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No Unpaid Passengers

No Unpaid Passengers is an emotionally riveting collection of poems written by author Pam R. Johnson Davis. The collection is organized into six sections: I: Unpaid Pain, II: The Next Stop, III: Alone on the Night Train, IV: Love on the Ride, V: End of the Line, and VI: Afterword: Anybody Can Write a Poem (Or How Rejection Turned into a TED Talk). Serious themes such as racism, assault, divorce, and religion intermingle with themes of love, friendship, joy, home, and beauty to take readers on an incredibly raw and relatable journey.

Author Pam Johnson Davis does an incredible job of telling a story that touches everyone in some way. Davis plays into expectations with her use of slang and familiar language, using those devices to bring to life personal experiences and paint clear pictures of real-life situations that readers can relate to. Through those grounding narratives, Davis can so effectively tackle less tangible themes of love, loss, betrayal, grief, hope, and joy. Through her own experiences with marriage and divorce, Davis leads readers to question their ideas of relationships, commitment, and love. Through her experiences as a black person, a woman, and a member of the church, Davis brings up ideas about religion, trauma, sexism, racism, determination, optimism, and acceptance, both of self and others. Following this pattern, No Unpaid Passengers is able to operate as a book of revelation, showing readers the pervasive connectivity of the human experience: what you go through, someone else has gone through, and what you feel, someone else has felt.

I highly recommend this collection of raw beauty and vulnerability, in which Davis depicts her experiences. She writes not as an individual but as a representative of the human experience, providing an opportunity to connect both with the unfamiliar outside of ourselves and that which hides within.

No Unpaid Passengers is an emotional collection of poetry that takes readers on a journey through human experiences in a way that will stay with them long after they put the book down. These poems will leave readers feeling everything from one end of the spectrum to the other, a true representation of life, the joys, and the sorrows.

Pages: 90 | ASIN : B0BC5NXXXS

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Life of Poetry

Author Interview
Ron Penoyer Author Interview

Near Scattered Praise Lies Our Substantial Endeavor is a fascinating collection of poetry comprised of poems written from the mid-60s to current day and covers a wide range of life experiences. What inspires you to write poetry?

From an early age of perhaps 12 or 13, I began to be genuinely fascinated by the ways in which words “worked together” (or failed to work together) to make sense — or, in fact, did not make sense. These actions were most evident to me in the reading and writing of poetry, so that phenomenon is likely what drew me to poetry as a means of experimenting and taking pleasurable chances with language that were somehow “legal” or acceptable. Usually the world also made a different kind of sense inside the wondrous confines of poetry, so that had an appeal to me.

What are some emotions or themes you find your poetry often exploring?

I find that I am frequently drawn toward making meaningful distinctions between the seemingly esoteric and the seemingly everyday — both in actual substance in real life (IRL) and also in words and discussions and thoughts and considerations (in abstractions). More frequently, however, I find that I am considering and challenging my relationship with God. I’m often startled by the frequency with which I am considering this relationship. For instance, a minor poem invoking the Spanish Inquisition can suddenly become a larger questioning of a larger universe than the one I had in mind. A poem such as “Rules of Engagement,” in which I was trying to play with the placement of words to achieve different meanings, becomes a poem rich in the dust of pervasive and insistent mortality… These are wonderful “morphs,” by the way! These wonderful surprises and twists and turns are the great things we live for, and we don’t even know it!

My favorite poem from this collection is ‘Mr. Oppenheimer’s Revenge’. Do you have a favorite poem from this book?

I am extremely glad and grateful that your favorite poem is “Mr. Oppenheimer’s Revenge.” I am struck — struck! — by my own lines, “How does our own resemblance/stagger into the divine?”

One of my favorite poems in the collection is “Countdown” simply because it launched (pun?) me into a quiet, “undercover” life of poetry. It was my first published poem, it encouraged some notice in the publishing world, and it confirmed for me that I could do whatever I wanted in the world of poetry.

Do you have plans to write and publish more works of poetry?

