Monday, August 31, 2015

To the ears of a madman, it can be called music

When I was six years old, I would sometimes sit, utterly silent, behind my best friend Lilit as she played her piano. The sound of her music fascinated me to such a degree that I begged my parents to enroll me in piano lessons, too. Being sensible, they decided to take my aspirations one step at a time. So instead of a grand piano, they bought me a piccolo, and started me off in a class where thirty kids puffed, wheezed and blastedmore or less at oncethrough their wind instruments with various degrees of success, producing a hilarious cacophony that had little to do with music. This ended my artistic ambitions right there and then, validating my parents’ decision to exercise caution with what I had said I wanted.
Then a year ago, I introduced a white piano into my story The White Piano. The mere presence of this instrument in Ben’s apartment suggested a variety of scenes, such as the musical duet in chapter 18. Now, how would you go about writing a duet, when your knowledge about playing the piano is nothing but a faint memory from the age of six? I found several ways of learning the intricate details. First, I watched numerous videos, the most entertaining of which is this one, showing Fran & Marlo Cowan (married 62 years) playing impromptu recital together in the atrium of the Mayo Clinic. Then I read numerous articles, like this three-step instruction about singing duets, which taught me that eye contact and exchanging nods between the two players is at least as important as striking the right notes. Next, I selected a piece of music, The Entertainer, and learned more than you ever wanted to know about every note of it, and how it should be played. I did it, among many other ways, by watching instructional videos like this one. Finally I had to fold in the difference in both musical education and temperament between Ben and Anita. 

So here is an excerpt from the way it plays out in the end:
And before this phrase fades out Anita straightens her back, and places her hand on the keys. Then, to my astonishment, she plays the next phrase of music, this time with raw, intense force, which I never knew existed in her, bringing it to the verge of destruction, making it explode all around me. And I, in turn, explode with the following one, because how can I let her outdo me? I am, after all, The Entertainer... 
Here I come! Here I drum! No more woes. Let me close! Let me in, hold me tight! Don’t resist me, do not fight—
At this point Anita kicks the bench back, and I tip it over behind us. She sways her hips to the beat, and I tap the floor. And we find ourselves bouncing there, almost dancing in place, playing the piano side by side: she on the high notes, I—on the low. 
From one musical sequence to another, the music sparkles in spiteand maybe becauseof the fiery contrast between the two. Which brings me to believe that my musical aspirations at the age of six may not have been a total waste, after all.
Sometimes I find myself having to take my hand away, so she can play the same key immediately after me. On some notes, my right hand crosses her left hand, in an exchange that is wild and fiery—like no duet I have ever seen, or listened to! One way or another it blends, it mixes into a sound, which you might call a crude, unruly, unrestrained racket. But to the ears of a madman, it can be called music.

Ben in The White Piano




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Release day: THE WHITE PIANO is here

(•̃̃‿•̃̃ °˚ Doing the happy dance: release day today! THE WHITE PIANO is here, in not one, but two editions: ebook and paperback, and you can already 'look inside'! Check it out!


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Saturday, August 29, 2015

That was chutzpa, plain and simple

Author of War Songs, Grady Harp describes himself as being ever on the alert for the new and promising geniuses of tomorrow. He is an artist representative, gallery owner, writer of essays and articles on figurative and all Representational art for museum catalogues and for traveling exhibitions, and an Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer. I am honored that he has posted this five-star review for my children's book, Jess and Wiggle:

Uvi Poznansky wears a coat of many colors. Originally from Israel where she studied Architecture and Town Planning then moving to the US where she studied Computer Science and became an expert in Software Engineering, Poznansky managed to combine the design elements of two studies into unique formats. And she has accomplished the same with the other side of her brain - making visual her ideas (she is an accomplished painter, drawer, and sculptor who has enjoyed exhibitions both in Israel and in California, her present base) and making words in poetry and in short stories and children's books.

JESS AND WIGGLE is one of her newest and freshest books yet. More concerned with the visual than the story Uvi provides all the illustrations for this delightful little rhyming tale – richly colored hand made collages as well as paintings adorn these beautiful and fanciful pages.

The story concerns young Jess who rarely smiles and never laughs until she encounters Wiggle, a ribbon like creature with whom she interacts In myriad ways in a test of who will laugh. Of course the winner is the recalcitrant Jess, but it is the artistic fun things she does with Wiggle that make the reader laugh way before Jess gives in!

