Blog Book Tour : #EyreApril | “The Jane and Bertha in Me” (a collection of #poetry) by Rita Maria Martinez celebrating Jane Eyre & Bertha!

Posted Friday, 22 April, 2016 by jorielov , , , , , 3 Comments

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Gifted: I was blessed by being gifted a copy of this collection of poetry, which blessedly was in time to participate in the blog tour on it’s behalf via Poetic Book Tours. Even though I was gifted a copy of “The Jane and Bertha in Me” by someone who understood my passion for Brontë and my love of “Jane Eyre”, I was not obligated to post a review nor did it influence my opinions or impression of reading the collection. I chose to post my thoughts on this collection as a tie-in to my own celebrations this April on behalf of “Jane Eyre”; they reflect my honest impressions herein. Likewise, I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein. 

Why I was motivated to become involved with this blog tour:

Jane Eyre has become a part of my being – from the very first moment I learnt of the story, to the first time I took in the adaptation which forever changed my impression on behalf of the story and the manner in which the author penned her story originally. The adaptation I most appreciate (thus far along) is the 1996 version starring Charlotte Gainsbourg and William Hurt.

Let me share a bit more about why this adaptation touched my heart:

My initial introduction to Ms. Jane Eyre: Came during the early hours of a morning wretched by the plight of the sickly girl frustrated beyond hilt and despite to do something that could advert her misery! She plucked the remote control up off the nightstand and dared the tv to illuminate a movie that could curtail sleep and cast aside her anguish! She had to flip through several channels before stumbling across a seemingly British teleplay with gothic underpinnings! A few scenes in, she was not only hooked but she had abandoned the remote! A few scenes more and she deduced she was watching an adaptation of Jane Eyre! She felt betwixt with herself for even considering to watch this film knowing full and well that she had intended always to read this particular novel ahead of seeing its adaptation,… her eyes veered back to the discarded remote and her heart leapt out a response to qualm her furrowed brow. Her tired eyes moved back to the screen and she became fully entranced with Thornfield Hall!

– as quoted from my Books of Eyre Reading Challenge

Since the original Septemb-Eyre event in the book blogosphere [September, 2013] I have been attempting to re-enter Jane Eyre and the beautiful after canons: re-tellings and/or sequels thereafter. This is why I was so thrilled to bits to find there was an ‘Books of Eyre’ reading challenge – however, the time-frame was not a good one for me, thus I have extended it as a personal challenge outside it’s original scope. This parlays well as I’m a member of The Classics Club, wherein I am championing Classical Lit on as I’m quite keen to entreat inside the lovelies of literature I have not yet had the pleasure of reading!

I must confess – I had absolutely no foreknowledge that *April, 2016* was such a historic moment for readers who love Jane Eyre and respectively her author Charlotte Brontë! It’s a bit like how I missed the anniversary of reading/re-reading Pride and Prejudice a few years ago whilst the rest of the book blogosphere was well underway in their celebratory events. I seem to be on the fringes of knowing when certain bookish milestones are upcoming – not because I don’t have my ear to the rails but because, I think sometimes you get caught up inside your own life – not just the books on our shelves we’re constantly reading or hoping to read next – but the seasons of our lives which occupy our hours outside of this bookish reprieve, where we settle our thoughts and share our bookish lives through the output of our blogs (and/or tweets via the twitterverse; for me, it’s my micro-blog!).

Imagine then – my dearest joy in finding I could curl back inside Jane Eyre, pick up Wide Sargasso Sea for the very first time all the whilst finding two after canon writers who’ve put their mark on Eyre! The first author I have the pleasure of sharing with you dear hearts, is Rita Maria Martinez whose taken her pen to creatively fuse the characters we belove inside a hearty collection of poetry whilst Luccia Gray has given us a thrilling trilogy which is a curious splice between Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea!

I’ve determined my Eyre celebrations will be tagged #EyreApril to ring in ‘Eyre in April’ whilst everyone else is yielding to the established tag of #Bronte200. To whichever way we choose to share conversely our thoughts and murmurings on behalf of characters who have bewitched us for two hundred years, let’s be happy for the chance to revel in the fact Classical Lit is still relevant to today’s literary audience!

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Blog Book Tour : #EyreApril | “The Jane and Bertha in Me” (a collection of #poetry) by Rita Maria Martinez celebrating Jane Eyre & Bertha!The Jane and Bertha in Me
by Rita Maria Martinez
Source: Gifted

This spring marks the bicentennial of Charlotte Brontë’s birth.

