everything melting into some other form, a rebellious lack of form. “Dali would have had an idea of the melodramatic squalor in which I live.”

I looked about in amazement and distress.

“This is how I’ll end up.” Rogue cupped his chin; his smile a concupiscence of anxiety and merriment. “I’m drawn to old age because I want to know how it all adds up, or does not add up, at the end.”

Two World War I gas masks hung from a post by PJ’s bed. I wondered aloud to Rogue, “For a pair of lovers? Or paranoid lovers?”

PJ hovered near a battered desk and primordial Royal typewriter. Behind him, bookshelves lined the long outside wall. Typewriter paper boxes were stacked on them.

I picked up one box. “What is this?” I blew the dust off.

“That’s The Document.” He passed a hand over the collection. “My lifelong stream of consciousness work.”

Inside each box were hundreds of pages of onionskin paper filled with words, single-spaced and in a tiny font.

“For the first two years,” he said, “everything I wrote was rationalization. After that I wrote to renew my innocence.”

In the aura of a fading Village, with PJ’s guidance, Rogue and I began cleaning dirt and debris away, clearing a space around PJ’s bed and desk.
As we began to make order out of the rubble, the deeper we dug the more the vivacious past leaped out. I sorted through photographs of PJ as a young man, his wife and daughter, and old postcards, pamphlets, letters and theater flyers.

I showed a small handout to Rogue:
It is raining love in Greenwich Village (one time the capital of romantic love). Like autumn leaves falling, pieces of yellow paper flutter down to settle in doorways or on sidewalks. About three inches square, they bear, printed in large letters, a dirty four-letter word. Under it is a very artistic monogram: PJ. What other can the obscene word be but: LOVE (a word of limitless obscurity.)

I was puzzled. Why is love an obscene word?

There is a rumor going ’round that anyone, collecting a thousand pieces of these litterings, on delivering them to the WORDS office will get the prize of a thousand (useless) dollars.

PJ (the provocateur of this misdemeanor) confronted with this rumor, smiled, and spoke with love: We’re out to litter the world with love. He continued with a grin, No one can deliver a thousand pieces to the WORDS office because we are underground. No office. We seek litterers all over the world. We have the small papers, printed on one side: LOVE/PJ. These may be handed out to people wherever gathered, parties, theater lobbies, bank lines, buses …

“Those are his Love Tokens,” Rogue said. “In the early 1960s, he left them around the Village, in bookstores, cafés, for anyone to pick up. It was a kind of performance art. That’s when he was the Professor of Love.”
I shifted to look at PJ. He had been watching us in silence. “Do you know how The Old Man met Rogue?”

“No,” I said, loudly, realizing he did not hear well.

He folded his long body into a straight-backed wooden chair. “One Christmas Eve I went out in a terrible snowstorm to a poetry reading at St. Mark’s Church in the Bouwerie. Rogue did the same thing, independently. And there we stood on the steps of the church and read together that the night’s reading had been cancelled.”

He invited Rogue to his garret for a glass of wine. That was how the relationship of the Aging Bohemian and his equally bearded protégé began.

“Are there coincidences in your life?”

Yes, I nodded.

“There were in mine,” PJ said. “It’s incredible how my life became entangled with others, seemed to work in and out of others.”

Summer brought Rogue and I out to the streets. We strolled through the ways and byways of the Village, east and west, spending eight or twelve hours at a time together. We were the new Bohemians.

After wine, tea or coffee at O’John’s or The Riviera, and stopping at cafés for salad or hamburgers, we visited PJ. We left him to attend poetry readings or search for delectable pieces of text in bookstores, ending the night in bars upscale or dive where poets, writers and other vagabonds played pool, parodied their own and other’s poetry, and fell down drunk.

Rogue and I became friends very fast, more rapidly than I ever had experienced before. We talked for hours about poets and poetry, and at the outdoor cafés he introduced me to poets and writers. The weeks were filled with new people, images, sensations and a feeling of lagging behind in taking it all in. I was saturated. Rogue never seemed to stop or rest.

