Posted in Female Poets, National Poetry Month, Poetry

Jane Kenyon, Poet


Jane Kenyon, Poet



I chose Jane Kenyon for today’s post for A2Z April Challenge. Her poetry can be both simple and profound with its images of domestic life in rural New Hampshire. She suffered from depression her entire life which she in turn employed as inspiration for poems. Use of literary devices such as metaphor and description are evident in her work. Details of the land and family relationships are beautifully woven into her writing. Kenyon’s work is worth studying. We are fortunate to have access to her poetry collections. I intend to read more of her beautiful poems. 

Briefly It Enters, and Briefly Speaks

     By Jane Kenyon

I am the blossom pressed in a book,
found again after two hundred years. . . .
I am the maker, the lover, and the keeper….
When the young girl who starves
sits down to a table
she will sit beside me. . . .

I am food on the prisoner’s plate. . . .

I am water rushing to the wellhead,
filling the pitcher until it spills. . . .
I am the patient gardener
of the dry and weedy garden. . . .
I am the stone step,
the latch, and the working hinge. . . .
I am the heart contracted by joy. . . .
the longest hair, white
before the rest. . . .
I am there in the basket of fruit

presented to the widow. . . .


I am the musk rose opening
unattended, the fern on the boggy summit. . . .
I am the one whose love
overcomes you, already with you
when you think to call my name. . . .



Jane Kenyon was born on May 23, 1947, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and grew up in the Midwest. She earned a BA from the University of Michigan in 1970 and an MA in 1972. That same year, Kenyon married the poet Donald Hall, whom she had met while studying at the University of Michigan.

Kenyon published four books of poetry during her lifetime: Constance (Graywolf Press, 1993), Let Evening Come (Graywolf Press, 1990), The Boat of Quiet Hours (Graywolf Press, 1986), and From Room to Room (Alice James Books, 1978), as well as a book of translation, Twenty Poems of Anna Akhmatova (Ally Press, 1985). She received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1981.

In December 1993 she and Hall were the subject of an Emmy Award-winning Bill Moyers documentary, “A Life Together.” She was named poet laureate of New Hampshire in 1995 and died of leukemia on on April 22 of that year.


Poetry Foundation’s biography page for Jane Kenyon has an analysis of her work.      

“Despite her relatively small output, her poetry was highly lauded by critics throughout her lifetime. As fellow poet Carol Muske remarked in the New York Times when describing Kenyon’s The Boat of Quiet Hours, “These poems surprise beauty at every turn and capture truth at its familiar New England slant. Here, in Keats’s terms, is a capable poet.” Indeed, Kenyon’s work has often been compared with that of English Romantic poet John Keats; in an essay on Kenyon for Contemporary Women Poets, Gary Roberts dubbed her a “Keatsian poet” and noted that, “like Keats, she attempts to redeem morbidity with a peculiar kind of gusto, one which seeks a quiet annihilation of self-identity through identification with benign things. Kenyon explored nature’s cycles in other ways: the fall of light from day descriptive skills… as notable as her dramatic ones. Her rendering of natural settings, in lines of well-judged rhythm and simple syntax, contribute to the [volume’s] memorableness. to dusk to night, and the cycles of relationships with family and friends throughout a long span of years brought to a close by death, and her work in this regard has been compared with that of the late poet Sylvia Plath. Comparing the two, Breslin wrote that “Kenyon’s language is much quieter, less self-dramatizing” than that of Plath, and where the earlier poet “would give herself up, writing her lyrical surrender to oblivion,… Kenyon fought to the end. In Otherwise: New and Selected Poems (1996), a posthumous collection containing twenty poems written just prior to her death as well as several taken from her earlier books, Kenyon “chronicles the uncertainty of living as culpable, temporary creatures,” according to Nation contributor Emily Gordon. “



Posted in Female Poets, National Poetry Month, Poetry

Jennifer Wong, Poet


Blogging From A2Z April Challenge

What better way to begin the Blogging From A2Z April Challenge than to tie it in with National Poetry Month. Okay, I started late so today my first blog post begins with the letter J. I plan to go back and write the complete April challenge with more posts for the entire month. I love poetry and look forward to April every year when there’s so many activities revolving around poetry. I’ve written poetry since I was twelve and have several poems published.  I’ve written a poetry manuscript which I’ve submitted to a publisher. I’ll let you know how that turns out. Rejection is so terrible but as a writer, you just have to keep going. Never stop writing! 

