Books That Matter: Kristiana Reed reviews I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal — October 21, 2020

Books That Matter: Kristiana Reed reviews I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal

I’m Not Dying With You Tonight by Kimberly Jones and Gilly Segal is Young Adult fiction with its finger keenly on the pulse of current affairs. Told through dual narrative, Jones and Segal collaborate to tell the story of one turbulent night shared and survived by Lena and Campbell.

Forced together as a fight breaks out at their high school and gunshots are fired, Lena and Campbell must set aside their societal differences and unite in the face of civil disturbance, protests, rioting and looting. Through Lena, Campbell begins to understand the deep racial tensions within the town she has recently moved to. She witnesses Lena’s fear in the presence of the police and watches a community stand for equality and justice in response to a racist governor.

Whilst Lena teaches Campbell to acknowledge the white privilege she possesses, she learns that the new white girl in town with very few friends may be blinkered but is loyal, compassionate and prepared to fiercely protect Lena too.

Both young girls experience first hand the brutality and violence which besets peaceful protest the moment counter protestors arrive; fights and fires are unleashed and the looting begins. Both are cowed by the sight of riot police, ziptied wrists and peaceful protestors sat in silence whilst stores are ransacked. Both young girls witness the lack of justice we too have experienced this year across the globe and most especially in the United States of America.

However, I’m Not Dying With You Tonight is more than a dual narrative exploring race, privilege and prejudice. Jones and Segal interweave teenage politics, the importance of family, high-school drama, love and friendship into their narrative too. Therefore creating a YA novel which resonates deeply yet also forces every reader to question their own stance, their own privileges and prejudices and what their own actions would be if ever faced with the same scenes and dilemmas Lena and Campbell are confronted by over the course of an evening.

im not dying with you

About Kristiana Reed:

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

Her collections of poetry Flowers on the Wall and Between the Trees are available through Amazon.com and Amazon.com.uk

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.

Kristiana Reed Reviews All the Beginnings of Everything by Kindra M. Austin — July 31, 2019

Kristiana Reed Reviews All the Beginnings of Everything by Kindra M. Austin

Austin has, yet again, created a masterpiece. All the Beginnings of Everything is a sensational collection which spans what feels like a lifetime. Separated into seven parts, Austin explores more in this collection than I feel she ever has done before; without sacrificing her trademark style. Her words remain sharp, raw and honest.

Part one is succinct, fervent and reveals how our childhoods fall into our adult years, no matter how hard we try to leave the past in the past. This is followed by parts two and three: Austin’s ode to self and survival. She is the lioness empowered by her dismissal of those who tried to break her. She will not give thanks; she is the reason she is here today and she will continue to create her own light and legacy.

For me, part four was a departure for Austin. Although she explores grief as masterfully as she did in Constant Muses and TWELVE, here Austin also embraces hope. It is an honest account of how heartache demolished the walls of her heart in order to help rebuild them, stronger than before. This balance of loss and love is repeated in parts five and six as we journey through hurt, lust, unrequited love and goodbyes to find real love; love which feels like a Heaven-sent gift and the easiest thing in the world.

Finally, fittingly, part seven delivers the end of this collection and takes us back to the beginning. This part is Austin through and through; it holds some of the best pieces I believe she has ever written. The title poem is quite simply, a masterpiece.

With each new release, Austin’s craft continues to blossom and out-do what came before. I cannot describe her words and work in any other way than magic. Not because her words appear as if by magic but because she wields a power many would struggle to harness. She is true; and for that, in this day and age, she is otherworldly.

All the Beginnings of Everything is now available for purchase

UK

US


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

Kristiana Reed Reviews We Will Not Be Silenced — December 5, 2018

Kristiana Reed Reviews We Will Not Be Silenced

We Will Not Be Silenced is a collection of poetry, prose, essays, and art which shares the lived experience of sexual harassment and sexual assault. It has been pieced together and pioneered by four incredible, courageous women who, in telling their truth, have a raised a chorus of ninety-one other writers and artists. Austin, Daquin, Finch, and Ray have undoubtedly created more than a piece of art. They have blown wind into the sails of change and made a stand which has already altered the lives of many.

We Will Not be Silenced, as the title suggests, paves the way for silence to be shattered. Shame and stigma in society have taught a lesson of ‘stay quiet because no one will believe you’, for too long. The stories in this collection, although difficult to read at times, teach new lessons. Lessons about hope.Lessons about how you are not alone. Lessons about letting your shame fly away in the breeze even if you can still taste blood in your mouth. Lessons about the strength you can find in your scars. Lessons about women and men; about how this can happen to anyone; about how this is not your fault, never was and never will be.

As a piece of art raised from an eclectic collective, the work ebbs and flows with the gentle power of the current downstream; each piece moving the reader in familiar and unfamiliar ways. The editing is thoughtful and allows every writer space to breathe as an individual and yet remain part of the whole; the heart and soul of We Will Not Be Silenced. In fact, I would love to share my favourite pieces but I would end up quoting the whole book.

With Austin, Daquin, Finch, and Ray at the helm, We Will Not Be Silenced is truly something special; a landmark demonstrating how far we have come and how far we are yet to go, with loud, unbroken voices.

Kristiana Reed daydreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.