Saturday, December 26, 2009

Cats Creep the Fire To Art

In his latest book of collected poems Cats Creep the Fire to Art (World Audience Publishers, New York, 2008), Mathew Ward has strummed a personal note on various aspects of human life ranging from religion, art, and history to death, depression, women, and self. And there is a separate section Australia that shows glimpses of life in Australia as the author has experienced, especially in his younger years.

Ward’s mode remains nearly the same throughout the six sections of the book, having a feel of a kind of detachment and distance from the scenes or situations in the poems. He does dare talk about the ‘personal’ when he writes about more personal aspects of life, like that of aging in the poem A Valediction: On Approaching Thirty in the Final Days (page 119). What he also does frequently in many of the poems is using allusions, Dickens’ Magwitch for example in the aforementioned poem, which demands a well-read reader to better grasp the message(s) in his poems. This is more the case when he writes about religion and history. To understand Ward, therefore, one has to have basic background knowledge of these subjects.

The section Australia will presumably be enjoyed better by Australian readers, those who have witnessed the ever-bright sun which Ward mentions (sometimes with repugnance) or the shore and Newcastle Show which linger in the poet’s memory. A more enjoyable section for this reviewer is Art and the Metaphysical. Here, the poems sound more musical and have a broader meaning for all readers; for example, the poems Regeneration (page 63) and Spider (page 65); and this makes the section more appealing for any creative soul as the poems’ rhythm resonates with their message(s). The poems in the section Women relate to the section’s theme very indirectly.

At quite a few places, Ward uses stylistics, like shape poetry of a few lines within in a poem, making eye-catchers. The variety of themes prevents building up of monotony and only a few poems are long enough to be divided into cantos. On the whole, Cats Creep the Fire to Art suits the taste of readers who don’t mind thinking awhile over a poem or even give the latter a second read to grasp the message(s) therein.

ISBN: 9781934209226

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Zone Tennis

Whether you are out on clay or green, playing tennis involves a lot of mental energy and control, besides physical strength and stamina. Jay P. Granat’s Zone Tennis (World Audience Publishers, New York, 2009) is a rather short but enjoyable book with valuable information, tips, and advice for tennis players – beginners especially – on developing the skills to play in the ‘zone’, i.e. a state of mind that allows playing with optimum calmness, concentration, and control. In its two divisions, the book imparts information on two main kinds of game: ‘Inner mental Game’ and ‘External Mental Game’.

The first part of the book, telling about inner mental game, concerns psychological aspects like motivation, confidence, relaxation, thinking, emotional states, optimism, and even less thought-of factors like ‘wonderful dreaming’. The author gives brief guidelines on inner psychological states and their desirable form/level for playing tennis in the zone. The second section takes practical performance on the court and gives useful advice on what to consider and how to practice important factors. Here, Dr. Granat also mentions a few top ranked tennis stars, pointing to their main strengths or qualities. Most part of the book treats single game but the end has a few important guidelines about doubles and issues like selecting the right coach and communicating with your game partner.

Zone Tennis is an enjoyable work about the psychology of tennis in particular but can also be read with interest by any sports enthusiast as Dr. Granat tells how tennis has so much common with other sports, chess, baseball, and boxing to name a few. It is certainly an important book to read for beginner tennis players or those who have been playing tennis for a while and need to get a better grip of the game’s less conspicuous nuts and bolts. Dr. Granat also shares his website and article links that will help tennis players and enthusiasts in playing and/or understanding the sport of tennis better.

ISBN: 978-0-9820540-9-3

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