Sunday Book Review – Ida: Searching for the Jazz Baby #freeversepoetry

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing Frank Prem’s new release – Ida: Searching for the Jazz Baby. In this story of historical fiction written in free verse poetry, Frank touches on the life of Ida Pender, aka Jazz Baby, and her wild lifestyle in the 1920s. Complete with newspaper clippings and stories to accompany.

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Blurb:

Who is Ida Pender? Is she the elderly woman – Ida-Spider – rumoured to be resident in a 1970’s Mental Asylum?

Is she Squizzy Taylor’s teenaged gangster moll of the roaring 1920’s in Melbourne? The woman the police declared had shapely legs? She is Ida. The Jazz Baby.

Frank Prem explores the story of Ida Pender, largely forgotten now, but once the notorious associate of a 1920s Melbourne gnagster. From the young girl sneaking out of her bedroom window to go dancing at the Palais de Danse, companion, accomplice, then wife and mother to Squizzy Taylor’s child by her early twenties, Ida is an extraordinary woman and a marvellous story.

My 5 Star Review:

A freeverse poetry collection about a jazz dancer and true crime in 1920s Melbourne, Australia where Jazz baby, Ida, daughter of a horse trainer, falls in love with Melbourne’s notorious underworld criminal, Leslie ‘Squizzy’ Taylor, once a horse jockey. The story begins in the 1970s where the author, Prem, as a young student, was a pyschiatric nurse at the Lunatic Asylum where several elderly women were called Ida. ‘Rumor’ had it that one of these Idas was Ida Pender, the gun-moll of Squizzy Taylor.

Prem researched the story of Ida Pender and Squizzy Taylor, who was eventually killed in a shootout, leaving Ida a widowed, single mother at the tender age of 23. Ida loved to dance since a child and was discovered to be part of a competitive dance group who loved to dance to jazz at the Palis de Dance. Prem brings back to life the story of Jazz Baby in prose and poetry. With each newspaper clipping headline, Prem tells the story in poetry through the character’s minds. An introductory poem to the elusive Ida:

the company (she keeps)


The pair are “Squizzy” TayJor, and his paramour, Ida
Pender, who has been associated with him since she
was a mere child of sixteen
“Squizzy” Taylor——As He Is! The Mirror, Perth 05/07/1924
is she
a bad girl
or
does she just choose
poor company . . .
a man
might be a
murderer
but still be nice
to me
and
if I love him . . .
and
I do love him . . .
where else
should I be
is she a bad
bad girl
or is she
just . . .
just . . .
just keeping company
as best
she can

If you enjoy a ‘different’ kind of story-telling, you will enjoy this well-researched story combined with the author’s imagination, written in poetry, accompanied by headlines. All the author’s research resources are listed in the book.

©DGKaye2023


Sunday Book Review – A Specialist at the Recycled Heart – #speculative #poetry by Frank Prem

My Sunday Book Review today is for some wonderful speculative poetry by Frank Prem – A Specialist at the Recycled Heart.

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Blurb:

A Specialist at The Recycled Heart is free verse poetry and storytelling focused on the Speculative Fiction (SF) genre. The genre of What If . . . writing that encompasses fantasy and Sci fi and other forms within its warm embrace.

. What is the sound of the wind – of a sigh – on Mars?

. What does an abandoned artificial life form – an AI – contemplate in a lonely existence in far outer space. Why was it made, if only to be abandoned.

. Is it possible to go fishing to catch a passing thought?

.These and other all-too-big ideas are explored in the pages of A Specialist at The Recycled Heart.

Poetry written the way you always wished it would be.

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My 5 Star Review:

“The book is an interesting combination of science fiction and poignant real life issues. At places you are drifting in space, playing with the stars and planets while in other places you are lost in a jungle, trying to find your way home.”

Prem is known for his free verse poetry and switches things up by using sci-fi-like and fantasy style speculative fiction as well as taking real life issues and incorporating them into poetic prose, often leaving the reader to ride along with their own imagination.

The author writes in short words of free verse poetry, but his words open up our imaginations as we form our own interpretations of his stories. An example of his sci-fi prose he speaks of Red Mars and what he imagines it’s like there with succinct descriptions. The First Dog speaks of how the first dog accompanies an astronaught to the moon. My favorite was – a specialist (at the recycled heart), taking possession ‘of dreams, wishes and hopes, old loves and old lives that had been used up, broken’, ‘all of it to end up in emotional dumps’, as the author states he was called back to take these things and put them into the machinery of the re-imaginer he invented to melt down these emotions ‘to a fraction of itself’ then inject it and shape into an ornament as a keepsake – minus the aching and distress so that life can go on leaving tears behind, recycling broken hearts. How wonderful would it be to put our sadness into the re-imaginer?

