Tag Archives: Elana Wolff

I. B. Iskov’s Latest Chapbook Embraces Her Best Poems

 

“I am visiting my childhood memories/green as tomatoes in May/stalked until they are red/and plucked like roses,” –I. B. Iskov, Founder, The Ontario Poetry Society.*

I B Iskov launches My Coming of Age (HMS Press, 2018)

Canadian poet I. B. (Bunny) Iskov in London, Ontario, Canada.

A huge bouquet of virtual roses for Canadian poet I. B. (Bunny) Iskov who recently launched her latest chapbook My Coming of Age (HMS Press, 2018). Over the years, she has not only acquired many accolades for her dedicated work with The Ontario Poetry Society but praise has also been bestowed on her writing. Many of these award-wining memory-infused poems are included in her new book. Almost all have been previously published between 2000 and 2017. I look forward to reading this new collection.

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Iskov will host The Ontario Poetry Society’s Autumn Ingathering for Poetry event, this Sunday, October 14, 2018 in Oakville, Ontario. Everyone is welcome.

You may hear Iskov read from My Coming of Age this Sunday, October 14, 2018 in Oakville where she is hosting The Ontario Poetry Society’s Autumn Ingathering for Poetry event. Open to the public, this free event will begin at 1 p.m. at Taste of Columbia – Fair Trade Coffee & Gift Shop; 67 Bronte Rd., Units 2 and 3. It will include mini-book launches, members’ readings, and an open mic for non-members. Sign-up for readers is at the door. Additional information here.

Can’t wait?

Below is a review** (of Iskov’s chapbook) written by award-winning Canadian poet Elana Wolff:

My Coming of Age - HMS Press 2018 - by IB Iskov

My Coming of Age by I. B. Iskov was recently published by HMS Press.

My Coming of Age     

I.B. Iskov

HMS Press, 2018, 48 pp

ISBN: 978-1-55253-095-5

The forty-four poems in My Coming of Age—a chapbook with the inside-cover subtitle The Best of an Ongoing Collection of a Life Expressed in Poetry—represent I. B. (Bunny) Iskov’s selection of previously published poems, most of which have received contest citations. The title poem, “My Coming of Age”—a riff on the fan-fiction mold, told as homage to The Beatles—aptly captures the poet’s characteristic wry sense of humour and unshielded personableness in the face of life’s swerves, curves, and world concerns. “The Beatles belonged to me / in my coming of age. It was a freer time / even though the Viet Nam war was raging, / even though there was unrest in the Middle East, / even though my parents were constantly fighting, / I had my Beatles record / to keep me safe and happy / when they sang All You Need Is Love …”

Bunny Iskov displays a discerning eye for the everyday, as captured in titles like “Chronic Cough”, “Wringer Washer Warranty”, and “Ode to My Computer”; genuine interest in the ‘everyman’ in poems like “Trucker on the 401”, “Lucy and Desi”, and “Pamela for Mayor”; and strong identification with her Jewish self in “What Is a Jew”, “The Jewish Side of the Poem”, and “Be on Guard”.

An Iskov poem speaks with personal conviction and plainspoken pluck: “I am in charge,” says the narrator in “Bedtime Chimera”; “My depression is a page in your book,” she declares in “As One Cradles Pain”; “I remember the last time / I worked the street in high heels,” she says tongue-in-cheek in the savvy-shopper piece, cleverly titled “Cheap Love”.

There’s a strong thread of sadness underlying the humour and juxtaposed the easiness in many of these pieces. Humour is often a cover and a face for deep and complicated emotions, and it’s clear that I.B. Iskov has the latter. She reveals her own “Complicated Suffering and Personal Complexities”; remembers and pays tribute to those who have gone to the other side: the beloved people’s poet, Ted Plantos, in the surging opening poem “What Plantos Meant to Poets Trapped Within Socio-Economic Boundaries”; her girlfriends “Marilyn, Rhondi and Lolly” (lost to cancer) in “Making Macaroni and Cheese”; her mother in “Memory and Loss”; and the dead at large in “When the Dead Do not Depart”.

