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Jan Steckel "writer" RSS Feed (Oakland, CA USA)
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Swimming the Eel
Swimming the Eel
by Zara Raab
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.00
25 used & new from $15.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Just beautiful, February 27, 2014
This review is from: Swimming the Eel (Paperback)
Dense, literate poetry from a master of the craft, Swimming the Eel is worth long minutes of our short lives.


The Book of Jerusalem
The Book of Jerusalem
by Julia Vinograd
Edition: Paperback

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jerusalem and the Lord, December 11, 2013
This review is from: The Book of Jerusalem (Paperback)
Full disclosure: the author, Julia Vinograd, Berkeley's Bubble Lady, is my friend and mentor.

I'd heard the CD of these poems, but I'd never seen them in print before. I bought it from the author who only has a few copies left with which she is reluctant to part. I decided to read it tonight on her 70th birthday. It's just as good on the page when Julia read it aloud.

The Book of Jerusalem, published in 1984 by Bench Press (San Francisco), is one of the few books of Julia's not published by Zeitgeist Press. It's 40 pages of poems in which Jerusalem, personified as a beautiful, heartless and self-absorbed woman, speaks with her lover and creator, God. The collection is prophetic, mythic and absolutely brilliant. It won the 1985 American Book Award of the Before Columbus Foundation.

Since this book was published, Julia has written at least as many poems about Jerusalem and the Lord. As the book is now out of print, it would be wonderful if someone could bring out a second edition including all the new Jerusalem poems. It may be her greatest work.


Chiaroscuro Kisses
Chiaroscuro Kisses
by G.L. Morrison
Edition: Paperback
Price: $8.69
18 used & new from $6.89

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shadow and Light, October 29, 2013
This review is from: Chiaroscuro Kisses (Paperback)
The painterly and lusty poems of Chiaroscuro Kisses will make you dream of surreal couplings. G.L. Morrison’s luscious poetic voice mates metaphors of intense originality and flavor with a formidable, brilliant queer intellect. Here is no mere ornamentation, but the piercing lyricism of a woman who actually has something to say. As Morrison writes of the confessional poets: “I can’t help it. I’m addicted….”


Chain Letter
Chain Letter
by Lucille Lang Day
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $13.07
27 used & new from $0.01

5.0 out of 5 stars Pass it on to a young friend!, December 20, 2012
This review is from: Chain Letter (Hardcover)
When I was a kid, I passed through a stage where I was fascinated by (and utterly taken in by) chain letters. Lucille Lang Day's delightful children's book uses exaggeration and absurdity to demonstrate to beginning readers (and pre-readers) the silliness of chain letters' claims.

At the same time, the author takes young readers on an imaginative trip all over the world that echoes the possibilities of such a letter's travel in a child's mind. Slyly witty illustrations by Doug Dworkin interpret and add to the text with great skill.

The book bids adieu like a letter with "Remember me always," a wish one can imagine the author sending into the future for her grandchildren, and a play on another sign-off ("With love....") Highly recommended. I'll be giving it to my favorite little one for Christmas.


Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women's Poetry
Turning a Train of Thought Upside Down: An Anthology of Women's Poetry
by Andrena Zawinski
Edition: Paperback
Price: $17.10
43 used & new from $1.95

5.0 out of 5 stars Full Disclosure, June 27, 2012
Full disclosure: I'm one of the 41 contributors to this anthology of women's poetry from the San Francisco Bay Area. Contributor and editor Andrena Zawinski founded a group here a few years ago called the Women's Poetry Potluck and Salon. The group has nurtured me as a writer and as a woman, and has set my feet on the road to bettering my craft. It has also provided mentoring by other female poets that was absent from my undergrad days. When I started college, not one of the 300 or so tenured professors at my school was a woman. Now I have my own university of female poets to guide me in the Woman's Poetry Potluck and Salon.

It wasn't until I read this anthology, however, that I fully appreciated how accomplished and talented some of my colleagues in the Salon really are. Judgments about poetry are highly subjective, but among my personal favorites in this collection are Jeanne Wagner's "My Mother Was Like the Bees"; Susan Cohen's "Chamber Music," in which she describes herself in labor "scrambling on my elbows/ up the bed, frantic/ to back out of maternity" and her ekphrastic "Cargador de Flores, Diego Rivera, 1935"; Antoinette Constable's "Trail at Muir Woods" (not even written in her native language); Zara Raab's "Hogback" depicting not particularly verbal people with a vast and precise vocabulary of the natural and human worlds; Eliza Shefler's "Dust Chanty" with its musician's rhythm and repetition; and Eileen Malone's "This Gold is Horseflesh" with her honey-tongued Irish(-American) poet's cadences "illuminated, annointed, like legend but unlike...."

