Two Book Reviews: Lang Leav

lang_leav

Lang Leav is an international bestselling author of numerous poetry and prose book with her debut novel, Sad Girls, continues to be a top bestseller worldwide.

I managed to get two of her poetry on sales at the Bargain Books warehouse. So definitely looking forward to the next.

I will do a quick review on Sea of Strangers and Love & Misadventure. I have to admit I only enjoyed some of her poems, so I will still share a couple of my favorites. She rhymes quite a bit which is the type of poetry that I enjoy the least as some of the rhyming feels forced. Some of it also feels like something a high school teenager will scribble in their notebook about their crush and young love. Perhaps her other work is better but I would not go out of my way to buy more of her poetry. I can however understand how it appeals to so many. Her writing is very whimsical and romantic and themes are mostly focused on love and heartbreak.
My favourites from Sea of Strangers:

Don’t let them tell you that your pain should be confined to the past, that it bears no relevance to the present. Your pain is part of who you are.
They don’t know how strong that makes you.”

“The distance from you is measured in how far I’ve come.”

“The greatest injustice I have suffered has come under the pretense of love.”

“If a boy asks you for your name, don’t give it to him. He will say it back to you in a voice like gravel and honey, and you will crave his hands all rough and sweet. But you’re not the kind of girl who builds her house from sticks; you are a fortress, stubborn and strong. Do not give away the keys to the kingdom to anyone less than a king. ~ Keys to the Kingdom

My favorite from Love & Misadventure (of which I could only find one that I liked and it’s only the last few lines of a longer poem):

It’s so dark now, I can’t see any light around me.

That’s because the light is coming from you. You can’t see it but everyone else can.

 

Two Book Reviews: Poet – Yrsa Daley-Ward

This is my third in a series of book reviews from women of colour. The first was about Nayyirah Waheed and the second Rupi Kaur. This post I will talk about Yrsa Daley-Ward, a British woman, of Jamaican and Nigerian descent. She has two books thus far bone and The Terrible: A Storyteller’s Memoir both of which have been well received.  I classify her work as someone who is unafraid and unashamed to speak her truth. Some of her poems were so completely honest that I blushed and it felt a bit voyeuristic. There is something simply sensual about the way she writes as if she knows your darkest deepest desires. It’s not all sex though. She reflects on the love, life, inner self, coming of age, faith and loss. She has a way about speaking about females and the female body that is closer to the truth than I have ever read. At times its more prose than poetry but her storytelling undeniably captivating. Don’t take my word for it, I have shared a review from none other than Nayyirah herself, that can be seen on her Amazon product page for bone:

“yrsa daley-ward’s bone is a symphony of breaking and mending. this whole book is an ache. and a balm. daley-ward effortlessly mines the bone. the diamond from the difficult. the things that are too bright and taboo. she lays her hands on the pulse of the thing. and gives wide air to the epic realities of women. the unfamiliar. the familiar. sexuality. poverty. sex work. sadness. joy. damage. and restoration. assigning them all the grace. all the nurturing. and all the love they deserve. an expert storyteller. of the rarest. and purest kind—daley-ward is uncannily attentive and in tune to the things beneath life. beneath the skin. beneath the weather of the everyday. her poetry and prose are intimate and distant. sonorous and staunch. delicate and metal. unwilling to yield and wondrously supple. daley-ward’s extraordinary talent. ability. to both see and write the veins of the true life. the true lives. is a gift. a breath.”
—nayyirah waheed, author of salt. and nejma

My favourites from Bone:

Excerpt from there will always be your heart

Do not go too far for peace and quiet do not run too far because the country can be as loud as the city too noisy in its stillness and anyway, there will always be your breath which, hard as you try, you cant do without you cant run away from. There will always be your heart beating stronger and louder the harder, the further you run.

q

If you were married to yourself could you stay with yourself? My house would be frightening and wild.

– body

If I’m entirely honest, and you say I must be I want to stay with you all afternoon evening, night and tomorrow pressed into you so tightly that we don’t know whose belly made what sound, whose heart it is that is thumping like that until I don’t know if the sweat on my chest is yours or mine or ours.

– dankyes

Today is the first day

of the rest of it.

Of course there will be other first

days

but none exactly like this.

– untitled 2

Seize that loveliness.

It has always been yours.

The Terrible is almost entirely prose, each chapter a story from her childhood, her past and moments that carry deep meaning which makes it difficult to share anything specific in the post but definitely still worthwhile reading.

 

Two Book Reviews: Poet – Rupi Kaur

The second poet whose books I am going to review is Rupi Kaur. She is a woman of colour, an Indian-born Canadian and she includes intimate drawings in her books. She has over 3 million followers on Instagram including many celebs so she has achieved the type of fame in her lifetime that some poets dream about. She currently has two books of poetry and prose  Milk and Honey (2014) and The Sun and Her Flowers (2017), the former sold over 2 million copies and made it on the New York’s Times Best Seller List. She does world tours of spoken word poetry and has played a part in revitalising poetry which many believe is a dying art form.

