Undercurrent Blues Has A Rhythm of Its Own - Poetry Book Review


On July 17, 2005 Cahuenga Press released Undercurrent Blues by James Cushing (Cahuenga is a cooperative press and Undercurrent Blues is the 14th book they have published since their inception in 1989). The collection includes poems written from 1989 through 1991 and 1997 through 2002. If you're like me, you immediately ask where 1992 through 1996 went. Mr. Cushing explains the skip in time in his Author's Note at the beginning of the book. Basically, the poetry included reflects the first 25 years of his writing life.

In Undercurrent Blues, The poems from 1989 through 1991 are from Mr. Cushing's first book, You and the Night and the Music published by Cahuenga Press in 1991. The titles and poems are inspired by 20th Century American songs that have become jazz standards. In Fly Me to the Moon Mr. Cushing's lyrical style matches the desire for transport in that old standard but he offers us a deeper yearning in his stanzas. We picked roles (insomniac shepherd, complaining nymph) from
a basket of fruit. Orisons rise from every third house, a glow like
a broadcast ending, and we wanted this, to live near the sun, that
constant burnt offering.

His poetry from 1997 through 2002 is a reaction to the death of both parents and the end of his second marriage - to put it in the author's words "darker stimulation". In spite of the dark stimulation, these poems have a sly sense of humor, an acceptance of life's slings and arrows. Of these, The Turn of April shows the author's recovering hope:

I think we are moving, slowly and patiently,
within a great walled garden along an eastern path,
and I think I can assume we keep walking, lightly
and with kindness, until the garden ends, and we fall off the edge
where the next dream begins in a rush of kisses and cameras.

Undercurrent Blues by James Cushing asserts that music shapes us but also encourages the reader to play with its rhythms in order to fully incorporate its influence on our psyche. In the second half of the book, Mr. Cushing acknowledges the darker moments of life but offers hope and a bit of a lesson in maintaining one's sense of humor.

Sanora is a co-creator and founder of www.LAwritersgroup.com">http://www.LAwritersgroup.com. She received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from North Dakota State University. From 1995-2001, she studied under Cathy Colman ("Borrowed Dress") in her Unleash the Writer Within workshops and was included in her Master Poetry Class in 1996 and 1997. In April 1997 she won a Poetry Reading contest sponsored by Borders. In 2000 she studied under Ron Koertge ("Making Love to Roget's Wife") in Pasadena. She was one of several featured poets at scheduled readings at Midnight Special Book Store in Santa Monica, The Rose Café in Venice, CA and Projectile Poetry. She has taken part in several open mike readings in the Los Angeles area and believes poetry is meant to be spoken as well as read. Two of her poems, Elegy and Untouchable, appeared in the 20th edition of Wordwrights! magazine. Sanora is currently working on her Master of Professional Writing degree at the University of Southern California.


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Veteran journalist Cokie Roberts, who joined an upstart NPR in 1978 and left an indelible imprint on the growing network with her coverage of Washington politics before later going to ABC News, has died. She was 75.

Roberts died Tuesday because of complications from breast cancer, according to a family statement. A bestselling author and Emmy Award winner, Roberts was one of NPR's most recognizable voices and is considered one of a handful of pioneering female journalists — along with Nina Totenberg, Linda Wertheimer and Susan Stamberg — who helped shape the public broadcaster's sound and culture at a time when few women held prominent roles in journalism.

Indie press Galley Beggar has warned of the impact a no-deal Brexit could have on publishing after learning of "crazy" government requirements on distribution and warned it could put smaller publishers out of business.

The Norwich-based independent, which recently scored a Booker Prize nomination with Lucy Ellmann's Ducks, Newburyport, fears smaller publishers could be put out of business over legal uncertainty around Brexit.

Galley Beggar founder Sam Jordison outlined concerns around UK government and Publishers' Association guidance, and in particular government guidance suggesting that publishers will need to state country of origin or International Organization of Standardization (ISO) codes for their inventory. The government published its Yellowhammer contingency plan which details "worst case" scenarios for a no-deal Brexit last week. The document warned of channel crossing delays and disrupted trade across the Irish border...

... "We're terrified, we are genuinely terrified. There's all kinds of other reasons to object to Brexit but from a practical point of view it's going to completely screw us. The main concern is that this is potentially going to put people out of business. Not even potentially, it is going to put people out of business. Our margins are small so rising costs are already a nightmare – that's only going to get worse. Paper, transport are going to go up – even with a deal that stuff is problematic." ...