Editor Andrena Zawinski, in selecting and ordering the poems into a six-part structure, has created a collage that coheres and becomes its own work of art. I'll be passing this book along to other poetic women I want to mentor-- and showing it proudly to my mother, of course!


The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good
The Compass of Pleasure: How Our Brains Make Fatty Foods, Orgasm, Exercise, Marijuana, Generosity, Vodka, Learning, and Gambling Feel So Good
by David J. Linden
Edition: Hardcover
77 used & new from $3.97

97 of 107 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Why Can't Johnny Stop Smoking, Drinking, Gambling & Whoring?, May 16, 2011
David Linden has done it again. If you liked his first book, The Accidental Mind, about evolution and the brain, you'll love The Compass of Pleasure. The latter is a neurological tour of reward pathways in the brain, explaining some aspects of obesity, sex, runner's highs, drug addiction, and gambling, among other things. The author has the knack for explaining complicated things while being witty instead of condescending. It's an easy read for such complex material -- you can finish it in a couple of nights, but don't try reading it when you're sleepy! It may be well-explained, but it doesn't feel dumbed down and it's still challenging. If you want to understand your alcoholic aunt, your slutty sister, your fat father, your exercise-bulemic brother, your ungenerous uncle or your gambling grandpa, here's what their wiring is doing. Well conceived, well written, and well past time you got your copy.


Even Before My Own Name
Even Before My Own Name
by Tracy Koretsky
Edition: Paperback
Price: $5.00
20 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss This, September 2, 2009
My favorites of these poems are the unusual "Pieta" and the joyful "À La Place De La Bastille, La Fête De La Musique." Tracy Lynn Koretsky is a brilliant writer and a careful student of craft. Her novel ROPELESS blew me away. Don't miss her fine, daring poetry.


The Sower
The Sower
by Kemble Scott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $21.56
50 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heavy Issues, Light Touch, August 18, 2009
This review is from: The Sower (Hardcover)
This genre-blending novel deals with the issues of plague, genocide, sexuality and the pharmacomedicoindustrial complex and still makes you giggle. I started it in the evening and literally could not stop until I finished it hours later. The characterizations are shallow, as in most satire, but the writer plays with the conventions of the romance and thriller genres in unusual and highly subversive ways. The book is timely, well written (with a light touch) and a real page-turner.


A Dreamer's Guide To Cities and Streams
A Dreamer's Guide To Cities and Streams
by Joan Gelfand
Edition: Paperback
Price: $14.99
25 used & new from $2.23

5.0 out of 5 stars The book's just dreamy!, July 8, 2009
A Dreamer's Guide to Cities and Streams still has me in a dreamy mood. My favorite poems in the collection were "I've Started Listening to Barbara Streisand, Again," "Requiem for a Dying World," "Dichotomy Sonnet," "Passover," "New York Park," "Daddy-O," "Recipe for Diana," and "Meditation on the Seventh." I love the sense of humor that shines through all that beauty.


Between Two Women: Conversations About Love & Relationship
Between Two Women: Conversations About Love & Relationship
by Patricia Harrelson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $13.95
26 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Two-Spirited Book, October 25, 2008
I really liked the double structure of this memoir. The narrator, who has just left a 30-year marriage to a man for a younger woman, intersperses her own story with that of the 70-year-old lesbian whose oral history she is transcribing. The contrast between her path, with a late coming out, and that of the woman she is interviewing illuminates both their lives. Harrelson includes poignant, painful glimpses of her children's difficulty accepting her new identity, and soul-searching commentary on her relationship complications with her new lover.

As a bisexual woman, I was naturally poring through the book for evidence of what led the author to conclude that she was lesbian instead of bisexual. I was a bit disappointed there; lesbianism arrives like a revelation, without quite the degree of reflection that the author is able to shine on the dynamics of her major relationships. That and a few typos were my only quibbles with the book.

I'd recommend Between Two Women to anyone interested in an unusual, later coming-out story; those struggling with how to deal with breaking it to an opposite-sex partner or your grown children; afficionados of memoir and of the recording of oral history; and anyone interested in lesbian narratives of the middle of the twentieth century and of the present.


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