Nicholas Gagnier’s Review of Vine: Book of Poetry by Melody Lee — July 3, 2018

Nicholas Gagnier’s Review of Vine: Book of Poetry by Melody Lee

Some works- be it visual, musical or, in this case, written- are immediately apparent as a labour of love and appreciation for the craft they’re derivative of. There is a metaphysical manifestation in their creation, love of a craft for the craft itself. You can find examples of this phenomenon in any creative industry. The most immediate example off the top of my head is Stephen King, who probably could have retired decades ago and deprived us of some great works. He writes because he loves to. Donald Glover doesn’t have to be Childish Gambino in his spare time, especially with his level of success. He does it for passion.

You can see these energies in Lee’s Vine: Book of Poetry. There is excitement hiding in the way she turns syllables and matches sounds, almost effortlessly at times. There is little social justice warriorism here, and when her feminist side does come out, like in the four excellent lines that make up Warning, virtue signaling this is not, but a deftly applied example of feminine strength.

“They should have warned you

that little princesses grow up

to be red rocks and raging seas

fire dragons and warrior queens”

 Warning by Melody Lee

Instead, Lee tends to ride the line between the universal human experience (Education, November) and the investment in her art (Indelible, Death Lives in the Sepulcher of My Soul) with grace. References to her inspirations abound, Lee is a product of those who came before her, an amalgam of styles she has made her own.

The book is cleverly divided into semi-thematic chapters, each named for a type of vine (Clematis, Honeysuckle, Wisteria). At first, I was perplexed by the lack of an index, until I finished the book and found a helpful appendix to return to previous pieces.

“Wayward November winds

Caress my bare skin

Like dead flowers and silky petals of chrysanthemums”

November by Melody Lee

Overall, Vine: Book of Poetry is an enjoyable read. As a father to a six-year-old girl, I am often on the lookout for books I can pass down to her alongside my own, and I am happy to say Melody Lee’s little book squarely fits into that category. I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Review by Nicholas Gagnier, FVR Publishing

Vine: Book of Poetry is available now at Amazon.com and through other major retailers.

Indie Blu(e) Welcomes Nicholas Gagnier — April 23, 2018

Indie Blu(e) Welcomes Nicholas Gagnier

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Nicholas is an indie writer from Ottawa, Canada, and former author of the Free Verse Revolution blog, which spawned three full books of poetry, GROUND ZERO (2013); SWEAR TO ME (2017) and the FVR COLLECTION (2018), as well as smaller chapbooks THE KILLING WAGE (2014), LITTLE CITY (2015) and GENERATION WHY (2016).

An advocate of mental health and LGBT+ issues, Nicholas is currently working on his novel FOUNDING FATHERS after a seven year sabbatical from writing books and a followup to SWEAR TO ME, an ambitious anthology which brought together several writers in the name of mental health.

Published Works

(Available on Amazon.)

 

Free Verse RevolutionFREE VERSE REVOLUTION: THE COLLECTION (2010-2017) is a compendium of works from Nicholas Gagnier’s Free Verse Revolution blog, which ran six years under various banners until its closure in 2018. It includes the exclusive chapbook “Dear Skylar”, featuring contributions from Kindra. M Austin and Kristiana Reed. Comprised of over 180 poems, this is the book that caps off a truly transformative experience.

Buy on Amazon

©Nicholas Gagnier

 

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Featuring Nicole Lyons, Willie Watt, Phil Benton, Kristiana Reed, Dom, Nathan McCool, Rachel Finch, Rana Kelly, Kindra M. Austin, Sarah Doughty, Eric Syrdal, Ward Clever, Marcia Weber, Laurie Wise, Aakriti Kuntal, Lois E. Linkens, Dennis Earley, Paul F. Lenzi, A. Marie Kaluza, Natasha Kleb Alexander and Christine E. Ray.

