Blog Book Tour | “Paradise Drive: Poems” by Rebecca Foust

Posted Wednesday, 6 January, 2016 by jorielov , , , 4 Comments

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Acquired Book By:

I was selected to review “Paradise Drive: Poems” by Poetic Book Tours. I received my complimentary copy of Paradise Drive: Poems direct from the publisher Press 53 in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

On connecting with Poetic Book Tours:

Poetic Book Tours found me last year, and asked if I would be keen to read Poetry and/or Small Trade Press releases in the forthcoming months and year. It took a bit for me to find a collection of Poetry I felt I might be able to sink my teeth into as when it comes to poets and poetry, most of my appreciation lies outside the past 200 years. I haven’t truly broached reading more contemporary poets, despite the fact I am one myself! I began my writing journey in Science Fiction but shortly after my initial start with a manuscript I am still fine tuning a few decades later, I picked up the initiative to try fusing my words into bits of prose. Poetry is a particular freedom of it’s own for me, as the compositions I put together in poetic form are a bit outside of myself and yet, united with my spirit. Poetry comes from a different place of inspiration than fiction in other words.

One of my intentions as my blog moves forward in time and my reading habits further evolve as my moods for switching things up reach their pinnacle; accepting Poetic Book Tours offer to be on the list of bloggers suited me. I am curious which of the tours will yield a writer or poet who truly captures my attention inasmuch as I am wicked happy for the opportunity to continue to pursue stories outside my comfort zones. I try to read dimensionally whilst pushing my reading life further into new horizons, and by taking an interest in short stories over the past two and a half years (imagine? on the fringes of celebrating my 3rd year as a book blogger!) I’ve garnished a delight in the short space in which a story can illuminate inside my mind.

Poems to me were little works of story-craft, knitting a specific emotion or scene inside my mind as I read their unique set of words; as how the poet chooses to shape their stories differs poet to poet, so too, does my immersion in Poetry. I look forward to seeing what 2016 will yield (by way of discovery) not only through Poetic Book Tours, but through my own inclinations I’m seeking at my local library.

Blog Book Tour | “Paradise Drive: Poems” by Rebecca FoustParadise Drive
Subtitle: Poems
by Rebecca Foust
Source: Direct from Publisher

Paradise Drive links 80 sonnets in a narrative about a modern Pilgrim on a journey from rust belt Pennsylvania to the glittering suburbs of Marin County, California. The book takes great pleasure in questioning, tinkering with, and ultimately exploding the sonnet form. It has been well received, with more than 50 reviews and features since its release last April.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 9781941209165

Genres: Non-Fiction, Poetry & Drama


Published by Press 53

on 24th April, 2015

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 114

Published by: Press 53 (@Press53)

Formats Available: Paperback

About Rebecca Foust

Rebecca Foust

Rebecca Foust was the 2014 Dartmouth Poet in Residence and is the recipient of fellowships from The Frost Place, the MacDowell Colony, and the Sewanee Writer’s Conference.

Her fifth book, Paradise Drive, won the 2015 Press 53 Award for Poetry. Her other books include All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song (Many Mountains Moving Prize), God, Seed (Foreword Book of the Year Award) and two chapbooks that won the Robert Phillips Chapbook Prizes in 2008 and 2009.

Foust’s poems appear widely in journals including American Academy of Poets Poem-A-Day series, Hudson Review, Massachusetts Review, Poetry Daily, Sewanee Review, and Verse Daily.

A first generation college graduate, Foust attended Smith College (BA 1979), Stanford Law School (1979), and Warren Wilson College (MFA 2010). She lives in Northern California and works as Poetry Editor for Women’s Voices for Change and assistant editor for Narrative Magazine.

Foust has won the 2015 American Literary Review Creative Writing Award for Fiction judged by Garth Greenwell and the 2015 James Heart Poetry Prize judged by Jane Hirshfield.

My Review of Paradise Drive:

In order to set the tone of the narrative underway, the person who inspired the name of this collection’s imprint provides a recapture of what Foust intended to reveal through the poems gathered inside. Mr Lombardo paints a visual guide for the new reader of Foust’s work, bridging the anticipation of the reader with the bare bone truths of what Foust gave to the collection. It’s a soliloquy on a lived life whose back-history was affected by the choices of others and whose dreams of the present are a bit diluted by the dimmer realities of what a life can yield if we are not realistically honest about how our choices grant outcomes we’re not entirely sure we want to embrace. Foust begins her story told in prose by a humble beginning that transforms into a glittering almost ethereal present that may not be all that it was meant to hold for the person whose walking it’s path.

The curious thing is I understood the construction of this collection best by Lombardo’s explanation of it, as he had a way of assembling the order in which the revelations made coherent sense to me. As I picked up the book in my hands, I found myself a bit off-balance following the central theme of the poems set to the tone of a sonnet. I’m a bit familiar with the sonnets of Shakespeare, but only a bit, as it’s been half an age since I’ve read Poetry in earnest.

