Monday, December 16, 2013

Three Artists, a Poet and One Great Love

"Your Moment of Zen" by Dave Smith

If Mother Nature is the mother to us all, then I think she would speak to us in ways which move the spirit and encourage us to lead lives of greater love.  Dreams often inform my poetry.  The fanciful narratives that filter into my head at night become the scenes for future verse.  "The Path to the One Great Love" is one such poem which spoke to me in that space between deep sleep and wakefulness.  

I am honored to share the ekphrastic artwork of Dave Smith, Joanna Turlej and Kelsey Becker.  Through the lens of art, you will see three different visual expressions of what this poem might or might not be about.  I will let you, the reader, reflect on how these offerings meld together and weave their own individual stories of what it is like to be on the path of the One Great Love of life itself.

"The Path to the One Great Love" by Joanna Turlej

The Path to the One Great Love
(Dreamtime messages)

There is a path that leads
to great unhappiness.
Why do my children choose this?

The steps replace themselves
with more steps.
No two, well-worn pavement stones
are alike.
And yet –
each path leads
to isolation from the Great Love
and weakened bones.

I shower them with deepest blue skies
and blooms as big as a baby’s head.
No, this is not enough they say.
We want

So, the sun fades to mellow.
The loosened buds close their petals
and take refuge in the deep sleep
of winter.

I shall come in spring –
to root down and flower up.
All life will come to be again,
but my children, you must live.
Even inside the hibernate cave,
you must dwell
in union
and BE.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2013

"Silence In Between" by Kelsey Becker

About the Artists

Dave Smith

Dave Seth Smith is an artist, poet and co-founder of the Art Ambush Project.  He lives in the Tidewater area of Virginia.

Joanna Turlej

Joanna Turlej graduated from OCAD University in Toronto, ON with an honours degree in art and design, and the George A. Reid Award of Excellence.  She explored different media, from tapestry weaving, silk painting, watercolours to acrylics.  Joanna exhibits three to four times a year in group exhibitions and participates in the Oakville Studio Tour on annual basis.  Her expressive style and luminous colours are her trademark.  She is inspired by moody and atmospheric landscapes that she likes to interpret in her own way.  To learn more about Joanna's work, visit her website.


Kelsey Becker

To learn more about the artwork of Kelsey Becker, please visit her artist Facebook page HERE.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Bohemian Rhapsody" / "Her Own Path" Painting by Elaine Sturm / Poem by Cristina M. R. Norcross

Her Own Path
(Inspired by the painting "Bohemian Rhapsody" by Elaine Sturm)

Circling towards truth
I follow the path –
a hawk in search of the highest point,
before shooting an arrow –
determination’s center.

Milkweed fairies travel with me –
a dust cloud whirl of movement
and light.

Flickering beings trail after
with curiosity and wonder –
never revealing where they see me next.
I open my eyes wide –
seeing all of time in an instant.

Carrying this perfect pearl wisdom home,
I embark on the real journey
of me –
and come alive.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2013

About the Artist: Elaine Sturm

"As a self-taught artist, Elaine Sturm pursued her love for art by going to local workshops as a young adult, knowing she always had an artist's soul living inside her and just waiting to emerge. She has been able to apply techniques she acquired from her extensive library of art books from the many famous museums around the world, and also from gratefully listening to the constructive advice of respected artists she has met along her path.

Besides being showcased in many different kinds of venues, Elaine was an active participant in The Annual Thyroid Foundation Art Show in Montreal since 2003 and has donated several artworks for auction and charity. Her oil painting of the renowned and respected author, and Dean of the Law School of York University, Toronto, Peter Hogg, was painted upon his retirement and now hangs in Osgoode Hall at the University.

Elaine is an honorary member of the Drawing Society of Canada, and she has been a member of the Pastel Society of Eastern Canada (PSEC), accepted into their prestigious juried Art Exhibit at Ogilvy's, in Montreal. She is a current member of the Forest Hill Art Club."

To learn more about the artwork of Elaine Sturm:

Visit her official website HERE

OR "like" her Facebook page

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

What Are Poetry Magazine Editors Looking For? Here's the Inside Scoop!

What Are Magazine Editors
Really Looking For?

Is the poem engaging, from the first stanza to the last?

Does the poet use fresh, innovative language?

Is there a natural rhythm and flow to the poem?

Is the language beautiful?  Does it take my breath away?

Do the lines of the poem have their own sense of musicality?

Do I want to read this poem again?

Does the poet paint a picture with words effectively?

Does the poet create atmosphere?

Do certain lines of the poem jump off the page – do they linger?

