KFUN for Writers' Block
Veronica Golos, my in-studio guest on Tuesday, Dec. 27, carries about her a spirit of peace. Her calming essence banks a fiery passion that comes through in her book of verse, Vocabulary of Silence (Red Hen Press), which recently won the New Mexico Book Award for Poetry.
Veronica said the poems aren’t a commentary on war or peace or anything but her own reaction to a world experience viewed from a distance. She began writing in response to media photographs taken of abuses at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. The images left a mark on her heart and brought out a desire to explore from a personal perspective what was happening a world away.
The book’s title perhaps reflects a thread that runs through all the poems. Brutality is not a silent event. It is noisy and vicious, soulless in a way only mindless violence can be. In that surfeit of screaming carnage the voices of the innocent or the wounded go unheard. The cacophony of war can be measured in decibels of shattered hopes, broken bodies and lives lost. This truth comes across in Veronica’s carefully crafted poems.
The poetry is deep and wide. Veronica expresses painful realities that are soul shaking and tear making. I was deeply moved by the selections she chose to read on the air. The meaning of her words became crystal and reflective, delicate crystal that shatters in the heart, and reflective prose that challenges the intellect.
A Bell Buried Deep, (Story Line Press) an earlier work by Veronica, was the co-winner of the 16th Annual Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize and nominated for a 2004 Pushcart Prize by Edward Hirsch.
From a review of A Bell Buried Deep, by Alicia Ostriker, poet and author of Stealing the Language and Dancing at the Devil’s Party: “A Bell Buried Deep is a confluence of three sacred streams: the sensuous body which is ours and the world’s, the passion for justice which craves to undo the oppressions and cruelties we inherit from the past, and the spiritual imagination that is able to generate hope. Veronica Golos knows that history is only myth by another name, and that it repeats itself until we change it. Her poetry is lucid, alive, with the specifics of intellectual and emotional experience, and resonant as a bell.”
Victoria’s work has also appeared in My Land is Me, 3 Poets 4 Peace, The Master’s Hand, Threaded Lives and Pomegranate Seeds: An Anthology of Greek-American Poetry.
All of these books may be purchased by request from Tome on the Range in Las Vegas, N.M., at Moby Dickens in Taos, N.M. and from veronicagolos.wordpress.com.
More about Veronica Golos from her online bio: “Golos has taught poetry and multi-genre writing for Poets & Writers, Poets House, and the 92nd St Y/Makor and the New York City Public Libraries. Her courses included Breakin’ the Rules!, poetry for teens and pre-teens; Creative Writing & the Use of Years, memoir for seniors; I Am More Than This, a workshop for Holocaust survivors at the Nassau County Holocaust Museum. She was Poet in Residence at Sacred Heart Academy in Greenwich, Connecticut, in 2005, at the Nassau Museum of Art, and Yaxche School in Taos, New Mexico. She has lectured on Teaching Poetry to Children at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College and Colorado State College.”
Celia Hayes, my call-in guest from Texas, rescued me on Tuesday when Veronica was delayed. We had a wonderful discussion about her books, writing in general and the challenge and rewards of writing historical novels. Celia is a dedicated researcher and has self-published several books, including a trilogy about German immigrants who settled in the Fredericksburg area.
From Celia’s website: “Adelsverein: The Gathering (book 1), The Sowing (book 2), and The Harvesting (book 3): “This trilogy is a saga of family and community loyalties, and the challenge of building a new life on the hostile frontier... Texas is a place most Americans think they know very well, thanks to more than a century of storytelling and myths. But there is another Texas story, even more dramatic for being all but unknown; the story of pioneers who also came in search of land and opportunity and for freedom from rule by aristocrats and princes.”
It was obvious in our interview that Celia is thoroughly engaged in her work, dedicating up to two years from start up of a concept to publication. That time is spent gathering details and creating family histories that when blended in the mix of story telling come together in interesting and informative ways. Celia's attention to detail has garnered her praise and encouragement, but ultimately it is the work that makes the difference.
“I have a spread sheet,” she said in the interview. “It covers a variety of topics and tracks timelines. Everything has to come together.”
The writing life is more than an idea; it’s dedication to the intricacies of plot, action, character development and tension that creates a worthwhile story. In the historical novel the writer isn’t creating a new world, she or he is recreating an era, an emotion, a sense of time and place. Detail is crucial.
Celia, retired from the Air Force, said in her author bio that she knocked around the corporate world for a while, and then got hooked on blogging, which led to writing historical novels about the Wild (or not-so-wild) West.
Celia may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To purchase her books go to www.celiahayes.com/Catalog.htm. Her print books may be purchased by order through Tome on the Range in Las Vegas, N.M., at online booksellers and from the author.