Prem always delights with unexpected stories. He goes deep in his imagination and creates scenarios with his prose that give us pause, first wondering his intent, then having us interpret for ourselves.

©DGKaye 2022

Sunday Book Review – Garden Black by Frank Prem #Poetry

My Sunday Book Review is for the latest collection of speculative poetry by Frank Prem. I have enjoyed reading many of Frank’s books because his poetry interpretations take us along with him on his observations whether real or fiction, his truth shines through.

Blurb:

The Garden Black poetry collection is a venture into fantasy and speculative fiction based on the dual themes of rain forest and fantasy.

. The rainforest becomes a desert, and then the sea.

. A man in a satellite orbits the earth while playing his violin and pondering. A girl gazes up at the passing light and dances.

. Od Ovo – a youth who is from here, raises the dust of frustrated boredom on a mining asteroid, and cannot believe traveller tales of places where water falls from the sky.

. What colour are the flowers in the Reaper’s garden? They are all colours . . . They are black.

Welcome to the speculative fantasies that are The Garden Black.

My 5 Star Review:

From fantasy to the deep is what you will find in this new interesting collection of speculative poetry by Frank Prem. Prem’s poetry reminds that life is fragile and fleeting. Life is brief and can be both harsh and beautiful at times. The author shares conversations evoked in his mind through his observations and imagination, life’s incidences and moments.

A few poems in particular, caught my attention and touched deep. I’ll share them here through partial excerpt:

Not sorry only grief (waiting)

"I have no wish
to go back
home

home
never
quite
had room
for what I was

but
I do wish
that home
could spare a
thought - 
just ocassionally -
for me ..."

Unbound (goodbye)

"gravity
would hold me down
but
I was not made
to be
earthly tied

I set my sights
somewhere
over the tree tops

the strength
my strength
lives
in the will I hold ..."


Jet on night

"he
is a silhouette

she
a shadow leaning
up against
the wall

he reaches
to touch her
with the sun
shining behind him

she holds up
a phantom hand
to better feel
their connection

darkness on
darkness

he isn't there

jet on jet

she isn't there ..."



©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Picture Poetry, A Lake Sambell Walk by Frank Prem

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I have a sweet review for a recent #Newrelease by Frank Prem – A Lake Sambell Walk. Frank is known for his free-verse poetry and in this book he has created a picture book to accompany his observational prose.

Blurb:

A Lake Sambell Walk is a stroll around the iconic man-made lake that lies at the heart of historically significant Beechworth, Victoria (Australia).

The lake was created by gold miners of the 19th century washing away the soil in their wild search for gold at the height of the gold rush era.

Today, the lake is a beautiful setting for fish and ducks and dabchicks (grebes).

Join Frank Prem for pleasant armchair stroll in A Lake Sambell Walk.

Welcome to Beechworth!

My 5 Star Review:

As a lover of free-verse poetry, I’ve enjoyed several of this author’s books. A Lake Sambell Walk is another of Prem’s beautiful poetry books where he shares a walk along the lake and the intricate thoughts and memories the scenery evokes, accompanied by serene images inspired by the author’s words and observations. A once fervent mission to discover gold took place on this man-made Lake Sambell in Australia, now a tranquil lake where the writer visits and takes in the scenery as his conscience absorbs the sights and sounds of the surrounding nature as he shares his vision from his observations in this lovely book of picture poetry, using crisp and short prose to evoke a bigger picture.

The corresponding image to this poem evokes a tangled web of tree branches and hope:

Yours

Up
through your tangled 
self . . .

the blue sky
waits

reach tall

be straight

it is yours
if only
you take it

reach tall
take everything
that is yours

The corresponding image evokes a lonely, lost pair of gloves abandoned atop a fence:

gloved by no one

was it cold
last night . . .

warm today . . .

who
left them

who
wants them

no one
loves them

there is no one
to glove

©DGKaye2022

Sunday Book Review – Waiting for Frank-Bear – (Beechworth Bakery Bears)

 

My Sunday Book Review is for Frank Prem’s new release in the Beechworth Bakery Bears series – Waiting for Frank-Bear. This is probably my fifth book I read by Frank. I enjoy his non conformitive prose and poetry he uses to execute his stories. And the bears are adorable. I was thrilled to receive an ARC from Frank, this book is available now on pre-order.