This is another treasure form Uvi Poznansky – a perfect entertainment and lesson for children and adults alike. Grady Harp, August 15

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

For a whole month, fearing that a scandal may erupt, I avoid sending for her

For a whole month, fearing that a scandal may erupt, I avoid sending for her. It is the beginning of summer, and the heat is unusual, unrelenting—but I avoid going out onto the roof, which is where a light breeze can offer some relief, because it is there, more than any other place, that I ache for her. I whisper her name, and burn up at the mere sound of it.
I try to take control of my desire by playing my lyre and writing poetry, but notes and words fail me. Everything I compose these days seems to be but a pale shadow of a shadow of what Bathsheba means to me. 
And the one image that keeps coming back to me is our reflection in the glass, where our faces melded into one. My eye, her eye, and around us, the outline of a new, fluid identity. A portrait of our love, rippling there, across the surface of the wine.
But I keep asking myself, with the same tone as hers, “Love, everlasting? What does that mean, in this place?”
At the height of the lunar cycle, when the moon grows full once again, I give in to temptation. I go out onto the roof, where I hope, in vain, to catch a glimpse of her. And just as I start agonizing, asking myself how long can our secret be kept silent, an interruption occurs. 
My bodyguard, Benaiah, comes out. I want to believe that he knows nothing about me except what orders I give him, and how I want them obeyed. 
When he comes to a stand near me I spot a note in his hand. I recognize it: this is the same little papyrus scroll I sent with him that first time, a month ago, but she must have sealed it anew. 
I break the seal and then, then I stare at the unfurled thing, utterly speechless. It takes just three words to get me into this state. 
In long, elegant glyphs, Bathsheba has written, simply, “I am pregnant.”



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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Fun with style for child and care-giver to enjoy

I am thrilled to find a truly perceptive review for my children's book, Jess and Wiggle, written by top Amazon reviewer and author Sheila Deeth. In addition to her novel, Divide by Zero, she has written The Five Minute Bible Story Series, and other books. With a Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England, she is a a top reviewer for Amazon, Goodreads, Gather and other reading sites. This is what she says:

Format: Kindle Edition
Written in a cool dancing font, sure to intrigue children and parents alike, Uvi Poznansky’s Jess and Wiggle feels like a perfect cross between my mother’s old books and my children’s new. The rhyming text is clean and smooth, easy to read aloud, and fun. The facial expressions of miserable Jess are so sweet and convincing. And the blend of old-fashioned painting and drawing with bright cut-out stylization makes for a book whose pages are truly a delight to turn.

For added enjoyment, in the kindle edition you can click on words to see them in fonts easy enough for a beginning reader to enjoy. Plus the poem’s repeated in simple text at the end. Jess and Wiggle converse, they dance, they play, and it’s all nicely vague for any care-giver to share with a child. A beautiful book for adults and children who appreciate the fun of art and words.

Disclosure: I was given a free ecopy and I offer my honest review.

Monday, August 24, 2015

The highs and lows of the music of us

All of us take Truth to mean an absolute account of reality. But since we view reality through the lens of who we are, our experience, our mood at a certain time, we create multiple versions of this reality, which may or may not agree with each other. When literature explores what reality may mean through multiple points of view and over long periods of time, it is searching for truth through its distortions, its reflections in history. 

This distortion is exactly what fascinates me in my novel, Apart From Love, set in 1980, in which two characters, Ben and Anita, often describe the same sequence of events, but interpret it in an entirely different manner. “He said, she said.” Ben misunderstands his father, Lenny, because of anger, blame, and estrangement between them. It is only towards the end of the novel that the motives of the father begin to clarify in the mind of the son. I asked myself, how does reality look from the father’s point of view? Where does he come from?

His predicament--watching his wife, Natasha, slipping away from him due to her early-onset Alzheimer’s--is heart-rending to me. It fascinates me to such a degree that I find myself compelled to build an entire series around what happens to this family. It will be titled Still Life with Memories. I am writing a new novel for this series as we speak, which gives both Lenny and Natasha center stage, and takes them first to 1970 and then a full generation back, to 1941, to the beginning of their love story. This volume of the series is titled The Music of Us.

In 1970, there is only one thing more difficult in Lenny’s mind than talking to his son, who has left home, and that is writing to him. Amazingly, having to conceal what Natasha is going through makes every word—even on subjects unrelated to her condition—that much harder for him. Lenny finds himself oppressed by his own self-imposed discipline, the discipline of silence. This, over time, creates two different versions of reality: Lenny’s version of the events, which is different than Ben’s.

These are his thoughts:

And what can I tell him, really? That I keep digging into the past, mining its moments, trying to piece them together this way and that, dusting off each memory of Natasha, of how we were, the highs and lows of the music of us, to find out where the problem may have started? 

