Poet uses print on demand to publish her poetry and raise funds for UNICEF.
Thanks to author Paul Lima for inviting me to write a special guest post on his blog.
There is a special GIFT (which you have to wait to open until Thursday June 21, sorry :) for all interested readers of my poetry and this blog, if you read all the way to the end!
It’s been a long journey to this day, and I want to thank you readers first and foremost for helping get Where the Butterflies Go to here.
Where the Butterflies Go is finally out on Kindle! I’m also thrilled to announce that I’ve decided to put it in the Kindle Select program, so for 90 days, it will be part of Kindle’s unique lending library. Readers with an Amazon Prime membership can now choose from thousands of books to borrow for free once a month, including Where the Butterflies Go!, with no due dates. For more info, click here.
Even if you don’t have a Prime membership, I’ve kept Where the Butterflies a low $4.99 US, with hopes that more downloads will mean more proceeds that I can give to Unicef’s Gift of Education program, and other children’s charities that promote education, such as Hearts for Change.
I’m still convinced that giving half the proceeds from sales of this book and of LEAP to help educate children who wouldn’t otherwise get educations is the single best thing I can do with my words and images.
So, here we go! Let’s see if a few Kindle clicks can help change our world for the better. Sure doesn’t hurt to try. Let’s Leap!
Thanks for reading my friends.
Look what arrived in the mail yesterday–the certificate for the latest Gift of Education donation I made on behalf of readers of Where the Butterflies Go and Leap. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and wishes for a 2011 filled with love, laughter and good surprises for all my other readers. Thanks so much to those of you who have bought my books–you’ve just helped make an entire school of young children happy.
May I ask one more thing of you? My latest poem, “Words,” with themes of anti cyber-bullying and anti gay-bashing, is, to my surprise, taking on a life of its own–over 50 comments, and readers are posting it on their own blogs, Facebooks, and even tweeting about it. I’m thrilled, because you never know who it might be able to help–and with the holidays here and so many kids off school, I’m sure cyber-bullying will be at its height. So, please do continue to pass it on (just link back to here okay? ) Thanks again for reading.
I have found a second home here in the blogosphere, with too many benefits to mention.
I started my blog a little over two years ago, but I didn’t get really involved with the blogging community until my book Leap came out in February 2010. I had posted a few of the poems from my 2008 collection Where the Butterflies Go, but I hadn’t tried a poetry rally yet, or done an interview with any other blogger. I hadn’t hung out with you guys yet. Now I have, and I’m hooked. Plus, I’ve had people from 84 different countries visit me in the last three weeks (actual page-view visits of more than five minutes)–how cool is that?
Getting feedback on my work, reading your lovely comments about my poems and photos, checking out your posts–that would be enough for me to keep doing this forever, but wait, there’s more.
Publishers have found me through my blog and bought the rights to my photographs and poems. Young writers have found me through my blog and asked for some advice. It’s very rewarding to be able to help them out as best I can, and I’m looking forward to watching their careers unfold.
I’ve sold more books thanks to my blogging than I have at any public reading (a lot of swapping, not buying, goes on at readings) and best of all, through sales of both books, I’ve been able to donate to Unicef’s Gift of Education project three times. That’s three children who have received an education they may not have otherwise received, thanks to you readers!
Today, as a Christmas gift to thank you for visiting, commenting, giving me special awards, buying my books, and for your friendship, I’ve donated to Unicef (Canada) again. The $18 just bought 900 pencils for an entire school. Can you believe how much just $18 can do? Please do look at the Unicef link if you still have hard-to-shop-for people on your list.
My hopes for my 2011 blogging year? New friends, new projects, and more book sales so I have can get a fourth ($75) education for a child in need–or, perhaps–and this is a big reach but it’s a dream–a $500 water pump for an entire community.
I said it in 2009 to some most excellent friends (who later got me a t shirt saying I can’t rap), and I’ll say it again: I’ll be the very model of a modern networked blogger, yo!
