Interview Geza Tatrallyay Cello’s Tears

High Res Front Cover.Cello's Tears

1. How did you come up with the title for your book?                                            Cello’s Tears is an image I use in one of the poems in the collection. The cello for me is the most evocative instrument, one that when playing a melancholic tune seems to be crying. The notes the cello produces are like tears.
2. What kind of reader were you as a child? And what were your favorite childhood books?
I was a voracious reader. I loved authors such as Jules Verne (Around the World in 80 Days), Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers), Baroness Orczy (Scarlet Pimpernel), James Fenimore Cooper (The Last of the Mohicans), Rudyard Kipling (The Jungle Book), Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe). As a young child, I read a lot of Hungarian classics in the original; Hungarian literature is fabulously rich, with only some of it available in translation.

3. What are your current projects?
I am trying to get a trilogy of memoirs based on Cold War escapes I was involved in published. Two of these are completed and the third one still requires a lot of work. I am also working on a thriller that involves a coup d’etat in France; a first draft of this is three-quarters done. As well, another thriller―the second in a trilogy the first of which is currently being published―is in the works. I also might rework ARCTIC MELTDOWN, the e-thriller I published electronically in 2011 since much of what I envisaged in that novel is playing out today. When inspired, I also write poetry and will eventually put these together in a collection.

4. What was the last truly great book you read?
The Swerve: How the World Became Modern by Stephen Greenblatt. It teaches and at the same time thrills. It is history, literature and thriller all rolled into one. It talks about the rediscovery of one of the great epic poems of antiquity, Lucretius’ De Rerum Naturae, in the early Renaissance and how that influenced modern thought thereafter.

5. The last book that made you cry?
Thomas Snyder’s Badlands: Europe between Hitler and Stalin. It truly brings home the brutality that the peoples of the countries between Germany and Russia suffered under those two dictators.

6. List five words that you feel best describes your book.
Multi-cultural, translations, experimental, musical, pictorial.

7. If you could only bring three books to a desert island, which would you choose?
Goethe’s Faust, Lucretius’ On the Nature of Things, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (to get some tips)

8. Who is your favorite novelist of all time? Your favorite novelist writing today?
Graham Greene, Philip Kerr. Greene writes wonderfully, creating rich characters, dripping with suspense, evoking time and place. I love the thriller genre, particularly literary thrillers like Greene’s The Third Man. It is also my very favorite movie. Philip Kerr’s books are based on extensive research, and are a fun read with lots of intrigue; his detective character, Bernie Gunther, is brilliant. again, he evokes time and place so well that you are transported.

9. What are your literary guilty pleasures? Do you have a favorite genre?
I love thrillers, historical fiction and well-written history. Poems. Some erotica.

10. Which book might we be surprised to find on your bookshelves?
The Onion Book of Known Knowledge. I don’t know how it appeared on my shelf, but this book spoofs facts and knowledge – sort of like Monty Python or Saturday Night Live. I think it is a rare book; I haven’t seen it anywhere else.

11. What were the most influential books you read as a student?
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species; Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness; Karl Popper, The Open Society and its Enemies; James Joyce, Ulysses; D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterly’s Lover

12. Who or what has influenced the writing?
Some poems are influenced by the time I spent in different countries―Japan, Canada, Germany, France Hungary, USA etc. Artists such as Henry Moore, John Turner, Michelangelo, my good friend Jeremy Smith among others, musicians such as Mahler, Ravel and Schubert to name just a few, and other poets such as Bassho, Goethe and Nelligan (a French Canadian poet) have all been influencers.

13. If you could require the president to read one book, what would it be?
Arctic Meltdown (my e-thriller)―not because of the writing, but because it addresses a critical issue and is a fun read at the same time (also selfishly, beacuse if he read it and piad attention, others might as well.)

14. What kind of books do you like to read before bed?
Thrillers. Books that provide excitement / suspense and learning at the same time.

