When Someone Really Gets Your Book: Harbor Review and Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer on "God in Her... 

The elegant online journal of poetry and art Harbor Review is a must for discerning poetry-lovers, not only because of its contents but also because of its striking layout and visual creations. 


Harbor Review logo

Last International Women's Day, the journal published a review of my new poetry book that really got the work. Reviewer Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer expanded on the snippet she offered for the Broad Street Review's best-of-2023 roundup, connecting with my poems on many levels. Here's the full text:  

Lisa B’s powerful opening poem, “God No. 2” in her new collection, God in Her Ruffled Dress, sets the stage for what’s to come: a God as expansive as the imagination, a God that comes through our energy and emotions and insights, and a God based on earthly sensuality and experiences. A playful God.

What also emerges from these poems is a God whose only limits might be the metaphors we can create. She is aware that presenting this God is also a challenge to that limited, dusty, male God whose authority weighed over Adam and Eve (and generations of humans, even now). In “Genesis,” she writes:

The beings who sang at the true creation of the world
stand witness again,
their faces recalling the face of the God

who hovered over the waters.
I come into my hand
and breathe out a mist

which rests on my face,
my own face,
like God's, the one I know.

This God is not prescriptive, not found stuck in a book but comes through direct experience. Here, “Genesis” is an invitation to experience “God as the one I know.”

The physical body is embraced as a place of knowing and mystery, illness, sex, and healing. Lisa B uses her experience of living with type 1 diabetes to convey the intimate edge between life and death. As someone who also lives with type 1, I’ve never [before] encountered poetry that captures the way it feels to experience daily blood sugar highs and lows that put us in mortal danger. In the interesting thing about diabetes,” she writes:

is that you are often dying
but not really, knowing you can stop death this time
with three tabs of glucose
like Christ administering a sacrament


This almost dying becomes a kind of spiritual practice, a preparation for death:

as the sugar dissolves down your throat
and the blood pulses in your cells like fingers clicking on
a distant keyboard, as you become aware of your solid bones

Reverence for the strange and magical possibilities of existence weaves through each section of this volume. We also encounter the poetry of Lisa B’s jazz music (she is also a singer), of her pandemic response to the former President and the fears and ills of that time, and a section about the female body’s worth for more than procreation.

God In Her Ruffled Dress closes with “Lisa’s Lord’s Prayers,” a triumphant call to bless each other (including her cats) and recognize the sacredness inherent in life:

Thy time has come,
thy will be done
in action as in dreaming.


Read this volume of poems as a reminder of what you know: that in our existence there is not only meaning but the right for our bodies and souls to experience joy and pleasure, to release old ghosts both in our epigenetics and in our stories; that we can imagine and name the mysterious and sometimes intimate life force that some call God.

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

"God in Her Ruffled Dress" Praised in April 2024 Issue of "Girl Trouble" 


I recently discovered "Girl Trouble," the Substack newsletter from Diana Whitney, who is a poet, writer, writing coach, workshop leader, and all-around engaging commentator on subjects from mental health to Vermont to parenting, and much more. 

So I was extra gratified by this mini-review of my new poetry book God in Her Ruffled Dress (What Books Press) in Girl Trouble's April 2024 issue, "Notes from Eclipse Season." 


Girl Trouble newsletter header 4/24 with review of



 Image of Diana Whitney's review of poetry book


Here's the text as text, not image:


Singer-poet Lisa B rewrites the old prayers in her new collection, weaving feminism with Jewish mysticism in strange, musical, funny, sexy poems. "I'm...tired of the One Dad God," she writes, exploring shifting definitions of the divine while staying grounded in the body, its strengths and illness and need, its miraculous desires. Look no further for a deeply spiritual, feminist celebration in verse.


Wow! That series of initial adjectives may be an apt description not only of my new book but also of me. 

Check out this issue of "Girl Trouble" here. From there, you can subscribe to either the free or paid version of the newsletter. 

Notes from Eclipse Season, 4/24, from Diana Whitney


See links to purchase options for the book here (including ordering a signed, personalized copy directly from me).

"God in Her Ruffled Dress" Fall 2023 Book Launch Highlights - Two Videos 

I made a couple of videos highlighting the launch and tour I did in Fall 2023 for my new poetry book, God in Her Ruffled Dress (What Books Press). 
 
The book appeared on many publishing platforms in late October 2023, with full publication in December 2023.