 

 

Waiting For Frank-Bear: as heard by . . . (The Beechworth Bakery Bears) by [Frank Prem, Leanne Murphy]

Available on Amazon

 

Blurb:

The Beechworth Bakery Bears are still just as friendly and eager to please as ever.

 

But, where is Frank-Bear?

 

He does not come in to see them as often as before and they miss him.

 

They would love to tell you about their lives now, and how they wait for their best friend Frank-Bear to visit.

 

Step back into the bakery and find out what is happening in the world of The Beechworth Bakery Bears.

 

 

My 5 Star Review:

Prem brings us a new treat from his Beechworth Bakery Bear series. In this poetic story he takes us into the inside musings of the Beechworth bears who are now feeling a bit perturbed at the lack of customers, and question why people must lineup to enter the bakery, only so many at a time. As they patiently await customers to come in, the bears go about their business, tidying the shop and preparing baked goods.

 

The bears are also puzzled because they can’t see people’s full faces anymore, now covered with masks. What is going on? And where is Frank? It seems Frank is one of their favorite customers and as they go about their daily business of setting up shop, they keep their hopes up in anticipation that Frank will soon show up for a drink and his favorite snack. Another night passes as they patiently await their friend Frank-bear to visit. A sweet read!

 

 

©DGKaye2021

 

Sunday Book Review – Voices in the Trash by Frank Prem – #Poetry

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today my review is for a short but lovely poetry book by Frank Prem – Voices in the Trash. For those who are familiar with Frank’s inventive poetry, you will enjoy this imagery plus poetry together as the author depicts what the images speak to him.

 

Voices (In The Trash): A Picture Poetry Book by [Frank Prem]

Available on Amazon

 

Blurb:

What if they could talk?

What if the objects that catch our eye as we wander down the aisles at the Trash and Treasure Market could tell their own stories?

 

My 5 Star Review:

The author uses poignant images to tell his stories of his unusual and thought provoking perception of, if the photo could speak. Simplest of objects such as plastic fruit, paint brushes, mannequins, peacock feathers, clocks, globes, – catch the author’s imagination and inspire his creative poetry around his vision.

Prem shares his vision with us and at the same time offers us, the reader, to both, look through the author’s eyes, as well as using our own intuitive impressions and translations.

 

  • A crystal ball – tomorrow will be clear
  • All right (basket case) – baskets strewn up a stand ‘we have to hang out together”
  • I – the recorder – the clock is master of time
  • What remains – compelling thoughts on history

 

Frank Prem is known for his out of the box creative poetry.. If you enjoy poetry, and are open to new forms and presentation of some telling poetry, you’ll want to read this book.

 

©DGKaye2021

 

Sunday Book Review – Pebbles to Poems by Frank Prem

Welcome to my Sunday book review. Today I’m reviewing Pebbles to Poems by Frank Prem. This book is a beautiful little prequel to some of Frank’s various works. If you aren’t familiar with Frank’s interesting styles of poetry and story-telling, this book is a perfect way to taste his work.

 

 

Blurb:

Pebbles to Poems is a sample pack of Frank Prem’s free-verse poetry and storytelling published between 2018 and 2020. Extracts from six collections, ranging through memoir, and wildfire though to contemporary love poetry.

Small Town Kid – growing up in a rural Australian town during the 1960s and 70s.

Devil In The Wind – the stories of victims and survivors of the 2009 Black Saturday wildfires in Australia.

The New Asylum – an experience of public psychiatry in Australia, from childhood roaming the mental hospital grounds, through student psychiatric nursing and on to managing acute wards and patients.

A Love Poetry Trilogy:

Walk Away Silver Heart – derived from the Amy Lowell poem ‘Madonna of the Evening Flowers’.

A Kiss for the Worthy – derived from the Walt Whitman poem ‘Leaves of Grass’.

Rescue and Redemption – derived from the T. S. Eliot poem ‘The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock’.

This is poetry that is meant to be read on the page and aloud, as well. Poetry the way you always wished it could be written.

