A New E-Zine Appears and This Weekend in the Literary Scene!

Today, I am proud to announce the launch of Gesture Zine, a poetry E-zine edited by my old classmate and good friend Matthew Sherling. I encourage all those who love literature (especially poetry) and who wish to see new and emerging writers, to check out the first issue ASAP.

In other literary news, three big events are happening this weekend.

First off we got Word World 2012, a literary reading series #1 this Friday, March 30th between 7pm and 10pm. More info below. Be there or be a four sided polygon!

Word World 2012
a literary reading series

~Come join California College of the Arts’ MFA in Writing graduating class~

Timken Hall
1111 8th Street

Free and open to the public

Reception follows

More info: 415-551-9237

Reading on March 30th:

Jeff Von Ward
Jessica Chrastil
Fia Maxwell
Jason Jimenez
Erin Heath
Tony Dimitry
Steven Trull

Second event this week is the Saturday Night Special at Nick’s Lounge in Berkeley, CA. 7pm. I often make an appearance at the open mic here, and hopefully (schedule pending) I won’t fail to show this night!

For more info, please see below.

March the month of Pi, Women, the Equinox, and assassination. Change is coming. The theme for our March 2012 (optional) writing challenge is: “BLOODY”

We’d love to hear your poems and stories and comedic sketches on our theme (or any topic). As ever, there will be some ridiculous prizes …to celebrate your creative efforts.

Our March features are: Toaster & Vernon Keeve III

14 open mic slots.

First come first served. Sign-up starts at 7pm and closes when it fills up or when the reading starts, so get there early if you want to read!

Each reader will have 3 minutes maximum.

Saturday, March 31, 2012
7 – 9:30 pm

Nick’s Lounge (21+)
3218 Adeline Street, Berkeley, CA
1 block South of Ashby BART
between Fairview St & Martin Luther King Jr Way

But bring CASH if you want to buy drinks

Hosted by Hollie Hardy & Tomas Moniz

Please help us out by joining our fan page, where you can also find more details and photos from past events:



Toaster is an artist/ organizer/ educator from Chicago’s north side, who at this point cant figure out what that means.
Getting his first start with Young Chicago Authors, Toaster began performing and writing regularly. Participating in both its Saturday writing program as well as its poetry competition “Louder Than A Bomb,” he learned quickly the importance of a recognizable name and good social skills.

He has had his own chap book “Floating Heads” published through “Watch the Steps Press” as well as many literary anthologies. He has performed on many stages like the “Metro”, “Victory Gardens” and “The Vic”.

More recently, Toaster has expanded his repertoire and ventured into mural and visual art. After painting “The Neo Futurists” and participating in local mural art projects, Toaster began creating and selling his art while teaching through after school programs. After traveling to perform and paint in Brooklyn, he moved to San Francisco to continue his art, community work and performance poetry.

Vernon Keeve III (V.) is a neophyte to the Bay Area. He hails from the skeletal clutches of the American South: Fredericksburg, Virginia to be exact, and now resides in the western ventricle of Oakland. V. writes his experience in poetry, fiction and theater. He is currently earning his MFA at California College of the Arts and has plans of being an educator.

His permanent goal in life is to inspire people to use their passions to make a difference and to tap into the GOOD that all humans have access to.

JDX described him best when she said, “You talk about painful subjects with a glow on your face and a sparkle in your eye.”

LAST (but hardly the least!) is Pinay Lives & Voices. This event promises to be amazing. It will be a night of storytelling, poetry, and celebration all in the name of Women’s History Month. I am personally excited because one of my favorite local poets, Barbara Jane Reyes, will be reading there! Don’t miss this wonderful opportunity!

Philippine-American Writers & Artists (PAWA)
Sponsored by the Oakland Asian Cultural Center presents

an afternoon of Pinay literature and storytelling, in celebration of Women’s History Month!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Free and open to the public!
Please consider making a donation to support our ongoing programs:

Vangie Buell
Barbara Jane Reyes
Camille Robles
Rina Ayuyang

For more information, please contact Herna Cruz-Louie, Programs Manager at herna(at)oacc.cc or call (510) 637-0455.