This is about the only time I’d ever say that–as the author of a book titled, ‘Leap,’ I’d say I’m a pretty big fan of jumping in and going for it. But “Don’t Leap!” is definitely the appropriate title for the latest entry in my “By Leaps and Bounds” Photo Contest. This photo was taken by Tony Jurado on May 6, 2010, from the observation deck on the 86th floor of the Empire State Building in New York City, NY, USA. You can vote for this and other photos in the contest on my Facebook Author Page, and enter your own photo by following the rules in my previous blog post “By Leaps and Bounds Photo Contest”. Keep on leaping, everyone–I can’t wait to see what else you come up with for this contest!
‘Leap’ reader Kimberly Jurado writes: “Sitting at the kitchen table, babying my cold, I leapt for my camera, and made a photo op out of the situation. I titled this photo, “Chicken Soup for the Poetry Lover’s Soul.” Your readers may also know this as Chicken Soup for the “Poultry” Lover’s Soul!”
Thanks for this second entry to my ‘By Leaps and Bounds Photo Contest,’ Kimberly! Please go vote for this photo on my Facebook Author Page
Want to enter? Read this blog entry here for all the rules: By Leaps and Bounds Photo Contest
Photo Kimberly Jurado, April 30, 2010.
Thank you, dear readers. Through sales of ‘Leap‘ in March 2010 alone (its first month out there in the world), I was able to donate to Unicef’s Gift of Education program, and we sent another child to school. But so much more could be accomplished, and it doesn’t take much. Please share with others your love of the books “Where the Butterflies Go” and “Leap.” Together, let’s send many more children to school. As my daughter said when she first started walking: Go, Go, Go!
Best wishes always, Heather
I just realized I’ve never posted a review of my poetry collection here on my blog.
It’s been almost a year since its release, and thanks to your kind interest, I’m very close to being able to make a third donation to third-world educational projects. What a thrill to have exceeded my goal like this. Once a few more books are sold, I will donate to Unicef’s Gift of Education fund for the second time. So please consider the book as a possible Valentine’s or Mother’s Day gift, and tell your love or your Mom that half the proceeds go to helping a child get an education they otherwise may never receive. I am happy to ship autographed copies if you contact me, just drop me a comment here so I know you’re interested.
UK poet Tom Phillips kindly took some time to review my collection when it was first launched. I would like to once again thank Tom, Tony Lewis-Jones, Kathryn McL. Collins, Sally Evans and everyone else who has dropped by and reviewed my book on the Lulu web site for taking the time to make such thoughtful critiques. What a year it’s been!
Where the Butterflies Go by Heather Grace Stewart
* * * * * * 6/6 stars
by Tom Phillips
Arranged under three broad headings – ‘Pain’, ‘Growth’, ‘Family’ – Heather Grace Stewart’s Where The Butterflies Go gets at the nub of what it means to try and live in a world which appears to be passing by at an ever more astonishing speed and where what’s pumped out through TV and computer screens seems startlingly at odds with both the realities of ordinary, day-to-day existence and our more humane impulses and aspirations. It is a book of illusion, disillusion and, as it were, re-illusion, an acknowledgment of loss and the discovery of fragile compensations. The great risk for poetry like this, of course, is that it can come across as rather naïve, the losses too easily overcome, the compensations too easily found. That’s certainly not the case here. Thanks to an exhilarating directness and a worked-for simplicity of language, not to mention a nicely self-deprecating sense of humour on occasion, this is a book full of sharply drawn images, honest poignancy and frank admissions.
Take ‘Golden Dreams’, with its refrain of ‘Durango gold, Durango gold’ alluding to the Colorado gold rush and, by implication, the consumerist dream. Here, on a home-improvements shopping trip, Grace Stewart is overwhelmed by a different sort of ‘rush’, one of harsher realities: “We choose ceramic tiles/content,/while war rages/over the ocean,” she writes, with a telling nod at childhood song (“My bonny lies over the ocean”, too), before admitting, with an almost brutal honesty: “We care, but still go about our lives.” Only, of course, she’s not letting herself off that lightly – there’s homelessness, a government dedicated to preserving the status quo… By the end all that’s left, it seems, are “dark clouds/across this Canadian sky”.
The causes of such disillusion seem legion. There are poems here about the 1989 Montreal massacre (when fourteen women were gunned down at the Ecole Polytechnique), child-soldiers in Sierra Leone, disenfranchised women in Iraq, 9/11, beggars, poverty, domestic violence, divorcing couples, and a child mown down by a speeding driver. In the ‘Pain’ section of the book in particular, it seems a bleak, broken and violent world where the only option appears to be to “forget about/the fragile parts/and go on surviving”.
