Reviews

THROWN AGAIN INTO THE FRAZZLE MACHINE

RECOMMENDED by The US Review of Books

By Donna Ford, reviewer

…take this lifeboat with me through some rough seas and calm, into the streaming light on the far shore. Let me tell you a story…”

Whether in the midst of a stormy period of life or having recently passed through
such a time, you will instantly relate to what the author means by being thrown into the Frazzle Machine. Beating multiple sclerosis, breast cancer, and other health issues, Mikus remains so much more than a survivor. Taking inspiration from her full life as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend, she demonstrates how to overcome.

This collection of poignant poems resonates with the input of two halves of one skillful poet. The research biologist can be recognized by her wielding of medical knowledge and naming body parts unmentionable in polite company. The living woman pours out her experiences on behalf of readers who need support to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and move into future healing. Mikus’ sensitive words warm the reader similar to the gentle touch of a friend on the sufferer’s shoulder. Balancing the high drama inherent in hospital stays and visits is a series of poems titled “Evening Walks.” Vivid colors of the sky, trees, and glowing paths fade into evening to bring elements of peaceful closure to the often tiresome days of life.

Mikus has previously proven her skill as a poet of note by winning an Eric Hoffer award for As Easy As Breathing. Her lines of poetry are short and rhythmic, almost like a heartbeat. Punctuation is fluid to maintain the steady flow of thoughts and experiences. Repetition of key phrases is a technique used for emphasis, for example, “be loving… be joyful… be a good example.” The book is to be commended for its extensive Table of Contents and a Time Line covering events in the poet’s life between 2009 and 2014. These two organizational strategies help tie a specific poem to an actual life event.

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Review on iBooks
By Fletch62

“This beautiful book of poems touches all of my emotions. It leaves me weeping, laughing, soaring with possibilities, and speaks to me intimately. Her poetry is a beautiful gift.” 5 stars

Lifeboat Through Rough and Calm Seas
By Margot Van Sluytman

“That words honour and save lives, is a fact. That words offer us a way to navigate with all that life flings at us, is sheer beauty. The words in Margaret Dubay Mikus’s grace-filled book, Thrown Again Into the Frazzle Machine, highlight both of these tenets, and does something further. They are, as Margaret herself expresses, “a lifeboat through rough and calm seas.” And they invite us to recognize that even when, like Jonah, we are in the whale’s belly, we can weather each storm that comes.”  5 stars

Healing
By Mildred M. Heurich

“This wonderful book of poems touches me, speaks to me, knows me…. Each poem becomes a gift for my healing on all levels. Randomly opening the book and reading the poems on the nearby pages is a journey into the heart. Thank you.”  5 stars

The illness and loss of a loved one, the appreciation for nature
By Donna Casey

“Normally, I don’t understand poetry, but maybe it’s because there has been no connection for me; but Margaret’s resonates and I feel what she felt when she wrote it. The illness and loss of a loved one, the appreciation for nature, and my own battle with cancer and surgeries, the similarities are striking a chord with me. I’m finding great comfort in these poems.” 5 stars

How Long Does It Take to Find the Ground to…
By Sharon Bray, Ed.D., author of When Words Heal and A Healing Journey: Writing Through Cancer, www.writingthroughcancer.com

How long does it take to
find the ground
to wrap the mind around
another cancer diagnosis…”(p. 383)

Writing, as Margaret Dubay Mikus, shows us, is a lifeline, a refuge, a way to document one’s life and more, a way to explore and make sense of those chapters of life that force us to our knees… In Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine, Mikus bears witness to her life through her poetry–its joys, struggles, sorrows and grace–inviting the reader as witness to her remarkable journey and the healing and hope of an indefatigable human spirit. An intimate, honest and uplifting collection of poems.

“over time healing began and spread
almost inevitably. A sliver at least hopefully.” (p. 456)    4 stars

Reviewed by Roy T. James for Readers’ Favorite
www.readersfavorite.com

“Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine by Margaret Dubay Mikus is a collection of poems reflecting a rough and unhappy patch in the author’s life, a period jolted by surgeries, with the collection intended to act as a life-boat in the journey through rough seas. The collection begins with a feeling of hopelessness, “One day when I am gone, the sky will be ordinary blue and the stars will shine true,” and in between the author questions herself, “Put down the sword of self-destruction, stop stabbing myself…,” making forays into abstract notions in poems like Empress of Inertia and True Yoga, as well as reflecting on her state of abject weakness in many of the poems. As the author mentions in the beginning, the emotion she wanted to paint through these lines is one of the ‘lows’ of her life.

Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine by Margaret Dubay Mikus truly reflects all that the author planned. A sense of loss permeates through the lines of this collection, which even a few poems reflecting happier thoughts is not able to counter. Some of the poems, like Pam or Burning a Candle at Both Ends, stand apart in their beauty of words. Some others, like Err on the Side of Caution, can lead one to deeper thoughts. In short, this collection can represent many facets of the emotional trauma that the author went through, if we are to consider that each and every poem is a subtle image of the author’s volcanic state of mind.”  5 stars

Comments from Midwest Book Awards Finalist Judge
Health category

“[Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine] actually builds in strength as you learn new lessons and your writing and insights deepen. … spiritually it healed my own hysterectomy in ways I never allowed myself to explore. I am better for reading your book and will approach any future crises very differently. An honor to read!”

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FROM THE BACK COVER

“In Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine: Poems of Grace, Hope, and Healing, Margaret Dubay Mikus demonstrates to all of us the healing power of becoming a witness to your life. She uses her gifted talent of writing poetry to express how she maneuvered through the complex emotions and challenging physical conditions she faced…providing inspiration for anyone in need of hope.”
Roberta Leenhouts RN, clinical advisor & healing practitioner

“…made me cry, made me laugh…”
Crystal Simmons LMT, massage therapist

“…incredible opportunity for one to…somehow find or express the feelings they are unable to express in words…”
Kip Snyder, voice teacher

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FROM THE “INSIDE PLAP”

About Poems from Thrown Again into the Frazzle Machine:

About “Beginning a Very Long List”
“Beautiful…may very well be my favorite poem ever!”
MaryAnn Myers

About “My Own Tribute”
“I saw Pete Seeger a long time ago when he sailed into Marblehead Harbor and gave a concert – such a great man – you captured his essence so beautifully….”
Ruth Estrich

About “Sarah Horn Sings with Kristen Chenoweth”:

“I can relate to every word…Beautiful poem.”
Sarah Horn

“Every word just resonates with universal truth. This is what happens when art, creativity and a willingness to (as you eloquently say) open the heart converge.”
Marsha L. Browne

About “Portrait of Michael Smith”:

“Thank you, Margaret. I love the poem.”
Michael Smith

“Your poem is very lovely and perceptive. I’ve known Michael for over 35 years and watched him grow and mature as an artist and person. I think your poem captures that.”
Rich Warren

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LETTING GO AND NEW BEGINNINGS

Pramod Uday’s Review

“Margaret’s poems are always personal, and yet universal, in that any sensitive reader will be able to identify with the thoughts they embody. Her poetry is lyrical, but never maudlin, as there is always an admirable lack of inner resistance to the very vicissitudes of her life that became the germs of all her memorable lines.

I still remember reading her poetry for the first time on my way to the Himalayas. I was instantly struck by her sincerity, the meticulous pruning of her diction to make sure her vocabulary reflected the degree and subtle nuances of the feelings she wanted to convey.

This particular anthology focuses on letting go of your children “when their hours are no longer woven into the fabric of your days”. As a reader, I had mostly shied away from poetry, as I thought I lacked the kind of patience required to fully savour and appreciate each condensed, pithy line of poetry. Reading this book, I was pleasantly surprised to discover that poetry can be concise and still be elaborate as prose: “…. you will continue to build. What kind of house, how simple, / how elaborate, none can say – / and only one has the say, / however influenced by opinions, / even vehement.…”(From And So You Are Ready).

The poet not just gives voice to feelings that are often repressed, but sincerely seeks to heal: “Why is time / to be filled to overflowing, / no space for thought or breathing, / like a competition to be won?” (From Thinking of the One Who Left). In the process, she not only experiences spiritual catharsis, but also the invaluable peace that is engendered by it: “Experiencing this one expansive moment. / Not remembering the past / or planning the future, / but sitting, breathing / still and open, actively receiving, / blessed in a shower of abundance.” (From Paradox). Above all, this is a labour of love from a simple and loving mother, adorned with words from the heart and simple photographs that complement the words beautifully: “Swallow, breathe, / rebuild / this time from cell-bricks / of purest love, / tempered in the oven / of life as it plays out” (From Melting).

I highly recommend this book not just to any parent who is at a point where they have to let go of their children, but also to all sensitive readers who are working on letting go in any way.”

Pramod Uday.
India, 12 Mar, 2011.

Review by Karen Gottlieb

“It’s the story of loving and letting go, the bittersweet feeling all parents feel, all people feel when our cherished ones start to move on. I found the poems to be beautiful and timely–mirroring the transition I find myself in now–letting go, new beginnings. I also love how the imagery of the photographs expresses and complements the intentions of the poems.”

Review by Lena Dobbs-Johnson

“I finally got a chance to finish reading your book, ‘Letting Go and New Beginnings.’ I must say, ‘wow!’ well done. I found it very reflective and takes some of us back on our own journey, yet inspirational for those about to embark on the journey. There was a section ‘to my daughter’ that I clipped for my daughter to read. I also found myself laughing out loud as I read some parts. Well done!”

