Edited by Amy Newmark
This book speaks for itself through the title. It’s one in a series of many anthologies of true, uplifting stories produced by Chicken Soup for the Soul. Here, cat lovers share all kinds of stories about their feline companions: rescued cats who thrive and become part of a family, cats who save people’s lives, and cats who alter negative behavior and comfort the dying. A quotation about cats precedes each story, and there are plenty of pictures.
I enjoyed reading of the antics of many cats in this book. According to the introduction, those reading it are encouraged to adopt a cat. I hope these stories inspire others to adopt cats, but I’m not one who will do so, at least not now.
Although I love cats and have many pleasant memories of the ones in our family when I was growing up, after six years of caring for my late husband, who was paralyzed by two strokes, I’m still not ready to care for another living thing. I realize a cat wouldn’t require as much maintenance and the reward would be worth it, but that doesn’t make the responsibility any less daunting. Maybe someday I’ll be ready. Meanwhile, I’ll socialize with cats when given the rare opportunity and continue to read books about them such as this one.
The following poem was published in Mingled Voices 3, an anthology produced by Proverse Poetry of Hong Kong. Several years ago, I took a correspondence poetry course from the Hadley Institute, and one of the exercises inspired me to write it. The prompt was to write about something unusual. You can click on the Play button below the poem to hear me read it.
After midnight, I seek the scoundrel
who broke into an elderly man’s home,
shot him point blank in his bed.
I sense the perp’s nearness,
sneak into an alley,
spot him against a dumpster,
approach from behind,
yowl, nip his ankles,
as a police car appears.
The startled suspect is apprehended.
After shoving the handcuffed crook into the back of the patrol car,
an officer turns, bends, strokes me.
I purr, rub against his ankle,
then slink away, my night’s work done.
By the way, if you like cats, stay tuned. On Thursday, I’ll review a book about cats who do ordinary, remarkable, and unbelievable things.
In celebration of National Poetry Month, I’m reviewing two collections by one of my favorite poets, Billy Collins. . Some of you may remember that I reviewed The Rain in Portugal last year, but I’ve since read it again, and it’s worth a second look.
Aimless Love: A Selection of Poems
The poems in this collection provide slice-of-life and often humorous reflections on such topics as nature, religion, and other poets. In “The Revenant,” a deceased dog talks to his owner from the grave. In “The Lanyard,” the author describes how he made a lanyard for his mother, who did a lot more for him. In “Suggestion Box,” he considers writing a poem about all the people who give him poem ideas. The title poem is about unconditional love. Some poems here are previously published while others are new.
If you’re a poet, Billy Collins might inspire you. After reading “The Revenant,” I wrote a poem in which one of our cats speaks to my father from her grave. “Istanbul,” in which the poet shares his experience with a Turkish bath, inspired me to write about a similar experience I had in a California spa run by Koreans. Even if you’re not a fan of poetry, you might enjoy Billy Collins’ work, since most of it reads more like prose, although it looks like poetry on the page.
The Rain in Portugal: Poems
In the author’s usual humorous style, poems in this collection reflect on jazz, writing poetry, and other subjects. In “Lucky Cat,” Collins suggests betting with other humans on the actions of felines. In “Only Child,” he longs for a sister to help care for his aging parents. In “The Bard in Flight,” he imagines what Shakespeare would do on an airplane. The collection’s title comes from the poem “On Rhyme,” in which he reflects on such common sayings as “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”
I heard about this latest collection when he appeared on A Prairie Home Companion. . Of course he read a few of his poems, and I was hooked. Needless to say, I downloaded the book and spent a delightful evening reading the poems aloud to myself.
According to an author’s note at the beginning, the electronic version of this book is designed so that formatting isn’t affected when the font size of the type is changed. Words at the ends of lines that are moved down when text is enlarged are indented to indicate they’re part of the same line. This didn’t make any difference to me, since I read the book in Braille, but I’m glad those with low vision can enjoy the poems the way they were written. These poems are meant to be recited, preferably by
Billy Collins, but I enjoyed reading them aloud.
Abbie Johnson Taylor
We Shall Overcome
How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver
That’s Life: New and Selected Poems
My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds
Like Me on Facebook.
by Billy Collins
In the author’s usual humorous style, poems in this collection reflect on jazz, nature, writing poetry, and other subjects. In “Lucky Cat,” Collins suggests betting with other humans on the actions of felines. In “Only Child,” he longs for a sister to help care for his aging parents. In “The Bard in Flight,” he imagines what Shakespeare would do on an airplane. The collection’s title comes from the poem “On Rhyme,” in which he reflects on such common sayings as “The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.”
