The Tryst – Poetry Noir

I’m in London now for the London Book Fair. I am under no illusion that I will be able to write a poem a day, but I’m having fun with this as I go, and trying to squeeze in some time here and there.

This is poetry noir – another genre I have never attempted. Great challenge. I had enough fun with this to even return to it again some time. The poem isn’t perfect but it was fun to write.

The Tryst
By Rena Rossner

Her hand trembles, she stabs at her eye
with a mascara wand. The lover on her bed
watches and takes a drag of cigarette, the ashes

fall. The phone rings. They stare
at it, but don’t pick up. The sound
of breathing fills the room. She pours

a drink. Shoots it down fast. It’s all
been done. She lies back down. He reaches
for his gun. They kiss, the metal cold

and hard against her slip. His car is down
below, for getaways and midnight trysts, for
endless stakeouts. But here its a freefall,

her arms a secret scar. Light edges in
from streetlamps, the rumble of a distant car.
The sound of laughter is like thunder, rising from

the hotel bar. Her ears against his shadowed chest.
There is no time for love. The knock is soft at first,
then harder, like the beating of her heart.


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Cin-quain-on and a Goobye Poem

I’m still behind, doing the challenges now for days 5 and 6…

The first is a Cinquain – a structed metered poem that really appealed to me in a way that somehow Haiku’s don’t. It was stuctured enough but unstructured in the sense that it did not require rhyme which is perhaps why I enjoyed the form more – freedom within constriction and all that, as well as the serious challenge of putting the words together in a way that makes sense and follows a pattern – a great jigsaw puzzle, and I so do love a challenge.

The second is a goodbye poem – this one has a lot of meaning for me personally, but I like the concept of it’s ambiguity – a writer saying goodbye to his/her story – or is it something more? The intimacy of the relationship between the creator and the created…

By Rena Rossner

It’s now,
when day is done
that I can hear my voice
In silence thick as night I play
with words.

By Rena Rossner

I make a study of your letters
the words you formed
that ran across the page
away from me
sometimes they form
a concrete poem
your face in the morning
over coffee
you were always
far away.

Remember me like a window
open or shut, translucent,
full of glass and sunshine
I never meant to be a cage
I am but another demon
from your past
a face you pass
you turn your head as you go –
Was that just? No. Move on.
Keep moving. But you recognize
the echo.

Do you feel it still?
As I do? A low grumbling
like thunder, hungry,
an itch that you can’t scratch
a lonely angel, trailing you
ghost-like, calm, you turn
again, you hear a song,
a tear comes out of nowhere
unbidden, it falls and wets
the page. There is no pain,
it’s compensation, a mark
of cain, a passage back
into the intimacy
of silence.

Perhaps you are as glad
to be rid of me
as one who finally snuffs
the buzzing of a fly.
I am danger, keeper,
watcher, lover
of all your stories
you loved me best.

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A Lie. New Poem From Day 2 of NaPoWriMo.

So it’s day two of National Poetry Writing Month or NaPoWriMo (yeah, I know it’s April 5th which means that it’s day 5, and this should be my 5th poem, but the second poetry prompt was write a lie, so I am going to pretend I’m actually keeping up with this!)

The prompt was to write a poem that’s a lie, or a poem about a lie, or a poem that tells a lie, and this was a very big challenge for me because I don’t do “cute” poems, my poems are usually muses or images or ideas, flitting things that come to me and then cross lines and somehow can only be expressed in poetry. I write about visions, dreams, odd juxtapositions of things, small objects, feelings, I don’t usually write “clever” or story poems. But that’s what I like about this challenge – it’s taking me out of my comfort zone.

So here is my attempt at a lie.

A Lie
By Rena Rossner

I rose to greet the dawn, some things stay true
the sun that rises, faithfully, the house
that never sleeps, though contents do.
I made a cup of coffee, silently, some
habits never die, and turned on the computer.
I didn’t intend to lie. The bounty of places,
names and dates, the possibilities, an open face,
a door, a chance to travel across lines. Caught
in the net, suspended there, I thought to spin
my tale, become un-trapped. It was a little lie,
my age, a different face, a new name for this thing
I call myself. It grew. Until I did not know who
lived inside my skin, and who had dared
to claim that she was me behind the screen.
I tried to take her down, to lose her cool,
but she had taken on an alias, her presence
known. She took my time, she wanted more,
she had the friends I never had, the views,
a platform on which to stand, and she was
young and she was free, and she was everything
that wasn’t me. I spent more time attempting
to be her, less time professing to be me, and then
one day I didn’t recognize myself, a husk
of flesh and bone, a fly, caught in a tangled web.
A lie.