In possibly the most touching and illuminating piece in the chapbook, “Glass House”, the poet writes: “I open my cabinet doors, / rearrange familiar figurines … “I care for moments, dust them off, display them / on little easels. / I’m composed.” This could be the artist’s statement. She makes what she will of her life—delicately, deliberately and artfully, piece by piece.

Wallace Stevens wrote that “the poet is the priest of the invisible.” I submit that Bunny Iskov is the priestess of the visible. My Coming of Age is a collection that will let you know who I. B. Iskov is and what she stands for.  (end of Elana Wolff’s review)

A sample of books by IB Iskov

I.B. (Bunny) Iskov has had several books published over the years.

Additional information about I.B. Iskov appears here.

A blog post about her book Skirting the Edge appears here.

A blog post about her receipt of the 2017 Absolutely Fabulous Women Award for women over 40 for her contributions to the literary arts in the Golden Horseshoe area appears here.

Additional information about The Ontario Poetry Society can be found on its website.

Follow this blog for future Canadian writer profiles.

Coming soon a question and answer feature with Tom Cull, London Ontario’s current Poet Laureate and a review of his debut book bad animals.

Later this year, more details about the Canadian launches of California-based anthologies LUMMOX 7 edited by Lummox Press publisher RD Armstrong and TAMARACKS edited by Canadian poet James Deahl and featuring an all Canadian line-up.

Plus, Sharon Berg’s re-introduction to CADENCE, a new folk art salon launching January 2019 in Sarnia, Ontario. Background information re: the former Cadence reading series appears here. Watch for a new partnership with the Lambton County Library.

**quote is from the poem “Pluck” in the book My Coming of Age (HMS Press, 2018) by I. B. Iskov Copyright © 2017 by I. B. Iskov, page 45. Used with permission.
**Elana Wolff’s review of My Coming of Age (HMS Press, 2018) by I. B. Iskov will appear in a future issue of Verse Afire and was reprinted here with permission from the author.  
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Behind the Scenes – Compiling a Membership Anthology

“It reminded me of working on a jigsaw puzzle.” –Debbie Okun Hill, editor/compiler, MINDSHADOWS (Beret Days Press, 2015)

Something magical happens when poets work together, when their voices interconnect to reveal additional insights.

2015 Anthology Themes: Swallowing Confusion; The Night's Not Long Enough; Casting Shadows; and Drinking The Light.

2015 MINDSHADOWS Anthology Sub-Themes: Swallowing Confusion; The Night’s Not Long Enough; Casting Shadows; and Drinking The Light.

Below is a sneak peek at the foreword for MINDSHADOWS, a Beret Days Press anthology showcasing the best work of contributing members of The Ontario Poetry Society. The books have arrived from the printers. Contributors’ copies will be shipped by the end of August.

MINDSHADOWS Foreword

Imagine navigating through a haunted maze, crunching corn stalks (or is it brittle bones?) beneath your hiking boots as the sky bleeds into darkness. You grip a red plastic flashlight in your right hand. Your left hand shakes with a scavenger hunt list. You search for poetic themes.

An owl hoots or is it the howl of a stuttering ghost? The moon leaps like a popped button from Dracula’s cape. The Big Dipper collects neighbouring stars and hides them behind the clouds. Call it a nightmare. Call it a dream. Call it MINDSHADOWS!

Your mind starts swirling. A weeping willow bends, grabs your arm but your foot sinks into a word-mire. You taste something bitter or sour like chokecherries but you haven’t eaten in days. The faint thump of a drum mimics your heart beat. The smell of smoke startles you. Ravens scatter. You know you must run…run as fast as a masked bandit towards the dance hall where a jazz band’s trumpet blares, where a single light bulb illuminates the path, beyond your black coffin.