Visit Philippine-American Writers & Artists (PAWA) online at:


Writer Advice’s 7th Flash Prose Contest


WRITER ADVICE announces its Seventh Annual Flash Prose Contest. Mesmerize us with your best short fiction or memoir up to 750 words. Deadline: April 18. First prize: $150. Fee: $12 for processing only or $22 for detailed evaluation. Visit www.writeradvice.com for complete guidelines and link to Submishmash.

A Book Worth Biting Into


Review of Dracula in Love

Book by Karen Essex

Review by Rose Booker

A Book Worth Biting Into

I am going to be blunt here: I don’t have a taste for romances or vampires. In fact, I usually detest the very idea of pairing legitimate romantic inklings with the undead of any sort. The concept has become a cultural cliché. However, after reading just the first few pages Karen Essex’s novel, Dracula in Love, I was hooked in and I could not set the book done despite all my personal prejudices. Essex’s Dracula in Love caught me under its spell.

The novel is (on the surface) a retelling of Bram Stoker’s Dracula through the point of view of the genteel Mina Harker. Mina is the quintessentially pure Victorian heroine and her desires reflect this. That is, in the beginning. Through the course of her willing/unwilling seduction by Count Dracula (an affair that is rendered to the reader in such a way as to cause the flesh to become rosy red – i.e is hot as hell) Mina’s character morphs from an innocent Victorian woman obsessed with protecting her chastity and social image to an increasingly complex and sexually mature individual.

Which gets me to why I enjoyed this novel – the complex characters. Often times, novels such as these are largely plot-driven, leaving the reader with flat two-dimensional characters within a two-dimensional world. Yet, Essex’s takes the concept of Vampire-Human romance and adds emotional complexity, social intrigue, historically accurate depictions (my favorite being the asylum scandal), and internal conflict. All of this creates a world that is anything but flat.

Did I mention this book is hot? Essex has a way of making something as ethereal as a dream sensually stimulating and lusciously sexy. I don’t wish to spoil anything for the reader, but trust me when I say this: you will blush with pleasure throughout the love scenes.

I recommend this book to anyone who has a taste for the sensual, the Victorian-era, vampires, and surprisingly strong women characters.

1st Advice of The Year: Read

It’s been a while since I posted some advice, but seeing as the year is still young, I figured now would be as good a time as any to share a bit of advice I recently rediscovered.


Not just this blog (though, I am pleased as a purple python in Peru that you’re reading my blog), but magazines, newspapers, novels, poems, mysteries, romances, flash fiction, fan fiction, etc. Just read, everyday. Never stop reading.

Because the moment you stop reading, you stop writing.

This is not to say that all readers are writers, but it is to say that any writer worth their weight in paperback novels is a reader. It is as much a part of the craft of writing as learning good sentence syntax and how to spell check a document. The reason for the need for all writers to also be readers is simple: both are acts of communication.

A lot of study has gone into understanding writing and reading as acts of communication, so I will not rehash them again for you here (instead, please find your local English Department or Literary theorist – the Structuralists and Post-Structuralists are a hoot – for more information). What is important to understand is that as a writer, you learn from observations of others and by making observations of yourself. While reading, we can study the techniques of others, the observations they have made, and what observations we make in response to them. In this way, we take part in a larger conversation, a literary one that can stretch far into the very beginnings of human communication and even beyond.

That being said, I encourage you read what you love along with the “Masters.” By “Masters” I mean those illustrious individuals who have become the foundation for the literary arts as well as the measuring stick by which all writers are thereby judged. You know, those “dead” and “not-so-dead” authors who are mandatory reading for any high school student and/or freshman English major. Take your teachers advice: read them and study them

But don’t forget what got you into reading in the first place. If you love paperback romances that contain more clichés then a Saturday Morning Cartoon Show, then read them. If you love comic books with tight-wearing super heroes, read them. If you adore the “Masters,” read them more!

At the end of the day, what will get you to your writing desk, lap, chair, café, what-have-you, is what you love. More than fame, fortune, or the pursuit of the perfect novel, love for what you do and the work of others in your field will get you going and keep you going for years to come.

