Category Archives: Literature

Anthology by Alvin Conway – The Interview

Majestic and beautiful…full of wonder, intellect, and charm...” – NY First Look

Whoever said poetry was dead and wasn’t what people in our modern world read anymore couldn’t be more wrong. We’ve come across a collection of poems that has simply stunned us. Anthology, the fifteenth book written by Alvin Conway, is majestic and beautiful. You’ll find yourself holding the book and just staring at the cover for ten minutes before you ever open it. Anthology is a true work of art. This book is full of wonder, intellect, and charm.

Reading Anthology, one gets the feeling that they just might’ve stumbled across a lost or forgotten work by Lord Byron or perhaps Oscar Wilde that just happened to be hiding out in someone’s attic. Mr. Conway’s poetic mastery of the English language in the modern and ancient vernacular is impressive. His verses are as colorful as they are passionate. Consider this exquisitely penned verse from his poem, Ancient Love Affair:

Or the eloquence expressed by a dying Greek solider who is mortally wounded  in battle and stumbles into a field of flowers, where he meets and falls in love with a young maiden in the poem Anemone:

Or the quest for beauty so wonderfully expressed in his poem, Sometimes:

Anthology is that kinda of a wonderful book. Mr. Conway certainly has a gift for poetic expression and that’s what makes this book so classical and endearing in our opinion. He even wrote a libretto for Belinni’s opera La Sommanbula , a poetic rendering for Listz’s classical Liebesträume , and composed a poetic reworking of the song, Habanera from Georges Bizet’s opera Carmen. 

It’s easy to lose oneself in the enchantment of Anthology’s poems which unfold like a series of lost myths, fairy tales, and legends strung across eons of time. Unrequited love, heartbreak, the quest for true love, the allure of nature, the transformation of beauty, the eloquence of form, and imagination as an authentic source of aesthetic experience – all these themes are explored here with such depth, poetic beauty, and intensity that we can’t help but feel Anthology is one of those seminal literary work by a western writer that is destined to become a literary classic.

Anthology, 532 pages – The Rose Diary (abridged version), 54 pages

We took time off from our New York literary circuit of books, pages, and pen to paper to briefly talk with author Alvin Conway about his latest project – a beautiful new collection of his poems called Anthology.   – Rachel Thomas 

NY First Look: We’ve never seen a collection of poems quite like this. I was impressed with the breadth and scope of the poems…their exquisite richness and texture. There are so many beautiful ones. I think people are going to have an enchanting time both reading this and flipping through the pages of this book. It’s already a fan favorite among the staff. Anthology is really beautifully illustrated from cover to cover.

AC: Thank you. What comes from the heart goes to the heart.

NY First Look: You see poetry differently than most  modern authors and poets, at least that’s the way you appear to write about it. Would you say that’s a correct assessment?

AC: I don’t know if I see it differently or I just express it differently. To me, it’s all about passion. Not just from feeling but also from experience. I see the poem as artistic composition. Therefore it has an almost infinite dimension of creative expression. I draw from the past and I filter it through my own experiences. Words can just be words, like music can just be noise but it’s the order and the aesthetics arrangement of themes in art and life that truly creates beauty.

NY First Look: What poets influenced you?

AC: I love the Romantic poets: William Blake, William Wordsworth, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, George Gordon Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley and John Keats. I also love Homer, William Shakespeare, John Milton, Poe, Emily Dickinson, and Sara Teasdale.

NY First Look: Anthology is a very intriguing read with more than 500 poems. What inspired you to compose such a prolific volume of work?

AC: I thought it was time to take all the new material I’ve written, as well as the selections from the five poetic books I wrote over the last five years and compile them into one definitive masterwork. I think readers will have a more comprehensive view of my poetry given the tapestry and nature of the poems, their subject matter, and the fact that each of the books from which the selections were initially drawn are all interrelated.

NY First Look: You explore a lot of fascinating themes in your book Anthology from Opera to Classical music from the Hero mythos to Greek Classicism, from fairy tales to time travel, from love and loss to Romanticism. Why are these themes such compelling subjects for you, as a writer?