She has experienced a bit of backlash with some purists saying her work isn’t real poetry, Nayyirah Waheed, experienced the same type of criticism. She has previously cited Waheed as an influence but many believe she simply paraphrases what Nayyirah has already said especially themes relating to womanhood, oceans, honey and healing.  Nayyirah Waheed herself has apparently reached out to the poet to call her out on this. I didn’t realise the world of poetry could breed this kind of beef. However I like both poets. Rupi covers universal themes around love, pain and healing but she also talks about sexual abuse, rape, gender stereotypes and sexism. All relevant topics whether now or 50 years ago. I love that much of what she writes about covers topics that women have been brainwashed to not talk about. I am enjoying this time where I believe many women have found their voices and are speaking up. She has one poem in particular that talks about a rape (her rape, I am unsure) but as hard as it is read I have to believe other survivors can find solace in the fact that they are not alone. Rupi does not use as many metaphors as say Waheed for instance, she simply says what says and her message is very clear but not any less powerful.

My favourites from Milk and Honey include:

our backs

tell stories

no books have

the spine to

carry

– women of colour

other women’s bodies

are not our battlegrounds

– untitled

the world

gives you

so much pain

and here you are

making gold out of it

– there is nothing purer than that

My favourites from The Sun and Her Flowers (which also happens to be the book I prefer and enjoyed more) include:

i hardened under the last loss. it took something human out of me. i used to be so deeply emotional i’d crumble on demand. but now the water has made its exit. of course i care about the ones around me. i’m just struggling to show it. a wall is getting in the way. i used to dream of being so strong nothing could shake me. now. i am. so strong. that nothing shakes me. and all i dream is to soften.
– numbness
the way you speak of yourself
the way you degrade yourself
into smallness
is abuse
-self-harm

that since day one

she’s already had everything she needs within herself

it’s the world that convinced her she did not

– what is the greatest lesson a woman should learn

*If you live in South Africa her books are available at Takealot, Loot.co.za, Exclusive Books and other book retailers.

Two Book Reviews: Poet – Nayyirah Waheed

So when I started dabbling in this poetry journey of mine I was fortunate to have friends that pointed me in the direction of some great modern poets. Bonus points: these poets are women of colour. If I am going to be completely honest I have had a love/hate relationship with poetry for years. Simply because I did not relate to any of it when I was at school. However these new female poets are breaking the rules, gaining popularity and some have massive followings. One of my favourites and the first one that I came across is Nayyirah Waheed. Even though she has a large Instagram following you won’t find much information about her personal life online as she is very private. She has published two books so far Salt (2013) and Nejma (2014). She regularly runs promotions on Amazon.com (so follow her on Instagram for promo updates). I managed to snag free copies to her ebooks a while back even though I already own paperback copies.

Her writing is raw and emotional. She manages to say the things you’ve always felt. The things that have been sitting on the tip of your tongue for years but you were unable to string together the correct sequence of words to express yourself. Her poetry covers themes such as love, loss, healing, racism, feminism, xenophobia and writing. If you have never read any poetry and you’re not sure where to start then Waheed has a way to ease into it and make you wanting more. I have too many favourites to share here and would probably end up posting the entire book (I won’t of course). I will share a few of my favourites and you can judge for yourself.

The below are from salt.

you broke the ocean in

half to be here.

only to meet nothing that wants you

– immigrant

“I love myself’
the
quietest.
simplest.
most
powerful.
revolution.
ever.

-ism

the hard season

will

split you through.

do not worry.

you will bleed water.

do not worry.

this is grief.

your face will fall out and

down your skin

and

there will be scorching.

but do not worry.

keep speaking the years from their hiding places.

keep coughing up smoke from all the deaths you

have died.

keep the rage tender.

because the soft season will come.

it will come.

loud.

ready.

gulping.

both hands in your chest.

up all night.

up all of the nights.

to drink all damage into love.

-therapy

she asked

‘you are in love,

what does love look like’

to which i replied

‘like everything i’ve ever lost

come back to me.

– untitled

i bleed every month.

but do not die.

how am i not magic.

– the lie

Honestly there are so many more that I would love to share but that would be unfair to the author. Get a copy of these two books as soon possible. If I had to pick a favourite , hands down Salt is the better book, not to say that Nejma doesn’t have some truly great gems – I have posted two below:

“grieve. so that you can be free to feel something else”

and

“sometimes

i smell my parents

on my words

and i weep.”

Her poetry gave me the breathing space to create my own.

What’s my niche?

Websites and other blogs when giving advise to new bloggers will say find a niche. I have never had a niche and I am too undecided to pick one. I like too many things and it’s not easy for me to split focus.

I’m a runner. I have about 10 half marathons under my belt and training again for another one. So, yeah sure, I can dedicate this blog to my running journey, running tips and programs, nutrition, sneaker and gadget reviews, etc.