Explore Your Mind with Dr. Surprise

Review of Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind

Book by Dr. Kirby Surprise

Review by Rose Booker

You’re not feeling well and something is telling you not to go to class today, yet you go anyway because there’s a big test scheduled next week. The bus is late, there’s a traffic jam 12 miles long, yet you still go on ignoring the inconvenient events and your sniffling nose. You reach the class room door just to discover … the class is cancelled. Your intuition and the signs around you were right all along; you should’ve stayed home.

The above scenario is an all too common Synchronistic Event (SEs), often tossed away as coincidence, dumb luck, intuition, or simply a gut feeling during a specific moment in your life. Ever wondered if there was something more to them then just that? Well there is and you can find out more in Dr. Kirby Surprise’s Synchronicity: The Art of Coincidence, Choice, and Unlocking Your Mind.

One part science text book, one part metaphysical treatise, and two parts (non-fiction) story telling, Synchronicity is a book that will change the way you understand your own mind and the reality in which you live in. Through it, you will gain the ability to recognize your own SEs, create them, and recognize the SEs of other’s around you.

This book is written in such a way that anyone could easily grasp the concepts presented by the author. As an individual with an English degree (something as far away from the scientific field as Neptune is from the sun), I can vouched for this book’s accessibility. Moreover, it has changed my mind for better, and it can change yours too!

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in psychology, Jung, synchronicity, and, of course, to anyone who is interested in themselves.

An update, of sorts in order to appease the audience

By this, I mean, that I hope to make the reader understand that my long absence from this blog is in no way related to an absence in the writing world. Far from it.

Since the beginning of school, I’ve been going to and fro various cultural events throughout the Bay Area.

September brought  on readings, after readings, after readings! The first one I attended (and read at) was Sparring with Beatnik Ghosts. There I discovered Dharma Dollars and the psychedelic world at the heart of the Berkeley Art scene.

I was also able to attend a poetry reading known as Saturday Night Special. Maxine Chernoff, director of the Creative Writing Department at San Francisco State University, read there along with me and a few other poets that night. Since it was my birthday, there was a lot family there to support my readings. Ms. Chernoff even ate with us! I couldn’t have planned for a better night.

This past summer, I discovered Writing Without Walls, a Bay Area Literary Reading Series. I attended one event before school began and swore to myself that I will submit to their publication. By November, I finally had my chance to. Below was the result.

I am finally a published poet! There were so many other writers and artists that I felt so inspired to write some more. My current practice is to write one poem a week during and after break, so as to keep up the craft.

That being said, I hope to also keep up the blog so long as I’m writing poems and reviews. As always, pending life’s mysterious events, I will keep you all posted on advice, events, and reviews around the literary scene.

Stay calm and keep reading!

Happy Holidays.


Axis Mundi: In Pursuit of Healing through Place

Review of  Iona Dreaming

Book by Clare Cooper Marcus

Review by Rose Booker

Clare Cooper Marcus’s memoir, Iona Dreaming, is an inspirational account of personal survival and hope, in which Marcus shares her battle with cancer. This deepens into a contemplation of the events in her life and her physical, emotional and spiritual healing.

Recently retired with adult children, Marcus struggles with more than her cancer. The sudden stillness in her once fast-pace life, forces memories from her past into the forefront. Iona becomes a place were she confront these memories and learns to let go.

This work encourages the reader to search out for that one place on earth that allows one to heal. It doesn’t matter if there is nothing more than an inkling that pushes you toward a particular place. As Marcus wrote, “I cannot say why this particular place nurtures me as no other … Yet I know this is my place of healing. That is enough.”

Her work, however, does tend to lean on the pastoral. In this I mean that through demonstrating, first hand, the healing power of place, Marcus is taking part of a literary tradition as old as Middle English. This does not distract from the power of her message. On the contrary it adds to it through placing her work among some of the greatest writers in English history. I only mention it as a warning to those who sneer at anything that has the faintest hint of sentiment – this book may not be for you, at least not until you too find yourself searching for your place of healing.

I recommend this book to those in need of healing, to those with a deep yearning for a place in this big world (an axis mundi), and to those who love memoirs that let you into the author’s life the way a loving friend lets you into their home.

