In Dean Gessie’s captivating poetry collection, Goat Song, readers are treated to twenty-three thought-provoking poems spread across just over eighty pages. Each poem varies in length, with only a handful confined to a single page. The anthology explores a diverse array of themes, ranging from intimate personal experiences to pressing international political issues such as race, aging, mental health, environmental concerns, and the evaluation of poetry prizes.
Gessie’s work demonstrates an impressive breadth of reference, seamlessly juxtaposing elements from Ancient Greece with contemporary topics like the recent pandemic and the vernacular of social media. The acknowledgments section highlights an impressive array of accolades garnered by the poems in this collection.
Readers are advised to have a dictionary and search engine at the ready, as Gessie’s extensive linguistic repertoire introduces terms like “ectothermic” and “Apocrypha” alongside onomatopoeic expressions and colloquialisms. The experience of feeling lost in the text is not uncommon, and one might even feel a touch of illiteracy when confronted with the author’s superlative language. However, the glowing endorsements on the back cover serve as a reminder that the challenge is part of the journey, and readers are encouraged to embrace their role as intrepid explorers in the realm of this literary titan.
Gessie’s work may be described as postmodern, but it also possesses a unique quality that defies easy categorization. The collection contains poems that resonate deeply with readers, such as “A Mother Mulls Her Son’s Self-Injuries,” which presents a litany of personal traumas in search of a catalyst. The opening poem, “[sic]stemic,” implores readers to distinguish between the poet and the persona, as the line “I take my black skin out for a walk” comes from a Caucasian writer. The collection also offers moments of tongue-in-cheek irony, eliciting wry smiles as song lyrics intermingle with introspective prose lines that ponder the actions of the living after one’s demise.
Dean Gessie’s Goat Song is a rich and rewarding collection of poetry that invites readers to traverse a vast landscape of themes and linguistic styles. Embark on this journey with an open mind and a willingness to embrace the unknown, and you will surely be captivated by the powerful voice and keen insights that await within its pages.
Pages: 83 | ASIN: B0BV4CK6HN
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Life Experience And Imagination
Like a Small City is an anthology of poetry sharing dark moments and a celebration of survival from those dark moments. What was the inspiration for this collection of poetry?
While I think the collection as a whole, flows well together, I actually worked on the poems individually only writing the occasional poem in response or juxtaposition to a previously written poem.
So the inspiration for the individual poems was life experience and imagination blended together though not all poems have the same measure of both in them.
Also some of them come out of writing exercises or were inspired by reading other poems or observing things. For example ‘The crumpled people huddle’ was inspired by the rental crisis. While ‘Leaf City’ was inspired by the racial discrimination of dark skinned people.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?
I suppose because I have a long history of illness and have experienced a lot of violence these themes naturally reared their heads up time and again. Also things about the art of writing popped in too.
But I also like to write a lot of character vignettes too and by doing this I hope to build greater empathy in readers while also exploring other themes in my work which keeps it more interesting for me as I develop as a writer. Which also means I’m not just stuck with my own history. I can explore other things.
What were some goals you set for yourself as a writer in this collection of poetry?
I guess the only thing I stuck too was to write regularly. I usually write two to three times a week. And each sitting, I usually write two or three first draft poems. And it’s amazing how it adds up. But not all the poems went in the book.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?
While I’m still writing poetry, the next big project I’d like to do is a play. Hopefully this and another collection of poems will be available in about three years.
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Writing As The Spirit Leads
Poetry To Ponder is a heartwarming collection of poems that provides a unique perspective on the Christmas season, encouraging readers to examine themselves and their relationship with God. What inspired you to write and publish this collection?
“I have been writing poetry for several decades, reflecting on my journey through many trials and happy moments. I had so many poems related to Christmas that I wanted to share them. As I considered the dire condition of our society, I felt that the joy and promise of Christmas and the ultimate hope of redemption needed to be shared with the world. What good would these poems do just left in my desk drawers? It was my way of spreading the good news of hope through faith in Jesus.”
What is one thing you hope readers will take away from your book?
“Despite the moral corruption in our world, God is still Sovereign and His offer of mercy and deliverance for failing humanity still stands; there is a light in the darkness.”
What advice would you give to aspiring poets who want to use their writing to inspire others and share their faith?
