Thursday, April 2, 2020

Book Blog Tour and Giveaway: Violence/Joy/Chaos by Jane Marshall Fleming

VIOLENCE / JOY / CHAOS
by
Jane Marshall Fleming

Genre: Essays / Poems
Publisher: Rhythm & Bones Press
On Twitter
Date of Publication: April 1, 2020
Number of Pages: 154

Scroll down for the giveaway!
This debut full-length hybrid collection of essays and poetry explores the moments of joy and chaotic hilarity that mingle with the experiences of trauma and trauma recovery.

Jane Marshall Fleming writes with boldness and shows the beauty in every moment amidst violent chaos, embracing joy just as much as darkness. Moving from a backdrop of a small Virginia town and eventually finding herself in the freedom and wilderness of the desert, readers will follow the author on her journey mapping her skin, sharing in her joys, grief, pain, loss, discovering love and self-growth, night-blooming like a desert flower.
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 Rhythm & Bones Press ┃  
When I was sixteen, I shredded six pounds of paper in one night.

Maybe those slashed and burned squares of skeletal tree limbs that we passed by on the highway between Virginia and North Carolina were partially my fault. Maybe I should have listened to them.

My mother had been “cleaning” that day.

Cleaning around and underneath my bed, inside of a cardboard box I had stashed away. When I came home from school, I found her in the dining room thin-lipped, letting out a curt, “hello” and “how was your day?”

I walked back to my bedroom, put my backpack on my bed and waited for a soft knocking at my door—

My mother is a painter. Watercolors and acrylics, mostly, but she could also make beautiful clay sculptures. My favorite was the bust of a mermaid that she never painted. The clay was burnt sienna, raw and canyonesque. The mermaid’s lips were full, set into a coy half smile, each flap concealing secrets. Her hair flowed to her shoulders adorned with all manner of starfish and seashells. She looked confident, radiant. Just like my mother.

When I was young, my mother and I spent a lot of our time in hospitals, I think, with nebulizer masks on my face and oxygen monitors on my fingers. She pretended to sleep in black and tan plastic chairs with just enough room for her backside, but she would still find it in her to lean forward and rub my back as I cried.

My mother sang Edwin McCain and Squeeze when she thought my siblings and I weren’t listening. I remembered the songs by osmosis and sang them back to her as an adult. She cried. My mother loves to mother me—to give me medicine and water and something to eat. She wants to hold me close, she wants to make me better. She wants to apologize for things she could not help. Or just pretended not to see.

My mother cried when we stopped calling her “Mommy.”

But there is a thin line between love and violence and this day she was a bee, hovering over the flower that was me. The flower whose petals had shriveled to expose its stems and shrink away from the summer heat and she was going to get honey from me.

She crept into my room and recited one of my poems to me, asking whether my life was as bad as I made it seem. I wanted to wash the words out of her mouth with soap. Bubbly, foaming. I wanted them to be mine again. Not hers. They aren’t hers. I could feel my mouth open, but the words were stuck in my throat.

We stared at each other in silence, a furnace behind our eyes. Finally, she turned on her heels and strode out of the room, leaving my door open. I slammed it shut and locked it, violently pulling every notebook that I could find out from their hiding spots. There must have been twenty, filled with stories, poems, musings. I shredded them all—tearing each page free with a satisfying shhhhrruuck and then cutting it until the words could no longer be read. I tore and tore and tore.

My paper, my skin. I sobbed, feeling my face turn hot and puffy, a dried-out frog, bound by destruction, bound by dense fog.

“What are you doing?” my brother said from behind the door, the lock he had picked with a hand-spun key.

“I…mom…has been reading…”

“Jane—”

“She can’t—”

He shushed me. “Stop. Please. You don’t want to do this. Hold on, I’ll be back.”

I collapsed over the pile of paper shards. Empty in my nest of notebooks and tea. My chest heaved, shoving the knot that had formed in my breastplate upward. My brother returned five minutes later with a small coffin of cardboard. When he began stuffing the remains of my writing into it, shred by shred, I didn’t protest.

“Here,” he said as he handed me a piece of toilet paper.

I blew my nose and dried my eyes. He finished packing the box and then taped it shut. I followed him into the hallway and watched him pull down the attic stairs.

“We are just going to store these here until you are ready.” Then he shoved the box upwards into the air.

I was never ready. I never got the words back. I never pulled them into my skull again and owned them like I wanted. But the rage stayed. It burst forward through every limb and steeled my hand from writing until I no longer felt flayed open. But we can’t stuff words back into mouths and make them true or

     make them mean something else to the people

who love you. Because there is a thin line between love and hate

     and i hated what she had done to the

box of poems, stuffed in an attic

buried behind Mickey and Minnie and Blue.
Bourdeau Photo
Jane Marshall Fleming is an author and artist living in Austin, Texas. She currently works as an assistant instructor at the University of Texas at Austin and is also the author of the chapbook, Ocotillo Worship (Apep Publications, 2019). Violence/Joy/Chaos is her first full length collection.

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GIVEAWAY:
Win a signed copy of Violence/Joy/Chaos by Jane Marshall Fleming - two winners!
March 31-April 10, 2020
VISIT THE OTHER GREAT BLOGS ON THE TOUR:
3/31/20
Guest Post
3/31/20
BONUS Post
4/1/20
Review
4/2/20
Excerpt
4/3/20
Review
4/4/20
Top Five List
4/5/20
Collages
4/6/20
Review
4/7/20
Author Interview
4/8/20
Playlist
4/9/20
Review

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