“Heather Minette writes poems of discovery through love and travel. In Rooftops and Other Poems, she imbues the faraway and familiar with the sparkle of imagination and a searching precision. This unique book enchants and strikes the reader with deep human feeling. Uncover her journey for yourself.”
John Swain, Author of White Vases
“Heather Minette’s writing is like a map of dreams that remain grounded in her own honest admission of vulnerabilities. Her delicate words are carried in a balled up fist full of emotion that she willingly exposes to the reader. She is vulnerable, courageous and writes with her gut.”
Stephanie Bryant Anderson, co-editor of Up the Staircase Quarterly
“I read Rooftops and Other Poems last night and this morning and will re-read it again because it is just that type of book that you want to go back to, particularly the poems that spoke to me. Natalie Goldberg (Writing Down the Bones) says that a real writer cuts open a vein and bleeds with every word. Heather Minette does just that. It is often hard for writers to let loose and share intricate emotions, as their guard turns up and says ‘no, don’t say that,’ but Heather said it anyway and it is brilliant.”
Sue Mayfield Geiger, Author of Gibbons Street
Philip Vermaas’s poems are like broken ceilings and his words like the plaster that falls onto the reader’s heart and mind. He grittily etches mini poetic epics dedicated to the people who have passed through his life. Here in poems like, “I’m Telling You” he willingly drinks of the pleasurable poisons of love. His poems are intricate mazes with no easy ways in or out of their savage sensual grip. Like an indie flick, these poems boast an edgy cast of sometimes sordid characters. You will need a 12-step meeting to break the addiction of reading Phillip Vermaas’s poetry over and over. His poetry satisfies yet shakes you up like the confession of a beautiful yet sinfully histrionic lover.–Ivan Jenson Poet and author of the novels, “Dead Artist” and “Seeing Soriah.”
Philip Vermaas is sharp, and might well cut you bone-deep. Better Cigarettes captures the beauty of broken things, dark corners, and the glimmer of hope that comes with a better pack of cigarettes than you can afford. Philip’s poetry drips down the page—visually and lyrically—drawing the reader into its narratives, building tension to a point where the reader only realizes they’ve been holding their breath in the moment that they let it go. By the last page, we’re simply grateful for the gifts of cold wine and ink, the fruits of Vermaas’s pages. –Allie Marini Batts Poet and author of the recent chapbook You Might Curse Before You Bless
Better Cigarettes is something of a journey more so than a collection.
Vermaas’ introduces himself to us as a complex, almost tortured man, as any man can be. His poems, separated into two acts and a series of ‘inter-emissions’, begin by ranging from the blunt, the crude, to the downright filthy. There is a rawness evocative (but not imitative) of Bukowski, in which the harshness is not so offensive as it is the language of a soul who feels everything, anything, to its utmost.
As the book progresses, splashes of introspection seem to show the author settling, taking the time to contemplate than react – perhaps accept rather than despise himself. Humour sprouts from this position – indeed there is a lot of wryness throughout.
Through this contemplation, and towards the end of the inter-emissions, a new picture begins to emerge of Vermaas as (dare I say it) a misunderstood creature who cares to care a lot more than he cares to admit. Even as he battles with his own guilt, his own ability to forgive, to grant second chances, is exposed.
The book concludes its second act in a lighter tone as the author celebrates quietly his reunion with a long lost something-beyond-a-friend we could only consider to call (but Vermaas avoids such clichés) a soul mate. The reader is left with the satisfaction that somehow, in this momentary 158-page peek into the mind and heart of the poet, he has finally found what he deserved all along. Only then do we realise that, somewhere along the way, he makes us give a damn about that, too.
Better Cigarettes And Other Poems holds nothing back – it’s a bare bones tour through how one poet sees himself and the world he lives in. To him, beauty, pain, pleasure and betrayal are all chapters well-thumbed and part of a bigger story.
Vermaas’s composition carries a consistent, unique voice and style that represents his confidence and experience as a poet – one who doesn’t resort to trickery or an over-abundance of metaphor – he tells it, and of himself, how it is. There are a number of standouts (the cat sequence, along with ‘I Cried Like A Man’ come to mind), but it seems very deliberately composed to read well from cover to cover.
Philip Vermaas has produced a captivating and downright addictive collection of poems which include some of the best cat poems I have read. In his poem, ‘Between Free and Freer’, he chooses life and this book amounts to the manuscript of his reasoning. He has lived. You should read.
Gillian Prew, author of “The Idea of Wings“