My favorite poets are women. I studied poetry in college and became fascinated with learning just how much women have contributed to the world of literature. We have copies of poetry from antiquity to current times. I discovered a list of Female Poets that I am using for research. Since I’m retired, my main project is studying more about poetry. I have several favorites that I intend to keep learning about. Reading about how women speak through the written word is something that never gets old to me and helps with my own writing. 

Today’s female poet is Jennifer Wong. I am featuring one of her poems GLOW that evokes such vivid images in my mind. 






By Jennifer Wong

In the old days everyone there knew
how to make ice lanterns: filling
the barrels with water from Songhua
and leaving the blocks to freeze.
They lit and hung the lanterns outside houses.
But as time passed they grew
more ambitious with their craft:
to carve a dragon’s whiskers and scales;
a lotus pavilion, goddess kwan yin,
and the Great Wall of China
for the brave-hearted.
Look at the children laughing
and skating away.
The crystal palace beckons to you.
You remember how far
this water has traveled.
The amusement won’t last.




Jennifer Wong was born and raised in Hong Kong. She studied English at Oxford University and earned an MA in creative writing at the University of East Anglia. She has a creative writing PhD on Chinese diaspora poetry at Oxford Brookes University.

Wong is the author of the poetry collections 回家 Letters Home (Nine Arches Press 2020), which was the PBS Spring 2020 Wild Card Choice; Goldfish (Chameleon Press, 2013); and Summer Cicadas (Chameleon Press 2006).  She has also published poetry in journals, including Stand, Magma Poetry, World Literature Today, The Rialto, Oxford Poetry, Asian Cha, Voice & Verse and anthologies, including Eight Hong Kong Poets (Chameleon Press, 2015) and Becoming Poets: The Asian English Experience (Peter Lang, 2014). She is a book reviewer and translator, and her work has appeared in Poetry London, Poetry Review, Pathlight, Modern Poetry in Translation and Asian Review of Books, among other publications. She has taught creative writing at Oxford Brookes University and courses at the Poetry School and City Lit.  

Wong lives in the United Kingdom.




Posted in crime fiction, crime thrillers, undercover cops

Who The F*ck Am I?: Steve Regan Undercover Cop Book 1

I don’t usually read crime fiction books, so I didn’t know what to expect. After reading Who The F*ck Am I?, I can say that I was entertained and couldn’t stop until the end! The character of Steve Regan as the laid-back undercover cop was perfectly described. I like to see images of characters in my mind as I’m reading and the author used vivid details for the people and action. The internal struggle of Regan as he’s assigned a case involving a Bolivian cocaine cartel, and whether he should give in to the lure of easy money, makes the character more personable. I liked the fact that Regan considered his life and how his actions would affect his mother. I don’t like to read about characters who are one-sided. Loves his mom but likes to fight the bad guys, Regan is one attractive fictional character. Author Stephen Bentley uses his experience as a former undercover detective in the U.K. to give the reader insight into the criminal world. This is Book 1 of his Steve Regan Undercover Cop Series. I will definitely be reading the other books in this series!  5 stars!
Posted in author interviews, author's life, cop memoirs, crime fiction, crime thrillers, fiction, Reviews, the writer's life, undercover cops, writing

Steve Bentley Author Interview-The Writer’s Life

The Writer’s Life

Today for the series The Writer’s Life,  I am featuring an author interview with Steve Bentley, former undercover cop and barrister now a freelance writer and bestselling author and HuffPost UK Blogger.  Steve is the author of the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thrillers, the Detective Matt Deal Thrillers, and Comfort Zone: A Tale of Suspense; a different type of mystery that features a conflicted character who suffers PTSD from war. He wrote his best-selling memoir Undercover: Operation Julie – The Inside Story: A Gripping True Story of Britain’s Biggest Drug Bust, which will be made into a movie.