In her ambitious and timely debut, The Jane and Bertha in Me, Rita Maria Martinez celebrates Brontë’s classic novel Jane Eyre.

Through wildly inventive, beautifully crafted persona poems, Martinez re-imagines Jane Eyre’s cast of characters in contemporary contexts, from Jane as an Avon saleslady to Bertha as a Stepford wife.

These lively, fun, poignant poems prove that Jane Eyre’s fictional universe is just as relevant today as it was so many years ago. The Jane and Bertha in Me is a must-read for any lover of Brontë’s work.

Genres: After Canons, Poetry & Drama, Re-telling &/or Sequel

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to LibraryThing

ISBN: 978-0692543412

Published by Aldrich Press

on 12th January, 2016

Format: Paperback Edition

Pages: 89

Published By: Aldrich Press an imprint of Kelsay Books

Converse via: #JaneEyre, #Bronte200, #CharlotteBronte and #JaneAndMe*

*this is a celebration of showing photos of your books of ‘Eyre’ and/or reading ‘Jane Eyre’

About Rita Maria Martinez

Rita Maria Martinez

Rita Maria Martinez is a Cuban-American poet from Miami, Florida. Her writing has been published in journals including the Notre Dame Review, Ploughshares, MiPOesias, and 2River View.

She authored the chapbook Jane-in-the-Box, published by March Street Press in 2008. Her poetry also appears in the textbook Three Genres: The Writing of Fiction/Literary Nonfiction, Poetry and Drama, published by Prentice Hall; and in the anthology Burnt Sugar, Caña Quemada: Contemporary Cuban Poetry in English and Spanish, published by Simon & Schuster. Martinez has been a featured author at the Miami Book Fair International; at the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, Florida; and at the Palabra Pura reading series sponsored by the Guild Literary Complex in Chicago. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing from Florida International University.

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This collection of poetry is spilt into three distinctive sections of poetic thought and interlude: Femme Covert, The Gothic Grotesque and Promiscuous Reading. I am going to be talking about which entries per section I felt were the stand-outs and the most enjoyable to read within the collection before carrying forward my overall impressions of the collection itself. This is a style I developed whilst reviewing anthologies (for Science Fiction and Fantasy) as it lends itself to become a more personal approach rather than trying to shuffle each individual component into a fusion of a collective where some might honestly stand alone from the pack.

Precept to each poem which warrants a mention on behalf of it’s inspiration – you will happily denote references to Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea alongside the letters of Charlotte Brontë, amongst other sources of writerly interest by which Martinez sourced to find her own vein of thought.

| Reading Jane Eyre : Femme Covert |

Martinez draws you inside this poem which is more like a flashback sequencing of a teenager’s memory bent back against the moments curled inside the novel itself – it’s a retrospective complete with ethnicity and origin, as the references to the foods and the cultural nuances of everyday choices is boldly highlighted against the age of the reader who has this consumption to read Jane Eyre at each critical turning of her day. She feeds off of it’s context and the characters become her companions, helping her get through a period of her life where literature can fill a void and inspire her all at the same time.

| Nautica : Femme Covert |

Here is a prime example which exemplifies how powerful a ‘meet-cute’ interaction with someone you’ve not quite met previously can change your perception. In this poem, the characters hardly interact at all – more of a passing fancy, a bare note of reflection and if you found yourself blinking you’d have missed their crossed path completely! Yet. Inside that small arch of awareness, lingered a warming glow of connection – at least on one of their parts and it is a prime example of how Jane felt after her first meeting with Rochester. Very well conceived on how someone can enter your life and exit it before you can even lay mind on ‘who’ they were and why they were there. Curiosity occupies the in-between thoughts and overlays the memory with questions.

| Vintage Bertha Triptych  : The Gothic Grotesque |

Segmented into three equally telling installments of Bertha’s psychological state, Martinez taps inside Bertha as she had lived and how her actions were precipitated by her awareness of how despairingly dire her need to free herself from her imprisoned state (as she saw it). For her, the only solution was to transcend the physical world and opt-out of this existence that was taking out her will to survive – she was shut-off from everything and everyone, completely isolated and left undone. Bertha could no longer conceptionalise reality much less equate out a living she could conceive that would stand her back on solid ground. Her choices were set in motion by the loss of her life long before she died – she was an empty husk of a woman who was no longer the girl of her younger years.