The first video recaps the tour to the accompaniment of some of my original tune "Lisa's Lord's Prayers," the poem for which is in the book. The second vid is a short using part of a remixed tune by DJ Davion.


I read/sang at:

- Village Well Books & Coffee, Culver City, Calif., with other authors with fall releases from What Books Press and their affiliated publisher Giant Claw, Michael Ventura, Maria Perez-Talavera, Celeste Goyer, Bryan Price, and Sarah Maclay;

- Books & Books, Coral Gables, Florida, with Caridad Moro-Gronier;

- Poetry Flash at the Art House Gallery & Cultural Center, Berkeley, Calif., with Dick Cluster;

- The Livermore Jazz Society, Livermore, Calif., with my fabulous band Ben Flint, piano, Fred Randolph, bass, and Julian Hogan, drums;

- Bird & Beckett, San Francisco, with Thoreau Lovell;

- And the second What Books/Giant Claw fall launch reading, Beyond Baroque, Venice, Calif., with Sarah Maclay, Michael Ventura, Celeste Goyer, and Bryan Price.

Lots of fun to get out there and share this material after so much careful seclusion during the first stage of the COVID pandemic! More since (the LA Times Festival of Books) and more to come (Santa Cruz, Calif. and NYC in August, yay!). 

See my website for links to purchase the book.




Digging in to George Herbert's Sensuous, Spiritual Poem "The Flower" on The Talking Poem Podcast 

The Talking Poem Podcast run by Charlie Green was my first podcast appearance, and a juicy one! 

The Talking Poem Podcast with Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) on George Herbert's poem

A professor of English literature and creative writing at Cornell University, Charlie lends his fierce enthusiasm for pop and music culture and a sensibility both erudite and goofy to his joy at discussing the favorite poems of various poets. 

I was the lucky such guest on March 17, 2024, digging in to one of the most delightful, emotional, and memorable poems I've ever encountered, "The Flower" by 17th century metaphysical poet George Herbert. 

Spirituality and sensuality, or we might say religion and sex, and the wrenching, impassioned relationship of the poet with God are expressed in vivid and often colloquial language about nature in this Flower. 

And I got to discuss Herbert's influence on my poetry and to read the first poem in my new book God in Her Ruffled Dress, "God No. 2," charting Herbert's inspirational impact throughout it. 

Charlie topped off our rather excited chat with a little test he gave me: Guess the Exact Lyrics, often spoken, in songs by selected, white rock/rap musicians. It was quite a shift, but fun.

Your favorite podcast links to the episode here:
Deezer (search for Lisa B Lisa Bernstein "The Flower")

Charlie features a distinguished array of contemporary poets (David Baker, Kevin Young, Jorie Graham, Franny Choi, Patricia Spears Jones, Lorenzo Thomas, William Matthews, Natalie Diaz, Russell Edson, Louise Gluck, Carl Phillips, Kim Addonizio, A.R. Ammons, Ocean Vuong) and those coming before us (Robert Hayden, Emily Dickinson, Thomas Hardy, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Walter Raleigh, Edna St. Vincent Millay), to name just some of the poets you'll find on The Talking Poem Podcast, so be sure to explore it.

The Talking Poem Podcast with Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) on George Herbert's poem

The Talking Poem Podcast with Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) on George Herbert's poem

The Talking Poem Podcast with Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) on George Herbert's poem

Spirituality and sensuality: The Talking Poem Podcast with Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) on George Herbert's poem

Excerpt from George Herbert's poem



Platforms for The Talking Poem podcast

 

"God in Her Ruffled Dress" Noted in Broad Street Review Best-of-2023 Books 

Philly's Broad Street Review noted God in Her Ruffled Dress in its 2023 end-of-the-year recommendations! 



Broad Street Review

This year, I returned to reading a lot of poetry! I highly recommend a new volume called God in Her Ruffled Dress, by Lisa Bernstein. The volume is a playful, soulful, feminist imagining of how we experience the sacred. What emerges from these poems is a God whose only limits might be the metaphors we can create for the life force that animates the world.

– Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer

Seven Questions from Kabir Sehgal to Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) on New Poetry Book "God in Her... 

I met Kabir Sehgal through the Recording Academy (the Grammy organization) and immediately felt an affinity with him, as he's one of the few people I know who, like me, is actively creating and releasing both music and booksand there's far more

In short, he's a Grammy and Latin Grammy award winner, nominee of multiple Emmys, bestselling author of 19 books, U.S. Navy veteran, and former J.P. Morgan banker. Not to mention a kind and simpatico guy. 

