Poetic Journeys & Exceptions


Destiny binds its roots
in the writhing soul
of our own imperfections

Winter Green

Winter Green: photograph – Ilona Rapp

its wisdom too complex
to parse, its delicate leaves
lashed by winds of greed

Its branches hacked bare
in peremptory spasms
of cold calculations

Rigid matrixes,
eschewing integrity
in the nefarious logic

of profits and loss,
until the solution to
generating Peace
is a fatal exception

and hope forms
the single thread
which anchors us
to eternity.

©Ilona Rapp 2017 All Rights Reserved

IA Initiate by John D Winston An Imaginative and Provocative Young Adult Novel

IA: Initiate (IA #1)
by John Darryl Winston (Goodreads Author)21471358
Ilona Rapp’s review Dec 02, 2015 (also published on Goodreads and Amazon)

What happens when a songwriter tells a story? In IA Initiate, we have the opportunity to find out. John D. Winston has woven together an imaginative, provocative young adult novel taking place in a dystopian world eerily reminiscent of our own. He composes his characters with depth and humanity and his experience with parenting and teaching are evident in their vivid portrayal.
IA Initiate could be viewed as a simple Science Fiction/Super Powers story. It could be, but it shouldn’t, because it is very much more. In the traditions of Madeleine Engle and Phillip Pullman, John D. Winston has created a socially relevant examination of our own society, placed safely within the setting of fantasy. IA Initiate is an endearingly honest portrayal of the very real challenges faced by every youth struggling to survive with integrity in a world of decaying values.
IA Initiate held me in its thrall from the very first chapter. The characters sprung from the page and became so real to me that I dreaded reaching the end of the novel. The main characters are so well rendered that even months later I find myself remembering and rooting for them. The novel sits in the young adult genre based on the age of its protagonists. It is a coming of age story involving ties to one’s family, friends, community and roots. The YA genre alone does not fully classify this novel. It is at times frightening, poignant, shocking, intimate and funny. It will grasp the attention of young teens and adults alike and will satisfy them all.
It truly takes skill to bring an adult into the mind of an 11year old and connect. John D. Winston is a master of the craft. Naz Anderson is a unique blend of worldliness and naivety, honest self interest and selflessness, wisdom and confusion. In a word, he is real. In a sentence, he is a young man fiercely devoted to his family and friends, rich with integrity and very human in his failings. He will make you smile, laugh and cry. Equally intriguing is the character of Meridian Liberty Slaughter, (Meri) who is stubborn, clear-sighted, incredibly strong yet secretly vulnerable.
IA Initiate grabbed hold of my attention and never let go. It presents a tantalizing mystery which slowly unravels to reveal more mysteries within, while connecting the reader intimately with the main characters. It is so compelling that the greater impact of the storyline simply slides into the unconscious mind and sets off a cascade of thought with relevance to our own society. The author has created a rich world which speaks for itself, mirroring the economic segregation throughout most of modern society, and donning both the trappings of poverty and the roots of change. It contrasts social and individual responsibility and casts a jaundiced eye on the status quo. It does this in the midst of a very personal journey.
I read IA Initiate along with my two thirteen-year-old daughters. We had one copy and it was hard to hold back spoilers until we all had time to read it through. The novel spurred on some long discussions about the state of our world, but mainly, it was an engaging story. Both of my daughters shared vivid descriptions of memorable scenes. It was fun to see them working through the plot and developing their own theories about what would happen next. (Naz surprised us all). They felt close to the characters -really liked them- and are anxiously awaiting the next book in the series. They especially hope to see more of Meredith.
IA Initiate is a challenge to us all to look beyond hopelessness and rally our gifts. It is a dare, to build a community which shines past the dismal gloom of inner city existence. Because of (and despite) all this it’s a fast moving, engaging fantasy-mystery-adventure which is impossible to put down.
And Guess what! Book two, IA: B.O.S.S . was just released!! Stay tuned for another review!

Here’s a Link to the Author’s Store for paperback edition. http://www.johndarrylwinston.com/store/p7/IA%3A_Initiate.html

Many Layers of Truth

Truth is inalienable, except when it is not. It is a many layered work of

art, a composition, with seemingly contradictory elements, each of which defines truth within the fabric of the observer’s background, position, angle of ascent or descent, as well as their field of vision. Consider the feather of a peacock. It is teal, It is also golden brown, it is rigid and it is soft. It is as large as a world to a mite, as small as a mite to a whale. It is of paramount importance to the mite, it is valued as its world, to peacock itself it is valuable, though not irreplaceable.  It is kindly regarded by a human who covets it as an adornment, yet to the whale it is entirely insignificant.