Grace Stewart, though, doesn’t forget those “fragile parts” – love, empathy, hope – and refinding them occupies the remainder of the book. In many ways, this is about celebrating simple, mostly domestic pleasures – the sight of bulbs in the garden coming into flower, the “butterfly kisses” of an unborn child in the womb, that child’s first steps, an embrace, “the shelter of my lover’s arms”, “the melting days” at the end of winter – but always with a persistent sense of their fragility and a refreshing down-to-earthness which locates these moments in the context of dirty washing, internet pop-ups, torn umbrellas and other irritations which “just won’t matter/100 years from now”.
In ‘My love picks me plums’, for instance, she accepts “bushels and bushels of dark juicy fruit” from her husband on her first anniversary, only to remember to “file this moment away in my mind/for some day when, in heated argument/I wish to throw plums at him”, while in ‘Forecast’, the hope she finds “hanging in the air” after a storm is simultaneously “just within my reach;/just outside our window”. Such ambiguity gives these poems their strength because ultimately these are restorative acts, finding and preserving moments of tantalising hope, sifting what really matters from what doesn’t and holding on. (Tom Phillips)
The greatest lesson I learned this year was that I don’t need great power or money to make a difference in the world. I can use my talents to help others. I got a much greater reward than any award or sum of money simply by learning how children in the third world have benefited from the donations I’ve been able to offer Unicef and Grace Educational Trust School.
Thanks to your interest in my poetry collection, I’ve surpassed my goal of being able to give a child in the third world the Gift of Education for a year. In addition to that Gift, I recently donated money from the proceeds of my book sales to buy bed nets to help children avoid malaria, and just bought a child the Gift of Play. A lot of children have never seen art supplies or a jump rope. Shouldn’t every child in this world know what it is to create and to play?
Earlier this year, thanks to an interview I did with Neelima Pratap for one of my magazine articles, I discovered a wonderful school in Goa, India that is in its beginning stages and needs financial help so the children can have supplies, desks (they currently sit on the soil to study) and a larger room to serve as their classroom. After I donated to Unicef, I was able to donate proceeds from WTBG to Grace Educational Trust School to help them out a bit with the construction costs for the chairs and desks. I hope with Christmas sales and throughout 2009 I can continue to donate to both Unicef and Grace Educational Trust School.
I am still committed to donating half the proceeds from sales of Where the Butterflies Go to third world educational projects, even though I initially said I’d just try to fund one child’s education for a year. I didn’t want to stop at that once I realized how many lives could be touched with the small donation each book sale offers. I want to keep going, and I hope you’ll help me by buying the book for Christmas gifts this year; Mother’s Day gifts next year, or just for yourself. That’s all I want for Christmas!
People of all ages and backgrounds enjoy my poems – there really is something in this collection for everyone, so it makes a great gift for that person who seems to have everything. You can read the reviews here: Reviews of Heather’s poetry collection. This is also the spot where I’d prefer you buy the book, as Amazon takes a heftier royalty, leaving less for me to donate to Unicef. Just a request :-)
Autographed copies are available by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can ship the signed book to you once I receive payment via Paypal. Unsigned copies are easily bought via lulu.com as well as amazon sites internationally.
It’s been such a joy to receive notices from Grace School updating me on the school’s progress. Recently, the school’s small staff organized a Children’s Day at the school. The children had never seen party hats or favours before, and were so excited to receive the simplest things most of us take for granted, like pencils and erasers.
Pencils and erasers. I’ve learned through my involvement with Unicef and Grace Educational Trust School this year that the simplest, most seemingly insignificant gifts can give children in third world countries a sense of well-being, self-worth and pride. Those are the gifts I can’t wait to give this Christmas.
Order unsigned copies of my book here and receive them in time for Christmas: Where the Butterflies Go
Signed copies ordered through me before Dec. 15 should also make it in time for the 25th!
Learn more about Grace Educational Trust School through a CBC special here Giving Hope).
Gifts of Magic are a great stocking stuffer idea – see more about Unicef’s Gifts of Magic here).