In this poem, her desolation is perceptively acute and her state of unwellness is keenly portrayed by a woman whose unravelled her mind to where nothing else matters but the release of the pain which has become her living hours. It’s a sobering snippet of a woman’s life whose lost the battle to gain wellness in the face of an obstacle she could not surmount. I felt Martinez expertly gave Bertha a voice in this poem, and granted a bit of new insight into her state of mental health at the time of the fire itself.

| Postpartum Lament for Charlotte Brontë  : Promiscuous Reading |

Achingly accurate and dearly dreadful to admit – society has a healthy appetite for devouring every last inch of a beloved author’s legacy – to where not a wink or a glimmer of their living spirit can remain, if only to tangibly hold onto one more piece of their ink and blood remnants which leave an etching of whom they were alive. Somberness never felt so guttingly familiar than to reflect back the mirror of how greed and necessity overshadow what is right and true. To leave the dead in peace and to respectfully honour their legacies by securing their writings in a way that preserves the stories but also, the mind behind the pen which inked them to life.

Jane Eyre: Heiress, Avon Lady, Plastic Surgery Junkie  : Promiscuous Reading |

Although not my out-and-out favourite of the set of poems, there is spunkiness to this poem that bears mentioning! If you were to completely upturnt Jane Eyre into the modern world, bringing with her a tidal-wave of 21st Century superficialsim and materialistic tendencies to the extreme, you’d find this modern Jane Eyre ‘air apparent’ towards reckoning out a carving of modern day living! It’s more than slightly cheeky, highly bent on expressing the insanity of focus that takes out everything but what can be seen on the surface – but evenso, somewhere inside this gem of a short poem, you see a recognition of lopsided principles and the need to succeed irregardless of the costs involved.

Overall impressions:

Ms Martinez opened the collection with two lovely notes: one was a shout-out to every reader who appreciates Charlotte Brontë and the second is a quotation (I presume her favourite) from Jane Eyre. I love finding a personal touch inside a collection such as this (or the forementioned anthologies) as it merits knowing a bit about why an author is drawn to their subject of focus. I also enjoyed seeing the cover art giving such a clear distinction between Jane and Berta; how their personalities not only made them stark opposites of each other but how their very lives changed how they were perceived.

I was a bit shocked by the blunt reinforcements of emotion and stark contrasts seen within the title poem ‘The Jane and Bertha in Me’ except to say, for poetry to be this expressive of raw human emotion and the primal thoughts that can enter into a woman’s mind is a credit to the writer. Martinez has given such a strong contrast of opposites in both personality, motivation, action and response – I learnt that despite shocking your reader a bit by what a poem can include on an emotional keeling, it is a gift to have the poem stand on the merit of being psychological telling of it’s characters whom barely have space to fully give you credence towards their impressions.

There is a congenial threading of negativity throughout the underscoring of the poems themselves, of which I could not effectively understand as to why – being that this seemed to stem more out of the influence of Bertha’s character and mindset than that of Eyre. Eyre leaned on her faith and purported herself to such a high accord of hope, she truly struck out each day to find something that would champion her spirit even if she in turn had her doubts how her life would pan out in the end. It was this choice to choose her attitude and to choose how she aligned her thoughts in the majority of her hours that granted her the most vitality.

Bertha on the other hand, was blighted out from society and shunned out any spectrum of normalcy to not have the same ties to her humanity and her spirit; all kindness drained right out of her mind. I think Bertha might have had a larger impact on Martinez than Eyre due to how the tone of the collection reads and how insightful she dared herself to travel to understand Bertha moreso than Jane.

Poems are stories crafted into smaller corridors of thought – Martinez has taken those corridors and lengthened their height of purpose by re-owning the poetic vice* of creativity and curating her own unique style to convey her messages. Each respite of poetic narrative is a journal of thought on behalf of Martinez, as if she’s found a way to segue her inner thoughts with her outer voice – granting license to entertain the components of who ‘Jane’ Eyre was and of whom ‘Bertha’ might have been as well – as so little is known about Bertha, it grants speculation and pensiveness.

