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Celebrating a Tapestry of Life
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Celebrating a Tapestry
of Life:

Reviews & Excerpts

Reviews:

“Juanita Torrence-Thompson’s verse should be patiently read, absorbed, then read over and over again. Hers is a rare talent.”
— Gordon Parks

“Thank you so much for sharing Celebrating a Tapestry of Life. You must be so proud of your achievements. I’m happy for you and for all of us who had a chance to read it.”
— Nikki Giovanni

“Juanita Torrence-Thompson’s poetry is genuine in its concerns and fully embodies a sensitivity to history and social concerns. She demonstrates an empathy with all who suffer oppression and shows a deep regard for racism and sexism among other more personal themes of love and relationship. Her evocative poems, sometimes joyous and celebratory, sometimes commemorative in tone, are clearly dedicated to our common humanity. She displays an awareness and humane conscience in Celebrating A Tapestry of Life, certainly worth the reading.”
— Daniela Gioseffi, American Book Award Winner; Author of Women on War: International Writings.

“Juanita Torrence-Thompson’s verse medley Celebrating a Tapestry of Life seamlessly weaves together the compelling concerns of African-American folk with the universal plight of all fragile, endearing mortal beings. Her observant eye’s “warp and weft” takes in the privileged and the homeless alike, whether the setting is America, England, South Africa or Beijing. No one under her gaze is given short shrift, for she can “hear Nana saying again /Love your fellow man” (“Litany of Life”).
— Barbara Hantman, Author, Soul Buds

See Barbara Hantman's review of Juanita Torrence-Thompson’s Celebrating a Tapestry of Life at: The Pedestal Magazine

“Juanita Torrence-Thompson’s Celebrating A Tapestry of Life weaves an odyssey of one woman ... traveling the world with persistence, grace, and sensitivity exploring London, New York, Africa, and the Beijing International Forum on Women--as well as the interior landscapes of love and loss. In carefully crafted and evocative poems, this tapestry is rich in diversity--the velvets, satins, denims, and lace of life.”
— Laura Boss, Editor, Lips; Author of Arms

“Juanita Torrence-Thompson’s... poetry provides valuable revelations, especially of the African-American experience which is emphasized but is presented with fairness and grace as in the works of my friend, Claude Brown, author of Manchild in the Promised Land. Thompson’s poems are worth the journey. They yield up heart-felt truths which will deepen and broaden the experiences of being a sensitive and humane human being.”
— Tom McKeown, Author, The Luminous Revolver,
Three Hundred Tigers

Celebrating a Tapestry of Life is one of those books that lovers of poetry will want to read and re-read. The selections range from powerful statements of the damaging effects of racial discrimination to expressions of delight at the beauties of nature and of the precious moments of pleasure and joy that life has to offer. Whether she is describing a natural setting or an interesting object, Juanita Torrence-Thompson exhibits a remarkable ability to infuse her work with sincere feeling, and to share her own fascinating life with that of the reader. One cannot read these works without being both impressed and deeply moved.”
— George G. Dawson, Professor Emeritus, Empire State College, SUNY

“In Celebrating a Tapestry of Life, Juanita Torrence-Thompson takes a long, searching look at the world around her and always manages to find hope amid despair.”
— Charles H. Johnson, Home News Tribune

“Her poems deal with every day irritations...the disdain shown the homeless, being alone on a Saturday night, her travels abroad, racism....”
— Merle English, Newsday

Reader Comments:

“I couldn’t put it (Celebrating a Tapestry of Life) down. I read it back to front, starting with the bio, then the next day I read it front to back. I love it! I’m on my fourth reading. You can tell the poet has lived these poems. They are so real. I keep it by my bedside.”
— Josephine, Massachusetts

“I am enjoying this so very much. Terrific! Perfect for short bus/subway rides. I ordered 5 from Barnes & Noble today for friends who will enjoy and appreciate.”
— Ida, New York City

“I have enjoyed Juanita Torrence-Thompson’s Celebrating a Tapestry of Life which my dear friend gave me during my recovery. She has done a beautiful job for which she must be very proud. I’ve heard about her outstanding work over the years, so I was not surprised when I received this book. The cover is extremely impressive. Congratulations!”
— Dr. Mattie Edwards, North Carolina

Celebrating a Tapestry of Life has enlightened me on the subject of history from Shirley Chisolm to Marcus Garvey. What a delightful and enjoyable book of poems.”
—Billie Prailleau, New York City

Audience Response to Readings:

“Juanita Torrence-Thompson is an excellent reader who both inspires and instructs her audiences. Her poems are mini performance pieces that delve to the essence of cultural and personal issues. It is a pleasure to hear her.”
— Thaddeus Rutkowski, author of Roughhouse (Kaya Press)

“Humanism pervades the writings of Juanita Torrence-Thompson, permitting the listener to travel within the childlike enthusiasm of transcendent living. — Thanks for the loveful experience!”
— Madeline Peters Pastore (Poets Corner, New Rochelle, New York)