Does the style, content, theme of this poem match the flavor of my magazine?  Will it fit in well with the other poems in this issue?

Do I like this poem?  Does this poem speak to me?
(When it comes right down to it, this is a very subjective answer.  You can have 10 well-written, well-constructed poems, but if it doesn’t speak to the editor, it won’t be chosen.)

*Always research a magazine/journal/publisher before submitting.  Order a sample issue (if in print form only), or read some of the poetry online on the website, to see what kind of poetry they publish.  This should always be your first tactic.

*You should be proud of every rejection letter you receive.  Each one brings you closer to the YES letter!  Every poem will find a home.  You just have to find the right one.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Editor, Blue Heron Review

Visit Blue Heron Review to learn more about a new literary magazine, specializing in mystical and spiritual verse.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Book Signing at the Delafield Arts Center - Thursday, November 14, 2013

Lake Country Author Poetry Reading and Book Signing
at The Delafield Arts Center
Thursday, November 14, 2013 from 6-8pm
Join us as we welcome Lake Country Authors: Mary Jo Balistreri, Cristina M.R. Norcross, Rebecca Seymour, Rebecca Mattano and Kim Suhr.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

NEW Online Poetry Magazine! BLUE HERON REVIEW

"Great Blue Heron" used with permission by artist, Daniel Adams

Blue Heron Review is an online poetry magazine specializing in mystical and spiritual verse.  Blue Heron provides a space for poets who offer a positive message about living fully and engaging with the world through beauty, a sense of community and acceptance.

Blue Heron strives to promote and feature works that nourish the soul, encourage deep reflection and support a peaceful life path.  Blue Heron poets embrace the concepts of:  joy, abundance, grace, love, light, connection, awareness, acceptance, balance, peace, one’s soul path, and spirit in their works.  Think, Rumi ~ think, Hafiz!

We are getting ready to announce our reading period for the 2nd issue of Blue Heron Review, which will have an online publication date of summer 2014 The FIRST Blue Heron is due to be released as an online issue ~ winter / 2014.  Please watch this space for further information, regarding guidelines and submission deadlines.  For a general overview, please click on the tab for Submission Guidelines on the Blue Heron Review website.  We look forward to reading your thoughts on life, through the lens of poetry.

Thank you!
~Cristina M. R. Norcross, Editor

Please send all correspondence and submissions to:


Thursday, October 10, 2013

The Red Drum: Selected and New Poems (2nd ed.) NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon!

The 2nd edition of my poetry collection, The Red Drum: Selected and New Poems, is NOW AVAILABLE on Amazon!

Click HERE to order

Reviews of The Red Drum:

"The Red Drum is a heart-felt collection of poems written by a woman quite obviously in love with living.  Cristina Norcross sets out to celebrate the joy of living in the presence of authentic moments, and these poems are just one way, I imagine, that she succeeds in doing this.  As a reader, I go to poems in search of beautiful language, and light, and wisdom.  And I found quite a few gems in The Red Drum."

~Ingrid Goff-Maidoff, author of: Befriending the Soul, Moonlight and Remembrance, What Holds Us, The Honey Sutras, Calling Forth the Riches, Conversing with the Holy, Good Mother Welcome and other titles. (

"The Red Drum by Cristina M. R. Norcross is a testimony to the transformative power of words.  Her masterful poems find joy and meaning in every day experiences through vivid language and imagery."                             
~ Michele Wehrwein Albion, author of The Florida Life of Thomas Edison, The Quotable Edison, The Quotable Henry Ford and The Quotable Eleanor Roosevelt.
"Cristina Norcross’s THE RED DRUM is a joy to read. Like a camera captures precious moments, her poems capture the emotions of those moments. In simple yet elegant language, she writes of a love of words—words that she uses to create those special moments as well as the emotions surrounding them.”
~ Maureen Hand, author of Write the Snapshots of Life. (

“The Red Drum resonates with fine texture of delicate sounds and moments captured in time- woven with the intricate and delicate workmanship of a spider’s web that glistens with dew. Like an orb, her words reflect life and light under our glorious sun, moon and stars. 

Share time with Cristina and sip the magic of her amazing mindscapes that bring gentle enchantment through every captured moment.”

 ~ Brenda V Northeast, author /illustrator/artist of five children’s picture books. (

Friday, October 04, 2013

The Red Drum (2nd edition) by Cristina M. R. Norcross coming soon! (Publication Date: Fall, 2013)

The Red Drum by Cristina M. R. Norcross  (Lone Gull Press, 2013)

Wisconsin author Cristina M. R. Norcross writes about the sacred, every day moments that bring us joy, while reflecting on what makes the soul search for philosophical answers to modern living.  Inspired by the beauty of landscapes, nature, visual art, music, parenthood, faith and the creative process itself, Ms. Norcross sheds light on why we need to strive for more out of life than just the external or temporal.  The Red Drum has poems for every searching soul.