So I was thrilled that my new poetry book God in Her Ruffled Dress (What Books Press, late fall 2023) was spotlighted in his newsletter and website:


Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) answers 7 questions

By  | Feb 8, 2024

1. Why are you an author?

As a sensitive person since childhood, I acutely felt my own emotions and dramas as well as those of my family and friends, and even strangers, plus the sensory stimulation of being alive. Growing up in a book-and music-filled household nurtured my own verbal and musical abilities. Plus, as my mother called me just the other day, I was always a “truth meter.” Becoming a poet was inevitable, both a survival strategy and a source of joy.

2. Who inspired your literary inspirations?

Metaphysical poet George Herbert, Emily Dickinson, Adrienne Rich, Charles Simic, W.S. Merwin, Allen Ginsberg

3. What is your writing routine?

I write poetry when I’m inspired: by another writer, by an image, phrase, or sound, and fundamentally, by a charged slice of my experience that is tugging on me unconsciously to be explored, expressed, and transformed.

4. Why did you write this book?

God In Her Ruffled Dress
By Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)

“God in Her Ruffled Dress” took shape over three decades, a way to explore the interface between body and spirit, human and divine, illness and wellness. Insistent sources of inspiration were my own type 1 diabetes, my work as a jazz singer, my work as a professional psychic (poetry-writing led me to further training in this arena, which in turn fed my poems), and my life as a woman in this era.

5. What were the biggest obstacles in writing this book?

There were no obstacles to writing it, though I’m a believer in trustworthy feedback and then revision. The only obstacles involved finding a publisher!

6. What are the key points of this book?

Well, the titles of the book’s three main sections give clues: “Return to the Body,” “Drum the Beginning of the World,” “Sever the Head,” and “Propagate.” The final poem, “Lisa’s Lord’s Prayers,” also includes imperatives; for instance, from one verse: “Letters of God/in every cell/golden be each stroke./Your power come,/meaning be done/electrically in nerve and spirit./Give us today our act of truth/and forgive our indecision/as we forgive the strong-voiced who stay mute…”

7. Where may we find you online?

Consider subscribing to Kabir's Seven Point Sunday newsletterthe quickest read you'll ever receive in a regular mailing, chock-full of tips on books, music, film, what to invest in, how to be more productive, and more. 

Thanks, Kabir!


  

Berkeley Book Launch Nov. 5 by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) and Dick Cluster 



Berkeley Book Launch 
by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) and Dick Cluster

Sun. Nov. 5, 3 p.m.

Sponsored by Poetry Flash

Art House Gallery & Cultural Center
2905 Shattuck Ave.
Berkeley, CA 94705

FREE
with refreshments

Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) reads from "God in Her Ruffled Dress" (What Books Press) and Dick Cluster reads from Paula Abramo's poetry cycle "Fiat Lux" (bilingual edition translated by Cluster from FlowerSong Press), nominated for a Northern California Book Award.


Please note: we turn clocks back at 2 a.m. that calendar day, so make sure not to be late!







The Music of Poetry, A Writing Workshop Nov. 4 with Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein) (via Zoom)  


The Music of Poetry
led by Lisa B (Lisa Bernstein)


via Zoom


November 4, 12:30 - 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time


Hosted by Hudson Valley Writers Center
ask@writerscenter.org 

Working with our attention on the sound of our words returns a spirit of play and discovery to our writing. 
Even while writing free verse, we can call on a range of musical techniques to both enrich our poems and help us access content that we are not yet conscious of. 
Get out of your own way as you create by heightening the musicality of your poems.
In this workshop, we will first read poems that put musical form and elements at the forefront. We will review tools such as rhyme, alliteration, assonance, syllabic stresses, and enjambment. 
Then we will turn to playing with these techniques and others (such as listening to a poem in a language you don’t know and “translating” it, and writing while listening to music) to produce work that is freer and perhaps more revelatory — with a more direct connection to the muse. 
The workshop will include discussing the new work we have generated. 

It will be taught on Zoom and capped at 15 students. Registrants will receive the Zoom link to the email address they use to register. It will arrive immediately after registration so please check your spam folder if you do not receive it. It will also be sent the day before class as a reminder. Please review the course policies page before registering for any classes.