A peacock feather can be transformed to a work of art, poetry or prose.  Entire philosophies may be built upon it. It can lodge in the gorge of a predator, causing great discomfort or injury. It can draw a peahen to create life with its bearer, or it can frighten a naive predator with its unholy eye. It may be coveted, or revered, it may be immense in its life giving attributes, or it may be repulsive , injurious or might even steal a life.
What is the true meaning of a feather?
Once you have answered this question, you are one layer away from the true meaning of life.

A Snapshot of a Moment

A snapshot of a moment Ilona Rapp 06-09-15

A snapshot of a moment
Ilona Rapp 06-09-15

Little Snapping Turtle
Remember how you’d bite
When your splashing went unnoticed
When our silence gathered spite

Little Snapping Turtle
Remember how you’d kick
When you sought the warmth of comfort
Or when you’d fallen sick

Little Snapping Turtle
Sleeping warm against my chest
When your voice was lost in chorus
How you’d push aside the rest

Little Snapping Turtle
Scarlet Moons within your eyes
Running faster than your footsteps
Stubborn grit within your cries

Little Snapping Turtle
Grasping wonder in your world
How you’d nuzzle at my succor
Tender sweetness, fists unfurled

Never for a moment
Did I fear I’d bear a scar
For the armor of your kisses
Impish Pranks could never mar

Never for a moment
Did I fear that I would bleed
For the healing of your laughter
Would fulfill my every need

Little Snapping Turtle
Stretching farther than your reach
If you’d only circle closer
In a snap, I’d fill the breach

Little Snapping Turtle
How I long to bear your scar
As a snapshot of a moment
With you safe within my arms

Little Snapping Turtle
Remember how you’d kick
In the hollow of my yearning
Though I’d filled it with a brick

Little Snapping Turtle
Remember how you’d bite
Clasping to my anchor
As you swam into the night

Ilona Rapp, June 9, 2015
For Takeshi, my Little Snapping Turtle

Warm Recollections of City Sidewalks

Poet John Wisdom posted a five line tanka on twitter which carried me back to my childhood.  The celebrating event defining summer was two fold.  First my hair would be pinned up into my “summer bun,” and secondly, I would be allowed to walk barefoot on the concrete sidewalks.

I had not tried this ancient Japanese form before, but interestingly my memory flowed seamlessly into the traditional form.  I hope it may stir the memories of other writers and promote a chain of recollections.

Here’s the first link in the chain:  John Wisdom’s shared tanka on twitter

Life is Magic and Magic is Life

Life is Magic and Magic is Life

Summer Recollections

hair swept in a bun
the first caress of summer
warming my bare feet
the time smoothed stones rejoicing
eschew their mortared prison


Ilona Rapp, May 2015

Double Spaces to end a thought… To use or not to use, that is the question.

Should We Use a Single or a Double Space at the End of a Thought?

My son is taking college classes in lieu of high school and I have been editing his work. I later realized that he had also been re-editing my edits and restoring single spacing at the ends of his sentences.  This was the first I had heard of the single spacing rule, despite evidently reading single spaced publications for decades.  I told him to ask his English Professor for his opinion and he came home and pronounced double spacing to be the correct form to end a sentence. In the meantime I found that it is no longer the industry standard, yet still I am not certain it is “incorrect” either.  I understand certain publications declaring their own parameters based on production, economic and aesthetic standards.

Like the majority of my generation, I learned to double-space automatically in high school.  Back in the mid to late seventies, when manual typewriters were still in use, I would have blessed the one space rule, as my manual space bar was always such a bear to press that I would at times need to re-type a whole page for having missed a space!

Despite the insistent viewpoint that typographers should determine the standards, I do not believe them to carry the sole voice in this subject.  Somewhere in this realm of aesthetics and practicality the voice of the author must be communicated with clarity to the reader, and the reader must be able to extract with as much ease as possible the information presented.  Decisions are made balancing the content and its natural order, spacing and progression with the symmetry and beauty of its shape and presentation on the page. I never considered these elements until called upon to present my lectures as power point presentations. For this format I discovered a whole new world of font and spacing variations and quite literally spent hundreds of hours focused on the aesthetic presentation of my content. The relevancy here lies in the value judgments I was forced to make when the arrangement of ideas did not fit into the visual aesthetics of the frame I was creating. As a professor when I needed to compromise it was the aesthetics rather than the content which would be sacrificed.   Now, years later I am one of those latent writers finally putting action to rumination and attempting my first novel. I am aware that most editors require single spacing, but I am oh so resistant to this change.