What a challenging yet magical adventure it has been to compile and edit MINDSHADOWS, the 2015 membership anthology for The Ontario Poetry Society. As a night owl, I was eager to read this year’s submissions with themes confronting those times and events which plague our thoughts.

MINDSHADOWS sprouted from a heavy box of 81 poet folders with over 500 poems to select from.

MINDSHADOWS sprouted from a heavy box filled with 81 poet folders. Each folder contained between 5 to 10 poems. Who said an editor’s job was easy?

Bravo to the 81 emerging and established poets who stretched their imagination to create and submit their best work. One by one, I read and re-read each poet’s folder to select the strongest pieces not only for the theme but also for placement within the anthology. It reminded me of working on a jigsaw puzzle where the photograph on the box lid was missing. I had to listen carefully to the words and trust the myriad of poetic voices to guide my decisions. What started off as individual poems eventually merged into a collection of interconnected lines and verses categorized into four sub-themes:

SWALLOWING CONFUSION begins with the question WHY? I was pleased so many members examined the five senses in his/her writing. Ellen Elizabeth Stout writes, “Thirst leads me to the deep sea”. In this section poets explore the mind, how it confuses, plays tricks, and leads us astray. Read poems about games, deceptions, lies, dreams, nightmares and regrets. Nan Williamson adds hope with the line “I dreamed/you saved me from the drowning waves.”

THE NIGHT’S NOT LONG ENOUGH continues with this quest for answers as K.V. Skene asks “What if?” Here the writers focus on night life: dancing, nocturnal careers, birds and creatures that wander in the gray-black hours.

CASTING SHADOWS is eclectic, evolving and drifting like fog through black and white settings interspersed with fans of landscaped colour. What appears to be serene may actually be disturbing with street people, addictions, Halloween hauntings, fear, the atrocities of this world, and personalized encounters with death lurking on several pages.

Available soon from Beret Days Press! Book Cover illustrated by poet Elana Wolff.

Available soon from Beret Days Press! Book Cover illustrated by poet Elana Wolff.

DRINKING THE LIGHT yanks the reader out of the dark and into a more positive space filled with fireworks, the moon, constellations, campfires and candles. Stroll through various seasons. Find love and sunshine. As Fran Figge, the president of The Ontario Poetry Society writes in the last poem of the book: “my heart/brightens/into dandelion fluff/waltzing on the breeze.”

A membership project like this cannot happen without the team efforts of so many people: I.B. Iskov, founder/treasurer of The Ontario Poetry Society who continues to keep the grassroots poetry community alive, the 2014-2015 TOPS Executive who created the MINDSHADOWS theme and invited me to edit/compile this project, Elana Wolff and Katerina Fretwell who provided illustrations for the cover and sub-themed sections, Mark Clement and his endless work on design and layout, Fran Figge for assisting with the Author Bio Answers, the contributing poets, and finally you, the reader.

Enjoy your exploration through this anthology. As John B. Lee wrote in his poem “Her Dark Secret”: “it drinks/the light/and shines”. May you continue to grow, learn more about our world, and see each poet’s inner gift as a beautiful light.

–Debbie Okun Hill

tops logoEach year, The Ontario Poetry Society produces a beautiful anthology for its members. It’s an “optional” group project funded by the contributors to showcase their best work. Additional information can be found here.

The 2016 ‘members’ only’ submission call for next year’s Latchkey Lyricality anthology is located here. Keith Inman, author of The War Poems: Screaming at Heaven (Black Moss Press, 2014) is the 2016 editor/compiler. Kate Kitchen is the illustrator. Deadline is March 15, 2016.

General information on The Ontario Poetry Society is linked here. A link listing the 81 MINDSHADOWS contributors as well as order information appears here.

DISCLAIMER: My comments on this blog post may be influenced by my involvement as a long-time member and former Executive Member of The Ontario Poetry Society. Of course, I wouldn’t belong to this organization if I didn’t believe in it.