One afternoon, we decided to meet PJ. I got off the subway and waited for Rogue. On the next corner we could see PJ sitting outside with his Fair Weather Gallery. On days when the weather was good, he set up his artwork on the street near his apartment, by the library or in the park.

“Let’s circle around,” Rogue said, “and come at him from different directions.”

So we circled around the block and walked up to PJ at the same time from opposite directions as if by coincidence.

PJ looked from one of us to the other, and laughed.

Rogue and I left PJ in his garret and went to Rogue’s place, where he made coffee and I looked through his bookcases. He read parts of a novel by PJ called World’s End. It began with: “The world’s end has come and gone, and no one is the wiser.”

The book sounded like an original folk masterpiece. It was very intellectual, but not in the scholarly sense. He detailed the history of “intellectual leadership” in the world from ancient times, to its first weakness, and current decadence.

In another piece, for modern times and minds, PJ had redefined the four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They were: the hospital, the telephone company, the power company and your choice of bureaucracy.

In his late 70s, PJ was beginning to bend from the weight of so many years and thoughts warping about in his head like spaceships carrying aliens and exiles. His chest and shoulders curved from trying to turn round on himself, to go back or flee, to see what wreckage he had left behind, at the same time to advance towards death.

“I’ve lived so long, looking like death, because I keep so close to it that death forgets I am here.”

Tally: An Intuitive Life is available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble: Paperback $16.95 (check for discounts)  and Kindle $5.99. Tally is in Amazon’s Matchbook program: you can buy the print book and get the Kindle for only $1.99. Barnes and Noble paperback $16.95 and Nook $5.99.

Without Risk There Is No Art

My Review of A House Near Luccoli by D. M. Denton, published by All Things That Matter Press

The author’s style takes the conventional and then begins the deconstruction, the rearrangements, to bring us into the reality of Alessandro Stradella, a gifted Baroque composer and musician. This deconstruction and rearranging is what an artist does. Rather than imitate reality, he selects what is important to him, and abstracts what is essential to achieve a new reality. People, relationships, emotions and ideas are put through this process of reordering. The artist abstracts what is vital and compelling, and releases it as a living thing.

From the moment of inspiration until the intuitive flow has ceased, expression is more important than communication. For this reason, an artist often is not very good at personal relationships. So it is with Alessandro Stradella.

The book explores the ways in which passion can order and disorder an artist’s creativity, and drive even a repressed and unadventurous person to experiment. Stradella’s behavior is a form of rebellion against the power that the elite have over artists in his day. His music is filled with pure notes, a sharp contrast to a corrupt world that tempts him.

When he deconstructs one of the powerful, his risky behavior is a direct threat, not a concerto that can be interpreted and dismissed with a smile. Rearranging and abstracting, done clumsily, appear to be a form of imitation known as mockery. Stradella takes this beyond the stage and written page and pays a heavy price.

Without risk there is no art, only craftsmanship. There are beautiful sentences in this book that would not have been possible without the experimentation that preceded them. A House Near Luccoli tears away at the borders of convention, just as Stradella did in his life.

It may be irrelevant to think in terms of success and failure when it comes to any artistic endeavor, since all efforts contribute to the artist’s journey, and there is always difference of opinion on what has succeeded and what has not. But there are times when the artist and the audience know the effort has not reached the desire outcome, when the intuition has moved in another direction and the work continued at a less inspired and more conceptualized level. In this book, Denton has often remained true to her intuition. Some sentences soar, while many loop out into variations on a theme, as music does, with results that are satisfying, or disconcerting, and oddly, often both. This baroque writing style adeptly embodies the times and the musician/composer who inhabits the story.

This review is also posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

Children of Light

childrenoflightcover

CHILDREN OF LIGHT

 a poetry novel by Mary Clark

BardPress/Ten Penny Players

“The soul is a burning desire to breathe in this world of light and never to lose it -– to remain children of light.” -– Albert Schweitzer

“Mary Clark has brought us an achingly beautiful chain of poems that both watch and listen: the sun, the sea, the darkness, the light, the passing of time -– and the people who live among them.” -– Reverend Barbara Cawthorne Crafton

Children show us how to be free and caring, courageous and compassionate. Come take the journey with them.