*Vice poetry inherently reflects the despondent shades of humanity: vile or evil thoughts, transgressive behaviour or thought-processes, intemperance, self-indulgence, negative and pessimistic attitudes and highlighting the morality of faults or ambiguous morality within a person’s character. In full short: to bring to the surface the darker linings of the psyche.

She will shock you a bit by the depth of how far she took this experiment – of delving inside two halves of a whole as she rooted out two individual personalities – one sane and one psychologically disturbed. It is as if as she wrote the poems she was attempting to pull the pieces together in her own mind, yielding to where her pen took her and all the while wondering what all the pieces would eventually tell her about this pursuit of hers to better understand one marginalised character and one most beloved of literature.

Fly in the Ointment:

The only true qualm I had with the series of poems were some of them were a bit overtly sexual and lending a shift in the context that I felt did not fit the direction of the original subject. I realise most would argue where sexuality and specifically sensuality would broker itself to be exclusive or inclusive to Brontë’s writings (from whichever point-of-view your entering into an academic critique on her collective works), but for me, one thing I get a wrinkle in my crow when it comes to ‘sequels and after canons’ is that I don’t necessarily want to see such an extreme ‘about-face’ when it comes to subtext and context. Others can augment their own interpretations on Classical Literature and the absences or non-inclusions of sexuality or sensuality, but for me, I simply did not feel it fit what I was expecting to find; as I thought it was going to keep in the direction of the psychology and sociology of the characters as they re-align back into the contemporary world.

There is one poem that I found a bit offensive in regards to the inner thoughts of Charlotte Brontë as represented by her alter-persona Currer Bell – in which I couldn’t quite take that walk with Martinez. I think it’s the way in which she articulated this poem to speak to the heart of the issue that did made me blanch a bit rather than the message itself – as women’s equality was as much of an issue in Ms Brontë’s generation as it is in our own.

An afterthought:

One thing rung true as I read this after canon re-telling, I truly am a traditionalist! I had a feeling I might be one (especially in regards to how I read after canons of Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes!), but this truly confirms it – I don’t mind certain liberties being taken with original canons of thought, but when the measure of a mark walks too outside the shadow where my heart and mind have placed the canon (enter any work of fiction) I find myself a bit unyielding to choosing to appreciate re-tellings which pay homage but do not outright re-envision a character (or story) to such a level it’s harder to see it’s origins. Having said that, the poems I highlighted on this review were the ones I felt best befitted the original characters, celebrated the canon by Brontë and cleverly brought everything forward into the 21st Century.

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This blog tour is courtesy of:

Poetic Book Tours

Follow the blog tour for more readerly insights & reactions.

My favourite stops thus far along are as follows:

Suko’s Notebook

Book Dilettante

The True Book Addict

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I look forward to reading your thoughts & commentary! Especially if you read the book or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same story to read.

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{SOURCES: Book Cover Art for “The Jane and Bertha in Me”, author biography, author photograph of Rita Maria Martinez, book synopsis, and reviewer badge were provided by Poetic Book Tours and used with permission. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Tweets are embedded due to codes provided by Twitter. Comment Box banner made by Jorie in Canva. Blog dividers and My Thoughts badge by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via}

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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 Friday, 22 April, 2016 by jorielov in 21st Century, After the Canon, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host, Book Cover | Notation on Design, Classical Literature, Equality In Literature, Fly in the Ointment, Indie Author, Inspired By Author OR Book, Inspired by Stories, Jane Eyre Sequel | Re-telling, Mental Health, Mental Illness, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Poetic Book Tours, Poetry, Self-Harm Practices, Vulgarity in Literature, Women's Health, Women's Rights

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3 responses to “Blog Book Tour : #EyreApril | “The Jane and Bertha in Me” (a collection of #poetry) by Rita Maria Martinez celebrating Jane Eyre & Bertha!

  1. Jorie, I enjoyed reading your insightful “take” on this collection of poetry. Your review shows your depth of interest in the classic novel, Jane Eyre, and the author, Charlotte Brontë, and I appreciate your honesty. You remind me that I still need to read Wide Sargasso Sea.

    Thank you very much for the kind mention!

    • Thank you, for reading my ruminations!

      I had such a wonderful delight in being able to flush out the parallels between the characters and how Ms Martinez re-envisioned them! It was a very thought-provoking piece to read and it felt fitting that this was released during the 200th birthday of Charlotte Bronte! I think she’s smiling a bit realising her words and her legacy have withheld time itself! :)

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