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Review: Cocktails with a Dead Man by Joe Albanese

reviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingreviews, authors, writingFive out of five quills ~~~  A Review reviews, authors, writing



Cocktails with a Dead Man  (a book of poetry) is honest, hard hitting,  marvelous and humorously clever.

With other poems in this book, the laughs are nonexistent. Albanese’s writing reflects situations (Anniversary Dinner) too painful to face head on. Love torn asunder. (We Need To Talk) Loss and heartbreak we mortals think we cannot survive. A nice mix of  despair and irony; my perfect cup of tea.  Later in the book is a poem about our dreams of fame as writers. What writers will ‘settle for’ so we can continue to write. (Moonlight Serenade)

If Albanese keeps writing poetry, we just might have another Charles Bukowski on our hands.  This reviewer certainly hopes so. 

Writers will smile and groan as I did, when reading Sensory Adaptation. When the writing  stalls (‘writer’s block’ are words not allowed in this household) and the page remains blank this excerpt of poetry rings with all the frustration and truth we writers feel at times.

Sensory Adaptation ©

Tick-tock, tick-tock
The page is still blank
Writing at the dining room
I hear the clock in the family
room to my left
Tick-tock, tick-tock
I hear the clock in the living
room to my right
I hear the clock in the family
room to my left, ticking
at opposing half-seconds
Tick-tick, tock-tock
Tick-tick, tock-tock
120 per minute
30 minutes
3,600 ticks
All I see is white
The cursor blinks

Joe told me, “I allow myself to write shit, then come back and rewrite slightly less shit. Repeat until not shit.” In my opinion, he doesn’t publish work that still contains shit, only distilled…wonderful…poetry.
I am looking forward to interviewing Joe soon.
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Release date, January 15th
  MY BLOG features INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   December:  Jayne Ann Krentz (Amanda Quick)  January: Molly Gloss  February: Rick Lenz, March: Patrick Canning and April: Poet, Joe Albanese
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Storytelling…a Cultural Imperative!

What is a cultural imperative?  ‘Peoples living within the encompasses of cultures associated with very different ethnicities often imbue radically different moral imperatives, through identification processes carrying across generations. Such cultural imperatives prevalent within one culture may not have any direct equivalent within another culture…’ * 

Glaring examples of this are the ethnic groups who, putting themselves at risk for censor or abuse, have insisted on keeping their native language, rituals, and religions alive. ‘one culture may not have any direct equivalent within another culture…’  But the one imperative that has crossed all ethnic and cultural groups is storytelling. 

What is this imperative that most people feel….to tell stories?  It seems, to me, to be hardwired into our DNA.

We begin at an early age: making up stories (to ourselves) as we play with our dolls or cars. A child has no inhibitions when it comes to weaving a fantastical tale, frequently out loud, as they play. 
A mother or father sits at their child’s bedside and makes up stories until they fall asleep.
A comic book writer tells his stories with a few words, facial expressions, and action illustrations.
A poet tells their stories through rhyme, lyric or free verse.
A playwright creates their story so that others can tell it.
Another storyteller sees their stories happening in the far future. 
Another goes to the dark side of human nature and writes stories about things that go bump in the night.
A teacher tells a story to enhance the lesson. (I miss you, Miss. O’Connor.)
The novelist weaves a longer tale; taking their characters on adventures, discovering love, suffering defeats, and usually conquering all in the end. 
……even gossip could be considered storytelling.

I have worried out loud (and written about it here) that storytelling will die, be a thing of the past.  But now I believe that many of us do have that cultural imperative to tell and write down our stories. After all the synonyms for imperative are: involuntary, necessary, nonelective, obligatory, peremptory, required. 
 I don’t think storytellers can help themselves. We have to tell stories!



* IdentityExploration.com/Culture_Imperatives

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Like an Animal, You Have to Lay Down and Wait…

Charles Bukowski, writing, creating, writers  I posted this several years ago and it bears repeating:

I had not worked on my latest novel (#9) for several days and I was getting itchy.  I have learned that it’s okay…not to write. 

I have several good ideas rattling around in the ‘attic’ and I am reading voraciously and posting on my blog.  It’s a recurring theme, from me to my readers,  about not forcing it, not to beat yourself up because it is not coming.