I’m also slowly resurrecting practicing yoga more often. So there’s that. I mean I am now on attempt 78354654 of completing my 30 day yoga challenge. This ones gonna stick for sure, (fingers crossed) right? I’m still working that tree pose.

I like to travel, not as often as I would like, but there’s another option. A travel blogger, that’s another option. Although the ZAR exchange rate does not always make international travel attainable all the time and sometimes local travel can be just as expensive especially big ticket items such as safari game drives and the blue train.

2018 was journey of healing, introspection and body positivity; I rediscovered poetry as well as my love for writing. And so the list goes on. So this blog has always been a mish-mash, hodge-podge mess of a quilt but I like that about it. I started this for me. It was never to grow a large enough audience in order for me make a living as an influencer. Would it be great if I could make money off my blog. Hell yes!

I spent half of last year working on my first book poetry Lost and Found (again) which is now available on Amazon amzn.to/2CSRihV. I have started working on a novel so for 2019 I will focus more on my writing, chronicle it here, share bits of poetry from my book and maybe even parts of my novel.

 

Yoga Challenge Update

So I have semi-consistent with my yoga (no surprises there, haha!) but instead of berating myself I have opted to be kind and gentle to myself.  The old me would have sent me on a guilt trip; but the new me is happy that I manage to do yoga 2-3 times a week. Instead of wanting to perfect every single posture I have decided to focus on one posture (The Tree) in my entire workout that I would like to work and improve on. I find the symbolism of the tree with its strong and stable roots and the ability to still grow and bear new leaves and flowers appeals to me. Like a tree, I am a constant work in progress and I can already see and feel major improvements in this posture from when I started a month ago.

I can finally run a distance of 5km which is a step up from 2km. I will introduce some hill training this week and I will attempt an easy flat race this weekend, my first since beginning August. I am quite excited to be back on the road, running doubles as therapy so not being able to run as affected my mood as well. Almost feeling human again and just happy to feel healthy and well enough to get in a little bit of exercise most days.

Can’t Run – Now What!?

My health has taken a massive hit these past few months which means I have not been able to run or train. I have finally come off the high and success of my Two Oceans half marathon and the last time I ran was 9th August for the Total Sports 10km women’s race.  In July I first battled a cold and then the flu. Then I picked up a bacterial infection in my respiratory tract. This coupled with my asthma and recently diagnosed hay-fever meant that I have pretty much been down and out. Two months later I am finally on the mend, but I have missed my exercises. Unfortunately I get breathless if I walk a flight of stairs or even by talking too much or too fast.

At wits end I have decided to take up a 30 day yoga challenge to get my body ready for running again. The DVD that I have is called The Gift of Yoga and it is fairly slow moving and not too rigorous, that being said it is still a challenging enough to get the heart rate up.

I have listed all the postures at the end of the blog and I will go into some detail over the next couple of posts.  Monday was Day 1 and I think I didn’t do too badly. Couple of creaks here and there but I didn’t break anything. The Sun Salutation sequence needs to be done three times but I only did it once (right side and left side) because it really pushed up my heart rate and I was seriously out of breathe after the first sequence. I am hopeful that by the end of the first week I will be able to do the sequence three times. Also I don’t know all the official yoga names only the English versions thereof but I do love how powerful (Warrior), graceful (Dancer), playful (Extended Puppy) and ridiculously silly (Happy Baby) they sound. Hands down corpse is my favourite, which goes without saying because it requires to nothing but lie down and relax. As for running I’ll stick to short easy walks, I did a nice easy 2km trail walk yesterday and the fresh air did me a world of good.

The postures in the workout are as follows:

  1. Mountain
  2. Arm and Shoulder Warm Up
  3. Butterfly Hands
  4. Spinal Warming
  5. Head Tilt/Neck Stretch
  6. Lateral Stretch
  7. Standing Gentle Spinal Twist
  8. Elephant
  9. Standing forward Bend
  10. Spinal Rolls
  11. Standing Cat
  12. Standing Chest Opener
  13. Sun Salutation (Mountain, Volcano, Forward bend, Lunge, Downward Dog, Plank, Upward Facing Dog, Downward Dog, lunge, Volcano and Mountain)
  14. Extended Warrior
  15. Warrior 2
  16. Dancing Warrior
  17. Toes/Hell Combo
  18. Triangle
  19. Tree
  20. Eagle
  21. Dancer
  22. Locust
  23. Half Bow
  24. Bow
  25. Extended Puppy
  26. Upward Facing Dog
  27. Half Bridge
  28. Dynamic Half Bridge
  29. Happy Baby
  30. Seated Forward Bend
  31. Seated Spinal Twist
  32. Rolling Spinal Twist
  33. Full Spinal Twist
  34. Corpse and Relaxation

This may seem like quite a lot of postures but honestly most of them are quick and relaxing. The whole workout takes about 45 minutes.

*Disclaimer – I am no expert in running or yoga. I am simply a girl trying her best to do both and stay active and healthy.