“Keep writing. Look for opportunities to share even with one person and trust God to direct your path. There was a time that I was timid about showing my poetry to others. When I found the courage and began to share, I was blown over by the response and that encouraged me to keep writing. This is now my third published book.”
Do you have plans to write and publish more works of poetry?
“I already have two other books which I will soon send to you for reviews. I will keep writing as the Spirit leads. Producing a book is no easy task for me because of my visual impairment and the challenge of using adaptive technology.”
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Experience That Rebirth
Vivencias is a powerful and captivating collection of poems that truly captures the essence of human emotions. What inspires you to write poetry?
What most inspires me to write poetry is love, sensibility, and the necessity of human warmth. The ability to connect with others who have gone through what I have experienced or are currently going through it inspires me to keep writing as I wish to further understand human emotions and all the happiness, hurt and healing they bring.
“Karma” is one of my favorite poems. Do you have a poem that stands out to you personally in this collection?
“Angel Caido” is a poem that stands out to me personally because it is the culmination of falling down and having the strength to stand up again and allowing yourself to experience that rebirth.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this poetry collection?
Love, passion, betrayal, loneliness, pain, and bitterness were all themes that were important for me to explore in this collection because they were all the emotions I was feeling and wanted to release through words on paper. What was most important for me to explore in this poetry collection was bringing to light the human experience and the emotions that we all may feel but sometimes are afraid to talk about with others.
Do you plan to write and publish more works of poetry?
I am indeed planning on writing and publishing more works of poetry and continuing to explore human connection and human emotion through my own experiences.
Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram
Amor, alegría, dolor, soledad, tristeza, amargura, desengaños. Estos son algunos sentimientos que en nosotros grabados están. Es lo que resumen las vivencias del ser humano.
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Lead With Love Instead of Leading With Fear
21 Years…A Collection of Poems on Leadership offers a thought-provoking and insightful exploration of the nuances of leadership through engaging poetry. What is a common misconception you feel people have about leadership?
I feel the common misconception people have about leadership is that the leader is all knowing and ready to actually be a leader. When I first became a leader and responsible for the lives of other people, I didn’t know much about anything. People need to understand that it’s all the situations and challenges leaders face that shape a leader. Even the most seasoned and tenured leader doesn’t know everything. In all honesty the key to leadership is not knowing everything, it’s really a matter of understanding and knowing your people. As individuals we know ourselves very well. We know ourselves so well that we think that our leaders know us just as well. Because of this misconception, we judge leaders on how we would lead instead of giving leaders the freedom to learn and develop into their leadership role.
What poem in this collection stands out to you personally?
The poem that stands out to me personally is “Two Types of Leaders”. This poem stands out because I wrote it in about 20 minutes with very little edits. This poem just seemed to flow from my pen onto the paper. In addition, I truly believe that love will conquer all and that the leader that leads in love will positively impact the leadership environment. I love people and I lead with my heart on my sleeve. I know many people may feel it’s a weak form of leadership, but I must say that it has not failed me yet. I pray that all leaders learn to lead with love instead of leading with fear.
Do you have plans to write and publish more works of poetry?
Yes, I have plans of publishing more works of poetry. I’m currently working on my second book, it’s a poetry book on success. I hope to have it finished by April. In addition, I’m working on a second leadership book. This book will contain more advanced concepts in leadership. Finally, I hope to finish out the year with a poetry book on dating and relationships.
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The Soul-Seeker Collection
Embrace is the next book in your poetry collection and is based on the mantra of the eastern part of the world’s take on spirituality and exploring gratitude. Why was this an important collection to write?
Embrace is part of a three-book collection of poetry called the Soul-Seeker Collection. All three books showcased an evolution of my personal process of awakening. Book one, Embody, was about getting to know myself at a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Book two, Embrace, was about me accepting myself for who I am, understanding that the only permanence is change. Thus, Embrace is about cycles, ebbs and flows, and our evolving lives. Finally, Embolden, Book three in the collection, was about understanding that we’re connected to one another and to the universe. Poetry is a form of self-expression and self-discovery, and it was important for me to share this in hopes that others will experience a similar journey.
What was one of the hardest parts of Embrace for you to write?
When I was writing the poems for Embrace, I still hadn’t accepted that I was a poet. I hadn’t endeavored to write poetry, always considering myself a novelist. Poetry came to me, all of a sudden, in the midst of the recent lockdowns. The hardest part for me, ironically, was embracing that I was a poet and thus allowing the free flow of creativity to take shape while writing Embrace.