This review will soon appear on Writer Advice’s website.

“I can’t sleep. There is a poet stuck between the love lines of my palms”

Review of Diwata

Book by Barbara Jane Reyes

Review by Rose Booker

“Diwata,” Barbara Jane Reyes’s book of poetry, leads readers through a brief history of the Philippines, when colonization was just beginning to take hold of the archipelago and when magic was apart of each word and each breath.

One part story-telling, two parts rhythmic song, and all parts brilliantly written, Reyes’s poetry encapsulates the elements of Malakas and Magandá – the strong and beautiful. In “A Genesis of We, Cleaved,” a story of creation is told in a lovely voice that, despite the pain of separation that drips from each word, is strong and vibrant.

“Sea Incantation” and “Upland Dance” showcase Reyes’s lyrical and linguistically abilities; weaving Filipino and English words together without breaking from the rhythm. There is never a moment were the two languages sound jarring or out of harmony with one another.

Though gorgeous, each poem is not spared the horrors of colonization. Rape, murder, dismemberment, and exile are common themes throughout the book. “Visitation” and the “Eve” poems are just some that highlight Reyes’s honest treatment of this subject, which is clearly close to her heart.

If there is one negative thing to say about these poems, it is that they are so compact and filled with wonder that I was pleasantly compelled to read them over and over again (I lost count after the 10th read through).

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Filipino poetry, myths, and history and to those who love magic and poetry.

This review will appear on Writer Advice’s Hooked on Books.

“Who knows the blues of life in prison?”

Review of Shahid Reads His Own Palm

Book by Reginald Dwayne Betts

Review by Rose Booker

Who knows how to make wine out of government mandated juice while behind prison walls? Who knows the ancestors that didn’t go to Heaven?

“Who knows the blues of life in prison?”

Reginald Dwayne Betts does. Within his collection of poems, Shahid Reads His Own Palm, Betts guides us through the jail cells of America, exposing the harsh realities of what the American prison system does to its people locked behind bars and what that, in turn means, for America as a whole.

The first thing that struck me when I encountered Betts’s poetry was the raw emotion and honesty that he embeds into each poem. He can take an idea, such as solitude in “The Spanish Word for Solitude” and make it so tangible that even in a crowded café I felt as if I was alone.

Betts use of traditional form, moreover, complements the tone of his poems. This is especially true of his ghazals, where the form lends itself easily to the themes of lost, redemption, and revelation.

Finally, the music within this work is reminiscent of a psalm one moment and blues lyrics the next. For instance, “Song,” when read aloud, sounds as if it should be accompanied by a guitar or a saxophone.

Though the topic is heart wrenching, Betts presents it to us in a startlingly beautiful way.

I recommend this book to anyone interested in African American poetry, the American prison system, and poetry about redemption.

This review will appear on Writer Advice’s Hooked on Books.

Cat Got Your Book?

Review of Cat Striking Back

Book by Shirley Rousseau

Review by Rose Booker

Dried blood at the bottom of an empty pool, a series of unexplained break-ins with nothing stolen, and an oversized drainage ditch turned into a tomb: what is one talking tomcat to do? Tom Grey and company discover these and many more troubling signs of murder and mischief in Shirley Rousseau Murphy’s Cat Striking Back.

While on his way to deliver a meal of mice to some hungry kittens, Tom Grey stumbles upon a murder scene. Immediately, he dives into the case to help the police. The premise of the mystery is established by his discovery: no one knows who the murderer or the victim was.

Murphy’s style is engaging and thought-provoking. She lures the reader into believing they have solved the mystery early on in the book. I was so sure of whom the murderer and the victim were that I almost stopped reading. What egged me on were the small clues that the cats stumbled upon. What was that smell that resembled catmint? What in the connection between the murder and the break-ins?

Moreover, I wanted to learn more about each character. Murphy has a way of bringing character’s to life. From Clyde, Tom Grey’s housemate, to sweet cat-loving Charlie, each character feels like someone we all have met at the PTA or football game. These characters are familiar, despite being surrounded by talking cats.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in puzzle-solving, complex characters, or who simply loves cats.

This review first appeared on Writer Advice’s website.