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Napowrimo Day 1 (two days late)

So I finally got around to doing poetry prompt one from Napowrimo (National Poetry Writing Month) – a challenge during which I am supposed to write a poem a day for 30 days.

The first challenge (via the NaPoWriMo blog) is to take the first line of a well-known poem and make it your own.

This is the line I chose: Slowly, silently, now the moon

There is something ethereal about it. And sitting here in my comfy chair, large sliding glass doors to my left that lead out onto the balcony, I can feel the moon’s presence over my shoulder as it slowly, silently takes a peek at what I’m writing.

The original poem is called “Silver” by Walter de la Mare


By Walter de la Mare

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;
From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

And this is my feeble attempt:

Different Flame

By Rena Rossner

Slowly, silently, now the moon
a spot of bother in the night
half past shoulder, quarter-
sized, appears. The balcony
is fraught with hassled light,
worried moths, long-legged things,
attracted by the glow, the hum, the other-
worldly radiance, my hands,
illuminated, insectile, tap
dance across the keys, my lap-
top, shaded in blue, in black on white,
in words fleshed out, fragile as wings,
dead things, insect markings
on the screen, flattened,
here be bug things. Moths
to a different flame.


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National Poetry Month, Napowrimo, and My Own Personal Brand of Madness

I am doing something decidedly insane this month, especially considering the fact that I am going to the London Book Fair in the middle of all of this, and I have to hand in edits for my cookbook (Eating the Bible, coming out in September from Skyhorse Press and already available for pre-order on Amazon!) in the next few days, and I am in the middle of working on the first book in a fantasy series. But, it’s NATIONAL POETRY MONTH and it’s Napowrimo so…I will be writing one poem a day for 30 days starting April 1 (I may have to double up on some days especially when I am in London). I am certifiably nuts. But some of you already knew that.

I will also be participating in the following: THE BIG POETRY GIVEAWAY 2013

My Try Poetry Giveaway

I will be giving away two books of poetry.

One by my favorite poet of all time: Pablo Neruda and another by a new, lesser-known poet: Traci Birnhall.

I haven’t decided which Pablo Neruda book yet. I’m still debating…Check back here to find out!

This is the Traci Birnhall book:


Very excited to be doing this (and a little nervous!) I’m not sure if I’ll post the poem that I write each day, because I would like to be able to submit them afterwards, maybe snippets of the poems and something about the process, the ideas I touch upon and where my inspiration comes from.

Please comment below in order to enter the giveway!


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Deep Content and Jess Walter’s Beautiful Ruins

I just finished reading Jess Walter‘s Beautiful Ruins. Not only was I completely enraptured by this book, but I will name it as one of the top 5 books I’ve read in the past year (2012 included). Why? Well, besides the beautiful turns of phrase (which abounded and still stick in my mind,) and besides the very human characters, and besides the beautiful setting and the literary allusions, and besides the fact that the book reminds me of some of my other favorite books: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by Louis de Bernieres, The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver and A Visit From the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, the book is also a really good example of what I call “deep content” and this is something I’ve been wanting to blog about for quite some time.

beautiful ruins

What do I mean by “deep content”? Well. There already exists something called “deep content” as it relates to search engines – basically it means, how rich is the content of the text you write on the internet. Quality of content. (Which usually for SEO purposes just means how often and in what variety you use certain keywords on a page.) But I want to take this one step further – as it applies to bloggers in general, and book bloggers in particular.

When I first started this blog I said that it wouldn’t be “just another book blog” that I would blog about books that moved me and that I wanted to talk about – the impressions they had on me rather than critiques. I also said that I always wanted to blog about books that led me to other books. And I also never want to blog about a book if it meant I was just repeating things that others already said. I feel like I need to actually have something NEW to say, something to add, something that makes the post my own, because otherwise, why the heck am I doing this?

And it came to me from lots of surfing around other book blogs (and seeing what I don’t want to do – and frankly, refuse to do, which is just copy and paste and post and repost stuff that’s already been said and said more eloquently and said again – no offense to any book bloggers out there, you’re doing a great job) but that I can only blog about a book if I REALLY REALLY care about it, or if I at least have something original to say.

