Editor’s Note: Nicole Lyons and The Lithium Chronicles Volume II — December 18, 2019

Editor’s Note: Nicole Lyons and The Lithium Chronicles Volume II

Editor’s Note

 

Raw. Fierce. Brave. Brazen. Honest. These words are often (and accurately) used to describe Nicole Lyons’ writing. I’ve also seen her called a crazy bitch; the real burn is that Nicole lives so much inside her truths, she’s able to say, “Yes. I am a crazy bitch.” One of the things I admire most about my lioness is that she never allows naysayers to hold power over her. Nicole takes what is meant to be derogatory and makes it into a crown. Bipolar Affective Disorder, however, doesn’t genuflect before her; BAD is always seeking to usurp the reign she has over herself.

Working so closely with Nicole on the Lithium Chronicles has shown me facets of her being that I’ve never before seen through my friendship eyes; to be her editor is a fascinating position. Nicole neither appreciates nor responds to placation the way some other writers do. Trying to help her through a crisis of confidence sometimes triggers my own anxiety because I want so desperately to make sense of her mind—I want to say brilliant mind, but Nicole would only tell me to shut up. That’s the thing about my lioness—she’s unpretentious. In this, the second volume of The Lithium Chronicles, Nicole is a speeding train in which we are the passengers. By the end of this exhilarating journey, we will have seen the things that have made her into a humble woman, and we will respect her all the more.

 

—Kindra M. Austin, co-founder of Indie Blu(e) Publishing


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Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews Nicole Lyons’ The Lithium Chronicles Vol. II —

Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews Nicole Lyons’ The Lithium Chronicles Vol. II

The Lithium Chronicles Volume ll.

What happens to a writer who began to write to make sense of life, as she evolves as a human-being? Does she stay the same? Does her writing change? Add to this, the liquid mercury of emotions that push and pull that writer in myriad directions. How does this reflect upon her, the human? And how does that translate into output? In Burn The Pages, I Dare You, we see Lyons at her best, using emblematic bleeding wordage that outlasts the moment and sears into our brains; “They burn those women into memories, / inside barrels, and outside of libraries. / They write stories about / women like her, the kind / of women in the kind / of stories that make the driest / bones wet and the holiest knees bleed.” Is it any wonder she had literally forged her own fierce brand of warrior chant?

Nicole Lyons can go months where there’s nothing to throw her off-kilter and then, seemingly in that quietude, a raging flashflood comes out of nowhere and she’s upended. She has never had the surety of emotions many take for granted, maybe this is why bipolar writers captivate the rest of the ordinary world, because they are anything but and they’ve had to carry an immense weight their entire lives which can translate into extraordinary creativity. “It is a difficult thing, / the knowing and the not, / and the weight of carrying it all.” (Hard Love).

In God Damn If I Haven’t Learned, Lyon’s posits the question; whether through everything she’s experienced, she’s closer to real understanding. Lyons is a heady mix of self-deprecation and fierce survivalist spunk, she’s got courage and guts and at the same time can sell herself hideously short, this comes out in her poetry and it’s what makes her deeply human. If she were solely an egotist, we’d loathe her, if she were a coward, we couldn’t get behind her. In many ways she’s both, that’s the mercury, the madness and the smooth method of her. The irony of living being, despite it all, we still don’t really learn our lessons, we’re just after all, ragged, imperfect humans. “I fight a war within myself / that I am certain will leave me / with casualties.” (This War).

It is this hypnotic brand of flawed, imperfectness that captivates us most of all. Who would really sit with Lyons if she had all her shit together? Would we find her as fascinating? As compelling, if she knew the answers to everything? Like a best friend, we want Lyons to understand and translate our own fucked-up shit. We want her to be the big sister who can give us sage advice and then party hard with us, but ultimately not have the answers to everything. It’s what makes her real, makes her vulnerable, and likable. That access to the howling inside her, where we don’t just know the pretty surface stuff, but the demons and the hauntings too.