I first met Steve on Twitter when I noticed the ads for his books. The title Who The F$#@K Am I? was unusual, and of course, I had to find out the answer. That led me to buying the book and signing up for his newsletter and Facebook author group. Steve put out a request for writers to participate in a mystery anthology he was putting together. I contacted him and agreed to submit my work. I’m proud that I published two stories in “Death Among Us: A Murder Mystery Anthology”, a book that features the work of ten international writers. Although I haven’t met Steve in person, I feel like I know him and consider him a mentor and friend. I’m also a member of Steve’s Fan Club. Members have the opportunity to be beta readers and read ARCs plus write reviews. I’ve had the pleasure of reading all of his books that way.

  • Now let’s hear from Steve! Tell us about yourself Steve.  Where do you live? Where did you grow up and attend school?

Many people know me as Steve, but I use my full given name – Stephen – on my book covers. I have no idea why. I’m a Brit but have lived in the Philippines for the past five years. I grew up in Huyton, Liverpool during the Beatles era and saw them perform live once in the Cavern before they became famous. I consider myself fortunate to have attended a grammar school before they were disbanded in the name of ‘social equality’ which is just a phrase meaning a dumbing down of an education system that wasn’t broken. I didn’t go to university until my late forties.

  • Are you married or single? Any children or pets?

Happily married with two boys who keep me young and two puppies, Hershey and Cookie.  

  • Are you employed now? Retired? If so, what were your previous occupations?

Supposed to be retired but writing books seems like a full-time job to me. I was a detective in the UK for fourteen years and then a London barrister for another fourteen years. At various times, I have also worked as a sales manager, truck driver, motorbike courier, heavy plant operator, and hospital porter.  

  • Writers always talk about coffee a lot, even posting memes and cartoons. Are you a coffee drinker? Do you eat any specific food/snacks you while writing? Do you listen to music or need silence?

Yes, I like coffee, but only two cups per day. Too much caffeine is not a good thing. I don’t eat or listen to music while I write. I’m too busy ‘seeing scenes’ taking place in my mind before I transfer them to paper (Word).  

  •  What do you like to do in your free time? Do you have any hobbies?

I love watching movies and TV shows mainly on Netflix. It’s my way of unwinding at the end of the day accompanied by a cold beer.

  • Would you consider yourself a reader? What types of books do you like to read?

I am a reader. I enjoy crime thrillers mostly, but I am also partial to good historical fiction or any interesting biography.

  • Have you ever taken any writing courses?

No. I’m self-taught using online resources and still learning.

  • Can you tell us what are your opinions about censorship and the media?

As a principle, I disagree with censorship, but I recognize the need to protect minors. I believe in freedom of expression, a free press, and open, transparent society. However, I do advocate that with freedoms come responsibilities. I detest state secrecy and wish I could abolish all freedom of information legislation. Now, there is an oxymoron.

  • Tell us about your books, especially your newest one. Why did you decide to publish it and what was your inspiration?

My latest release is titled ‘The Secret: A Prequel to the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thrillers.’ I decided to write and publish it because the many fans of the series expressed some dismay at the then conclusion of the series in Book Three of the original trilogy. I’m glad I did resurrect Regan as it has been well-received, and that prequel is now permafree everywhere as an intro to the series. I now plan a fourth book in the series. I also have Book Two in the Detective Matt Deal series – ‘Mayhem’ – which was released November 25, 2020.

  • What type of characters do you enjoy writing about?

Flawed protagonists coping with their own demons.  

  • What is the theme of your book? What genre is it and who are your readers? Is it set in a certain time period?

‘The Secret’ is a crime mystery/thriller set in 1960s and 1970s England tracing Steve Regan’s first involvement as an undercover cop. Type of reader is an interesting question. As a generalization I would have to say mainly women aged between forty and ninety. Yes, I do have some nonagenarians in my fan base.

  • How do you come up with ideas for your book (s)?

Partly my life experiences inspire a story but also news events that pique my interest.

  • Do you self-publish or are you with a traditional publishing company?