15. What’s the worst book you’ve ever read?
Fifty Shades of Gray. Boring. There is no plot to speak of, not even any good sex.
20150725_133309           To Order

Geza Tatrallyay was born in Hungary before his family escaped the Hungarian Revolution by fleeing to Canada. After graduating from Harvard University and studying at Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, he went on to earn a master’s degree in economics from the London School of Economics. An avid fencer, he represented Canada in the 1976 Olympic Games.  Cello’s Tears, his debut  poetry collection, is the culmination of his longtime fascination with poetic verse and human emotion.

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Geza Tatrallyay Shares His Thoughts on Writing Poetry

The Joy of Writing

I have always loved language, experimenting with words, sounds, and combinations of these building blocks of communication. How they encode ideas and feelings, based on a common understanding chiseled over eons and still evolving, daily. Different languages will express the inner self differently; hence my passion for learning tongues, for the wonder of playing with their ability to convey thought and emotion.
Poetry was for me always the purest form of this game, where I could sit down, and with words, tease what was inside me onto a piece of paper, creating something of beauty. Then refine the product, sleep on it, rework the dough again, until―either as an incomplete fragment or as a fully rounded thought picture―I would stash it away in a drawer, or more recently, a file on my laptop.
Rediscovering these snippets from the inside of a self that was months, years, decades younger when these were crystallized, is akin to the wonder of love, and the older me would then relive these acts again, taking much pleasure in a slightly altered line, a more fitting word, a poised comma. And further delight would come at some point when I would take these disparate joggings, and assemble them into a coherent whole, a symphony of movements made up of melodies, phrases, and ultimately combinations of notes.
Thus was my collection of poems, CELLO’S TEARS, brought into the world. The sheer joy of creating it epitomizes what writing means to me. And many thanks go to Lucinda Clark and Rashida Weedon at PRA Publishing for serving as the very capable midwives for this birth.

Cello’s Tears will be released June 2015

For more on Geza Tatrallyay:

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Derek Berry has Poetry Month Challenge

He is taking in the country of Germany and still remembers that we celebrate #National Poetry Month here in the U.S. His first installment: Poem #1: “Canines”

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Pilgrimage: Augustiner Stadt Museum for Art

Originally posted on Word Salad:

What I learned at the Museum of Art in Freiburg (old art, new art is next on the list):

1.) Vampires cannot enter here because there exist too many crosses. Most of which are made completely of gold.

2.) Flemish master artists typically enjoy painting four things: Bible stories, shipwrecks, fruit, and dead birds.

3.) I would love to have a pocket-sundial made of gold, just to carry around, pop out, angle in the sun, and figure out perhaps the celestial time and date at any given moment.

4.) The entire museum is a retro-fitted church and a very cool place for the architecture alone. Climb to the top and you can see the rafters above.

5.) Worth the trip for the organ alone. I’ll post a pic on Facebook later.


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Guest Blog Poet Derek Berry

Book Store Fantasies: On the Anticipation and Anxiety of Publishing My First Book—A Guest Post by Derek Berry


I press fingertips to book spines, dragging my palms against each title as I amble down the fiction aisle. The air inside the bookstore breathes Arctic chill, but among these paper lives, I don’t notice the cold. My fingers spark with ecstatic anticipation, and my chest burns like a furnace with pride. In less than a year, PRA will publish my first young adult novel. The Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County, a story about teenagers grappling with the aftermath of a hate crime while struggling to navigate the end of their high school careers, will appear in print alongside these other books.

Each time I return to the bookstore—a place a block away from where I live that sells new and used books, hosts readings, and employs friendly book-sellers—I stalk the shelves to search for that holy place along the spines between “Bea” and “Bet” where my book will appear. I navigate the aisles and stand in front of this soon-to-be-filled void with an air of inspiration and euphoria. Is it not the dream of every young writer to publish their first book? Growing up, I spent many hours and days in bookstores browsing. Aside from reading voraciously, I also entertained hopes that my work might join the shelves. Now that the dream is fast becoming reality, the visits have become different, a mix of hope and fear.