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AS EASY AS BREATHING

5 star review by Peggy Balensuela

“I’ve had “As Easy as Breathing… ” on my shelf – in my hands, in my heart – since 2009 when I first purchased this book here on Amazon. As a two-time survivor of breast cancer (1996, 2007) and a survivor of another challenging illness, I continue to return to Dubay Mikus’ book time and time again; it remains among my other renewal go-to’s by authors such as Joan Chittister, Polly Behrends (Coming to Life), Melody Beattie (The Grief Club), etc.

Like them, and other wisdom books, the poems in “As Easy as Breathing” seem to “morph” as time passes – I can find something brand new every time I pick up the book. The poems reach down, touch, and soften those deep dark places we experience as patients and survivors; but also share those ridiculous, somewhat macabre moments only “we” know. However…it’s not only for survivors/patients of breast cancer, but stands on its own as a literary anthology of fine poetry. Highly recommend!”  On Amazon.com

The US Review of Books

“As Easy as Breathing, Margaret Dubay Mikus, iUniverse – Dr. Mikus shares her intimate story of recovery from breast cancer in her own unique way. With a background as a research scientist and teacher, she connects body, mind, and spirit through her creative use of language. Profoundly expressing her thoughts and emotions while contemplating and recovering from surgery and ongoing treatments, the author searches for meaning and healing in life’s everyday moments. Unafraid to give voice to her pain, disappointments, doubts and fears, she nevertheless remains trustingly receptive and hopeful. Dr. Mikus’ book inspires and uplifts through her sensitive, honest and accessible poetry, inner dialogues with Spirit, and letters to her healing circle on her return to wellness.”

The US Review of Books: The Eric Hoffer Award  (Copyright © 2010)

Review by Pramod Uday

“Let me begin by telling you that I really love the title. On many occasions, when I was upset or worried, just looking at this book sitting neatly on my reading table brought me just enough relief to “point me downstream”. I feel Margaret heals more through this work than her any other anthology.

Writing in her open, sensitive and yet detached vein as always, the poet impresses on the reader the need to get unstuck and flow with life. What one cannot but marvel at is how her poems create both the impression of having flowed smoothly through a wide conduit of inspiration and yet seem to have been subjected to the meticulous chisel of a finicky craftsmen. One can sense this palpable tension of sorts quite clearly, for example, in the piece entitled To Dance is To Be, where you find a very dynamic and lively snapshot of gracious dance movements. Let me be clear here – this conflict only adds to the merit of the poems as it provides another glimpse into Margaret’s loving care for words.

The poems address a wide variety of topics ranging from healing to allowing, filial love to finding your purpose and much more.

I highly recommend this book. However, if you want to completely relish the sweetness of Margaret’s poetry, I really think you should listen to them in her own voice as found on the CD Full Blooming, which is a reading of selected poems from the book. The enchanting quality of Margaret’s voice is so full of that rare elusive quality, what one might dub muliebrity. Margaret’s poetry itself is autobiographical. But when you listen to them in her own voice, the full sincerity and warmth of her words easily seep into the cockles of your heart.  Suffice it to say that listening to this CD is like a deep relaxing session of meditation. You will find that your fatigue and stress has been removed and that your soul has been nourished and replenished from within.”

Pramod Uday.
Spiritual being, teacher and speaker from India
http://pramod.podomatic.com
April 16, 2011

Wellness and Writing Connections newsletter, September, 2011

“As Easy as Breathing: Reclaiming Power for Healing and Transformation by Margaret Dubay Mikus is a collection of mostly poetry, a few letters (really emails), and some dialogues she calls “inner listening” that trace her personal experience of being diagnosed with cancer and the aftermath, including surgery, radiation and, naturally, her survival.

The poems are especially personal, often poignant, and the emails to her friends and family express a gratitude and optimism one hopes would be universal in all people facing a frightening diagnosis. There are also poems in which she expresses frustration, fear, and anxiety about the situation, as lost as anyone would be. She makes choices. She listens to herself. She confides with an unbending candor all the spectrum of emotions one would expect to find.

The author also offers a cd, Full Blooming: Selections from a Poetic Journal on which she recites many of the poems from her book and shares some of her personal healing chants in a voice that is delicate, soft, and pleasant to hear. There are some poems on the cd that are not found in the book, that take her life’s journey on slight detours and beyond the book’s conclusion.

The book itself ends with the fifth anniversary of her diagnosis, which anyone who’s had cancer knows is a tremendous milestone. The theme of music, of finding one’s voice, and sharing a song threads itself in and out of the verses Mikus puts on the page. Together with the cd, Mikus shares an honesty and faith that are inspiring.

Read more about Margaret Dubay Mikus and her work on her website, (http://fullblooming.com/).”

http://www.wellnessandwritingconnections.com/newsletter_main.html

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