Yes, I have plans to write and publish more works of poetry. But I am in a hospice program that may have other plans for me. It’s that simple… lol… However, should I have more time left on the clock than I think possible, I would be tempted to conduct more work on the truly difficult item on the agenda, which are the “petites essais” I’ve brought forth in the final section of this book. I say very little about them, but to be taken seriously — or taken at all! — I need to say far more about what they mean to me.

Author Links: Goodreads

Ron Penoyer is a deceptively polite and self-effacing poet.

His ambitious collection, Near Scattered Praise Lies Our Substantial Endeavor, is subtle in its exploration of contrasts, balancing between the light and dark of our natures and confronting the mystery of our destiny. His collection includes a unique, deeply felt love poem about the simple act of driving across a covered bridge, while it also embraces a poem that observes contemporary society as a “Diet of Worms.”

For thoughtful readers of poetry, Penoyer builds landscapes and vistas in which meaningful destinations may be discovered. Within the collection itself, he precedes his poem about a 1960’s launch of a Saturn V rocket with a poem describing the ancient lure of Stonehenge, while he completes the vista with an exploration of the shocking but weighty evanescence of fireflies.

Adventurous poetry readers will likely recognize Penoyer’s picaresque. He has been suspected of coaxing the Winged Victory of Samothrace into somehow taking flight in the Louvre, and he has been known to linger as an amateur sleuth on Hampstead Heath on a certain afternoon in 1819, suspicious of a bird.

We Each Have A Story To Tell

Rhonda Harris Slota Author Interview

By Fire is an expressive collection of poetry that tells your family story through the ‘50s and ‘70s amid family trauma and mental illness. Why was this an important collection for you to publish?

As a child, I read other people’s stories which helped me build resilience and learn how to navigate my own confusing life. We lived in the country and the library truck came every three weeks. I couldn’t wait. I read novels, biographies and autobiographies, and later, poetry. I devoured books as though starving for those stories which helped me better analyze and understand my own. We each have a story to tell. We never know who will be affected in what way when we begin to tell ours. I found that many people identified with, felt drawn to, were touched by, and wanted to hear the stories in my poetry.

In the ‘80s, when I visited my dad in Indiana, I asked him to tell me about his life experiences. I was genuinely interested—I didn’t wish to judge him, just to understand, and he opened up to me in ways that often surprised me. Mental illness carried such stigma in those days, which is changing, but there is still much work to do. I have a son who also suffers from schizophrenia so now I experience it from the point of view of a parent. Coming to terms with my dad’s illness helped prepare me to better advocate for and support my son, but the journey is still a challenging one.

My favorite poem from this book is ‘Apologies’. Do you have a poem that stands out to you from this collection?

I’m glad you like that poem. I do too. It shows our humanness as two adults and offers a glimpse of peaceful redemption.

It is very hard to choose one. I think it would be “Revelation” or “Prophet.”

“Revelation” depicts a slice of my family’s life. It portrays not only my father’s struggle with hallucinations steeped in his religious beliefs, but also demonstrates the exhausting role of the ill-equipped caregiver, in this case my mother, in supporting those who are ill. It reveals my fear that, as his daughter, I was or would become mentally ill, not unusual for the children of those who suffer from this illness.

The poem “Prophet” is based on images and stories my father told me about the childhood experiences that shaped his life. It is filled with the religious symbolism of his visions or hallucinations born of those experiences. This poem also deepens the sense of my own grappling, self-reflection, and identification with him. The poem concludes “each of us alone and the same since that first night I woke up, heard him singing and clapping his hands in the hallway outside my door.” Many of the poems in the book are about coming to terms with that moment.

I also resonate deeply with the more recent “To Myself: The Child Who Hid in Closets.” It offers a forgiving, compassionate view of how I discovered, grew and changed as I journeyed into the healing realms of my own personal and spiritual awakening.

Thank you for indulging me in mentioning three poems instead of one!

What are some themes you feel your poetry often explores?

The themes in my poetry include self-exploration through analyzing one’s family history; the role, significance, and symbology of spirituality or religion in our lives; the perseverance, resiliency, and devotion of a poor, rural family in the ‘50s–‘70s; the strength, inner wisdom, and love of women in navigating a patriarchal dynamic; the power and complicity of natural forces; the complexities of mental illness and its effects on not only the person who is ill but everyone around them; and how a child steeped in family trauma can find her own way to love, understanding, forgiveness, and spiritual wholeness.