I can train myself physically to type single space, but not to think in that manner. As a writer, hitting that second space is my internal punctuation point. ‘Tap tap’ with both thumbs resets my thought processes in the middle of a paragraph, and provides a satisfying sense of completion at the end of a paragraph or point of view. Single spacing denies me these small victories and my writing process is less enjoyable, more tedious. When writing single space sentences I feel driven to continue to a natural spacial pause, which brings me to the end of a paragraph so I may at least type period, space and RETURN.

Intellectually I understand there is quite simply less physical work with single spacing, but often my best writing is more instinct than intellect. When I double space I am communicating this pause. When I write a longer sentence divided by a comma and a single space I am communicating a lesser pause. As a reader, a double space at the end of a sentence draws my gaze to that extra space, maintaining my reading position as I absorb the content, relationships and import of the completed sentence. I then move fluently onto the next sentence without re-reading for the purpose of finding my place. Intrinsically I believe that single spacing encourages the reader to digest complete paragraphs rather than stand alone sentences. It is the exception, rather than the rule, that the quickly scanned word combinations actually trigger the arduous process of re reading and fully assimilating content.

I postulate that “instinctual double spacing” actually changes the way we read single space type. That those who type with the extra space/pause will re read more frequently or more carefully due to habits ingrained with reading spaced out sentences. Conversely, single spacing would lead to different reading techniques. Now that children are taught early to use a keyboard I am wondering if the single spaced reading pattern will in some way form a different level of thought processes. Symbolically, it may be likened to hiking through a forest trail for exercise. Sights, sounds and smells form a fast moving medley and a generalized impression. Allowing for the extra space between sentences allows one to meander slowly along a path while stooping silently here and again for a closer look at the miraculous beauty within arm’s length.

For all of our scientific advancements, we are light years away from producing a controlled study that can contain these many variables. Suffice it to say that instinct and common sense leads me to conclude that sentence spacing affects the impact of what we read on our creative and deductive minds.  I do believe that we may lose something precious if we entirely eradicate this writing standard. Traditional does NOT mean out-dated.   In these times when we are racing to keep up with our own technologies at the expense of much we have taken for granted, any process which supports our intuitive knowledge is crucial.
All told, I will continue to add a second space at the end of my sentences, either typographically or internally. If a publishing format requires single spacing I will reluctantly edit with find and replace, and submit a single spaced translation of a work composed in double space. For the fleetingly short time that my children still prioritize my opinions, I will encourage them to do the same. In this way I hope that they too will find the instinctive pauses in our ever more hectic lives in order to absorb the world around them and to savor their small victories.

Link for more information:  http://www.heracliteanriver.com/?p=324%E2%80%8E.

The preceding essay is written in reaction to an informative and well researched post on the history of typesetting and the timeline for the change from double to single space conventions following the period at the end of a sentence.   It is well worth reading and can be found at the following address:




Song for Solace: Unentitled Roar

I have not attempted to write a song in decades, and I didn’t intend to write this one, though I was challenged to do so.  The melody and lyrics streamed through the open door I provided and I share them with you here.  I believe that I have unintentionally created a theme song for Solace Born of Winter as well.  Please share you thoughts.

Humpback Whale amidst icebergs (6296029124)

Humpback Whale amongst dwindling glaciers.

Unentitled Roar

While the icecaps slowly swelter in a grand primordial weep
Still we trough for deeper treasures ever blind to what we reap
And our children gather nightmares at the edges of their sleep
As they bear the mournful keening of the creatures of the deep

* * *

Yet we seek the mighty powers in their steel and glass retreat
We sanctify them holier than Gods or life or seed
We grapple one another, rising ever in our greed
While the triumphs of creation in the darkness slowly bleed

Shackled by our precedents we’re gripped within the maw
Of the tithing to the devil written in the law
Will the violent throes of sorrow breach the bonds that seal our roar
Shred the patronizing solace which is rotten in its core

Mourning angels hear our plea
Solace yearning hearts be freed
Mourning angels hear our plea
Solace yearning hearts be freed