Summers are hot and humid here and not my favorite weather so I spend a lot of time indoors.  I spent this summer with the man in my life…poet, Charles ‘Hank’ Bukowski.  God!  I love his genius!  And the best thing about having an imaginary playmate is that they always agree with you.    He wrote this beautiful metaphor about laying down and waiting for the inspiration and creativity to come to you.

And you know what?  This can apply to how you live your life too.  Don’t push it!  Wait!  Be patient and good things will come.

in the center of the action (c)
by Charles Bukowski

you have to lay down like an animal
until it charges,  you
have to lay down
in the center of the action

lay down and wait until it charges
then you must get up
face it, get it
before it gets you

the whole process is more
shy than
vulnerable so

lay down and wait sometimes it’s
ten minutes sometimes it’s years sometimes it
never arrives but you can’t rush it push itfamous quotes, famous writers, Bukowski, Churchill, famous men
there’s no way to cheat or get a
jump on it you have to

lay down
lay down and wait like
an animal.

MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter and in August we said ‘hello’ to Cheryl Hollon.   September: Dylan Callens and October’s author will be Donna Kauffman. 
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Motivational Moments…for Writers! #27

I’ve always believed that to be a good writer you must read. Why? 

I can only answer for myself. Other writers inspire me to improve my writing skills. This is true of my fiction, stage plays, and poetry.
Their styles are innumerable, their dash extraordinary, the story telling superb.  Oh sure, I stumble upon the ‘not so good’ authors but they contribute to my self-confidence.  I say to myself, “Oh! So I’m not the absolutely worst writer out there.”  I learn from the great ones and I learn from the mediocre.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading. Fiction mostly. I love a good story…and better, a good story-teller. I recently discovered Janet Macleod Trotter, one of our hidden treasures and, I predict, her books will be considered some of the best modern-day classics of our time.

Here are more some quotes that I stumbled across recently and really enjoyed. 

“That’s what the greats of literature did — they got their characters up a tree and threw rocks at them…” Robyn Carr (excerpt from ‘What We Find’)  Another great weaver of stories. 

“Be able to be alone. Lose not the advantage of solitude.” Sir Thomas Browne

“Technique alone is never enough. You have to have passion. Technique alone is just an embroidered pot holder.” Raymond Chandler


Coming Soon! Release date, May 15th.


MY BLOGS feature INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS!   Did you miss the past few months?    February’s author was Sheryl Steines.
Johan Thompson (South African author)  joined us in April.  May’s author will be Cheryl Hollon and in June: Mehreen Ahmed. July: Janet Macleod Trotter, author of Tea Planter’s Daughter
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More Motivational Moments…for Writers! #13

1..girl.write..mouse_1Is your process the right or wrong way?

As I write my story I make notes, on the last page of my document, about story ideas within the story, lest I forget. We all have such interesting processes, none of them wrong. The important thing is to write EVERY DAY. Good, bad or ugly you must write to become a writer.

I’m certain that my style would drive some writers crazy. I’m what’s known as a ‘pantser’. I write by the seat of my pants. No story outline because I want to experience that magical moment when my characters take over. I never try to wrest the story away from my characters.  No plot line because who knows where my story will end up?  No character list because new characters are always walking into my story. Why would I keep that door slammed in their faces? And I try to never ‘force it’. If I run dry on one project, I switch to another and wait for the story to pile up in my head.

“If you can tell stories, create characters, devise incidents, and have sincerity and passion, it doesn’t matter a damn how you write.”
– Somerset Maugham

This from Charles Bukowski on forcing your story, “...too much just doing it for the sake of doing it? Just not waiting for the words to pile up inside and then explode of their own volition.”

“It’s none of their business that you had to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” – Ernest Hemingway

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A Chip Off the Old Bukowski Block

My efforts have lain elsewhere of late…re-energized with my most ambitious novel, Song of the Yukon and maintaining a blog that is a never ending job.

But this poetry came to me, as it often does, with no apparent rhyme or reason.  I had just been reading some Bukowski and he always inspirespoet, wisdom, Charles Bukowski
me. I don’t suggest that I am even on the same planet as Hank, with regard to poetry, but I do admire his harsh, poetry reality.