Do you have plans to write and publish more works of poetry?

Despite years of writing very little as I immersed myself in the roles of teacher, administrator, wife, mother, and caregiver, I have come back to myself as a writer. Not surprisingly, my journey with my son through his mental illness is a consistent theme. I am more deeply rooted and balanced in my own spirituality and I think that shows in my current writing. I am working on several pieces now and, hopefully one day soon, those will emerge and be published.

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

“With meticulous detail and plainspoken language, Rhonda Harris Slota unveils the story of a family held hostage by religious extremism when its beloved father falls victim to hallucinations and paranoia. In adulthood, the daughter sets out to make peace with her father and through that process, constructs a covenant of her own, one of compassion and forgiveness.”
Paula Amen-Judah, author of Añoranza

“Rhonda Harris Slota’s writing is so fine, so precise, the way it includes the flowers, the laundry, the secrets, that I devoured her story. Incandescent poetry that shimmers as it remembers and reveals.”
Lauren Coodley, author of Lost Napa Valley

Set in rural, southern Indiana in the 50’s-70’s, these poems tell the story of a complex family dynamic. This debut collection blends Bible images, authentic dialogue and powerful natural forces to relay the effects of family trauma and mental illness.

The daughter often questions her own sanity as she watches her fundamentalist father struggle with internal demons and the illusion that he is the prophet, Elijah. In this patriarchal world, the women hold together the seams of life’s tapestry through perseverance, inner wisdom and love.

As time passes and the father plunges deep into his fears and delusions, his young daughter learns to forge her own pathway through the maze of duality: dark and light, fear and joy. This finally leads her to reconciliation and acceptance through spiritual surrender.

Unite My Readers and Offer Hope For the Future

MD,Lori Schneider Author Interview

A Brighter TOMORROW is a collection of poetry and artwork that inspires hope for the future. What motivates you to write poetry?

Thank you so much for the kind review of my book! I discovered my love of writing poetry during the pandemic. I have been a neurologist in private practice since 1994, and in the past, I did not have time for creative writing. It was not until the lockdown that I discovered the catharsis of writing. I initially found myself drawn into contentious debates on Facebook and started writing daily blogs regarding the pandemic and politics. After many heated discussions, I felt great sorrow that the world was so divided and despondent. This dark time in history spurred me to write inspirational poetry to unite my readers and offer hope for the future.

I created a Facebook Poetry page and posted new poems weekly. Suddenly, the same people who disagreed with my political views were thanking me for brightening their day and motivating me to keep writing. As my poetry collection grew, many of my readers encouraged me to publish my work, and the idea for A Brighter TOMORROW was born. My former medical school colleague, Dr. Mark Salevitz, is an accomplished artist. I felt his beautiful, brightly colored impressionist artwork perfectly complemented my uplifting poetry and helped create a unique coffee table book.

My favorite poem from this collection is ‘No Regrets’. Do you have a favorite poem in this book?

“We Are the Same, You and Me” is my favorite poem in the book. Michael Beschloss’s thought-provoking book Presidents of War sparked the idea for this poem. So many wars have been waged without just cause by impulsive, arrogant, misguided, and, at times, evil leaders. This poem eerily foreshadowed the war in Ukraine and was published in the anthology “War Against Peace” to promote peace and solidarity for Ukraine across the globe.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in your poetry?

The goal of my book was to explore critical issues that became more magnified during the pandemic, including racism, loneliness, mental illness, loss, etc., and then have the book evolve to celebrate human resourcefulness with the themes of courage, love, and hope. I was particularly impressed by all the brave frontline workers who sacrificed so much for the well-being of others. My poems also go back in time to illustrate prior hardships such as World War II, the Spanish flu, and natural disasters, highlighting the human will to persevere.

Do you have plans to write and publish more works of poetry?

I am currently working on an inspirational poetry book for children, The Inspiring World of Ella Rose La Fleur, to be published next year. My YouTube Channel, The Adventures of Ella Rose La Fleur, contains animated videos inspired by these poems. These videos are helping to raise awareness and money for The Pinky Swear Foundation, a wonderful charity supporting children battling cancer.