Lyons work distinguishes itself from others of her ilk by her intelligence and depth. I found that out the first time I read more than her shorter memes, widely circulating most social media. She’s actually a damn fine writer, of substance, and it’s the depths of her I find myself returning to far more than the clever one liners. That said, she’s got those too, and they’re wicked smart; “Exhaustion, the kind prescribed by psychiatrists, had found a way inside of me.” (Oblivion). What hangs a powerful piece is the gravitas behind the one liner, you almost need both to succeed. Lyons says one thing but it has an entire book worth of meaning behind it. For every one of us who has seen a psychiatrist and finds medication stealing our truest selves, we can relate to the simplicity of Lyons acute observations.

If you ever wanted to know what it was like to be labeled crazy, to wonder if you were, to feel it sometimes, and to know deep down you were as sane as anyone else, then The Lithium Chronicles ll will lend you the insight necessary to glimpse into that world. You may think in terms of stereotypes, One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest kind of ideas of what mental illness feels like, but there is nothing quite like reading the raw words, the quiet observations of someone who has gone through the system, survived it and can look back on it with a degree of distance.  Perhaps for some of us that is a morbid voyeuristic taint on our behalf, whilst for others, it’s attempting to understand what someone we loved endured or went through. The value of understanding cannot be diminished, even now, even in nearly 2020 we don’t give nearly enough credence to mental health or the experiences of those going through a largely unregulated system where individuals are truly at the mercy of the medicine machine.

Poems like Fine On The Outside expose the innards of what it is like to suffer with mental torment and yet, still be able to function and appear well. Nobody to talk to, nobody realizing how bad it can get. Lyons writing in this poem is a fine example of how her use of colors, small observations, concise and well grafted word-play, enable her as a poet to describe two things simultaneously; the emotion and the physical expression of the emotion as acted out in say, a yellow table, with a smoky mountain in the background, and crows in her trees. Those kinds of metaphors and images stay. They linger in your mind long after reading, because of the power their grafting into emotions creates. This is poetry at its finest, this is the kind of poetry people remember and quote to one another.

Then there’s just damn irresistible solid writing, the kind of writing capable of elevating an author above nearly all others, despite the competition;  “I don’t think you want to know me / like you say you do / I don’t think you want to know how /  my hips ache with the weight / of women crumbling / under angry men / and bridges painted whiter/  than any Holy Spirit / asked them to be.” (Karaoke Blues). Poems like this, they remind us why Lyons is forerunner in the poetry world, why her work is Tweeted by Canada (the country) and consistently used as tattoos and motivational prints on people’s walls, why essentially Lyons is indelible. That’s exactly what she is, impossible to forget or rub off. She stays. Her worth is insistent and permanent.

Before I read Lyons, I was a fan of longer poetry, and Lyons can write some amazing longer pieces, more than proving her worth at any poetic form. But as anyone familiar with Lyons range will attest, some of her best work is in the briefness of her statement, how she’s uncannily capable of saying so much with so little. It takes a certain sharp mind to achieve this, to let it sink in with just a few lines. You have to be absolutely fearless, able to speak your truth, and not hold back, and in this emptying, you achieve a purity few people have the guts to offer.

There’s a visceral raw energy to Lyons work that speaks of magic, nature, humanity and suffering as well as always, hope and beauty. The gift of grafting both extremes may come from her battle with light and darkness. She is a woman who cannot do things in halves. She must either burn out entirely or not at all. There is no fade in this poet, she’s not middling, if you see the trees alight, it’s she who’s torched the forest. And I appreciate deeply the resonance with the natural world and its interweaving with emotions and life, that ties them all together in a way that makes a profound sense. “You wash your sheets / and the guilt from your cock, / you wipe the walls / and your mouth / and drop a clean kiss / on top of the shame / you left at your door.” (The Savage Bits). When a writer is capable of opening her cavities and extracting that kind of electric, pulsating resonance, it’s bigger than mere words, it becomes a testimony.

One might argue there are no boundaries to writing like this, it is completely unapologetic and exposed. But Lyons has the craft of a true writer, she knows how much to say and when to stop, she knows what to reveal and what not to, if you think you’ll know all of her by her writing, you never will. She’s sprinting ahead of us, outpacing our shallow labels, because as well as being able to be out of control she’s very much a creature who has had to understand the nature of control and how to survive. You may think you have her number but she’s already left you behind. That’s because her understanding has been forced from the extremity of her experience and perpetual battle with emotions that many would be drowned by.