Elena Ferrante, the Italian author whose Neapolitan novels became a global phenomenon, is to publish a new book in Italy on 7 November – her first novel in four years.

Bestselling author Jojo Moyes has called on the government and the publishing industry to do more about the UK's "shameful" adult literacy record. In 2018, Moyes, writer of global hits including Me Before You and The Girl You Left Behind, donated three years of funding to charity the Reading Agency for its Quick Reads scheme, saving it from closure when its previous sponsorship ran out.

While she was "proud to be able to help out as a private individual", she is furious at what she calls governmental and industry failure to understand the importance of Quick Reads.

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Amazon has broken the worldwide embargo on Margaret Atwood's The Testaments (Nan A. Talese), which isn't supposed to go on sale until next Tuesday, September 10, inadvertently shipping about 800 copies to customers. This has infuriated indies, led to early reviews of the book around the world--revealing basic elements, and caused exclusive excerpts to be published earlier than planned. Altogether, the embargo violation stained the release of one of the biggest books of the fall season, Atwood's long-awaited sequel to The Handmaid's Tale.

In response to the situation, publisher Penguin Random House issued this statement: "A very small number of copies of Margaret Atwood's The Testaments were distributed early due to a retailer error which has now been rectified.... Not naming Amazon and attributing the problem to "a retailer error" irritated many indie booksellers for a number of reasons: some pointed out that if their stores had sold copies of the book early, it would be considered an embargo violation and likely lead to punishments, such as not receiving embargoed books ahead of publication date in the future. Many speculated PRH will not do anything of the sort with Amazon.

In a series of tweets, Raven Book Store, Lawrence, Kan., succinctly outlined the problem:

"It should come as no surprise that a certain huge online retailer is selling this book very close to our cost; if we sold it at their price we'd make $1.73 per copy. We've discussed before how this is unfair, and how we deal with it.

But now, not only is the huge online retailer selling it for a price we can't compete with, but they shipped out copies a week early. This increases the likelihood that someone who got it early uploads a bootleg copy online, cutting into sales for everyone.

It also gave de facto permission to places like the New York Times and NPR to publish spoiler-heavy reviews, which deflates the mysterious buzz about what's in the book. It's likely that less mystery means less vital first-week sales for everyone. I hope we're wrong."


Chanel Miller was known by the pseudonym Emily Doe at the trial of Stanford student Brock Turner, who was sentenced to six months in county jail for the assault. The sentence caused widespread anger given that Turner could have been jailed for up to 14 years for the crime. Many believed Turner had been given a lenient sentence because he was a white athlete from a prominent university, Stanford. Turner repeatedly claimed alcohol was to blame and that the encounter was consensual, while his father called the attack "20 minutes of action".

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Hundreds of readers in the US have received early copies of Margaret Atwood's heavily embargoed follow-up to The Handmaid's Tale, The Testaments, after copies were shipped out early by Amazon.

Security around the novel had been as tight as anything mounted for JK Rowling or Dan Brown's blockbuster releases – the judges for the Booker prize, who shortlisted The Testaments for the award on Wednesday, were warned they would be held liable if their watermarked copies leaked. But since Tuesday, readers have been posting images on Twitter of their freshly delivered copies, a week before the novel's official release on 10 September.

And The Guardian have just published an (officially approved) excerpt--see link below:

The shortlist for The Booker Prize, the U.K.'s top prize for fiction, has been announced. The list includes two former winners, Margaret Atwood and Salman Rushdie--even though Atwood's book doesn't publish until next week:

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Lucy Ellmann (U.S./U.K.), Ducks, Newburyport (Galley Beggar Press)

Bernardine Evaristo (U.K.), Girl, Woman, Other (Hamish Hamilton)

Chigozie Obioma (Nigeria) An Orchestra of Minorities (Little Brown)

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Elif Shafak (U.K./Turkey) 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World (Viking)

Reese Witherspoon has named Lara Prescott's debut novel The Secrets We Kept as her September book club choice. This thrilling historical fiction, which publishes on September 3, is inspired by the true story of the CIA plot to infiltrate the hearts and minds of Soviet Russia with the greatest love story of the twentieth century: Doctor Zhivago. The Secrets We Kept is also a great hit with the 20 BookBrowse members who reviewed it for our First Impressions program--rating it a stellar 4.7 stars!

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