 

My 5 Star Review:

This book is a delicious sampling of extracts from some of the works of Frank Prem. The first collections are written in personal memoir style, poetic reflections of growing up in rural Australia in the 1960s and 70s from his book – Small Town Kid. Prem shares in his poetic anthology about his personal experiences with the 2009 wildfires in Australia in his book – Devil in the Wind. And more experience shared from his background in working in a mental asylum, and then as a nurse in the public mental health system, offering a taste of his poetic telling from his book, The New Asylum. These stories are exposés of life through the eyes and experience of  Prem and the public psychiatric system, spanning five decades as Prem shares some of the shenanigans that went on, giving us a glimpse of life in the public psychiatric system, written in the style we’ve come to know from Prem, with his free-verse poetry.

In the last part of this book, Prem revisits some of his beautiful poetry from his love trilogy and shares snippets from the three-book collection – Walk Away Silver Heart, Rescue and Redemption, and A Kiss for the Worthy, a personal collection of love poems with lines taken from various reknowned authors, converted into Prem’s own self tellings with his unique form of poetry.

If you enjoy personal poetry and memoir written in poetic style, you are sure to get hooked on Prem’s writing as he breathes new life into both, old styled and new poetry.

 

Below are links to three reviews I previously wrote for Frank’s Love Trilogy:

 

A Kiss for the Worthyhttps://dgkayewriter.wordpress.com/sunday-book-review-a-kiss-for-the-worthy-by-frank-prem-poetry/

 

Rescue and Redemptionhttps://dgkayewriter.wordpress.com/sunday-book-review/

 

Walk Away Silver Hearthttps://dgkayewriter.wordpress.com/sunday-book-review-walk-away-silver-heart-poetry-frank-prem/

 

©DGKaye2020

bitmo live laugh love

 

Sunday Book Review – A Kiss for the Worthy by Frank Prem #Poetry

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m reviewing the second book in Frank Prem’s love trilogy – A Kiss for the Worthy.  Frank has taken a piece of writing from Walt Whitman – Leaves of Grass, and transformed it into a newfound form of poetry by rewriting Whitman’s lines, expanding and incorporating into his own new poetry.

 

 

 

Blurb:

Houses and rooms are full of perfumes,
the shelves are crowded with perfumes,
I breathe the fragrance myself and know it and like it,
The distillation would intoxicate me also,
but I shall not let it.. . .

from Leaves of Grass

Drawing on the phrasing of Walt Whitman’s great late 19th century poem Leaves of Grass (above) Frank Prem has produced a collection of expansive and outward looking love poetry written, as always, in the unique style that allows every reader to relate.

Prem’s interpretations breathe new life into contemporary exploration of themes of love in poetry, and utilise Whitman’s original phrases to inspire a contemplation of the self in the context of landscape and the wider world:

and as they open
I realise
they are filled
with sweet perfumes

golden glory

wafted aroma

from a house filled (with the sensual)

a kiss for the worthy is the second of three collections that together comprise A Love Poetry Trilogy, with each revisiting outstanding work by stellar poets of the past to produce vibrant new collections. The first collection, walk away silver heart, draws on Amy Lowell’s deeply personal Madonna of the Evening Flowers, while the third, rescue and redemption, derives from T.S Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.

This is a new kind of poetry that tells stories, draws pictures and elicits emotional responses from readers. Just as the best poetry should.

 

My 5 Star Review:

This is the second book in Prem’s Love Trilogy. Prem has taken from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass and once again, transforms his own version of thoughts and feelings putting his own creative spin on Whitman’s poetry by taking in and evoking the simple joys of life, love and nature.

Three of these poems stood out to me: – Clean (This soil, my air), transformed from ‘From this soil, this air’, Prem goes deeper – ‘A bootprint in the sand, breathing my own air – a cleansing’. And he takes the poignant line from  ‘Born Here (an immigrant son)’, transformed into – ‘Born here of parents born here from parents of the same, and their parents the same …’, the author shares his own lineage on this controversial and au current topic. He continues – “Sing me a song of an immigrant, on the road – sing me the song of a traveller, I will join you in the chorus, for I carry, that same dusty weight.”.’No to Espresso’ gives us a stunning conversion into the realms of addiction to the coveted java – which Prem expands on in stanza, elaborating on how caffeine affects.

Prem leaves us much to both savor and contemplate with his altered perspective on Whitman’s work. A mixture of emotion and perspective, cleverly re-wrapped into engaging bite-sized stories with robust meaning.

 

©DGKaye2020

 

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