Some have likened Lyons to a female Bukowski but I think that’s minimizing her reach; “I am a whore, and I know I am / because I was given that label / by an angry man after I shared / his time and gulped at a sixteen / dollar shot while we laughed.” (WHORE). The important distinction being, Bukowski was a nihilist who thought only of himself and didn’t care whom he ruined in his pursuit of the graphic viscera of life. Talented undoubtedly, his persona was rotten to the core, reflecting his true nature. Lyons may argue she’s no different but I would dispute that. Lyons is a mother, a wife, she’s a friend, a champion, she cares, if you ask her to help you, she will, does that seem like the selfish nihilism of Bukowski? Isn’t it possible, Bukowski took the easy road, parodying with good verbiage, the madness induced in a bottle, whilst Lyons reflects her own battle with darkness, and retains that essential humanity despite it? I know who I’d admire more.

So when we read the surface humor and horror of whoredom, blow-jobs, the seeming pit of despair, we need also to pay attention to the salvation within the little observations, the tender moments woven throughout, that speak of her family, her love for things, her nimble ability to endure and not lose that tender part of her she likes to pretend doesn’t exist. How else could Lyons unravel with such insight, the duplicity of this world, the vanity and the absurdity, and reflect it back to us with an intelligence that belies the idea she’s just a spinning top without connection. She’s very much connected, her womanhood, her femininity, the very core of her, fuses with the natural world and lends her a strength no bottle swilling vagabond can truly attest to.

When I talk of Lyons dexterity with deeper understanding, this comes from her observations, a life time spent watching the outcomes of her own and then others, has attuned her to the minutia and enabled her to consider inside out, what we take for granted; “Perhaps beauty swirls / in the bowl, / mingling with bile / retched out in shame.” (Hiding Beauty). Surely a poet able to wrestle truth from every stereotype is one worth holding onto. For so much in our world is the cliché, the over-used hackneyed phrase. Lyons is a cut above that kind of generalization, perhaps because she knows what its like to be judged herself, she’s the last person to hurl an unwarranted judgement but she’ll not shy away from saying it as it is. Perhaps if she had a typical fat ego, she’d been less approachable, more predictable, maybe she wouldn’t know how to wield magic and make us gape at her insights.

In I Have Fallen, Lyons says; “I have died one hundred deaths / to appease doctors, / and family, and friends, / and I did it all / in the name of sanity.” This is one of many examples where Lyons uncannily hones in on the truth behind diagnosis, illness, judgement, pursuit of perfection. She’s not a cookie cutter idealist seeking 10/10 she’s never had that luxury. Survival is nothing to take for granted when you don’t know how you will feel the next day, the next hour, the next minute. The pursuit of ‘sanity’ as per the medical industry is a subject few elucidate on, almost a dirty little secret. Perhaps by shining a light on the absurdity of such a request, Lyons demonstrates that survival is underappreciated and we’re all buying into a false bill of goods.

Finally, there are poems like To My Best Friend, On the Day Of Her Death, which, if I say anything about them, I would do an injustice. Equally, poems like The Value of a Beautiful Heart, remind me again, that comparing a female poet to a male poet, comparing a like with like or a kind with kind, is an injustice also. Lyons is greater than Bukowski or Baudelaire or Billy Childish, because she’s a mother, so she’s not going to shit on everyone just to have the last say, and she’s not going to not give a damn just because it’s fashionable and will get her notoriety. She may have more regrets than all of them put together, but she possesses a conscience, a will to meaning, a heart. And because of that, I say, Nicole Lyons eclipses those famous names you may wish to compare her to, she outshines them, she’s more real than they ever were, and maybe we need to start re-thinking whom we call heroes and whom we admire and why.