Cristina M. R. Norcross is the author of Land & Sea: Poetry Inspired by Art (2007), The Red Drum (2008, 2013), Unsung Love Songs (2010) and The Lava Storyteller (2013).  Her works appear in North American and international journals, such as The Toronto Quarterly, Red Cedar, Your Daily Poem and The Nervous Breakdown.  Featured in the BVAG show, ARTiculate (2011, 2012), Cristina's work also appears in the anthologies, Contemporary Women’s Literature (2007), Verse and Vision (2011, 2012) and Sounds of Solace (forthcoming).  She was the co-editor for the project One Vision: A Fusion of Art and Poetry in Lake Country (2009-11) and is currently one of the co-organizers of Random Acts of Poetry and Art Day.  Find out more at: 

Sample Poem from The Red Drum:

Growing Windows

What the body remembers

is the swell of oceans –

the tumult of lengthening limbs –

hands that start writing

the stories of age

with each stretching muscle.

No bump is showing –

yet I’m feeling thick around the middle.

My soft, tender belly

knows curves –

roundness was here for three pregnancies.

Two of them stayed and grew.

A woman’s torso extends to fill space.

Age walks –

it wanders into wisdom unknowingly

and finds the longest book to read.

We may be here awhile,

says the body.

Take root,

grow windows

and look out.

Cristina M. R. Norcross

Copyright 2012


Monday, August 26, 2013

We Happy Four - poetry and photography by Cristina M. R. Norcross

(Photo by Cristina Norcross / Sculpture art by Bruce Garner, "Joy")

We Happy Four
(Inspired by a sculpture installation on Sparks Street in Ottawa, Canada)

We four, we happy four –
the world rushes by –
a hustle and bustle of crinkling packages
and steaming cups of coffee.

We let them see our faces –
our open lives celebrated in brass.
If they pause,
we become the statues we are –
a mere reflection of the possible.

Most keep walking –
keep rushing about.
I hold my head high –
chin up,
mouth open,
singing in silence
for all to know
the joy of standing still.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2013

Where There is Light - poetry and photography by Cristina M. R. Norcross

Where There is Light
(Photography - a tree in Lake Geneva)

There is light in your hand.
It spreads like a fan –
awakening the melody of movement –
each finger touching words.

Every line begins with story –
the story of a tree,
the story of the sun,
the story of how you started this poem.

There is light in your hand.
You look for it in shadows.
The first flicker of an idea
seems to escape –
a slippery fish.
The tightly held fist
doesn’t hold much.
You must open your hand wide.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2013

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Lava Storyteller by Cristina M. R. Norcross NOW AVAILABLE from Red Mare Press ~ read the latest book reviews here!

The Lava Storyteller is now available to order from Red Mare Press as part of the Red Mare Chapbook Series (#7).  Follow the ordering link HERE.

This chapbook has a limited edition print run.  It is a work of art in addition to being a poetry collection.  Each copy is hand sewn with thread, printed on fine art paper and each cover is hand stamped using a carved wood block art piece.   

This edition features a cover printed on Canford artist's paper, endpapers of Unryo-kozo/chiri rice paper, and binding of Italian cotton-blend fiber, with dancer's bells on the binding knot.”

 (front cover)

 (back cover)

Sample Poem:

The Lava Storyteller

Island of clay, sand and earth –
liquid lava now silent.
You are the land of trees dripping mangoes
and goats clinging to cliffs.

Bare feet read braille –
ancient explosions –
black crumbs and dust from when earth
was the only inhabitant.

Island of Saba –
the earth speaks of ancestors –
still humming the old stories –
still laughing over a bottle of sweet Malta.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2011

Book Reviews for The Lava Storyteller

“Each poem in this collection is a quiet celebration: of ancestors, of nature, of love. Poet, Cristina Norcross, draws from a rich, deep well of inspiration, layering her work with echoes of other artists’ paintings and poetry. Even a poem about the simple act of eating a mango becomes timeless, sensual and grace-laden. These gentle poems will open your eyes to the beauty in everything you see and experience.”