I think that if blogs are going to survive in today’s day and age of information overload, they need to rise above themselves and provide what I call “deep content.” In Walter’s Beautiful Ruins, deep content is a multi-layered narrative that includes memoir and novel excerpts, play fragments, and intersecting lives. In a blog post, it might be – books that lead you to other books, music and/or movie clips, relevant clickable links, a Q&A with an author, a musing that the book led you to which made you possibly think different about humanity, and something which you, the blogger, can impart to the world. Something that you have to say, above and beyond the book you just read.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since The Jerusalem International Bookfair, when I heard Naomi Alderman, Maud Newton, Mark Sarvas and Boaz Cohen all speak about their blogging experiences. One thing which both Maud and Mark spoke about was the fact that they won’t blog about a book anymore unless they are really in love with it. And I sort of feel the same way, I’m not going to blog about a book unless I can give it “deep content” – unless it has given me something to say to the world that perhaps nobody else has thought of yet, unless it leads me (and others) to more books. Unless I really have something to say that matters.

Beautiful Ruins didn’t lead me to other books, but it reminded me, deeply, of ones I have already read and loved. Beautiful Ruins led me to:

a. feel completely inadequate as a writer because it was so incredibly written

b. to think about Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, and The Donner Party in completely different ways (just to even be able to put them in a sentence together is an accomplishment!)

c. to want to watch a bunch of old movies with starlets who are certainly “Beautiful Ruins” now

But the layering of memoir excerpts and novel excerpts and play fragments – that’s deep content. The layering of time periods and intersecting lives and countries and generations – of pop culture and reality tv with old movies and glamorous movie stars – that’s deep content. The juxtapositions of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Lacuna and A Visit From the Goon Squad – that’s deep content.

goon squadlacuna corelli

And so too, I hope, this blog post is too.

What have I accomplished?

1. introduced the concept of “deep content” and what it could mean for you and your blog and the types of blogs you like to read (I think all the best blogs do this, naturally, btw)

2. Led you to other books: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, The Lacuna and A Visit From the Goon Squad

3. Led you to other bloggers and authors: Maud Newton, Mark Sarvas, Naomi Alderman, Boaz Cohen

4. Explained to you the kind of books and blog posts I love and why I think that blogs are not dead, but the ones that provide deep content are the ones that will endure.

5. Hopefully caused you to think about how you might add deeper content to your own blogging.

6. Made you think about how much you really really NEED to read Beautiful Ruins NOW, with all its content – both beautiful and deep.

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Highs and more highs – The Jerusalem International Book Fair

So I just spent the week at The Jerusalem International Book Fair. I met an incredible amount of people: authors, editors, agents, publishers. I went to cocktail parties and seminars, had meetings and drank coffee (waaaaay too much coffee…), I mingled and buzzed, drank waaay too much wine (both before and after the coffee) and learned so much about the publishing industry both here in Israel and all over the world. Trends and forecasts. Hot books and bestsellers. New genres and tv-tie ins. The digital marketplace. How ebooks and tablets are changing both the way we think and the way we read. I discovered that I should never shop for books after having three glasses of wine…

The damage:

Evan Fallenberg’s “When We Danced on Water
Francesca Segal’s “The Innocents
M.L. Steadman’s “The Light Between the Oceans
Edmund de Waal’s “The Hare With The Amber Eyes
And one in Hebrew: “Akiva’s Orchard” by Yochi Brandes
But in all seriousness.
The most amazing part of my week: all the people I met (editors, agents, authors) plus hearing Antonio Munoz Molina speak (when he received The Jerusalem Prize)
The most interesting part of my week: learning about the Israeli book market from Ziv Lewis of Kinneret Publishing, and Dror Mishani (author of The Missing File) of Keter Books
The most disturbing part of my week: hearing about the pay-as-you-go reading site “TotalBoox” – still not sure what to make of it
The most fascinating part of my week: Hearing Dr. Sheizaf Rafaeli from Haifa University talk about how our brains are changing as a result of the information overload, and how it’s not just books that are changing – content is changing too. And yet. We should not be afraid and embrace this change – it’s sure to be a wild ride.
The hardest part of the week: the exhaustion
The saddest part of the week: that it’s over and I have to go back to normal life now!
Part of me is glad the Jerusalem Book Fair only happens every other year. Not sure I could handle it once a year!

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February 16, 2013 · 8:14 pm