Maybe just maybe it’s possible for a poet to be incredible and still have a conscience, still give a damn, and not just live vacuously and with abandon on the froth of a daydream. Personally, I always preferred non-fiction to fiction, there’s something real there, something beating and insistent, that’s what this kind of poetry is, and within Nicole Lyons I find someone true whom I can admire and yet, relate to, and like, as a human being not a hedonist. Because she’s not just full of piss and vinegar, she’s one of the good ones too. Maybe at times, despite herself.

-Candice Louisa Daquin / Editor of SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like, Poetry by Women for Women.


TLC - NICOLE LYONS VOLUME ONE front cover Updated 4-13-2019

 

 

The Lithium Chronicles Volume I is now available.

Amazon US

Amazon Canada

Amazon UK

 

 

 

 

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The Lithium Chronicles Volume II is due for release in December.

SMITTEN is the #1 New Release in Poetry Anthologies on Amazon! — October 31, 2019

SMITTEN is the #1 New Release in Poetry Anthologies on Amazon!

What readers are saying:

Tres Hermanas

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ important book!

SMITTEN is one of those books that needed to be made. Women who love women exist but their voices are very marginalized. All of us can relate to love no matter what form it takes and this exquisite collection of women poets is so beautiful. I especially loved some of the more humorous takes on female relationships and learned a lot from the expression of relations between women that touched my heart. I will be purchasing a few copies of this lovely book for my friends who are both lesbian and straight. As a fan of poetry I cannot recommend it more highly it has some of the best poetry about love and relationships I have read in ages.


Carolyn Martin

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Gift: The universality of Love

This unique anthology is filled with the everyday lives and experiences of women who love women — with all their quirks and quarrels, endearments and enlightenments. What thrills me – and this is central theme in SMITTEN — is that the details of woman/woman relationships will appeal to a universal audience. Readers of every gender will appreciate how love can evolve in any kind of relationship.

These poems by 120 women make love visible to those with eyes to see.


Philip Wardlow

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Tour de force of Emotions in this book of Poetry

“SMITTEN” is a tour de force of emotions to be evoked in any
reader who picks this book up. It’s filled with fiery intentions, delicate touches and playful smiles from across the room. These women’s words inspire and take hold. These women’s words find humor in the bold and the romantic. They will draw you in deep, making you see their world in all it’s beautiful lushness and honest darkness. If there was one word to describe this collection it would simply be, phenomenal
I guess you can tell I really liked it… 🙂


Nightpoet

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ book that opens hearts and minds

This is an incredible book, not only a volume of poetry by women for women, but an insight into the hearts and minds of all those who have ever loved, from a very special viewpoint. Love knows no boundaries, it is the bond of all human interaction and lesbian love poetry embodies the shared experience of human relationships and emotions from the unique perspective of feminine intuition and insight. The world needs more women writers and more women poets. This wonderful volume of poetry gives them a voice, an opportunity to share their many sided experiences, feelings and wisdom. This book is a milestone in the world of women’s poetry. It will not disappoint. It is worthwhile and essential reading…


Poet Jane

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ REMARKABLE

SMITTEN is a delight in myriad forms of what loving women feels like….glorious, challenging, peaceful and worthwhile. When we love truly, and write it down, it looks like SMITTEN. Haven’t been so excited about a poetry anthology in 20+ years!


AnnaMarie

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Beautiful.

One of the most sensitive collections in these cold days.

SMITTEN is available in both print and Kindle editions.

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Mariah Voutilainen reviews Smitten, edited by Candice Louisa Daquin — October 1, 2019

Mariah Voutilainen reviews Smitten, edited by Candice Louisa Daquin

SMITTEN UPDATED 7.23

Indie Blu(e)’s Smitten should be your newest gift of poetry

By Mariah Voutilainen

Before I begin to review Smitten, a book that lays bare and re-frames (in a very personal manner) the love that women have for women, I must be equally open.  As I formed my thoughts, I realized that I was (and am) extremely nervous about how to respond to these poems from my own heterosexual, cis female lens.  I felt this because I am a woman of color, one who feels the simmering heat of frustration when those who cannot ever know my experience want to take a stab at relating to it.  What I can say is the following:  While Smitten is a book about women who love women (from every-which perspective), of course, it is about love.  And I can relate to love.  I can understand first love, last love, forbidden love, unrequited love, the love of someone lost, the love of someone found.  The love of someone who saves.