A Chip Off the Old Bukowski Block ©  by Trisha Sugarek

i sit here on the toilet
looking at the cane by my side
when did this happen?

its pronged feet could, at any moment,
scamper into a tidal pool, so much does it
remind me of a robotic crab

my mornings now consist of pills,
shuffling to the next room,
with the aid of my robotic crab
to pour cereal
then work up a shit before I can
leave the house
When did this happen?

bodily functions take priority as
I can no longer trust this body not
to embarrass me in public
when did this happen?

my knees are shot to hell
my bowels rumble and twist
my arthritis tears at me with sharp little teeth
my vision is perfect, cataracts
blasted away by another robot
when did this happen?

the other day my mind went on a holiday
leaving me behind, confused and blank,
is this a harbinger of what’s to come
when did this happen?

Have you discovered my regular postings:  Motivational Moments…for Writers?

“An intellectual says a simple thing in a  hard way.  An artist says a hard thing in a simple way.”  Charles Bukowski

My INTERVIEW with Bukowski

DON’T MISS UPCOMING BLOGS featuring INTERVIEWS with  best-selling AUTHORS! In April, a long awaited interview with Kathleen Grissom (The Kitchen House)   Michael Saad, Canadian author, was June’s author. Robyn Carr is July’s author. Check out Motivational Moments…for Writers!

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My Interview with Charles Bukowski, Poet, Drunk, Reprobate, Genius

I would pay a lot of money to interview the great authors of our time.  Steinbeck, Bronte, Hemingway, Austen, Twain, London, Service, John McDonald, Robert Parker.  But at the top of my bucket list would be Henry Charles Bukowski {1920-1994}.  So I asked myself would it be so very strange or inappropriate to pretend what it might have been like? Post an interview with ‘Hank’ Bukowski even though he’s been dead almost twenty years? The answer was no!

I imagined I was sitting with him, in a corner booth, in some  neighborhood watering hole.  Old die-hard drunks sit up at the bar minding their own business.   I can see tree roots growing from the seat of their pants into the seat of the bar stools. Wet, green tendrils curl around the stool legs.  They don’t speak.  They stare into their empty glass or into their own smoky reflection in the mirror on the back wall. What do they see? A long-lost heaven?  A nearby hell? 

  Bukowski has already finished his first drink and signals the bartender for another.  I am paying of course.   (viewer discretion advised ~ language)

The Interview:

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing?

CB.  Anywhere they’ll leave me the hell alone.  I’m not particular.

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? 

CB.  A fifth of bourbon, a couple packs of cigarettes. Quiet. Enough paper, which can be a problem when I’m between jobs.

Q. What is your mode of writing?

CB. A pencil or pen, I don’t care.  Paper. My Remington typewriter if it’s not in pawn.  Sometimes the bartender will let me have the left over stubs of pencils from around the bar. Many years ago, this drunk in a suit was sitting next to me, over there at the bar.  He was complaining that his company had bought something called a ‘computer’ and they were making him learn how to do his sales reports on it.  He hated it but he said,  ‘I fear that it is the face of the future, Hank.’  Goddamn machines, taking over the world and us  bit by bit.  I’ll stick to my pencil and paper.

Q. Do you have a set time each day to write or do you write only when you are feeling creative?

CB.  Listen, girl,  I wish there were more times when I didn’t ‘feel creative’; didn’t need to write.  Occasionally when I’m f—ing or I’m blind drunk, or both, I can take a break and forget.

Q. What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

CB. Legitimate writers don’t procrastinate.

Q. How does a writer begin? How do you write, create?

CB. You don’t try. That’s very important: not to try, when it comes to Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing and for how long?

CB. I’m lost right now.  Wait fifteen minutes…..(he stared into space) nope, still lost.  Does that answer your question?

Q. Who or what is your ‘muse’ at the moment?

famous authors, Charles Bukowski, interviews, best selling authorsA.  Ha! You’re funny.  Let’s see, junkies, slant-eyed women, barkeeps, dogs, cats, mocking birds, my landlady, bums, women….oh yeah, women most definitely.  War, rain, politicians, pigs, beautiful young girls as they walk by, Jane, the shoeshine man, booze, my father, gravediggers, whores in Mexico.

Q. When did you begin to write seriously?

CB. I don’t remember…a long, long time ago.

