Elevate Difference

Reviews by Matsya Siosal

Matsya Siosal

Matsya Siosal is a writer, artist, entrepreneur and activist loving life in Portland OR. She is a freelance writer specializing in marketing materials for mission-driven businesses and entrepreneurs and is CEO of Touchstones of the Sacred, a global multimedia resource for conscious living. Matsya spends as much time in nature as possible by gardening, walking, hiking and cycling and is usually reading 3 or 4 books at once; favorite topics include nutrition, business, Buddhism, psychology, poetry and historical fiction. When not working, writing, homesteading, chilling in nature or hanging with husband and feline companion, Matsya volunteers on behalf of animals and the environment.


With the release of Sharanam Sharon Gannon adds another dimension to her body of work as a yogi, inspirational figure, and advocate of compassionate lifestyles. I have encountered Gannon’s philosophy and teachings in YouTube videos, web and magazine articles, on her website, and in a documentary on raw foods, and have always found myself appreciative of the contribution she makes towards a more peaceful and spiritually grounded world. This musical dimension, unfortunately, fell flat for this eager listener.

No Surrender

No Surrender is poet Ai’s posthumous collection and indeed bears the imprint of a full life lived. Written in Ai’s characteristic poetic monologue, each poem is a story that inhabits the liminal space between the more expository world of prose and the oft cryptic and somewhat mystical realm of the lyrical. While the stories told in the poems themselves may or may not be autobiographical, themes common to the poet’s own background and experience figure prominently throughout this twenty-one poem collection: luck, alcoholism, Catholicism, relationships, motherhood and miscarriage, race, and ethnicity.

Origami Pyramid Bag

It’s a hot July evening and I’m feeling like a wilted flower. Fashion has always been a great pick-me-up and I’m looking forward to sporting Silvermint’s strawberry Origami Pyramid Bag with a simple black sundress to a friend’s party. The bag attracted me with its unique design, convenient wristlet style, and high quality, interestingly-textured fabric and materials.

So Much Things to Say: 100 Calabash Poets

Each May for the past ten years, poets from all over the globe converge in Jamaica for the Calabash International Literary Festival. So Much Things to Say: 100 Calabash Poets brings together the work of poets known and unknown who have read at the Festival or are Calabash Writer’s Workshop Fellows.

Shoulder Season

I’ve often wondered how much it really matters if the reader “gets” what the poet means in some of the more cryptic or shall we say intricately wrought poetry out there, or can a poem itself act as an agent of transformation, imparting unique meaning to both the poet and the reader? This question popped its head up as I read Shoulder Season by poet Ange Mlinko.

Saints & Cannibals

If I were to list my favorite poets, the count would be long and span a modest range of styles, but several rise clearly to the top. These poets—Sharon Olds, Carolyn Forché, Sylvia Plath, and Audre Lorde, to name a few—in no way shy away from subject matter women are traditionally taught to suppress or deny: the shocking, shadowy, and infinitely juicy reality of our lives.

Erotic Poems

Love, sex, and springtime are fundamental themes in E.E. Cummings’ lifetime body of work, and in Erotic Poems, editor George James Firmage brings together pieces by Cummings’ that are especially sexual, exalting of fertility, and written in a voice that is at once fresh and wise, evocative of the dumb yet utterly precise instinct to procreate.

I Have a Song for You

I am so excited to be reviewing a zine this month! My love of little magazines and homegrown self-publishing began as soon as my level of dexterity allowed for scissors, paste, and a stapler to be wielded with semi-precision. This love of writing, crafting, and publishing blossomed into a passionate obsession during my first year of college, when I edited the school literary journal and stayed up all night making chapbooks.

Arc and Hue

It is deeply satisfying to encounter poetry like Tara Betts’. The widely published poet, author, and Rutgers University creative writing professor bears witness to the true grit of life, including poverty and appearance-based assumptions and experiences that categorize one as other, even among an already marginalized population.

Destroying Mara Forever: Buddhist Ethics Essays in Honor of Damien Keown

Destroying Mara Forever is by no means a leisurely read. Reading this collection of rigorously researched essays, I found myself personally engaged with the questions raised by these great scholars and I am grateful to have had such rich food for thought. The collection honors the work of Damien Keown, now retired Professor of Buddhist Ethics at London’s Goldsmith College.

Elizabeth Gilbert (01/25/2010)

I fell in love with Elizabeth Gilbert’s smart, poetic, humorous and utterly authentic voice while reading Eat, Pray, Love.

Garbage Dreams: Raised in the Trash Trade

At seventy-nine minutes long, Garbage Dreams is New York-based producer, director, and cinematographer Mai Iskander’s directorial debut. Before viewing the film I had never heard of the Zaballeen nor did I know that Cairo, one of the world’s most historic cities, once at the very pinnacle of human history, has no municipal waste disposal system to handle the trash of its eighteen million residents.

The Ravenous Audience

I’ve always thought that at its best, art in some way disturbs us: out of complacency, ignorance, or innocence that has become a liability. The Ravenous Audience by Kate Durbin is a deliciously disturbing collection of poems that delivers a sensory-emotional feast ripe with smells, sounds, and flavors of the sacred and the profane.

BooBoo Unisex Wrist Bracelet, Woven

The story behind a company and its products really makes or breaks my decision to purchase. Yes, aesthetics are a key determining factor, but my criteria goes beyond this alone. I want to know the who, what, where, when, and how behind it so that my money supports my values.

The 2010 Lonely Planet Calendar

There’s something about getting a new calendar that brings out my inner geek, the part of me that revels in stationery supplies and finds the smell of pencils and paper somewhat intoxicating. As a student, the beginning of fall—my favorite season—was always exciting not just for the crisp sunny days and technicolored leaves. I was equally thrilled to have fresh, new school supplies, and to this day, I get a charge when replenishing my office supplies or choosing a new journal. I also carefully select an agenda book and a wall calendar each year.

Little Black Rabbit Necklace

Black Rabbit Handmade Jewelry is a mother-daughter team with a combined background of jewelry design, fine and graphic art, photography, and textile arts with a shared love of art, design, culture, and beauty. The duo says that they “hope, more than anything, that our jewelry will bring joy to the wearer, and will enhance her own sense of personal beauty.” I especially appreciate that sentiment because for me, self-adornment is a creative ritual.

Found Object Necklace

Found object art first made an impression on me studying the Dada movement in a mixed media sculpture class.

Revealing Moments

In Revealing Moments, Wayne Scheers’ collection of twenty-four of prose vignettes, we are plunged right into dark, hopeful, nostalgic and passionate moments of people’s lives. True to form, each vignette is extremely short, ranging from one paragraph to nearly two pages at most. In each carefully crafted snapshot the reader is voyeur to pivotal moments that presumably shape each characters’ reality for better or worse.

No Innocent Bystanders: Riding Shotgun in the Land of Denial

I have enjoyed reading Mickey Z.’s feisty, politically charged writing in the pages of VegNews magazine and on his website and was excited by the opportunity to review his latest book, No Innocent Bystanders: Riding Shotgun in the Land of Denial. New York City based writer Mickey Z.

I Am Not Afraid of Winter

I Am Not Afraid of Winter is blog writing at its best: excellently written, thoughtful and thought provoking. I was captivated by this window into Carrot Quinn’s world enough to log in every day, to see what Quinn was up to or thinking about. Quinn writes about everything from traveling hobo-style by freight train and critical cultural analysis, to having scabies and the compulsion to write, to memories of formative experience and intimate moments of sickness or sex.