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Listening to Africa Paperback – March 18, 2012

4.8 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Diana M. Raab makes a pilgrimage from the "familiar neon of home" in America to Africa, bringing her family, her passion and her pen. Her moving words carry us with her in narrative poems replete with vision, humor and irony. In her inner and outer journey, the poet transforms fear and sadness into beauty and love as her heart opens "in this place which will remind you of your reason for living." --Susan Wooldridge, author of poemcrazy: freeing your life with words

Diana M. Raab takes us on a joyous poetic journey of words and photos. She juxtaposes her wisdom, essential wellness and depth of feeling in exploring four-legged friends, illness, and hope, making this an extremely powerful collection. --Cara Nusinov, author of Unrequited Love and Other French Kisses

Diana M. Raab takes us on a joyous poetic journey of words and photos. She juxtaposes her wisdom, essential wellness and depth of feeling in exploring four-legged friends, illness, and hope, making this an extremely powerful collection. --Cara Nusinov, author of Unrequited Love and Other French Kisses

About the Author

Diana M. Raab is an award-winning poet, memoirist and registered nurse who teaches in the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and at various conferences around the country. She is the author of three poetry collections, My Muse Undresses Me (2007); Dear Anaïs: My Life in Poems for You (2008), winner of The Reader Views Award and an Allbooks Review Editor's Choice Award; and The Guilt Gene (2009).Her poetry and prose have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Rattle, Rosebud, Litchfield Review, Tonopah Review, Writers Journal, Common Ground Review, The Smoking Poet, A Café in Space, the Toronto Quarterly, Snail Mail Review, New Mirage Journal, Lucidity, Blood and Thunder, Jet Fuel Review, and Ascent. She s editor of Writers and Their Notebooks, winner of a 2011 Eric Hoffer Award and finalist for Best Books (USA Book News), and also co-edited (with James Brown) Writers on the Edge.Diana Raab's memoir, Regina s Closet: Finding My Grandmother's Secret Journal, won the 2008 National Indie Excellence Award for Memoir and the 2009 Mom's Choice Award for Adult Nonfiction. Her self-help memoir, Healing With Words: A Writer s Cancer Journey, won the 2011 Mom's Choice Award for Adult Nonfiction.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Antrim House; First edition (March 18, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1936482185
  • ISBN-13: 978-1936482184
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #7,369,036 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 22, 2012
Format: Paperback
Diana M. Raab is a nurse, a poet, a writer, and a healer - if healing is a even a weak descriptor for wellness of body and mind and spirit. Rabb has found these delicate but timeless threads of connection and shares them with us in this collection of poems LISTENING TO AFRICA. A poet of the pioneering sort she stepped out of the comfort of her home and accompanied her family to the nest of secrets that bud in Africa. The result is a collection of photographs, some simply reproduced and others manipulated in a manner that seems to show the kindred lines between man and the animals about whom she writes with such caring and respect.

Raab's oems are simple in format which is to say that her messages are quickly grasped without wading through challenges in style. And that is in keeping with her subject matter - life at its most sublimely basic state. These are meditation and celebrations of a place new tot he poet and new to many of us. Some examples follow:

THE GENTLEST ANIMAL

has toes even, unlike mine - my second,
larger than the first, which they say

points to creativity - but
the giraffe is much more creative

it seems because of where he reaches
for his sustenance.

Here in Africa I fell in love
with the giraffe and on our

last day, market day,
snatched a wooden purple-spotted one,

standing tall, staring into my green eyes,
to become my single souvenir and carry-on.

Is it their gentleness
or the reminder of my own neck's woes
which draws me to them?
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Format: Paperback
Listening to Africa by Diana M. Raab is an incredibly moving book of poetry about many things: Africa, illness, comparisons, poverty, animals, light, and introspection.

The poems appear to have been written during the course of a safari that goes through Namibia, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. During her travels with her family, Ms. Raab writes about the continent of Africa, the comparisons between Africa and what she's known prior to traveling there, and "I ponder my pull to Africa." There she sees "people happy with so little".

She reflects on her own illness, metastasized breast cancer.

I step onto African soil
with dreams of leaving
my own cells buried there

merging with a history
of African fights for survival
even as I know there's no way

except through magical dreams,
to leave behind what haunts me:
the healthy bones dad once bestowed.

As a breast cancer survivor myself, I found her poetry very poignant, painful and beautiful. It touches all the raw spots and provides a new way of looking at what can't be seen.

eyes glued to the aperture
of this modern lens
to grasp dreams of a future
I most certainly will never live to see.

Ms. Raab has a rare sensibility towards the African people and seems to understand them and their paths. She appreciates the ecology, the animals and can take them all seriously or laugh heartily at their antics.

As her year ends in Africa,

I ponder

my yearly accomplishments
ups and downs, ins and outs
and hopes for the New Year.
Africa casts a somber perspective

on our sheltered American life.

"Ms.
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Format: Paperback
Each poet's voice is as unique as they are, and poems within a collection are varied too, like a region's weather, with trends and ranges, but ultimately, hopefully, both predictable and unpredictable. Diana M. Raab's fourth collection of poetry was rich in variety of styles, common threads, and surprises.

"Listening to Africa" emerged during a trip to Africa which Diana initiated around learning of a second diagnosis of cancer. For all the life saving advances we've made, the announcement of cancer can still freeze the breath of even the most courageous, even as Diana has already faced and survived breast cancer. Her courage conveys, in part through the clarity of her fear and vulnerability, and otherwise through choosing this very journey to Africa.

Several of Diana's poems set a full chill on my skin, hair raised in the reminder of the fragile edge that is this life.

It was "I'm Wondering" that I read before sleep, laying down in the quieting of the night, that moved me so strongly I sat up. Reading about her deep impulse to help, inspired by one of the great compassionate ones, my heart quickened. Such a desperate moment she witnessed, a man being kept from a dying loved one. Such a sweetness to be able to unlock the gate for another. However short either's life may be.

"Amplified Melancholy", is another poem that set chills rising on my arms. With phrases like, 'this season's melancholy slipping through my veins' and 'stabbed by a second diagnosis', her experience is palpable. Woven like a double helix, the poem twists towards Africa and its fight for survival, and entwines her father's life and death with her own.

Listening to Africa is rich reading, some poems light, others intense.
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