Discovering Joye…This May Be the Coolest Thing Ever


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This is not my normal book review…for a couple of reasons.  Discovering Joye is a book about discovering Joye Kanelakos’s poetry and melding it seamlessly with Jim Stovall’s own story.  Both of these are powerful and moving on their own, but together it is just…wow.  Truthfully, I’m pretty familiar with both the poetry and the story.  My grandmother is Joye Kanelakos, and my mother has worked for Jim Stovall for more than 20 years. (I wonder how these two talented people came together?  Any ideas?)  My mom would bring Grandma Joye books and notes from Jim, and she would send him homemade baklava in return.  I think both of them feel like they got the better end of the deal.  Grandma loved Jim’s books, and she loved feeding people.  (I have no idea how many crumbs were washed out of pockets that woman crammed cookies into as people walked out the door.)  Jim’s books are special.  They are different than anything else I read.  They are thought provoking and uplifting, and that’s no small feat.  Grandma’s baklava was kind of the same.  You’ll never taste anything quite like it.  There was something special in her touch that transformed those ingredients in a way I’ve never been quite able to duplicate.  Both of these remarkable people feed your heart and soul.

Having known Jim Stovall for more than 20 years, through my mother, I’ve gotten to hear his story a few times.  It is always one that inspires me, and I go back to it when I’m feeling particularly unmotivated or as if I don’t have an impact.  His story always gives me the jump start I need to get moving again and make things happen.  I can’t even count the number of times I’ve told myself that the next time I say to myself “someone should do something about that” that person is me, and just go and do it….even if that thing is just the dishes.  “You can change your life if you change your mind,” has seen me through some frustrating days too.  Before I read Discovering Joye I would have said that I knew this part of his story well enough to tell you a good part of it myself.  However, when paired with the poetry, the “discoveries” and the story take on a new depth.  I walked away from a what I thought was a familiar tale with new insight and perception…inspired all over again, by both of them.

Some of Grandma Joye’s poetry followed me through childhood.  In Discovering Joye you’ll find some of my childhood favorites like “Plink Plank” and “Fairies and Other Good Stuff.”  They arrived in letters, usually handwritten on notebook paper, accompanied by drawings she’d made, and they will always hold special places in my memories.  Those poems sit side by side with evenings on the front porch of her home watching the fire flies wink and blink, listening to her talk about fairies who lived in the mimosa trees, Penny the Peacock, and later about life, books and writing,  and family. Reading those we found later though is a gift of a different sort.  Since Grandma Joye passed away, I return to her poems time and again.  It is like being able to have those front porch talks about those things we never got the chance to discuss in person.  Reading her poetry in conjunction with Jim’s story brought new life to the poetry too.  It changed the “conversation” with my grandmother because I read her words in a different light.  Apparently, she isn’t finished talking to me quite yet.  That is a gift of immeasurable value.

So I recommend this book on so many different levels.  If you’re a poetry nut, this is a book for you.  If you need a little pick-me-up…guess what, Discovering Joye has you covered.  If you just want to read a good story, you’ve got that too.

When I remember to keep the book I’m reviewing with me as I write my post, I try to leave you with the first line or so to give you a sneak peek.  This time, I want to give you my favorite poem.  This is one that I have all over the place…just in case I need a reminder.

New Light

I open my eyes to you

     Bright shiny morning,

While some lonely half-dream

     Still clouds my mind;

And I worry your presence

     By pulling in yesterday,

Plucking out moments

     I should leave behind.

Sweet friend and companion,

     Refresher of souls,

I rise to your joyful

     Awakening at last.

And I gather your warmth

     As a maiden her lover.

Embrace me, sweet morning

   Black shadows are past.

‘Til next time,

Jessica

P.S. Keep a close eye out in the next few days…there’s a contest coming!

 

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About ilovegeekology101

Why Geekology 101 you ask? Well, my horizons they are expandin', and I have discovered that I have barely scratched the surface of the amazing stories and avenues to explore. Want to take the journey with me? View all posts by ilovegeekology101

3 responses to “Discovering Joye…This May Be the Coolest Thing Ever

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