AC: Poems are a very unique way of telling a story, while expressing sentiment in the beauty and nuances of the transcribed language. Poems give structure to form, much like music elevates the life of lyrics. Poems artistically fall somewhere between a story and a song. It’s a ballet of words with meter and rhythm without the music. Poetry is the thunder of passion that is quietly quelled by the gentle, cool rain of contemplation. Poems are floral vignettes, or at least that’s the way I’ve always seen them. If passion is the electricity of life and love then I must say I’m fascinated by our drives and what fuels desire, fear, hope, love, emotional expression, obsessions and addictions. In my mind, poetry is the perfect canvass for such a colorful palette of human responses to life.

NY First Look: Do you have a favorite poem in the book?

AC: I have several. They generally resonate with the mood I’m in at the time. However, Parisina is one I definitely adore.

Where to buy Anthology by Alvin Conway: Lulu

NY First Look interview with Alvin Conway

First Look: Mr. Conway, thank you for stopping by today to discuss your new book, All Our Days of Splendor and welcome to New York.

Alvin Conway: Thank you. It’s my pleasure, Jeanie.

First Look: I have to admit I was quite stunned after reading your book. It’s an amazing read. It’s one of those intellectual gems of the rarest varieties…and the poetic aspects of the book are eloquent and simply delightful.

Alvin Conway: Thank you

 First Look: As I understand it, this is your first fiction novel?

Alvin Conway: That’s correct – this is my first fiction novel, but my 12th book. It’s a pleasant diversion from some of the non-fiction subjects of my other books – physics, geology, and ecological science. However, it will be familiar terrain for anyone who has read any of the books of poetry I’ve written: Ariel, Sinfonia 9, Esprit, The Amethyst, and Callidora.

First Look: The 1920s was such a colorful time in the history of the world – the art, the fashion, the music, the beginning of the modern communication age, air flights, and transoceanic travel. A lot of books were written during this time period, but not necessarily about this time. What inspired you to settle on this particular time-period as a setting for this wonderful romance that unfolds between these two fascinating characters?

Alvin Conway: As you mentioned, 1920s was the beginning of the Modern Age – but it was also the beginning of international cosmopolitan culture – and that’s always a fascinating backdrop for an intriguing story of love, mystery, and wonder to unfold. The influence of Romanticism was still strong and being widely felt in Europe at the time, cubism and surrealism (as artistic movements) where prevalent in France, and there was this wonderful burgeoning of diverse ideas that flowed back and forth across the Atlantic after World War I through various mediums like art, fashion, music, literature. The 1920s was also a decade of unbridled excesses and the birth of the new aristocratic class in society that would reshape the world right before the Stock Market Crash and the Great Depression changed everything. So you have this gold vein of affluence from corporate capitalism nestled over these two historical sticks of dynamite that people were dancing over, but were basically oblivious too. In my opinion, there couldn’t be a more dynamic time in history for two electric personalities to grace each other’s presence.

First Look: F. Scott Fitzgerald garnered our attention so vividly with his story of aristocratic society in Long Island, New York during the Jazz Age in The Great Gatsby. However, your story unfolds half a world away in Paris, France in the year 1926 in a completely different context. You captured the decadence of the times so magnificently through the eyes of the French and some will even compare your ornate sense of visual writing style to that of Fitzgerald’s. Have you read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book, The Great Gatsby?

Alvin Conway: No, I haven’t read the book nor seen the film adaptations of the book but I’ve read This Side of Paradise and I think Fitzgerald was a great writer.

First Look: I have many favorite passages in the book. One of them being: “Time passed. She read passionately. Words knit distance, and stitched together ponderous pauses between episodic exchanges of dialogue. And as she spoke, we were ferried across the distance subtlety, imperceptibly, by the nuances of and charm of literary enchantments until we arrived at Le Chateau Charbonneau outside Paris.”

What would be one thing that would surprise people about All Our Days of Splendor?

Alvin Conway: That the book has this intriguing sense of mystery about time.

First Look: You explore themes from many Twentieth century French writers in your novel – notably authors like Marcel Proust, André Breton, and Paul Éluard. Is there a significance reason these writers were interwoven into the fabric of the story?