~Kim Suhr, author Maybe I’ll Learn: Snapshots of a Novice Mom

“Cristina M. R. Norcross takes "deep breaths" in and "long strides" through the "white sand" of time.  The Lava Storyteller celebrates Earth and life "still humming the old stories," but also weaving them with the new.  "Drink it in," she says.  The Lava Storyteller, a collection of seventeen poems, will undoubtedly quench your thirst and touch your heart with a longing to read more.” 
~Jeannie E. Roberts, author of Nature of it All, a collection of poetry, and Let's Make Faces!, a children's book,

“Cristina M.R. Norcross’s latest work: The Lava Storyteller is an inclusive invitation that transports the reader’s mind to experience emotional, spiritual and physical wonderment. 

Island of clay, sand and earth –
liquid lava now silent.
You are the land of trees dripping mangoes
and goats clinging to cliffs…

This talented Midwest and worldly poet allows us to peek behind the curtain to discover parts of ourselves otherwise hidden, yet fully acknowledged:

You jump through
the only open window,
because this is how we leave –
with a gust of wind
and the scent of grass
on our breath.

Her words are woven in sensual and intellectual landscapes of lush intersecting worlds that are inspired by her heritage, famous artists, celebration of gender and the beauty of science as seen through the heart of emotion, all of which are Divinely celebratory as well as personally sacred.”

~Kimberly A. Blanchette, author of Layers of Moments (poetry/photography book and audio CD), All Natural (audio CD) and the poetry chapbooks, Naked, The Master and The Student and Lotus on Fire.

“In Cristina M.R. Norcross's reflective collection of poems, she tells the story of her journey across landscapes of life, both real and imaginary, from the ancestral island of Saba where "bare feet read braille -- / ancient explosions," to those inspired by art. There is a strong feeling of searching in Norcross's poems, of entering a painting to not only experience it, but to understand it with the art of her own words, often finding there is no single answer, but only listening and waiting. The Lava Storyteller gives the reader inspiration to seek her own path as well.”

~Liz Rhodebeck, author of What I Learned in Kansas, Benthos, The Book of Ruth, and soon to be published, Here the Water is Deep.

“Cristina M. R. Norcross writes from the center of wonder, the wildness of nature and the deep waters of wisdom. The Lava Storyteller is a luminous collection drawing from Norcross' love of everyday life, fine art, nature and the sublime magic of existence. Her poems look deep into the heart of everyday life to find the river of meaning underneath. Reading this collection, I was both expanded and brought home more fully to myself — such is the power and beauty found within these pages.”

~Shannon Jackson Arnold, author of Flowering Wisdom: Inspiring Thoughts on Life, Love and Blooming Big.

“Readers will experience a life affirming experience when they turn the pages of Cristina M. R. Norcross’s latest collection of poems, The Lava Storyteller.  Magic permeates each poem—the magic of being alive and letting the senses inhale life … even the wind knows how to reach me.  The narrator of each poem is rooted in nature and the glories of life. From sandy beaches to the bluest skies, she is at home and alive in the moment...breathing becomes a whisper.  Cristina’s earthiness, her vivid imagination, and the purity of her writing shine in these poems. Grant yourself the pleasure of reading them. You won’t be disappointed, and life will begin again in a swirling blur.

~Maureen Hand, author of Write the Snapshots of Life, a book on memoir writing.  Maureen Hand’s poems and writings have appeared in literary journals, magazines, and newspapers.

Friday, March 22, 2013

For the LOVE of it

This is not a photo of me, but this gal has brown hair, so I thought it worked.

Lazy Writer Disclaimer:  I am such a lazy blogger.  At most I seem to blog once a month.  Sometimes months go by, and I forget to post something.  When I do have something to say, I hope that it is thoughtful, from the heart and engaging ... rather than my attempt to fill space, to meet some quota.  Besides, if I'm not writing a new blog post every day, it must mean that I am making use of every waking hour to write new poetry, right?  

OK, I won't go there right now.  It's enough to know that I am a busy mom of two boys who play soccer 4 days a week, and in addition to writing poetry, I also create jewelry stock on a regular basis for a local art gallery.   SO much of my time is spoken for.  Also, there is no laundry, dishes or bathroom cleaning fairy hiding in my hall closet, and waiting until I go out for coffee to make my house sparkle.  That falls to me - the multi-tasking, writer, jewelry artist, sometimes poetry workshop teacher who volunteers every week at my sons' school.  

But wait, I haven't even touched upon my title!  What is the point of this rambling blog post, that sounds more like I'm complaining to one of my girlfriends over a cup of tea?  

If you're not doing it for the sheer LOVE of it, you're in it for the wrong reasons.  I think this statement could apply to many aspirations and career choices, but it is particularly apt for the writer.  

Poetry doesn't pay very well.  There I said it.  I know, you were thinking that we all get paid a million bucks per poem and instantly sell all of the copies of our chapbooks in the first week they are published.  Umm ... no.  If I'm living inside that dream, I must be napping on the couch after writing for two hours, having 3 cups of chai, and falling asleep reading a book by someone MUCH more famous than me.