As I write this, I am considering an offer to publish one of my books – my undercover cop memoir. That offer is from a prestigious UK mainstream publisher. There are pros and cons that I need to carefully consider. As for the remainder of my books, all fiction, they are self-published.

  • Writing can be an emotionally-draining and stressful pursuit for many authors. Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?

Don’t write if you don’t enjoy it. If you enjoy it, write, write, and write some more. You get better every time you write a book. 

  • How do you market your books?

Mainly through building an email list and cross-promotions with like-minded authors. I have also used Facebook ads with some success.

  • Do you have a blog or website? Where can readers buy your book?

My website can be found at ‘The Secret’ is free to website visitors who join my mailing list. I used to blog there too but lately I found that too time-consuming and now concentrate on writing books. Retail links for all my books can be found at Books2Read.

  • What is one surprising thing you would like your readers to know about you?

I was aged fifty when called to the Bar of England and Wales.  

  • Do you have a quote from someone else such an author or a quote from a book/song/motto?

Perhaps this motto – Illegitimi non carborundum (translated as “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”)

  • Please tell us about your book, Steve.

The Secret: A Prequel to the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thrillers  

What is the secret capable of destroying a glorious achievement and a source of national pride? A secret so enormous it could not be told for many years, until now. British undercover cop Steve Regan experiences a baptism of fire when he investigates ‘THE SECRET.’ New and old Steve Regan fans can now discover him at the beginning of his crime-busting career in this gripping thriller. Join Regan in this prequel to the Steve Regan Undercover Cop Thriller series by tagging along with Steven Hanrahan as a young C.I.D. detective in 1970’s Liverpool until his world is shattered by a tragic event involving a fatal car crash.

The young detective is hand-picked for a dangerous undercover assignment. On accepting the role, he moves to London – the ‘Smoke,’ adopting a new identity. The legend of Steve Regan is born with a foolproof backstory so he can infiltrate the international crime gang behind England’s biggest sporting secret. A secret so shocking it could taint the image of British sport irreversibly if it were ever divulged. What is that secret? Is it worth dying for?

  •  Where can readers buy The Secret?

Free on all sales channels and on my website once the reader signs up to my mailing list.


What are the links for your social media and website?




Thank you so much Steve! I really enjoyed learning more about you and your writing life. I hope you’ll return with updates and news about more books.

***More of Steve’s thoughts about censorship and using swearing in writing will be in a future blog. Should authors use swearing or ‘bad words’ in books for authenticity or should they try to please all readers who may be offended?


Posted in Reviews

Review of Mayhem: A Detective Matt Deal Thriller (Detective Matt Deal Thrillers, #2

Review of Mayhem: A Detective Matt Deal Thriller (Detective Matt Deal Thrillers, #2

Writer Stephen Bentley, a former UK police Detective Sergeant, pioneering undercover cop, and barrister has published a sequel in the series about Detective Matt Deal, who is still seeking revenge for the death of his daughter Mercy. A New Jersey Mob boss puts out a contract on Deal for his part in the killings of his hit man. A journey to Mexico finds Matt in the midst of a cartel in the drug wars and face to face with a ruthless capo.

Bentley provides some back story for those who haven’t read Mercy, although Mayhem is a stand-alone novel. The book is easy to read, entertaining and a fast-paced action story. New characters make an appearance in addition to familiar ones from the first book. Readers of Bentley’s fiction won’t be disappointed.


Posted in Reviews

Review of Mayhem: A Detective Matt Deal Thriller #2


Writer Stephen Bentley, a former UK police Detective Sergeant, pioneering undercover cop, and barrister has published a sequel in the series about Detective Matt Deal, who is still seeking revenge for the death of his daughter Mercy. A New Jersey Mob boss puts out a contract on Deal for his part in the killings of his hit man. A journey to Mexico finds Matt in the midst of a cartel in the drug wars and face to face with a ruthless capo.

Bentley provides some back story for those who haven’t read Mercy, although Mayhem is a stand-alone novel. The book is easy to read, entertaining and a fast-paced action story. New characters make an appearance in addition to familiar ones from the first book. Readers of Bentley’s fiction won’t be disappointed.

Mayhem will be published on November 25, 2020. Pre-orders are available now on Amazon.