Billy Collins is one of my favorite poets. I heard about his latest collection when he appeared live yesterday on A Prairie Home Companion. Of course he read a few of his poems, and I was hooked. Needless to say, I downloaded the book and spent last night reading the poems aloud to myself.
According to an author’s note at the beginning, the electronic version of this book is designed so that formatting isn’t affected when the font size of the type is changed. Words at the ends of lines that are moved down when text is enlarged are indented to indicate they’re part of the same line. This didn’t make any difference to me, since I read the book in Braille, but I’m glad those with low vision who read with their eyes can enjoy the poems the way they were written. These poems are meant to be recited, preferably by Billy Collins, but I enjoyed reading them aloud and hope you will too.
Today’s poem was inspired by the video prompt at http://wapoetlaureate.org/2015/04/16/poetry-for-all-prompt-3/ . Click on the Dropbox link below the poem to hear me read it.
SATISFACTION LIKE A SATED CAT
She lies with you on the bed,, content,
purrs as you stroke her head, shoulders back,
rub her tummy, enjoy her fur’s softness,
press your cheek against her.
You have no regrets, no desires,
no need to apologize or forgive.
Let her warmth and love surround you,
as the day draws to a close.
You’re a recovering drug addict, subsisting on whatever money you can make playing your guitar and singing on the streets of London. Then one day, you meet a ginger cat who changes your life. Such is the case of James Bowen, the author of A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob. These two books tell the story of how this stray cat positively influenced the author’s life.
In A Street Cat Named Bob, Bowen discusses how he took Bob in after the cat kept hanging around his flat and how they developed a relationship. Because Bob was a stray, Bowen didn’t think he would stay with him, but it’s said that cats choose their owners, and this turned out to be the case with Bob and Bowen. The author talks about how he became estranged from his parents and moved to England from Australia to pursue a career in music. He then explains how he became addicted to drugs and shares his experiences on the streets after finding Bob, how he took the cat with him everywhere and how Bob’s presence caused more people to pay attention to him and earned him more money. Eventually, because of police harassment, he was forced to give up busking and start selling editions of a local magazine called The Big Issue.
In The World According to Bob, Bowen recounts further adventures with his cat on the streets. He also touches a little more on his life growing up in Australia, how he was hospitalized frequently as a child with a variety of psychiatric disorders. After a couple of years on the streets with Bob, he was discovered by the media, and he explains how he wrote his first book and how its publication got him off the streets, improved his relationships with his family, and changed attitudes toward the homeless.
According to Wikipedia, James Bowen was born on March 15th, 1979 in Surrey, England. After his parents were divorced, he moved to Australia with his mother and stepfather. His home life was tense, and because the family frequently moved, he was unsettled at school. Continually bullied, he began sniffing glue and was eventually diagnosed with ADHD, schizophrenia, and manic depression.
In 1997, he moved to London, and after living with his half-sister for a while, he spent the next ten years sleeping either on the streets or in shelters. He started using heroine to escape the reality of being homeless. In the spring of 2007, he entered a drug treatment program while busking at Covent Garden and living in sheltered accommodation in Tottenham. This was when he met Bob, and if you read his two international bestsellers, written with the help of author Garry Jenkins, you’ll know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say. To learn more about James Bowen, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James-_Bowen_(author)#Early_life . You can also read a newspaper article and view photos of the author and his cat at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227639/James-Bowen-Best-selling-true-story-busker-got-life-track-thanks-stray-cat-film.html .
James Bowen’s style of writing drew me into his world. I laughed at Bob’s habit of hiding in unexpected places and his delight in playing with aluminum wrappers and other items. Of course these are traits any cat would have. I found myself getting angry at people who confronted Bowen because they thought he was mistreating Bob and an apartment complex manager who complained that Bowen’s guitar playing and singing at two in the afternoon was keeping her tenants awake. I agree that Bowen probably should have gotten a proper job, and of course he shouldn’t have been using drugs in the first place, but given the circumstances, he didn’t know better and didn’t have the self-esteem to consider a career other than busking and selling magazines. These books would appeal to cat lovers, but I also hope young people around the world will read them and think twice before turning to drugs.