Author Links: Twitter | Facebook-Book | Facebook-Author | YouTube | YouTube – EllaRose

No one could have truly predicted the mass devastation of the pandemic of 2020. Everyone in the world has been affected and forever changed in some way by the pandemic. Hopefully, most people will emerge as better human beings, with a greater level of understanding and support for their fellow man.

During this tumultuous time, I was overwhelmed with emotions regarding COVID-19, politics, racial injustice, love, and courage. I turned to pen and paper to express my feelings and discovered poetry as an extremely cathartic form of writing.

Through poetry, I found great insight and solace during a very dark time in history. I believe poetry is the window to the soul that can help illuminate the darkness.

I hope the reader finds great comfort and hope for the future through the poetry and beautiful artwork contained in this book. Together we can have a brighter tomorrow!

Knowing I Do Not Know

Robert Tiess Author Interview

The Humbling and Other Poems is a collection of poetry covering topics that span all of life’s journey. What was the inspiration for this collection of poetry?

Throughout our lives, we each experience various degrees and kinds of humbling, situations which can challenge us or set us back in small or major ways.

Sometimes, that helps us to become more aware of truths or conditions we’ve yet to face, or of the progress we’ve yet to make, on our own or together. How we respond in each of those situations – with modesty or pride, verity or vanity – leads to new consequences, conditions, and considerations.

All of these things helped me to realize the book needed to be structured as a seven-part journey that could somehow parallel our respective and collective odysseys through life, from innocence, ignorance, and inexperience toward awakenings, wisdom, and empathy.

The expansive nature of this literary project was incredibly humbling in its own right.

Amid the Jersey Turnpike Whales is one of my favorite poems from this collection. Do you have a favorite poem, if so what one and why?

Each poem stands out in my mind for unique reasons. The title poem, “The Humbling,” is something I feel represents the collection well.

That poem alludes to the so-called “Socratic paradox” of “knowing I do not know,” but it does not cease with that idea. Life compels us to continue, to grow, to keep learning no matter what, and so all the verses to follow the opening poem pertain to that essential and ever-humbling progression.

Certain poems, such as “Lotus Dreamer” explore emergence and transformation – the birth into life – in spiritual and meditative manners, while my poem “Tell Them the Whole Truth” confronts the very harsh realities of history with an urgent specificity and persistent candor.

Some of my poems, like “The Song of Walt Is Our Song,” are more exuberant, a celebration of being alive, of liberation, as well as honoring the effusive spirit of Walt Whitman while delighting in our individualities as well as our beautifully diverse and vital communities.

“Amid the Jersey Turnpike Whales” was such a joyful poem to compose for several reasons, one being the fun challenge I brought upon myself: to portray the situation of being immersed in heavy traffic – as it’s raining heavily – within the extended metaphor of an ocean, all while emphasizing the adventurous qualities of a homeward commute.

And, just like that, through the transformative magic of metaphor, tractor trailers can become whales. The narrator’s hatchback becomes a dolphin. Trees are equated the coral reef.

Also, instead of approaching the long drive as a negative, mechanical experience, it was my hope the poem could feel imaginative, organic, and exciting – and then the driver being someone we might readily identify with: that someone who’s just trying to navigate through the traffic and get back home.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this collection of poetry?

Humility is the unifying theme for this collection. From the opening poem to the end of the book (including my “Addenda” of essays, etc.), the theme of humility remains prevalent and relevant.

Every poem in the collection engages or relates to that theme in one or more ways (not all of which may be apparent at first).

Other themes and ideas emerge throughout the text, such as liberty, compassion, selflessness, truth, joy, mindfulness, and peace.

Sometimes several or all of these themes converge in one poem – just as they often do in real life when we move through any given day and come to understand, at times, how such concepts remain essential to the success of our endeavors and to our hopes for real and lasting progress.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I am presently working on several book-length projects.

The two books I can mention right now are: my second poetry collection, which will focus on aspects of the natural world, and a separate work of nonfiction focusing on my literary theory (something since the 1980s I’ve been developing called “Interpreture”), which, as it seems to suggest, has to do with interpretation.