What experience in your life has had the biggest impact on your writing?
My health. I feel that our bodies speak to us, and they have a deeper message of healing, if we are willing to listen. Yes, we suffer through ailments and illnesses, but these are usually tied to our spiritual and emotional selves, and thus, when we go through something physical, there is an emotional and spiritual experience. I have written about my healing journey in a lot of my poetry.
What will the next book in that series be about and when will it be published?
The third and final book in the Soul-Seeker Collection, Embolden, was published in May, 2022. It was about our connection with all that is around us. I am working on another poetry series called “Journeys.” The first book should be published later this year. This series will be about how we evolve through different aspects of our lives.
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Based On Insights
Wave Pulse is full of vivid imagery and sharp observations of life and unique facets of the cosmos. What inspired you to write and publish this compilation?
Wave Pulse poems were usually based on insights into various strong and/or challenging events during my lifetime.
‘Eye on Love’ poems were reactions to or evaluations of varying love affairs valuing other or only herself. Some love affairs worked; others didn’t. Why? Motivation, values, money or self-concern. ‘Money Galore’ poems were ironic reactions to corporate strategies. ‘Art Thrive’ poems are mostly enjoyed reactions to impressive art works viewed at Manhattan museums. Universe/Multiverse’ and ‘Human Will Universe’ poems were reactions to astronomy readings. The ‘Wave Pulse’ section poems are in response to impressive revelations like “Hills Waves Grains” and the long-delayed “God thank”. Overall, this section’s poems were based on insights into important events in my life, maybe others’ as well.
My favorite poem from this collection is ‘At the Modern’. Do you have a poem that stands out to you from this collection?
I too like ‘At the Modern’ about where I often enjoy the displayed art, but often had to avoid other visitors’ boisterous reactions. ‘Hills Waves Grains’ is quite appealing to me: it displays events of value.
What poem in the book was the most difficult for you to write?
‘Bang Theory Rag’ began with a quickly-written 8 or so lines, a rapid reaction to an astronomy article by A. Fraknoi in the 1978 S. F. Examiner and Chronicle. This poem’s development took decades to emerge.
Do you have plans to write and publish more works of poetry?
At my age, poems come less frequently and in quite brief expressions. May other developed poems emerge? It’s not easy to predict. A number of short stories have emerged from interesting events over the years, but polishing them still has been resistant.
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In The Space of Uncertainty
Corpse Beneath the Crocus is a collection of poetry written about everyday moments of life, portraying what it means to be human and experience grief and loss. What was the inspiration for your poetry?
The inspiration for my poetry was love. I loved my husband with the fullness of my being, mind, body, heart and soul. There were no half measures for me; I plunged in feet first and decided, with no regrets, to keep loving him every single day. It wasn’t perfect. Baggage is something we all carry around with us and we had a lot of trauma to process between the two of us. But I chose him and I chose us and he did the same.
I’ve never had a person so wholly feel like home before, until him. So comfortable his mere presence in a room settled my anxiety, a brush of a fingertip to his slumbering form dispelled the fear of a nightmare, his wide smile full of mischief and the promise of fun a magnet pulling me from my shell and the warmth of his large calloused hand in mine assuring me everything would be okay because we were together.
The moment he died, the color drained from the world slowly until all that remained was the dull gray of pain and an aching sense of absence, like a limb freshly severed. I was stuck, frozen in the long green flat line of his stopped heart. Grief was a void; a black hole closing over my head like a body bag. A part of me never left that hospital room. It’s still there curled up against his cooling skin, wishing like hell the agony would stop.
But it doesn’t stop. Nothing stopped except me. Minutes passed in whirling clock hands and the outside world didn’t miss a step. The cars still flew by on the freeway, people carried on as if a great tragedy hadn’t occurred and I was left feeling abandoned with rioting emotions I had no idea what to do with.
Days turned to weeks, weeks to months, months to years. Muddling through, I cried, raged and fought like a wild thing to wake the frozen pieces of myself back up again. This collection is the meandering traumatized roadmap of those years. It was inspired by love and the empty space a loved one leaves behind in your heart when they die. It was inspired by hope: hope the bitter tunnel of agony leads to somewhere bright with passion and peace. It was inspired by survival and the chaotic, messy, painful, and yet brilliantly beautiful journey we embark upon when we choose to rise and take another step, wake up another day, launch ourselves into another experience. We are at our most powerful when we don’t know what comes next or where we will land, because in the space of uncertainty, we are capable of everything.