Poets and writers write, because we have no choice.  It is a way of life.  It is the first thing we think about when we wake up and the last thing we think about before going to bed.  It even wakes us up in the middle of the night, if an idea absolutely must be captured on a tiny notepad next to the bed.  We wait for editors to write back 3-4 months later, after obsessing over every word of our poetry submission letters.  We endure countless "thanks, but no thanks" responses.  We do this because eventually a "yes" letter will come.  In fact, several "yes" letters will arrive and give us just enough hope to go back to the blank screen or page and start all over again.  

When I say, do it for the sheer LOVE of it, what I'm trying to say is that the energy and persistence writers have wouldn't be there if money, success and the honor of being published were the true motivation.  You can want those things.  That's OK.  It's only human.  If you want to be writing 20 years from now though, you have to want it in your bones ... in your blood.  You have to eat, sleep, and breathe poetry and art.  Let it soak into your pores.  This is how you will know, if you are doing it for the LOVE of it.

Now - GO!  Write ... dream ... believe ... create ... make some magic happen for someone else with your words, music, dance and art.  Just imagine the change that could occur from that one poem, song, story, photograph, painting or sculpture that touches the soul of someone who is searching.  With your precious piece of art, you are giving back to the world.  Believe in the power of your creations!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"The Next Big Thing": Self-Interview with Poet Cristina M. R. Norcross for Her Upcoming Poetry Book, The Lava Storyteller

“THE NEXT BIG THING” asks writers to self-interview about their books with 7-8 designated questions, post somewhere in the blog-o-sphere and then “tag” (3-5) writers for the next week to do the same.  Cristina M. R. Norcross ( has been tagged by Mary Jo Balistreri (
What is the working title of your book?
The Lava Storyteller

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I was asked to consider writing a chapbook with the theme of what it means to have a love of the earth from the female energy perspective.  I translated this idea into not just having a love of the earth, but of life itself.  To be fully alive (to me) means to savor and enjoy every experience and to be thankful for this gift.  When I looked at my files of hundreds of poems, I saw a pattern emerge and realized that the book was already written, hiding in my continuum of life-charged poetry.  The first poem that came to mind was, “The Lava Storyteller” (first published in Verse Wisconsin on-line, as a written poem and an audio file).  This became the title of the book.  My grandmother was born on the island of Saba, an island in the Caribbean, which at one time was an active volcano.  Saba has many stories to tell.  My family from this island comes from a rich history of loving and appreciating the earth.  I wanted to celebrate this spirit.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a
 movie rendition?

My collection of poems has many speakers, so this might be a tough choice.  It would need to be a woman of magic and passion – a woman who rejoices in the sights, smells, tastes and upheavals of life.  The narrator/actress for most of the poems wouldn’t necessarily have to be from the West Indies, but she would need to have an affinity for island life and have a passion for the ocean.  (With a wink) I welcome scripts and actor resumes.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

These poems represent my barefoot rootedness to lake sand, farmers’ fields, rugged hills, jagged mountains and the undulating rhythm of ocean waves on beaches. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Without knowing that these poems would be gathered together for a book, most of them were written over the course of two years.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

On childhood trips to the island of Saba, I sat at the kitchen table and watched the women of the village come together for a circle of conversation and sewing Saba lace, an old art form.  Laughter came in bursts.  I felt as though I was witnessing a sacred ritual, but also engaging in a coming together that celebrated life itself.  Not all of the poems are about Saba, but I chose only poems which I thought reflected that spirit of passion – of joining together with other women to experience the sheer delight in being alive. 

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

This chapbook is truly going to be a work of art, not just because I consider poetry to be art, but also because each copy of this limited edition print run will be hand sewn.  Each cover will be printed using a hand-carved wooden block, created by the publisher of Red Mare Press, Su Zi, who is also a visual artist.  It will be an artistic experience from beginning to end.  I can’t wait to feel the paper!

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

The Lava Storyteller will be published in June 2013 by Red Mare Press in Florida, as part of the Red Mare Chapbook series.

Find Red Mare on Facebook:

At Big Bridge:

And also at Thread Bare Art:

The Lava Storyteller

Island of clay, sand and earth –
liquid lava now silent.
You are the land of trees dripping mangoes
and goats clinging to cliffs.

Bare feet read braille –
ancient explosions –
black crumbs and dust from when earth
was the only inhabitant.

Island of Saba –
the earth speaks of ancestors –
still humming the old stories –
still laughing over a bottle of sweet Malta.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2011