“I get the feeling that writing is your best friend, the place that you go to share all of your feelings, to let the seeds of beauty you encountered in life blossom. It is as if we get to share your life through your private relationship with your writing. — A wonderful, colorful, rich experience!”
— Stephanie Claper

“I was inspired by your poetry! Often when I listen to poetry, it goes over my head... but yours I understood and felt. I felt, at the same time, that I could write from my own experience, in my own voice, somehow that I would do that too. Not that I could write as well as you... Thank you!”
— Y.E. Vaughan

“Your poems speak to subtle aspects of the African American family. The unity and love, the innocence not believed to be present in the African American family. I love the aspects of your truth, your love of nature and life. The Barbara Jordan piece is so full of love, self love, racial love and universal love of humanism. — I love your way of ... (not) knocking the reader over the head with what you want the reader to feel. (Especially ... in your poem about Africa.)”
— Laura Bowman

“Ms. Torrence-Thompson’s reading kept me interested and smiling. Her poem “When I Am Old” was satirical and amusing. Thank you Ms. Torrence-Thompson for sharing your poetry.”
— Kenya Blue

“The pieces read carry in them a tremendously resilient, joyful spirit capable of evoking the joy of experience in the listener’s own life. The work also carries the perspective of a life lived, and, through the depiction of foreign cities, events passed by, people of the past, present, and future, these pieces also create a lovely portrait of you as the author. Enjoyed the program quite a bit.”
— Joshua R. Thomas

“I enjoyed the sensitivity and honesty of your poetry. You seem to come directly from the heart and speak with a clarity that is inspirational... ”
— Wendy Guagenti

“Prof. Dawson, Rochelle Ratner and Mrs. Reardon, your English teacher, would be very proud to see how their protege flowered. A very enjoyable highlight of the week.”
— Dr. Olivia J. Hooker

“What struck me most within each poem, is Ms. Thompson’s love and appreciation of life’s experience, regardless of the lightness or darkness of the experience itself. Truly delightful! She made me want to get out my passport and walk down that street!!! Thank you!”
— Lisa LaGrande

“I so enjoyed your perspective and your humor! Thank you. It’s wonderful that your voice comes through without anger, and allows my thoughtfulness to consider what you’re saying.”
— Sarah Baehr

“I loved the imagery you painted with your words... I feel blessed to have shared your world.”
— Namaskan and Janet S. Castronuovo

“It was so enjoyable hearing you read your work...! Your words are quite descriptive, light and flowing — easily into one another — I particularly enjoyed “The Picnic Game” which brought my own memories to mind. You are truly blessed and I wish you the best.”
— Linda Baker (Fiber Artist, “Jala Creations”)

“I loved your readings. They were as if you were reading them for the first time. Refreshing and fun, without any sense of pretentiousness. Thank you.”
— Melinda Maxwell

“Light. Direct. From the heart. "Uncomplicated expression! Thank you.”
— Carol Guagenti

“Wonderful voice. Enjoyed the reading. Much success.”
— Jamila Johnson

“Fantastic! Original and true.”
— L. Moore

Excerpts of poems from Celebrating a Tapestry of Life
(Torderwarz Publishing Company):

(In honor of my dear husband)
HOW I MET HUGH

If I had not gone to England as a teenager
to live with my mother and stepfather
and if I wasn’t taught that the world was my oyster
I never would have attended West End theatres
films, opera, concerts and ballets every week
and I never would have become interested
in acting and singing and auditioned for the London
Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts. Although I was
accepted at LAMDA, if there had been space for me
in the advanced American division of LAMDA and if
I had gotten an extension on my visa to remain in
England with my school chums from around the world
and if I had not decided to move to New York
to try my luck at the theatre and if I had not
auditioned for Obie-winning off-Broadway show “Machinal”
and if I had not gotten the role in “Machinal”
and if I had not met Ann Black in the show
and if Ann and I had not become friends
and if Ann had not thrown a party and invited me and Hugh
and if Hugh had not driven me home after the party
and if Hugh had not asked me out
and if we had not dated, we never would have gotten married.

WHY AREN’T WE IN HISTORY BOOKS?

...Why aren’t we in history books?
Didn’t scientist Lewis Latimer invent carbon filament?
Didn’t Garrett A. Morgan invent the traffic light?
Didn’t Dr. Charles Drew invent
The method for blood transfusions?
Aren’t those achievements?
You bet they are!
So, why aren’t we in history books?

LITANY OF THE WOMAN

...Can’t hold me back
I’m slim, I’m trim
I’m sharp as a shark
Don’t stop me, I’ll win
Cause I’m a woman
Lord help the man who tries
To make me slip and slide
Don’t bind my feet
Don’t make me wear a veil
Don’t make me walk behind
Don’t keep me ignorant
Don’t keep me shoeless and pregnant...

LA DOLCE VITA

Between salad, spaghetti,
tomato and herbs,
...We sing, applaud,
are in stitches
as head waiter Pauli
gives each lady a single red rose
and a peck on the cheek.

Juanita Torrence-Thompson has weekly poetry column “Celebrating a Tapestry of Life” for New Voice of New York (newspaper and online).

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