We are suckled on profanities and set off to a war
With our mothers, fathers, daughters and our sons forever more
We have crucified our planet in the arrogance of youth
And the echoes of our saviors we defile with platitudes

Tis the winter of our morrow, tis the final warning call
And we squander our intentions, fiercely struggling for a fall
We are mothers, we are fathers, we are born as infants all
We are workers, we are lovers, we are huge and we are small

Mourning angels hear our plea
Solace yearning hearts be freed
Mourning angels hear our plea
Solace yearning hearts be freed

AyaAyaAyaAyaAyaAya Ay-AyaAyaAyaAyaAya YayYay
AyaAyaAyaAyaAyaAya Ay-AyaAyaAyaAyaAya YayYay

Mourning angels hear our plea

Ilona Rapp, March 2015

Our Changing World: It’s Raining in Anchorage

It’s Raining in Anchorage

It’s raining in Anchorage.
The glaciers have surrendered
and the solstice draws near
shrouded in brilliant endeavors

The glaciers have surrendered
The wanton path of progress
shrouded in brilliant endeavors
bleeds a murmuring of sunlight

The wanton path of progress
borne by the feigning of innocence
bleeds a murmuring of sunlight
obscured in the guise of Nature’s caprice

Borne of the feigning of innocence
shrieks of desolation
obscured in the guise of Nature’s caprise
are swallowed by the tides

Shrieks of desolation
ensconced in ancient homelands
are swallowed by the tides
as refugees gather on the precipice

Ensconced in ancient homelands
we consume the body of our world
as refugees gather on the precipice
trampling one another for purchase

We consume the body of our world
While we scramble for profit
trampling one another for purchase
tears stream from frozen remnants of humanity

While we scramble for profit
It’s Raining in Anchorage
Tears stream from frozen remnants of humanity
and the solstice draws near

Ilona Rapp, December 2014

Musings on Filth and Fumes- One Writer’s Expanded Resume by Ilona Rapp

subway passengers NewYork City

New York City Subway scene

My daughter landed in New York this week.  To my delight, she asked about my favorite haunts in Manhattan.  My memories, surprisingly, are almost as old as she is, and from a time when I was exactly her age.  That coincidental juxtaposition of place and time inspired a review of who I am now, who I was then, and the obscure roots of my development as a writer.
As a newly forming adult, the sights, the sound and the smells of the city were exhilarating.  I felt I belonged to that great clamoring mass of culture.  I felt like it was all mine, the many languages, the accents, the tones of voice and the idioms in some way belonged to me. because I too was immersed in the crucible.
An image of “my” city flashes in my mind,  an immense mural, identifiable as a single work only when viewed from afar.  The closer I examine the overall picture,  the more I realize that it is a mosaic, made up of countless still images, no less impressive than the whole.  Unlike a simple mural, it contains sights, sounds, smells, tastes, physical and emotional sensations.  Its individual parts contain the histories of its inhabitants, enlivened through expressions, tones, gait and costume.  In this maelstrom of collective story, I wandered unwittingly on the path of my muse, too enthralled to acknowledge the developing writer within me.
Perception is bound by perspective, both in space and time.  My writer’s roots, quiescently enmeshed in my burgeoning world view, were grasping for sustenance.  My innate yearning to write, was born of gathered impressions.  Every thought, act and experience was filed safely in my writer’s trove.

Continue reading

Read the fine print! Writing Competitions, Stress and Relief (or “if it can go wrong, it probably will!”) by Ilona Rapp 02 23 15

chaos illustration avator

Chaos is the Mother of Solace

I am going to skip to the conclusion and announce that I successfully submitted my three entries into the Pacific Northwest Writer’s Association Unpublished Contest two days ago. It was, of course, the final day and the final hour of the deadline.
Yes, I did plan on completing everything a few days earlier, but of course I was still editing on Friday morning. The truth is you can’t plan for everything, and small details such as work and family obligations tend to take front and center when there is still a day or so to go and you really have the whole day off to gather everything together. The following saga, (or should I say synopsis) is all about the best laid plans!
Here’s what I didn’t plan on: Continue reading

AUTHOR BRANDING: Semantics, Contrivances, Contradictions and Empowerment Part I: Deconstruction and Reconstructing (AUTHOR OR WRITER)by Ilona Rapp 02 22 15

Dante Alighieri Statue, Florence, Italy (c. 1 June 1265 – September 13/14, 1321)

Public Domain File:Dante Alighieri01.jpg Uploaded by JoJan Created: October 12, 2005 JoJan (talk | contribs) Dante Alighieri (c. 1 June 1265 – September 13/14, 1321) was a Florentine poet Statue outside the Uffizi, Florence Own photo – photo taken on 12 October 2005 I, the copyright holder of this work, release this work into the public domain. This applies worldwide. In some countries this may not be legally possible; if so: I grant anyone the right to use this work for any purpose, without any conditions, unless such conditions are required by law.Deconstructing and Reconstructing:  Author or Novelist?