But in truth, even as a woman of color married to a white man, I have not experienced love that is criticized or fetishized by outsiders, that is closeted by well (and not-so-well) meaning family.  I will never feel the excruciating pain of those who are beat down because of whom or how they love.  So, as I opened up my advance copy of Smitten, it was with delicate hands, an open and reverent heart—because that is how I wish my own poetry to be read.

Over a hundred poems about women, by women.  Can I say how exhilarating it is to have read so many at one go?  I happily recognized quite a few of the poets—hailing from an independent poetry network often curated by Indie Blu(e) Publishing:  Tara Caribou, Candice Louisa Daquin, Christine E. Ray, Kindra M. Austin and Georgia Park, to name a few.  But there was a mélange of poets new to me, whose unique voices were employed in a variety of styles from musical to prose to concrete poetry.  Among my favorites were Paula Jellis’ “I want a woman with a big bouffant,” Katherine DeGilio’s “Sunburned Shoulders,” Nick Kay’s “The Value of a Rusty Coin,” Jessica Jacobs’ “Out of the Windfields,” and Susan M. Conway’s “Letters to my Love.”

Would that I could list every single poem (my list is long), as they touched my sensibilities in different ways.  Some entreat us to dance to an inaudible tune; others confide to us the secrets of nerve-wracked first kisses; they relate the early-in-the-morning and late-at-night mundanities of love. But we are also invited to the troubled history of these loves in poems such as “Love is Our Theory” (Sean Heather K. McGraw), “Letter from Lock Up to the NYPD, June 1969, Christopher Street” (Melissa Fadul) and “You Don’t Deserve to Read About My Life” (Georgia Park).  These such poems are the ones that will be hardest to bear, but among the most important to read.

This is a book that should be gifted.  In spite of its implied audience, Smitten is not just for women who adore women.  It is for those whose hearts flutter and skin goosebumps at romance, who know the flight of butterflies in their stomachs and who long for the feeling of home in another’s heart.

 

SMITTEN This Is What Love Looks Like: Poetry by Women for Women an Anthology is now available on Amazon in both print and Kindle editions.   Request it at your local/international bookstores.


Mariah Voutilainen writes poetry and prose about all manner of things at www.reimaginingthemundane.wordpress.com.

Review of Composition of a Woman, 2nd Edition, Christine E. Ray by Kristiana Reed —

Review of Composition of a Woman, 2nd Edition, Christine E. Ray by Kristiana Reed

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“Ray is a woman conducting an orchestra while openly admitting she isn’t perfect. There is dazzling beauty in her ability to lift your spirits and reach beyond the book, calling for your blood and belly fire.”

These were my closing thoughts after reading and reviewing Composition of a Woman for the first time and I am pleased to report the second edition achieves this once more but with thirty-six new and stunning pieces. The collection has since been awarded a Bronze Book Award by Readers’ Favourite too.

The ingenious anatomical structure remains, with Ray taking us on a journey through her experience of physical and mental health, love, loss and being a warrior, feminist and advocate for many. The new pieces fit in seamlessly  with the story Ray had begun to tell from the collection’s first release; and considering Composition of a Woman was never lacking in the first place, the additional work only seeks to improve and reinforce the messages Ray’s writing shares. Messages about the honesty found in vulnerability. Messages of strength and courage. Messages of hope. Messages about how no matter how overwhelming loss may feel, you are not alone. Messages of fire and brimstone. Messages about freedom, equality and never giving up.

Although the collection follows ‘a Woman’, Ray writes for all and the second edition reaffirms her purpose, evident in all the work she does in editing and publishing, to lift others up and hold them in the light.

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Composition of a Woman is available in print and Kindle versions worldwide


I write about love, lust, struggle, survival, fickle things, dreams and the stars. And anything in between.  You can read more of my writing at My Screaming Twenties

I released my debut collection of poetry and prose in May 2019, Between the Trees which is available to buy, below. I am currently working on my second collection.

Between the Trees:

Amazon UK

Amazon US