From Nicholas Gagnier and Free Verse Revolution, this follow-up to 2013’s Ground Zero once again uses poetry to examine the pitfalls of mental illness and depression. Whereas we were once trying to write our way to a better world, these days we write just to survive the one we inhabit. Featuring 22 writers from all different walks of life, Swear to Me is a story about letting go and giving up ideals any grander than necessary, just to quell the anxiety of living with our ghosts another day.

Buy on Amazon

©Nicholas Gagnier

Book Review: Nicholas Gagnier’s Free Verse Revolution: The Collection (2010-2017) by Mariah Voutilainen —

Book Review: Nicholas Gagnier’s Free Verse Revolution: The Collection (2010-2017) by Mariah Voutilainen

Nicholas Gagnier’s Free Verse Revolution: The Collection (2010-2017) is a farewell describing a difficult but fruitful journey

By Mariah Voutilainen

If this is your first introduction to Nicholas Gagnier’s work, as it was mine, you will find within the pages of Free Verse Revolution:  The Collection (2010-2017) a testament to the power of writing in the face of a life lived with personal traumas and challenges that have led to successes.  In the preface, he writes that “poetry did more than any therapist or medication could,” and this is evident in the poems collected within this eight-part anthology.  It would have been interesting to know where each poem stood in the chronology of his work to get a sense of how his style developed over time in the context of his personal experiences.  Still, in reading, we are made privy to Gagnier’s struggles as a very young writer growing up in a fractured family, the trauma of a close friend’s suicide, his own battle with mental illness, the love and healing that has taken place in the years over which these poems were written.

There is no doubt in my mind that Gagnier’s rhythmic free verse is written to be read aloud.  I found myself wanting to go back after one silent read to belt out the lyrical staccato of poems like “Sagittarius Dream” and “Men ‘Til Breakdown” in the quiet of midmorning.  “Drunk on You” made me wish I had a melody.  More pensive and angry pieces gave me pause; I spoke them softly to hear the form hidden within the flow and found phrases that exorcised the pain of growing up (“Unpumped Blood”), frustration with politics (“The American People” and “How the Fuck”), or the love for a child whose life experience is so happily different from his own (“I Wasn’t Ready (To Love You)” and “Sorry”).

Gagnier makes strong comparisons in his poetry, taking emotional themes and pairing them with seemingly unrelated objects and ideas.  Wrinkled suits herald the demise of a relationship in “I Don’t Love You Anymore”; locational signifiers such as zip and area codes pair with writing poetry about life experiences in “Hashtag Poetry.”   References to mathematics, from algebra to geometry, abound.  I found mentions of electrical sockets (“Pocket Lint Paraphernalia” and “Currents”) amusing but also unsettling.  “Cancer Kindness” was apt; I was taken with the link forged between a decimating disease and human interaction, especially because of its positive end-feel:

they’ll forgive you

how you fall,

and you’ll always be a

medicine the world can

call on.

Just as kindness can be a virulent growth, so can life’s complications yield palliative poetry.  And Gagnier’s poetry has a healing quality, even in its most acerbic moments.

Overall, the poems collected within FVR are accessible and relatable while maintaining a level of complexity that encourages readers to delve deeper to figure out Gagnier’s meaning.  I hoped to find personal connections to his poetry and was not disappointed; I was especially moved by the pieces relating to his daughter and mother.  Truthfully, there were times I felt I was swimming in and around words on the page, only to approach the poem again and discover its truth.  But this slight disorientation was pleasant, much like the spin you take while dancing with a partner—you come back with a heightened awareness of their presence.  My only disappointment is the fact that the publication of this anthology marks the end of Gagnier’s dance with poetry for now.

Free Verse Revolution:  The Collection (2010-2017) is available for purchase on Amazon.com


mariahv is an aspiring American writer who waxes mostly poetic in Southern Finland.  A former teacher and current stay-at-home-parent, she enjoys reading sci-fi/fantasy, flash fiction, and poetry of the medium-dark and romantic varieties.  Daily ruminations on all manner of things can be found on her blog, (re)imagining the mundane.  This is her first book review