What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this collection of poetry?
Grief is a complex emotion difficult to understand unless you have lived with it. The people around me didn’t know how to respond to my loss; they weren’t sure what to say. I felt as though I were slowly thinning to transparency, winking into invisibility. I withdrew from social activity, preferring to be alone. Avoiding the unbearable pain of watching other couples and families live in wholeness while my reality imploded, shattering my fragile being into splinter-sized pieces.
The myriad facets to my grief, experienced over the course of years, became the themes for this collection. One of the first ongoing themes was growth. And by growth I mean the expansion of my ability to adjust to a reality without my husband as well as the strength to face each gut-wrenching moment I reached for my phone to tell him something significant only to realize a split second later he wasn’t at the other end of the line. I’m referring to the slow dissipation of fog as my brain took slow steps to ease out of shock of his absence. A hazy confusion accompanies a majority of the memories I have of the first year or two following his death and there are some time frames I struggle to recall at all. I grew my endurance as a result of getting up every day and attempting to make it through one at a time with as much sanity intact as I was capable of producing. None of the progress or growth I lived through was linear. There was no slow improvement to wholeness. This is the reason this collection bounces around from moment to moment because that is the reality of my journey. A good day filled with moments when I was deeply connected to my children and my life and then five days where I was wooden as a marionette, raging like a forest fire or depressed into immobility like a stone thrown in the water. Which brings us to the next theme.
Grief is a chaotic, diverse experience. I do not believe there are “right” or “wrong” ways to survive it. My feelings were deeply personal and I was possessive of them in the extreme, each excruciating moment proof of how well I loved my husband and how deeply I was capable of connecting to another human being. They were a testament of strength and I needed them to remind me I was still alive.
When I wrote this collection I wanted everyone who read it to find a part of themselves in the chaos. Connect themselves to the feelings I expressed: the rage, the numbing depression, the sudden death of safety, comfort and security in the future. I wanted readers to recognize fragments of their own journey in my writing; to realize whatever they were feeling was acceptable and find comfort in the fact they weren’t alone. I wanted readers to know they weren’t solitary survivors walking through the world trying to keep their smiles in place while their own reflections became almost unrecognizable. The only way to accomplish all of those things was to express them with vulnerability and authenticity. So Corpse Beneath the Crocus was born.
How did you decide on the title of this novel?
The title was sort of a living, breathing thing that evolved over the course of my first edit. The “Corpse” in the title references the death of my old life, my old self, dead and buried in the ground. The moment my husband passed from this world to the next, the person I was while he lived, ceased to exist. It wasn’t a conscious choice or decision, just the reality. I had to transform myself into something and someone else to survive his absence. And that is where the “Crocus” came in. I read that the crocus is one of the first flowers to bloom in early spring, sometimes making an appearance while there is still snow on the ground. It felt symbolic to me. Winter is a time when nature sleeps and spring is when it wakes up. It was a way for me to acknowledge and come to terms with everything I had lost while at the same time look ahead to what was surely blooming out of my own healing.
Will you be putting out another collection of poetry? If so, what will that collection focus on?
I am working on another collection. This collection focuses on coming of age and what it really means to find self-acceptance. No matter who we are, our experiences shape us and our worldview. Childhood can be magic and wonder, imaginary adventures and running around the neighborhood until dark. It can also be traumatic: outright rejection and exclusion by neighborhood kids, the loss of a beloved pet and a best friend who realizes they’ve outgrown you. Growing up can mean going to college and starting out on your own with big dreams and hope for a bright future. And it can also mean feeling trapped by circumstances you don’t know how to navigate and suffering abuse at the hands of someone you thought you could trust. Those moments, both traumatizing and magical, exist in the same mindscape like bubbles from the same breath. This next collection will walk readers through some of those significant moments; the ones that buoy us to creativity and passion and the ones that stab us with a knife and then twist. It is a vivid expression of the human experience, both beautiful and violent, full of love and pain, while the potential for transforming into something truly powerful that slumbers in our bones.
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