Alvin Conway: They all came out of the school of surrealism. Elements of French surrealism and German expressionism later found their way into cinematic film noir themes in the U.S. during the 1940s. I think surrealism in literature was a fascinating movement. It was a prominent force in Paris in the 1920s. I believe anything that alters our perception of reality or juxtaposes contrasting ideas as a subtext for deeper contemplation merits some degree of discussion. Surrealism has intriguing creative aspects, especially if you can incorporate the idealism or symbolism into the central tenets of a story. In that respect, All Our Days of Splendor is homage to the movement – as it is a nonlinear narrative that plays against convention by meandering in and out of time – sometimes while conjuring up intriguing revelations and surprises. Essentially, something is lost and something is gained in the process through a pathway of experiences involving the various people the central character comes in contact with. Proust’s book À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time) touches on certain aspects of this odyssey process, as does Joyce’s Ulysses. And of course André Breton, and Paul Éluard were non-centrist founders of the surrealism movement.

First Look: The Roaring Twenties was a remarkable time period for women. You emphasize and highlight this a lot in your book.

Alvin Conway: Women in the 1920s were so intriguing because they had just broken out of the shackles of Victorianism with all its constraining idealism and they were establishing their own identity and independence during the birth of the Jazz Age. They were fighting for equality, while at the same time flaunting their own brand of sexuality and femininity. They were bold and brash, and all of this was colorfully wrapped in some of the most intriguing styles and designer ensembles of the entire fashion era.

First Look: I love the characters in this story. How much fun did you have creating them?

Alvin Conway: The characters unfold as the story unfolds. It was like a magical experience with all the right people and parts coming together in this wonderful synchrony, and with poetic virtuosity. The characters brought in just the right things to say at the appropriate time, when they just happen to be nestled in the appropriate place, and all those elements greatly enriched the narrative aspects of the story. You’ll feel that rhythm in the tapestry of characters when you read the story – and you’ll get lost in the charm, and in their colorful sense of style.

First Look: Mr. Conway, thanks for talking with us today.

Alvin Conway: Thank you for the invitation.

First Look: And there you have it: All Our Days of Splendor by poet, artist, and author, Alvin Conway – I personally think is the first must read book of the summer and I was glad I was able to get my hands on an advance copy. All the staff here wants one, by the way. I love this book, and thank you for writing it.

Rose Garden 2

Where to find All Our Days of Splendor: lulu    Follow author on Facebook

All Our Days of Splendor Facebook        All Our Days of Splendor Book Blog

All Our Days of Splendor by Alvin Conway

 Splendor Book B

Summary: Paris 1926: Les Années folles as the French called it, “The Crazy Years.” It was the Roaring Twenties. It was the dawn of the Age of Modernism, feminism, the flappers, the birth of cinema; it was the decade of the automobile and radio. It was the reckless years of wealth and exuberance, where stock markets toyed with ideas of fanaticism, and where legends lived, loved, and died. Paris France was at the heart of a new cultural revolution that was reshaping and changing the world. Thomas E. McCann came to Paris to change his life. His life ended up changing everyone around him. There were parties, class privileges, there were flowing rivers of champagne, there was extravagant wealth, and everyone lived and loved like no one thought the wild celebrations of this Golden decade would ever come to an end.

Opinion Nothing could have prepared me for this book – not its sleek black cover, its unique literary style, its lofty poetic aspirations, it visceral moodiness and impressionist tone, its lucid foray into French aristocratic privileges during the Jazz Age, its endearing love story, or it rich dialogue. All Our Days of Splendor by newly-commissioned fiction author, Alvin Conway, is visually sumptuous – meaning words are pushed to new visual dimensions. The book is a variable literary feast for the eyes, ears, and mind. One could spend a lifetime and a half searching for a relatively new and undiscovered gem like this and never find it. The poetry is divine, the characters are quintessentially cool and likable, it’s laced with intelligent discourse and picturesque imagery, and it takes place in Paris, France of all things during the height of the Roaring Twenties. What’s not to like? I read it once, and then read passages of it aloud to friends – and it turned a dozen heads with everyone asking me, “What is that you’re reading?” I smiled delightfully. I think I have a new favorite book.  – Lisa Harding

5 Stars

(Click on link) Where to find it:  Lulu.com