Here is a phone conversation between Lenny and Natasha in 1941, when he was a young soldier and she--a rising star. This is the beginning of their love story. Note not only how chatty she is with him, but also the mechanics of a long distance call through the switchboard:

The Bell phone operator came on. I could hear her fumbling about at the switchboard, which I imagined as a high back panel, consisting of rows of front and back keys, front and back lamps, and cords all about, extending every which way, connecting the entire mess into circuits.
At the other end, “Hello,” said Natasha. Her voice sounded intermittent. 
“She said Hello,” said the operator.
“Oh, Hi,” said I.
“He said Hi,” said the operator.
We laughed. I could barely hear what I thought were giggles, as they were breaking off, coming back on. After a while the connection got better, but at the risk of it deteriorating again, we found ourselves talking rather fast. 
I asked Natasha if she got my photograph, the one I had sent earlier that month. It showed me amongst others in a group of Marines, all of us dressed in uniforms, looking exactly alike. 
She said yes, and was I the Marine second from the left, squatting, and in return I should expect a photograph of hers, which I’d better treat with extreme care, not the way I had treated her first envelope, which meant placing it in a dry, safe place, preferably close to my heart, because this is the earliest picture she had with her papa, so it was dear to her, and she’s giving it to me as a special gift, and on an entirely different note, what would I say if she told me that this summer she plans to take some time off from performances, which would give us an opportunity to meet, and even if her Mama would object to this idea, because she protects her only daughter from dates with soldiers in general, because in her opinion they’re good-for-nothing low-lives who sleep who-knows-where with God-knows-who, she, Natasha, would love to see me if, and that’s a big if,  I could arrange a visit. 

Compare this with another phone conversation between them, 40 years later, described by their son in my novel Apart From Love. Here Lenny calls Natasha, who can no longer understand him, let alone respond, because by now she is afflicted with the disease. 

Stopping for a moment by the console table he dials, listens, and redials. His ear is pressed to the handset, which is connected by a long, spiral cord to the phone, which is nearly buried by various papers, and hidden behind an old alarm clock. The cord is stretching tensely in midair, or slithering behind his back as he goes back to hobbling to and fro across the floor.  
There he goes, reaching the wall, banging it accidentally with the bottom of the crutch and then, somehow, turning around, aiming to reach the opposite wall and bang, turning around again, while listening intently to the earphone. With each footfall, my father attempts to cut through some stutter. He tries, it seems, to restart a conversation. 
He pays no attention to me. Still, his voice is deliberately lowered, which tells me this is private. I should turn away, really, and keep myself far out of earshot—but for some reason I make no move, and no sound either. Why is the connection so bad, I wonder, and who is it, who could it be at the other end of the line?
My father swallows his breath several times, his face turning pale, his eyes—miserable, until finally he bursts out shouting, “Listen, it’s Lenny! Can you hear me, dear? In God’s name, Natasha, it’s me—” 

Perhaps you have figured out by now why I call the series Still Life with Memories. Think about the haircut style of a soldier in this era, the woman’s fashion in hats and dresses, the design of cars, the gadgets (such as here, the telephone), the furniture, the stamps and envelopes--these are the details that give a solid background to the story and allow it to harken back to an earlier era in history.



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Saturday, August 22, 2015

Right there you drew across my heart you carved an arrow in my bark

Author of War Songs, Grady Harp describes himself as being ever on the alert for the new and promising geniuses of tomorrow. He is an artist representative, gallery owner, writer of essays and articles on figurative and all Representational art for museum catalogues and for traveling exhibitions, and an Amazon Hall of Fame Reviewer. I am honored that he has posted this five-star review for my children's book, Now I Am Paper:


Uvi Poznansky wears a coat of many colors. Originally from Israel where she studied Architecture and Town Planning then moving to the US where she studied Computer Science and became an expert in Software Engineering, Poznansky managed to combine the design elements of two studies into unique formats. And she has accomplished the same with the other side of her brain - making visual her ideas (she is an accomplished painter, drawer, and sculptor who has enjoyed exhibitions both in Israel and in California, her present base) and making words in poetry and in short stories and children's books.

For this very tender little story Uvi uses her talent as a watercolorist and graphic designer (letterer) to make this book a work of art as well as a love story between a child and a tree. The tree narrates the rhyming tale that begins with the quiet of the forest and then along comes a child how climbs the tree, finds the trees hollow, leaves a make of love on the trees bark and departs. Years pass and the tree grows old and eventually chopped down and sent to a mill where it is made into paper – the very paper on which this tale of tenderness is written.

Leave it to Uvi to create a story to which children and adults can relate and one that teaches some important lessons to children. Art and rhyme blended with love. Grady Harp, August 15

Thursday, August 20, 2015

A powerful look at a future king

The talented author of historical fiction, John Rose Putnam, spent a lot of time digging into the gold rush and many of his stories take place back then. I am thrilled to find his review of my novel, Rise to Power:

A powerful look at a future king.August 19, 2015
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This review is from: Rise to Power (The David Chronicles Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
In THE RISE TO POWER Uvi Poznansky delivers a powerful look at young David, the future king of Israel, as he begins his court life as a musician to King Saul. Ms. Poznansky then dives deep into the mind of this amazing historical figure and shows us the deep emotion that fills him before his his coming struggle against the giant Goliath and how his success causes King Saul to turn away from him. This is an absorbing read and I highly recommend it. I look forward to the next episode in the story.