The world is heavy here
sinking before the morning came to be
we wake in coffee to read outrageous news
match riddles in our minds to new killers
lose track of the sprawling progress we were making
even together, it is heavy here
Clouds cannot hide the spread of sound and lies
You were not meant to speak freedom
you were meant to breathe it and live.





Irkadura begins with a chilling opening that will destroy you if unprepared. Having read Ksenia Anske’s Rosehead several years ago, I was still impressed by the amount of immersion and experienced as I waded through this flood of a novel, showcasing Anske’s mastery of plot and pacing. Overtime, the story buoys the reader rather than drowning them, like a crocodile playing with it’s meal, with scenes that deftly unfold as we escape with Irina out of the one hell and into another. We read her thoughts and learn her tragedy, balancing our hope Irina isn’t going crazy with the fear of another failure once things look up for our traumatized anti-heroine.  As new characters are introduced, we see the world of butterflies and ravens is more colorful with each inspection. Indeed, we may even dare hope for a happy ending, propelled by the inner strength that Irina, pregnant and only 16 years old, may yet uncover despite a life of abuse in a city on the edge of utter turmoil.

While difficult at first (the first few chapters were like a punch in the gut), I quickly came to love this book, the shape it took in my heart, and even the ending, which I’ll leave for readers to discover. The duality of human kindness and cruelty, of love and apathy, and the irony of in attention on even the happiest of days are intricately woven throughout this novel. Irina’s journey against backdrop of human apathy in the midst of hate is both startling and grounding in it’s place in history.

Irkadura is not just a story about the darkness in this world, but also the importance of finding your own freedom, in whatever form that may be. Perhaps the reason I favor this book so much is because of it’s truth, without limiting itself by what’s required of the genre, but being itself. Brace yourself; it’s worth the read.

Interested in this author? https://www.kseniaanske.com/


Review: The Alchemist

The AlchemistThe Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

My rating: 3.75 of 5 stars

While I liked this book, its sweet simplicity and dear observations of the world in which it dwells, it didn’t seem to have the same magic for me as it had for others. Perhaps because I felt I have already learned many of the lessons it discusses, or maybe, as Santiago mentions in the story, I simply learn a different way.

The magic this story holds for others is more vibrant in other books, such as The Last Unicorn, where the life lessons are more subtle, but not at all lacking for its enrichment through the story itself. Perhaps The Alchemist is more accessible, and therefore more popular.

I appreciate this book for what it is, and thought the Hero’s Journey our traveler lives through was worth the read.

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Review: Rosehead by Ksenia Anske

RoseheadRosehead by Ksenia Anske

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

My early-teenage self would have loved this book! The imaginative story Ksenia tells is full of imagination and quirky realness. I loved Lilith’s character, and the banter between her and Panther. While sometimes the writing seemed a bit scattered, the plot kept me interested and waiting for more. Great lines and a bit of unexpected darkness make “Rosehead” a compelling and very fun read.

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Review: Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body by Jennifer Ackerman

Sex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your BodySex Sleep Eat Drink Dream: A Day in the Life of Your Body by Jennifer Ackerman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Understanding the mechanics of one’s body is so necessary, I almost believe that everyone should read this book. Ackerman presents sound science in a way that is accessible to everyone, making findings of science through the years interesting as she takes us through a day in the life of our own bodies.

At times repetitively formulaic, the stories and personal anecdotes Ackerman uses to piece together the narrative throughout the book were charming if occasionally tiresome. That said, I very much enjoyed her writing, and would be interested in reading other books or articles in the same voice.

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New Year’s Post

Last year, January 2nd, 2015, I wrote a blog about the new year and new beginnings (and new blogging). Clearly, it takes me a long time to get around to writing anything but poetry. Here we are again at start of another new year, 2016, already turning down the lamp on our night stands.

Today is the first day of the accepted New Year, but darling, start where you are. Start whenever, however many times. You decide the first day of your new year, each day, with your own choices and intention. Never be afraid to start. Never wait. And never be afraid to start again.

Wishing you a wonderful beginning, wherever you are.

The Journey is the Destination

Three years ago, I started a blog. Revelation time: “Written by Ay” isn’t my first.


That first, well, the blog to which I’m referring, was titled “Married with a Degree” and did not last through the year it began. You can search, but that old blog lives no longer. (Great title through, right?) My sense of discipline in posting rather lacked, and I becoming increasingly irritated with the theme hole I’d dug myself. The writing embarrassed me, I lacked the confidence to make it more than it was, so I deleted it and stepped away from the blogosphere.

Lately though, a post from that blog keeps coming to mind, written by my direly introspective self about practice. At the time I’d realized the skill  I’d yet to learn, that I needed most to focus in this new stage of life, required practicing practicing. I had little practice in the art of practicing growing up. Things came easy to me (English, friendships) or they didn’t (Chemistry, running). If it wasn’t easy, I’d give up. Maybe I wouldn’t drop the class or sport, but my lack of confidence would force a mental resignation. Or, in the case of writing, I’d quite before ever getting started.

This seemed like a huge epiphany at the time, and I proudly wrote and wrote and practiced practicing, for a while. But here I am, years later, delving further into Yoga, into Buddhism, into myself, and the idea of practice stands up front and center.

Practice, and all is coming. –Rumi

The need and concept of practice is still true, and still holds weight. In fact, the idea has held weight for thousands of years in Yoga. They don’t call it a “Yoga practice” for nothing. One never does Yoga, because no one can perfectly perform each and every pose. There is always room for improvement, more to learn, physically and mentally.  And that’s what is so wonderful about the practice, that’s what pulls me into Yoga, and keeps me from giving up. Just a few days ago while beginning the Yoga Sutras translated by Sri Swami Satchidananda, “practice” featured in the very first sutra:

We cannot reach the goal by mere words alone. Without practice, nothing can be achieved.

I look back at that old blog post, and smile.

The lesson here is in the journey, in honoring our past, younger selves. So often we want to laugh or ridicule who we were, how stupid we acted, how naive believed. But we can’t deny that whatever we believed in at the time, we lived. We walked that path. Those steps, however mistaken, however clumsy, brought us to ourselves today. To now. Here. To the person regretting those detours and laughing at our own ignorance.

For me, this remembrance was a kind of validation. I didn’t lose the path, and while I may have forgotten, I was working toward these ideas I now value so highly before I really realized it. I was on my way, pulling more pieces of the puzzle from the pile, setting them out for later. Now, I can begin putting those pieces together.

Well, maybe a few,