Olive Skin – Devika Mathur (An Excerpt from Crimson Skins) — September 7, 2020

Olive Skin – Devika Mathur (An Excerpt from Crimson Skins)

My Mother has a concave slippery mouth,
untouchable with the slick tunes of time.
She carries nostalgia,
like an offering,
a seduction performed
in the onyx of mouths colliding.
A star shadow
molten in pieces
with liquid layers of murmurs
sticking to her bare belly button.
Lipids resting like a heavy eyelid.
She stitches her concrete bun,
as a belt of Ganges
her crisp breaths floating
to tangle the elixir of paper
and cuts,
with minimalist parched lips.
My Mother walks
as a silhouette of wisdom,
dropping shades of grey,
anxiety bleeding still,
quietness. Silence.

Crimson Skins is available through Amazon.comAmazon.com.ukBook DepositoryBarnes and Noble, and other major online book retailers.

Shipping to some countries may currently be delayed or unavailable due to Covid-19.


Kristiana Reed Interviews Indie Blu(e) Author Devika Mathur — September 3, 2020

Kristiana Reed Interviews Indie Blu(e) Author Devika Mathur

KRISTIANA: Crimson Skins is your second poetry collection, what has been the most rewarding part of reaching the point of publication?

DEVIKA: Over the years I have grown into a more persistent writer honing my writing skills. The process of collecting art pieces and turning them all beautifully into a book takes a lot of creativity and patience. As I wrote my second collection, I observed my mental state each day blooming into a different shade of the sky. I have realized in the past couple of months patience with great care is the most impeccable reward one can get during the process of publication. Reaching this stage of publication, the inner satisfaction to turn my words worth reading and to touch each soul where the pain lurks feels gratifying.

KRISTIANA: In your book trailer for Crimson Skins, you reveal the kaleidoscope of themes within the collection. What draws you to writing about detachment one moment and revival the next? 

DEVIKA: Crimson Skins is a collection divided into five different categories, detachment and revival being two of them. I do not portray my mind being guided only by the negatives that reside in the body. I truly believe there are so many emotions promulgating under our mind and hence all emotions should be valued each time. Detachment is just a part of a  human life aiming to mould ourselves toward the real worth of human sustenance, whereas revival springs from the notion of staying valorous and a warrior. It takes a whole lot of patience. Our emotions, be it attachment, delirium or isolation, make us flawless and remarkable only when accepted.

KRISTIANA: Would you say Crimson Skins is a reflection of you? If so, how?

DEVIKA: Yes, definitely! I would not hesitate in saying so. Crimson Skins emanated during the course of time when my mind would not be in harmony with my body. Either of the two would have a different story to tell which sparked a fire to let it out. Hence, Crimson Skins was born. As you read the collection, you will find how each poem speaks a blatant truth about love, despair and insanity all at once. Yes, we all feel that. This book will weave a garland of needles and soft glow of sunshine all together.

KRISTIANA: What inspired the title ‘Crimson Skins’? 

DEVIKA: The title seems a bit flaunty to a lot of people, I guess. And I would not doubt any single of them for the name stemmed out from my love towards the word ‘Skin’. I consider our body and skin to be a temple of all the thoughts, fears and love that it can nurture towards our own worth and towards others but sometimes when there is a high tide in our thought process we reach a darkest hour shutting our minds and  even falling for a dead twig that can give us hope. I call this deadly hour as Crimson. Crimson being the darkest shade of red speaking volumes about pain, vexation, hope, and finally reaching the peaceful side of the shade. Crimson Skins defines the significance of accepting our flaws garnering the stark truth about bruises, scars and prayers. I hope the title does justice to my poetry.

KRISTIANA: Are there any specific influences (other writers, artists, musicians) who inspire your poetry and prose?

DEVIKA: I would be lying if I say no to that. To begin with, as a person in whole, I never stop learning from others. Each day is about the amount of knowledge that I can gain to better myself as a human and the same goes for my writing. Over the years I have met some amazing writers on WordPress and Instagram which have inspired me in some or the other way. 

Talking about the classics, Sylvia Plath is one such confessionalist poet whom I look upon for her strident usage of metaphors showcasing her life and journey. Other writers who inspire me have to be Seamus Heaney and Eavan Boland. When it comes to the WordPress community as I mentioned earlier,I totally adore the writings of Samantha Lucero of sixredseeds. Lastly, over time I have realized that sometimes inspiration is just the beginning of a thought that emerges in the mind, inspiration can be anything and everything. It can be a sheer joy of observance.

KRISTIANA: You are incredibly active online on a variety of platforms, how do you balance this presence with your life offline?

DEVIKA: Is it so? I feel I am terrible at staying active on social media. Though I try managing all my writing platforms with a consistent practice of staying devoted to my writing. I feel this lockdown has turned me into a mad writer who is either thinking of chewing words or actually penning it down. Since the pandemic started, I also took an initiative of curating a newsletter which inculcates classic poetry along with other mindful resources for my readers and the amount of love my subscribers have poured is beyond  the feeling of gratitude. Apart from writing for my blog and Instagram which satisfies my creative juices, I am also a teacher and that takes my half of the time and energy especially in these harsh times when everything has to be online. I balance everything with a positive routine that I have perfected for my well-being. As I said, it takes practice.

