Sunday, February 15, 2015

A Review of Valeri Beers' ...details....

A Commentary on Life, as seen through the eyes of Valeri Beers
A Review by Alex Conrad

A cute little package arrived in the mail the other day including a book of poetry by Valeri Beers entitled “…details...” and at first glance I didn’t know what I was getting myself into.  As soon as I opened the pages of the book, I was blown away by how simply put everything was.  But through the simplicity of the poetry, the messages of the three “L”s (Love, Lust, and Loss) were made clear.  If I were to choose a favorite poem from this wonderful collection of poems, I would have to choose “Wondering Edge”, for I could sense the feeling that the speaker had at the moment they realized that their partner was gone for good.  Loss is one of those emotions that can cause writers to create beauty out of the darkness.  Out of darkness and despair shall come a beautiful thing!

Interview with Valeri Beers conducted by Alex Conrad
1.      Who or what inspired you to write poetry? 
 I was inspired to write poetry when I was in high school, I joined a creative writing class and was exposed to different styles of poetry. I wrote two poems and submitted them to the school literary magazine. Both were accepted and I have been writing ever since. Writing poems helps me to be able to remember things I see and  feel.   I am inspired to write when listening to music.  I am also inspired to write when I read poems and writing from others , wishing I had written that  ;)
2.      Do you have a favorite place to write? 
In my velour pajamas in bed sipping coffee :) That is a rarity, so I would have to say I don't have a  favorite place, I write when inspiration makes its demands (I keep a small notebook in my backpack  in case inspiration strikes while I'm out and about) I have written in my car while waiting for my girl to be dismissed from school, at a bar (that got STRANGE looks), on the back of paper placemats at restaurants.  I also write and compose poems in my head :)

3.      Who are your favorite poets, alive or deceased? And what are your favorite poems by these poets?
 I really like Erica Jong and Dorothy Parker. Neil Hilborn (from Button Poetry) and Amy Lowell. I like all poems from Erica Jong,  Dorothy Parker has wonderful, sarcastic flavored poems if you like those (some standouts are A Well Worn Story, Resume, News Flash and A Very Short Song) but they're ALL GOOD.  I like deceased poet Amy Lowell.  She seems to have short poems which I love and I have featured her poems on my own website:
            Neil Hilborn is a new  poet, who has some great poems, including   “Static Electricity”,                   “Clatter” and “The Mating Habits of the North American Hipster” He has a bunch of             his own poems on's the video for “Static Electricity”

4.      What five words best sum up your personality?
            Weird. Encouraging. Determined. Prolific. Helpful.
            5. Other than writing, what else do you love to do?
Read books, (fiction, non fiction, sci             fi, fantasy, poetry) listen to all kinds of music, read poetry online in blogs and journals,             look for interesting things to post on my site and on PoetryPasta, take pictures and      videos to help show what I am doing and encouraging other poets  (we need it, thin             skinned and scared bunch of writers we are ;)
6.      What is your favorite poem? Why? 
This is a hard question for me Alex :)  I read so many good poems every day. I subscribe to Poem A Day, I read the submissions for PoetryPasta, I read, read, read! :) I would have to say my favorite poem  is “Alcestis on the poetry circuit” by Erica Jong and have carried it in my pocket for Poem In Your Pocket Day.  I like it because of its truthfulness and how we are all our own worst enemies.
            Alcestis on the Poetry Circuit
(In Memoriam Marina Tsvetayeva, Anna Wickham, Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare¹s sister, etc., etc.)
The best slave
does not need to be beaten.
She beats herself.
Not with a leather whip,
or with stick or twigs,
not with a blackjack
or a billyclub,
but with the fine whip
of her own tongue
& the subtle beating
of her mind
against her mind.
For who can hate her half so well
as she hates herself?
& who can match the finesse
of her self-abuse?
Years of training
are required for this.
Twenty years
of subtle self-indulgence,
until the subject
thinks herself a queen
& yet a beggar --
both at the same time.
She must doubt herself
in everything but love.
She must choose passionately
& badly.
She must feel lost as a dog
without her master.
She must refer all moral questions
to her mirror.
She must fall in love with a cossack
or a poet.
She must never go out of the house
unless veiled in paint.
She must wear tight shoes
so she always remembers her bondage.
She must never forget
she is rooted in the ground.
Though she is quick to learn
& admittedly clever,
her natural doubt of herself
should make her so weak
that she dabbles brilliantly
in half a dozen talents
& thus embellishes
but does not change
our life.
If she's an artist
& comes close to genius,
the very fact of her gift
should cause her such pain
that she will take her own life
rather than best us.
& after she dies, we will cry
& make her a saint.
© Erica Mann Jong

7.      What are your current, and/or next projects?
            My current project is taking poetic care of my website and helping take care of             PoetryPasta. (  I am also the editor and submitter for the writer's group at my local library. My next project is hopefully another book, whether it's an anthology or just me, only my readers and publisher (Thomas Hill Publishing) knows :)

Alex Conrad is a student at Montgomery College, Rockville campus in Rockville, MD where he is studying General Studies to eventually pursue a degree in Psychology at a four-year institution.  He has been writing since grade school – whether it be poetry or short stories or the beginnings of a book.  He is currently taking an online Poetry class at the college, which is where he had the pleasure of interacting with Valeri Beers through his professor, Dr. Marianne Szlyk.

I also want to share some music from artists I've seen at the Mid-Atlantic Jazz Festival in Rockville, MD.

The first artist we saw was Vuyo Sotashe, a South African who performs songs in many languages including Xhosa and Bantu.

The first song "Nyoni Yezulu" is in Zulu:

Here he sings "Yise Wabant'a Bami" with Nicky Schrire:

We'll finish with a more traditional jazz song ("Magnus' Lullaby")

Someday there will be more YouTube videos of this singer!

Then we listened to the Rufus Reid Quartet.  In fact, here is a video of one of the songs he played.  This video, though, is from 2006 and features different personnel:

The group also played "Glory," a song inspired by Elizabeth Catlett's sculpture of the same name:

The personnel in the video appear to be the same we heard at the festival.

I am also including Reid's tribute to Hank Jones, "The Eloquent One":

I'll finish with an image of Elizabeth Catlett's work.  In fact, below is the side view of "Glory."

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