Q. How long after that were you published?

CB.  Decades.  I sent my stuff to every sex rag, publisher, and agent I could find.  It was always  rejected until one day It wasn’t.   I’d sell my blood so I could buy stamps.

Q. What makes a writer great?

CB. You can’t have rules.  No woman who is so important that she gets in your way.  No job that can keep you from what you have to do. Knowing that sometimes when you’re drunk you are a better writer.famous authors, Charles Bukowski, interviews, best selling authors

Q. ….and the all important: What does the process of going from “no book” to “finished book” look like? 

CB. There’s never ‘no book’ for me. It might not be down on paper yet, but it’s always there.  When my head gets so full it might explode then I find a pencil and write it down.  I don’t give a shit if a book is ‘finished’.  That’s what publishers are for.  I just send them my stuff and if they print all of it or some of it, I’m happy.  The thing that I won’t let them do is change anything.  Not a word.  It drives ’em crazy.

Q. What inspired your stories and your poetry?

CB.  Mostly the streets of L.A.  And don’t call my shit ‘poetry’. That’s what the suits call it so people will buy it.   “…my poems are only bits of scratchings on the floor of a cage…”  Mostly I just write what I see and how I feel about it.  And I see a lot of sick shit.  And I don’t feel so good about it.

    Q. Is there anything else you’d like my readers to know?

CB. Yeah, a few things:  ‘We have wasted History like a bunch of drunks shooting dice back in the men’s crapper of the local bar.’  and……

‘There will always be something to ruin our lives, it all depends on what or which finds us first. We are always ripe and ready to be taken.’  and….

‘The difference between a democracy and a dictatorship is that in a democracy you vote first and take orders later; in a dictatorship you don’t have to waste your time voting’……. and finally,

‘I don’t like jail, they got the wrong kind of bars in there.’


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Time For More Bukowski

No matter how outrageous his life or his writings, I always feel better after I’ve read a few pages of thispoet, wisdom, Charles Bukowski genius’ poetry.  I came across a couple today that really spoke to me…when does he ever not speak to me?

this       by Charles Bukowski ©

being drunk at the typer beats being with any woman I’ve ever seen or known or heard about
Joan of Arc, Cleopatra, Garbo, Harlow M.M. or any
of the thousands that come and go on that celluloid screen
or the temporary girls I’ve seen so lovely
on park benches, on buses, at dances and parties, at
beauty contests, cafes, circuses, parades, department
stores, skeet shoots, balloon flys, author races, rodeos,
bull fights, mus wrestling, roller derbies, pie bakes,
churches, volleyball games, boat races, country fairs,
rock concerts, jails, laundromats or wherever

being drunk at this typer beats being with any woman
I’ve ever seen or

this from a woman writer     by Trisha Sugarek ©

being sober at the keyboard beats being with any man
I’ve ever seen or known or heard about
Prince Charles, Donald Trump, Alan  Rickman, Liam Neisen, Edward Norton,
Anthony Hopkins, and yes, Hank Bukowski or
any temporary men like the sailor who drugged me with a sensual
world with no rules, the marine who I spent half my life with, the construction
man on the streets of NYC whose eyes
had a minute affaire with mine,
gone in an instant with much regret on
both our parts more »

The Dark Days of…Poetry

Time for a bit of Bukowski and yours truly!

how is your heart? Charles Bukowski ©poet, wisdom, Charles Bukowski

during my worst times
on the park benches
in the jails
or living with
I always had this certain
I wouldn’t call it
it was more of an inner
that settled for
whatever was occurring
and it helped in the
and when relationships
went wrong
with the

it helped
through the
wars and the
the backalley fights

to awaken in a cheap room
in a strange city and
pull up the shade–
this was the craziest kind of
and to walk across the floor more »

Time to Take a Breath…Time For a Little Poetry

crazy ladyWhat a week!  Wrangling with a small so-called, publisher and their poorly written contract, (which I turned down). Writers! Beware of scam artists that call themselves publishers!  A week of being in the clutches of an editor (just kidding…it’s a wonderful experience, writers, you should try it) and trying to survive record-breaking summer temps in Savannah.

I said to a friend, just today, (when she said she was taking a few days off but would continue to work from her mobile.)  ‘BALANCE’,  turn your phone off. more »