In The Humbling and Other Poems, I share one of the central concepts from that theory in an essay (“The Vicarium”). I hope readers get a chance to think about that mode of contemplation.

I hope to publish my second poetry collection in Fall 2022. I will share more information about these projects at my website and in my Twitter feed.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Instagram | Website

The aspiring and inspired debut poetry collection by Robert J. Tiess. Over 100 memorable poems on humility, love, truth, peace, time, redemption, and hope. Includes Obsidian with Sheens of Gold, Interior Kingdom, The Song of Walt Is Our Song, Amid the Jersey Turnpike Whales, Love’s Special Relativity, Tao, Withstanding, the Phoenix poems, and other fan favorites, along with new works. Also included: author biography, three brief essays, a glossary of poetry terms, reading suggestions, and more.

A Brighter Tomorrow

A Brighter Tomorrow by Dr. Lori Schneider is an inspirational and thought-provoking book of poems that cover an array of topics. The book serves as a diary in which Lori Schneider discusses the Covid- 19 pandemic, racial injustice, love, and many more issues. Each poem is accompanied by beautiful eye-catching images. These images make the reader stop and reflect on the verse that they have just read and ponder how the images relate to the words.

The topic of the pandemic is incredibly precious, as Dr. Schneider is a practicing neurologist and more than likely had an up-close look at the chaos and horror of the Covid-19 pandemic. Writing poetry was her way of coping with this dark time that engulfed the world.

Schneider does not shy away from showing her emotional and vulnerable side. By doing so, her poems seem more relatable and honest, making this a valuable read for those struggling to manage the complex feelings of this time. Her poems are inspiring and uplifting, and I appreciate that through a dark time, she found light through writing.

The book is divided into several different topics, with each topic clearly important to the author and significant moments that have impacted us as a society. Schneider’s poems are not overladed with metaphors or overly complicated word choices, making this a smooth read that is accessible to readers on many levels. With the diversity of topics, there is something for all readers to find and connect with.

Dr. Lori Schneider’s poems are candid and evoke emotions in the readers, making this one book hard to put down. Yet, this is one book that can be read over again and shared with friends. A Brighter TOMORROW is the collection of poetry we all need to heal from these past few years.

Pages: 100 | ASIN : B09QVDG7RT

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Literary Titan Book Awards July 2022

Literary Titan Silver Book Award

The Literary Titan Book Awards are awarded to books that have astounded and amazed us with unique writing styles, vivid worlds, complex characters, and original ideas. These books deserve extraordinary praise and we are proud to acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and writing talent of these brilliant authors.

Silver Award Recipients

Visit the Literary Titan Book Awards page to see award information.

To the Monsters of My Past

To The Monsters of My Past is a personal poetry collection by Cameron Crews dealing with themes of love, loss, relationships, sex, depression, grief, regret, and healing. Crews uses her skills and love for the written word to share her own journey and battles and process of healing and letting go.

The collection tells the coming-of-age story of a young girl written in verse. Crews uses themes of fairy tales, castles, and princesses to set the tone for the story she Is telling. As the poems progress, the little princess is now a young woman dealing with her first relationships and sexual experiences, breakups, her inner monsters in the form of loneliness and depression, and the death of her rock – her brother.

Crews’ use of rhymes is masterful, making the poems each more rhythmical and fun than the one before. Even though she is telling her personal story, most of the poems feel universal. Through her own struggles, she talks about emotions we have all experienced, making it easy to empathize with her. In the mix of all that, her writing feels like a gentle blanket covering both her and our own wounds, making us feel safe and protected no matter the previous hardships we were forced to deal with.

While most of the work in this collection is very effortless, captivating, and unique, I felt that some poems felt unfinished or simply did not serve a purpose. A few of those poems, such as “Try me,” feel less authentic as a poem and more like decisions or thoughts. They, however, do not detract from the overall message of the collection.

To The Monsters of My Past is an easy read that tells a beautiful story and captures the feelings it intended to masterfully, and I look forward to reading more of Crews’ work as she grows and matures into a strong poet. 

Pages: 144 | ASIN : B08Q7SZLLF

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