What was more interesting to me, is how the undertone of the collection is waxing on about the more negative attributes of our lives rather than the joyous. It’s a harder and grittier look into our world than a lighter scope of how experience and the measure of a life can be seen over the score of the years in a person’s age. I was a bit taken aback by how gritty the poems took a turning of a twist to reveal, as originally I had the impression these were going to be painted less black and a bit more inclusive to a contemporary spin on the poems I do enjoy reading.

It wasn’t a complete lost cause on me though, as there were a few that stood out, even if the undercut of the whole was a bit numbing as a result of how the tone and the internalisations of the life that’s being expressed is simply one that I cannot personally relate too. I can relate to the dichotomy of differences and the incredible breadth of wealth cross-comparisons; as there is an interesting imbalance in today’s world. It’s the other bits that struck me as being a bit too absent of their vernal counterparts.

I am not one to shy from drama or the realistically cunning portraits of contemporary (or historical) lives, but there is something to be said for the layering of tone and the portraiture of how something is translating to me as I read. I’ve mentioned this a time or two in the past, how I am a bit more sensitive to the tone of how a story is written vs how the tone is being read by others. I tend to appreciate a balance of light and dark, but when it comes to a certain confluence of expressions that broker more for the rawness of thought and feeling; therein I tend to find my disconnection.

The same can be said for ‘humour’ as for one man’s funny bone to lash out in wrinklements of splendor and joy; is another girl’s abject discomfort. I notice this across mediums, there is transference of what is considered humourous by today’s standards and what was truly applauded as being generously and wickedly delightful in past generations. I tend to yield to the past rather than the present, as even the motion picture industry disappoints me greatly per annum for re-generating a type of humour that makes me uncomfortable due to it’s focus on the absurd. The humour in Paradise Drive was simply ‘lost on me’ as I couldn’t understand why I was being ‘prompted to laugh’ when I found those sections more depressing than encouraging.

The poems dealing with motherhood and autism notwithstanding of my reflections on the context of the others are in a different category altogether from what I’ve already shared. Those are fused with the strong emotions any mother would feel as she was vexed by the onslaught of society’s harsh infliction of prejudice. I am unsure why people have trouble accepting children and the differences between them, as even if a child isn’t autistic, there are learning differences that separate children as well. Each child has their own unique personality and their own gifts to share with the world. Labels do nothing but to continue to divide and separate us into compartments we never belonged to be placed in the first place.

The poems whose voice I appreciated most were:

Meet Pilgrim

Read like a sorrow-filled song, the voice of this poem is a bit less hopeful than she was but within her voice is a reach for what still could be; a thought cast out into the shadows where hope lies in wait. It’s humbling to listen to the voice of this poem, as it’s both questioning and refusing to give-in; a tuckering of confidence without the assurances of knowing how anything will resolve or change.

The Prime Mover

A solemn retrospective of a lived life recognising the choices of others who impacted their life the most was a life lesson of how their own choices could re-write their future. A family whose reality was shattered by financial ruin and whose breakage of connection did not unite their front but divide them against the tides of how life flows forward even if nothing else is resolved. An ending where a small determined voice grants the most hope of all.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Poetic Book Tours

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About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all.

"I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story)

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Posted Wednesday, 6 January, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, Anthology Collection of Stories, Autism, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Equality In Literature, Indie Author, Modern Day, Motherhood | Parenthood, Non-Fiction, Poetic Book Tours, Poetry, Sonnet, Special Needs Children, Vignettes of Real Life, Vulgarity in Literature




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4 responses to “Blog Book Tour | “Paradise Drive: Poems” by Rebecca Foust

  1. Caryl Joyce

    This was an interesting review to read, Jorie. I enjoyed reading how this poet connected with your personal experience, and how you were drawn to a work outside your usual faire. “Paradise Drive: Poems” sounds like a good read for a misty day when I can curl up with a warm cup of tea and immerse myself in an intellectually challenging read. I look forward to learning more about Ms. Foust’s journey.

    • Thank you, Caryl Joyce,

      I am thankful my review resonated with you in the way I had hoped it might! Yes, you will definitely find this to be intellectually stimulating, as the author tackles a lot of hard-hitting issues out of modern life, inasmuch as her journey towards understanding who she is and the place in which she has lived her life. Definitely a unique read to appreciate having with a cuppa tea!

    • Hallo Ms Cox,

      Thank you for giving me the chance to try my hand at reading a new poet and a collection that truly challenged me as I read it. Yes, I did find a few things that worked for me and I am hoping my impression of the collection might help others decide for themselves what they might find inside it too. It was a learning curve for me, but also, one that I appreciated having, as I haven’t read as much poetry as I would prefer to have and even if this wasn’t a beloved read of mine, it’s started me back down a road to pursue poetry; which rocks!

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