For the writer, language is a powerful tool. Some writers sidestep the title of “author” on the basis of semantics. Despite their status as synonyms,
the two words can carry different connotations. Going back to basics, I looked for the nuances in their definitions, and my own recognition of the
words as they apply in today’s society.  Mr. Alighieri would likely have waxed poetic on the subject, (sorry), and his image is quite “authorial.”

In the Miriam Webster Free Online Dictionary, “author” is defined as follows:
: a person who has written something; especially : a person who has written a book or who writes many books
: a person who starts or creates something (such as a plan or idea)
1a : one that originates or creates : source b capitalized : god 1
2: the writer of a literary work (as a book)
— au·tho·ri·al\ȯ-ˈthȯr-ē-əl\ adjective” (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/author)

In the same reference source, “writer” is defined as:

: someone whose work is to write books, poems, stories, etc.
: someone who has written something
: one that writes: as
a : author
b : one who writes stock options (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/writer)

For all intensive purposes, in modern English, the two words are interchangeable, with the exception of a connotation of career (the writer’s work is to write) and a nod to many works with “author” which is alluded to for “writer” as well. Nevertheless, individual affinities for both terms exist within the writing world.If I were to define my conception of “Author,” as an identity, it would be one who has participated in “published and/or monetarily successful,original or novel writing endeavors.”
I have defined my presupposition, (though it is NOT inclusive of the entirety of connotations regarding the relationship to a single document). Now to examine my associations with “Writer.” Honestly, I can equally apply my definition of one who has participated in “published and/or monetarily successful original or novel writing endeavors.” It fits, but the term “writer” is more general in my mind, less circumscribed. Writer can simply be ascribed to placing words on paper, as in writing the minutes for a meeting, writing down a quotation in calligraphy. A Writer may involve himself in creativity, but also evokes a sense of the physicality of writing. A writer, in modern times, can be a machine, as in a typewriter. An author can dictate to a writer, but a writer would not generally dictate to an author (though they could, of course, dictate to another writer, or a dictation/writing program, and screenwriters may at times ignore an author!)
Inversely, a writer could “write” the theory of relativity (which is exactly what Albert Einstein achieved), yet one does not “author” a mathematical theorem, or HTML code for that matter, both of which are original creations. Of note as well, we write and/or compose music and song, which is the creation of new content) yet we do not “author” it. So what do I label myself?

Still hoping for an understanding of the words, one or both of which I sought to assimilate) I reviewed their origins in the “Online Etymological Dictionary,” and followed the links to dictionary.com. Here’s what I found: Continue reading

Solace Born of Winter

Solace Born of Winter is the first novel in my Series, the Sentinels of Solace. It is a

contemporary fantasy which was conceived four years ago, in celebration of my birth as a writer. The writer within me learned to perceive the world around her, and found the voice to communicate those perceptions.
Slowly, I creeped and crawled, and finally learned to walk as a writer. I have now been running full out in joyful abandon following the footsteps of my muse. I almost can’t keep up, and my initial goal of a four volume series seems like only the beginning.
Winter had so much to tell me about the lives, motivations, stubbornness, and strengths of my characters that it seemed I would never reach a pause
in my story. Pause or not, I have redefined the borders of Winter in order to allow the birth of my novel! Now all I have to do is PUSH.
I am nesting now, creating a birthing room so to speak, where my wonderful characters will be introduced to their esteemed readers, and where we all can gather and share our thoughts.
The learning curve has been steep, but I am piecing together ways to create a forum, and some of my friends from Solace want to help, Elsbet has offered to share some her woman’s lore, and Maeva will share some of the ways she and Aedan have reclaimed his childhood. I will be sharing my
finds and my foibles with fellow writers and I hope to create a forum where you can share as well.
I will save the web planning for later, my characters are starting to get jealous.
Thanks so much for joining me as witness to the meandering of the muse!!!