The vision blooms in the ether of optimistic yearning: some young teen, girl or boy, wanders by himself or herself in a bookstore, dejected by the saturation of vampire tales and romantic dramas. This teenager picks up my book from the shelves, drawn perhaps by the strange and beautiful cover, the long and suggestive title—that word Heathens tugging at a part of their heart recoiling from adulthood but drifting further from childhood. This teen flips casually through the first few pages, and a fishhook of intrigue snags the mind; in the next few weeks, he or she will find sanctuary in this story, reading about teenagers just like themselves—real characters rather than an amalgam of pop-culture tropes. The vision dissipates then, replaced by another dream: myself a rock star among high school and college students, the voice of a generation. At first book signings, awards plastering my walls, then maybe a crowd hoisting me on their shoulders, maybe next a private jet funded by book sales. My imagination spirals out of control, my elation unbounded.

As these fictitious scenes play out, I notice another emotion stir too, a deep unsettled dread become brittle as frost. My confidence dances atop a frozen lake, the ice cracking.

What if no one likes the book? What if no one buys the book? What is that fictitious teenagers shakes his or head in disgust, bored with my story? If I’m almost twenty-one, can I even claim to think like a teenager any longer, the mind and experience of the teenager? What if people hate my book and protest my readings? Or worse, what is nobody cares at all, if the book becomes a physical object only to sit on shelves collecting dust? Only to garner a few reviews and be forgotten in this maelstrom of publishing?

These fears seize me. Sometimes in the midst of joyous hope, I imagine everything that might go wrong. Insecurities about my writing, the world of publishing, and America’s declining readership assail me every day, and yet I remain excited for this book’s release. Despite doubts, I want the world to read me, to step inside my mind for a while and perhaps learn something new.

I balance idealism and anxiety on the fulcrum of my heart. I know that even if all else remains uncertain, the future holds its publication. The dreams and visions have not been completely fulfilled—I’m not lecturing or riding around in a private jet (yet)—but my first book will be available to the public. I can now proudly tell myself I’m an author. An author—to say this word is so sweet on my tongue. In a few months, I will again visit this bookstore and find my novel among the shelves. Not only will this be a reality, but I will also read at this bookstore and others across the country. I keep repeating this mantra: people will hear my story, people will hear my story. Naturally this idea of opening one’s self up to the world’s criticism or praise might be frightening, but there also exists exhilaration in this public vulnerability. Soon, you too, dear reader, will be able to consume The Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County. To find out more about the book, visit my blog Word Salad HERE. If you’re interested in the story, keep an eye on those lovely book shelves November 2015.

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What is Your Passion?

Speaking as one poet to another, may I ask you a personal question?


If your hasty response is something like HAIKU or even POETRY in general, I’d say you’re not being honest with yourself. Your passion is the subject that inspires your best work, and it is often ephemeral. And while there are hundreds of famous passion poems such as Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s How do I love thee sonnet, great poems have been sparked by much baser things. Just ask Marcel Proust about his Madeleine, Carl Sandberg about Arithmetic or Ted Kooser about a Tatoo.

Some of my most successful poems were inspired by a house demolition, a disabled vet and my favorite season, yet none of them sparked a collection. Try as I might, I can’t write a satisfactory four-season cycle of poems because I only feel passionate about autumn. My day job, however, is a passion that inspired a whole book.

I teach English to adult immigrants. These inspirational people overcome unimaginable hardships just get here, only to be faced with daily obstacles of a different nature once they arrive, yet they carve twelve hours a week from their jobs and families in order to attend class. The collection began with two stories that haunted me for months before I was able to record them: Young Means Forever Unchanging (a Poetry Matters prize winner) about a seemingly hopeless student who demonstrated progress in a most poetic fashion, and Adios Fernan about a student whose unexpected departure saddened and worried me. Once I told their stories, the others came pouring out, and I realized I had created a profile of a unique segment of American society that we all need to understand.   My students inspire me still with their every insightful, mistaken, or witty remark, yet their stories are on hold while I record my recent travels while they still spark within me, and I’m OK with that. There is nothing more tedious than a poem written under pressure.
The visionary choreographer Martha Graham once said, Great dancers are not great because of their technique but because of their passion. So what do you feel passionate about today? That’s the thing you should write about today, whether on your laptop or on a napkin.