KRISTIANA: What does the writing community mean to you and what do you believe is your role within it? 

DEVIKA: I have been writing on WordPress for more than 4 years now and the bond that I share with fellow writers is so pure and pious. It’s the love and care that actually goes in the long run. Nothing would matter if I had no honest fellow writers motivating and supporting my work. I am grateful for the support I have received over the years and in the same process I have stumbled upon various talented artists, creators, poets that fill my heart with abundance of love and sheer kindness. The writing community needs this amount of tenderness to sprinkle all the perfect colours that one can possibly think of. We are strong only when we are together and nothing can suffice that. I think that element is so crucial and I would always want my presence to inspire someone in the world. Through my words, if I am able to cultivate a small seed into a beautiful flower, I think my job is done there. The process of learning and growing together is what we should reflect through our words, gestures.

KRISTIANA: What is next for you in the world of writing?

DEVIKA: Honestly, I am not sure of that. I believe in living in the moment and for that reason I am completely cherishing my current publication process. This book took a lot of my energy in a constructive and destructive way so I am taking it all slow. But in the future, I have plans to write more copiously and that is for sure! I may be in delusion as of now but I am pretty sure that I refrain from stopping here, I refrain from being static about my current version. I have a long way to go and I will keep on working on my wisdom, perceptions and my entire personality for that matter. I may sometime later release a chapbook or another poetry anthology because there are a lot of tales whispering things inside my head and I know all that has to come out again with a new and a crisp version of my work.

KRISTIANA: Where can my readers follow you and your work?

DEVIKA: Thank you for believing in my work! I write at https://myvaliantsoulsblog.wordpress.com/

My instagram handle is @my.valiant.soul and I can be followed on twitter as well https://twitter.com/epdevikamathur.

If any of the readers is receptive for some soulful poetry and other stuff that I curate with utmost passion, they can subscribe to my newsletter here.

Crimson Skins is available through Amazon.comAmazon.com.ukBook DepositoryBarnes and Noble, and other major online book retailers.

Shipping to some countries may currently be delayed or unavailable due to Covid-19.

Review Of Crimson Skins, Devika Mathur – Kristiana Reed —

Review Of Crimson Skins, Devika Mathur – Kristiana Reed

Devika Mathur is loved and known for her celebration of the abstract and surreal; she plays with words like toys and bites into them like ripe fruit. Everything Mathur yields is original and unique. Even when her voice is so reminiscent of Sylvia Plath, she remains a woman and poet unto herself, through and through. Crimson Skins is a testament to Mathur’s talent; through poetry and prose her brilliance is depicted again and again.

The opening to this collection is stunning. Immediately after a dedication to her mother, Mathur establishes the foundation of looking inward and skyward. You are swiftly taken by atmospheric pieces like ‘Olive skin’ and ‘I die each night’ as Mathur paints worlds and portraits with emotions. Whenever I read Mathur I imagine kaleidoscopic colours tinged with shades of grey as she documents love, hope, grief and depression.

In this way, she is a Plath for the modern age: the line “You’re putting your body in the bath-tub, almost like dying in peace.” from ‘Four walls’ recalled the beginning of The Bell Jar. Mathur’s voice is fresh yet ancient with history and as a result there is such a depth to her work that I admire. Pieces like ‘A Self-portrait’, ‘Life blooms’, ‘Silhouette’, and ‘A thing about Winters’ are prime examples of this; they are examples of an attempt to toe the line between living and sinking.

“My windows ache with heartbreak” (How I burn and survive)

“I keep things safely like the moon keeps tides” (A collector of things)

The inward reflection in this collection is beautiful in the way it is expressed and explored. On one hand, Mathur explores reflection, depression and loss through the seasons in poems like ‘Ode to November’, whilst on the other hand, at times her experience is incredibly relatable like in ‘The routine’ and ‘The art of silence’. But alongside this darkness there is a sensual and sultry layer to her writing – ‘Talks with night’ is gorgeously sensual, whilst ‘To you, darling’ and ‘All at once’ are stunning examples of Mathur’s love poetry.

“she entraps the sky in her fingernails” (A goddess)

Mathur’s prose is sensationally written too. ‘How I have been’ is phenomenal and demonstrates a side to Mathur’s talent I would love to see more of in the future. She captures life and soul so eloquently and honestly.

Finally, Crimson Skins comes to an end with pieces like ‘Mother, I see you’ and we are reminded of the dedication at the beginning – we are reminded of the power behind Mathur’s work and her womanhood. This collection is a debut to be reckoned with as it superbly portrays who Devika Mathur is; a force of poetic nature.

Crimson Skins is available through Amazon.com, Amazon.com.uk, Book Depository, Barnes and Noble, and other major online book retailers.

Shipping to some countries may currently be delayed or unavailable due to Covid-19.

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

Mariah Voutilainen reviews Smitten, edited by Candice Louisa Daquin


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.

Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews The Lithium Chronicles — April 6, 2019

Candice Louisa Daquin Reviews The Lithium Chronicles

The thing about Nicole Lyons is …. There are too many things about Nicole Lyons and nothing about her is sufficient to encompass all that she is and will be.

She’s more than words. But she is without doubt the fiery mistress of words. She knows the power within words. She knows the spells behind words. She can inhabit a word and possess it and then give it back to you, with her own unique signature upon it.

How she has that mastery I don’t know, but single-handedly she’s responsible for new genres that she alone OWNS.

So, when her publishers send me an advance copy of The Lithium Chronicles Vol. 1., to review, I get a little light-headed and vacillate between two tactics; Going completely fan-girl overboard and trying to stay professional. I think I’ll go completely fan-girl overboard.

The cover alone has a claim to magnificence. And it’s no wonder, what other modern poets work deserves a gorgeous cover like that?

When Lyons began her blog, The Lithium Chronicles, I doubt even she knew how enormous her online and offline presence as a writer, thinker, philosopher and voice of her generation would become.

For those who know her, maybe her massive success comes as less of a surprise, because they already had insight into why she’s the magnetic compelling creature that she is.

The title gives us a little hint. It’s often said those who are bipolar have that irresistible mercury that we’re all attracted to. When they’re good they’re off the freakin chart.

Sometimes however, it’s worth imagining how hard it must be to be Nicole Lyons? What a price you pay for that degree of creative altitude?

Consider how all those mercury souls who write, have to navigate, survive and endure the intense highs that may bring madness or brilliance, whilst the lows confer almost un-survivable darkness. Maybe that’s why so many true artists do have some kind of mood-disorder, where they are at the mercy of something within them that can produce such excellence. It’s like skating on a knifes edge and avoiding being stabbed by it your entire life.

I could quote Nicole Lyons for hours, and in fact I have quoted her more than any other writer I believe on my own blog. Equally, you could google how many throughout her writing career thus far, have done just that and remain hypnotized to the succinct and desperately clever way she riddles her wordage. However, rather than quoting her this time, I ask you to just go out and buy her and grow her voice even more, although I know she’ll do it without you because that’s who she is, she’s a scrapper. She’s a survivor and she’s a bad ass and she’s also got a golden heart and a fierce mouth that I wouldn’t want to be on the wrong side of, but one I intensely, eternally respect.

If you spend any time on social media, you’ll see Nicole Lyons work everywhere there is poetry, in fact you’ll see people outright plagiarizing it, she’s one of the most often copied artists and regularly has people pretending her work is theirs. I suppose imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but I also know it’s sickening, cheap and terribly hard on the author.

Personally, I get really tired of reading endless memes online, especially those life affirming quotes. I’ve just had too much of it now. I find a lot of things about social media irritating and insincere. But somehow and despite this, I find myself sharing Nicole Lyons work again and again as if she’s every kind of exception to every kind of rule.

It’s probably because, Nicole Lyons just isn’t and will never be a passing phase, a momentary epiphany or a transient hot writer. She’s here to stay the long haul, and if you label her as simply an author of memes and short, clever phraseology, you’ve missed her depths and she has a velvet goldmine of them. Some of her most profound and moving work is in her longer writings which you may not be as familiar with as they are not shared as often but you will find them in this volume. It may surprise you how versed she is at any length poem, and how moving and intense her longer pieces can be.

Yes. That’s it. Nicole Lyons is an exception to every rule. She’s the author you will become addicted to, even as you vowed never to become addicted to any writer. She’s the straight girl you will crush on whether you’re straight or gay, because of her honesty, and the sheer erotic will of her soul. She’s the poet you’ll most often quote, probably imperfectly, and you’ll finally accept that she’s cast a long spell on you the way all fantastic and immortal writers do and you can’t put that feeling into words.

I won’t quote Nicole Lyons because you probably already know how good she is. The only thing left to say is, if you ever read poetry and feel something, you’ll want to own every last thing Lyons has written and this is absolutely no exception. If we ever needed a poet laureate of brave, broken, real people who survive the darkness, Nicole Lyons would get my vote, as she is my queen of hearts. She’s a heart breaker, a heart mender, a best friend, a warrior, a solace, a rage against the dying light and a new element in the natural world that they haven’t yet named. Hell, I’m fairly sure she makes the sun shine and thunder roar. Such is her own, wild, untamed and brilliant voice.

The Lithium Chronicles is available through Amazon.


Candice Louisa Daquin’s own life, traveling from her native France, via England, Canada and finally the US, has brought a myriad of experiences that others have often been able to tap into via her writing. A collection of lives really, and with this, she tries to weave greater meaning through poetry and touch those who experience similar questions, doubts, and hopes. Surely this is what writing attempts in its very human form?

Daquin’s themes include feminism in its complex, everyday form, and the experience of being a woman, a gay woman, a bi-racial woman, a bi-cultural woman and finally, a Jewish woman of Egyptian extraction (Mizrahi) and how this sits with the world’s current revolt between the dominant faiths.

You can read more of her writing at The Feathered Sleep.