J.C. Elkin  J.C. Elkin is the author of World Class: Poems Inspired by the ESL Classroom (Apprentice House 2014), and founder of The Broadneck Writers’ Workshop, Her prose and poetry have appeared in such journals as Kansas City Voices, Empirical, Kestrel, Off the Coast, Ducts, and Steam Ticket. Visit Jane’s webpage at

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Kendall Driscoll Shares Her Thoughts on her Poetic Journey

“I speak of the masks I hide behind.” These are the words which began my literary journey about five years ago. With these words, I made a speech which took form as a poem which changed my life in ways I had never imagined.

Late in the summer of 2009, I wrote a poem titled “Speech of the Masquerade.” The poem was a bold revelation uncovering the true feelings and the true selves that people mask from the world. At the time, I was a freshman in high school. I used writing as an escape. Writing was a way I could freely express myself. Through words, I was able to communicate all which I was afraid to speak aloud.
But sometimes, even writing was difficult, especially when I wrote of myself.
The speaker of “Speech of the Masquerade” is conscious of the masquerade which is reality. She sees the masks that people wear in order to fit in and be accepted. And then she admits this is true of herself. The speaker is a shy, unknown writer who fears rejection above all else.
When I wrote the poem, I was my speaker. As a shy, high school introvert, I struggled expressing myself in front of people. My fear of criticism was debilitating. Like the speaker of my poem, I kept my thoughts locked up in a notebook and shuddered at the thought of letting anyone read my work. Then somehow, my words gave me the courage to share my work.
In the spring of 2010, I submitted this poem to Poetry Matters Contest, telling myself that I had nothing to lose. A month or so later, I received an email congratulating me for winning first place in the high school category for poetry. Before I knew what was happening, I was at the Poetry Matters awards ceremony reading my poem aloud. In that moment, I was reminded that the narrator of my poem takes a stand. My narrator has the power to command speech and is unafraid to speak and reveal her true self. In reality, I was the narrator, and I had the power to speak my mind.
Reading my poem aloud to an audience meant I was vulnerable, but this openness was the start of change. Who knew that this change would lead to future publication? Lucinda Clark, the founder of Poetry Matters and the publisher of P.R.A. Publishing, spoke to me after the ceremony about my writing. This was the first time I had ever considered publishing my work. “Speech of the Masquerade” gave me my poetic voice and offered me the courage to continue writing.
Throughout high school and college, I continued to write. I filled notebooks with poetry. I embarked on the national writing challenge called “National Novel Writing Month” (“NaNoWriMo”). I attended open mics, entered various poetry competitions, and submitted work to literary magazines. In the fall of my freshman year of college, I took a leap of bravery and submitted a query letter to P.R.A Publishing to publish a collection of my poetry. My poetry manuscript titled Speech of the Masquerade is about unmasking the rawness of human emotions. It is about voicing our personal stories, unveiling our beautiful souls, and unmasking ourselves so that the world can see who we are and how we feel.
As I worked with P.R.A on the details going into the publication of my chapbook, I balanced college coursework and continued work on my novel manuscript. For me, I knew my “normal college experience” differed from everyone else’s. Where many of friends relaxed with video games and TV after classes finished for the day, I returned to my dorm room to novel write.
Writing is still an escape for me, and poetry is still my first love. For me, “Speech of the Masquerade” is more than just a poem. “Speech of the Masquerade” is my voice.

Speech of Masquerade will release December 5, 2014
ISBN:978-098401425-5 print

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