Wednesday, June 17, 2015

2015 Summer Reading Challenge!

(Starting at the top.)

I am eager to get down to the business of Oliver de la Paz's 2015 summer reading challenge. Here's how it works:
  1. Pick 15 books that you would like to finish this summer--any genre, any size. This list doesn't have to be at 15 right from the start. It will grow as the summer continues.
  2. Of the 15 books, designate 3 that you recommend to co-participants. (After you've read them, of course).
  3. Of the 15 books, 3 of the books must be from recommendations by other participants.
  4. Post your 15 book list somewhere with a link so that co-participants can link you on their webpages, tumblr pages, or blogs.
  5. Hold yourself accountable by posting commentary about a book you've just read. Commentary can also take the form of something creative or artistic.
  6. The Challenge Ends August 31st. Have fun.

Here's my list, so far... I still need one to round it out (though Repast is really three books in one, so).

Decomp – Stephen Collis & Jordan Scott (Coach House, 2013)

Things Seen – Annie Ernaux (Bison Books, 2010)

Sula – Toni Morrison (Knopf, 1973)

Repast: Tea, Lunch, and Cocktails – D.A. Powell (Graywolf, 2014)

Charming Gardens – David Biespiel (University of Washington, 2013)

Things To Do With Your Mouth – Divya Victor (Les Figues, 2014)

After-Cave – Michelle Detorie (Ahsahta, 2014)

The Interrogative Mood – Padgett Powell (Ecco, 2010)

Excluded – Julia Serano (Seal Press, 2013)

Binary Star – Sarah Girard (Two Dollar Radio, 2015)

Bad Feminist – Roxane Gay (Harper Perennial, 2014)

Notes from No Man’s Land – Eula Biss (Graywolf, 2009)

The Empathy Exams – Leslie Jamison (Graywolf, 2014)

My Body is a Book of Rules – Elissa Washuta (Red Hen, 2014)

Some of the other participants and lists so far:

Thursday, January 15, 2015

2014's reading list...

Highlighted in orange are the top 10% that blew my mind. While there were many more than that I found fantastic, to give you my top 39 favorites is a little ridiculous (how many I initially highlighted). Top-3-go-read-now: Shane McCrae's Forgiveness, Forgiveness, Ariana Reine's Coeur de Lion, and Anne Carson's The Albertine Workout, in that order. McCrae's book hit me so hard I read it in one sitting, and then read it again in that same sitting. I'm leaving off a few obvious ones that everyone is already talking about. Those are good too. 

A handful of books were re-readings and of course I love those, but didn't include them in my so excited count. Also, I read Ariel for the first time ever and can kind of see why a few people have cited Plath as something of an influence in my work. Because while I hadn't ever read it until now, I'm pretty clearly influenced by some writers who are pretty clearly influenced by her. In sum: I liked it, this book I've been hearing so much about.

Though I maintain that genre is mostly a useless distinction, last year I read 47 nonfiction books, 22 fiction, 130 poetry. 38 books from 2014, 23 books from 2013, 14 books from 2012. This is the best year I've ever had for reading what's happening Now. I blame/thank AWP being in Seattle for that, though I still have more I picked up there that I haven't yet gotten to. This year (2015) so far I've only "read" one book, Richard McGuire's Here. I mention it now because I don't want to wait until next January to tell you to go out and get it. It's in my top 5 favorite things with pages ever. 

Here's to an excellent year in reading, 2014:

1. New Year Letter - W.H. Auden (Faber and Faber, 1965)
2. Eating in the Underworld – Rachel Zucker (Wesleyan, 2003)
3. Apocalypse Theory: A Reader – Kristy Bowen (SFSU Poetry Center Chapbook Exchange, 2013)
4. The Fall – Albert Camus (1956; Vintage Reissue, 1991)
5. Quipu – Arthur Sze (Copper Canyon, 2005)
6. Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Joan Didion (1968; FSG Classics, 2008)
7. Stories That Listen – Priscilla Becker (Four Way, 2010)
8. A Coney Island of the Mind – Lawrence Ferlinghetti (New Directions, 1968)
9. Sayonara Michelangelo – Waldemar Januszczak (Addison-Wesley, 1990)
10. The Book of Frank – CA Conrad (Wave Books, 2010)
11. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality – Jacob Tomsky (Anchor, 2013)
12. My Lorenzo– Sebastien Smirou, trans. Andrew Zawaki (Burning Deck, 2012)
13. Impossible Princess – Kevin Killian (City Lights, 2009)
14. Madness – Marya Hornbacher (Mariner, 2009)
15. The Monarchs – Melanie Noel (Stockport Flats, 2013)
16. –The Vital System – CM Burroughs (Tupelo, 2012)
17. Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History – Eduardo Galeano (Nation Books, 2013)
18. On Ghosts – Elizabeth Robinson (Solid Objects, 2013)
19. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute – Grace Paley (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1985)
20. Both Flesh and Not – David Foster Wallace (Little Brown, 2012)
21. When My Brother Was an Aztec – Natalie Diaz (Copper Canyon, 2012)
22. The Next Monsters – Julie Doxsee (Black Ocean, 2013)
23. --Herman Hesse: Pictorial Biography (FSG, 1975)
24. Drift – Rachel Maddow (Broadway Books, 2013)
25. Make Me a Mother – Susanne Antonetta (Norton, 2014)
26. We Come Elemental – Tamiko Beyer (Alice James, 2013)
27. The Rings of Saturn – W.G. Sebald (New Directions, 1999)
28. Pact-Blood, Fever Grass – Miriam Bird Greenberg (Ricochet Editions, 2014)
29. MxT – Sina Queyras (Coach House, 2014)
30. Dark Sky Question – Larissa Szporluk (Beacon Press, 1998)
31. Spectacle – Susan Steinberg (Graywolf, 2013)
32. The White Album – Joan Didion (Simon & Schuster, 1979)
33. All You Do Is Perceive – Joy Katz (Four Way, 2013)
34. Whip Smart – Melissa Febos (Thomas Dunne Books, 2010)
35. --Ark – Ronald Johnson (Flood Editions reissue, 2013, of early 1980s)
36. All Movies Love the Moon – Gregory Robinson (Rose Metal Press, 2014)
37. My Daughter La Chola – Farik Matuk (Ahsahta, 2013)
38. The World of Rae English – Lucy Rosenthal (Black Lawrence Press, 2014)
39. Lines the Quarry – Robin Clarke (Omnidawn, 2013)
40. Purgatory – Raul Zurita, trans. Anna Deeny (University of California Press, 2009)
41. Viper Rum – Mary Karr (New Directions, 1998)
42. The Ada Poems – Cynthia Zarin (Knopf, 2010)
43. Gnomic Verses – Robert Creeley (Zasterle Press, 1991)
44. As Long As Trees Last – Hoa Nguyen (Wave Books, 2012)
45. Science & Steepleflower – Forrest Gander (New Directions, 1998)
46. Dark Seasons – Georg Trakl, trans. Robin Skelton (Broken Jaw Press, 1994)
47. Chromosomory – Layli Long Soldier (Q Ave Press, 2010)
48. Quarantine – Malachi Black (Argos Books, 2012)
49. Prose Poems – Pierre Reverdy, trans. Ron Padgett (Black Square Editions, 2007)
50. The Absent Father in Dumbo – Charles Bernstein (Zasterle Press, 1990)
51. from Unincorporated Territories [Saina] – Craig Santos Perez (Omnidawn, 2010)
52. Lake Superior – Lorine Niedecker (Wave Books, 2013)
53. Sea Ice – Stephen Berg (The Cummington Press, 1988)
54. Overtakelessness – Dan Beachy-Quick (Spork Press)
55. Eye Against Eye – Forrest Gander (New Directions, 2005)
56. Wayfare – Pattiann Rogers (Penguin, 2008)
57. Poker – Tomaz Salamun (Ugly Duckling, 2004)
58. Inner China – Eva Sjodin (Litmus Press, 2005)
59. O New York – Trey Sager (Ugly Duckling)
60. King Me – Roger Reeves (Copper Canyon, 2013)
61. The Pedestrians – Rachel Zucker (Wave Books, 2014)
62. One Big Self: Prisoners of Louisiana – Deborah Luster & C.D. Wright (Twin Palms Publishers, 2003)
63. The Address Book – Sophie Calle (siglio, 2012)
64. Several Gravities – Keith Waldrop (siglio, 2009)
65. Going Back to the River – Marilyn Hacker (Vintage, 1990)
66. Factory of Tears – Valzhyna Mort (Copper Canyon, 2008)
67. Another Water (The River Thames, for Example) – Roni Horn (Scalo, 2000)
68. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time – David L. Ulin (Sasquatch, 2010)
69. Heavy Jars – Anselm Hollo (Toothpaste Press, 1977)
70. Little Mysteries – Ken Mikolowski (Toothpaste Press, 1979)
71. Cadaver, Speak – Marianne Boruch (Copper Canyon, 2014)
72. It – Inger Christensen, trans. Susanna Nied (New Directions, 2006)
73. One With Others: [a little book of her days] – C.D. Wright (Copper Canyon, 2011)
74. Romey’s Order – Atsuro Riley (University Of Chicago Press, 2010)
75. Meditations in an Emergency – Frank O’Hara (Grove Press, 1957)
76. Torn Awake – Forrest Gander (New Directions, 2001)
77. pool [5 choruses] – Endi Bogue Hartigan (Omnidawn, 2014)
78. The Book of Repulsive Women: 8 Rhythms and 5 Drawings – Djuna Barnes (Sun & Moon Press, 1994)
79. The South is Only a Home – Daniela Olszewska (Small Monster Press, 2011)
80. I Want to Make You Safe – Amy King (Litmus Press, 2011)
81. The Not Forever – Keith Waldrop (Omnidawn, 2013)
82. The Annotated Waste Land with Eliot’s Contemporary Prose – T.S. Eliot (edited, with annotations and introduction, by Lawrence Rainey) (Yale University Press, 2006)
83. --Go Find Your Father / A Famous Blues – Harmony Holiday (Ricochet Editions, 2014)
84. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (And Other Concerns) – Mindy Kaling (Three Rivers Press, 2012)
85. Eros the Bittersweet – Anne Carson (Dalkey Archive, 1986)
86. Two Memoirs – Amanda Montei (Jaded Ibis Press, 2015)
87. Call – Liz Waldner (Meow Press, 2000)
88. The Plot Genie – Gillian Conoley (Omnidawn, 2009)
89. Aunt Pig of Puglia – Patricia Catto (Jaded Ibis, 2009)
90. Sorrow Arrow – Emily Kendal Frey (Octopus Books, 2014)
91. Roget’s Illusion – Linda Bierds (Putnam, 2014)
92. Arkansas: Three Novellas – David Leavitt (Houghton Mifflin, 1997)
93. Work Together – Christine Deavel & John Marshall (Cash Machine, 2014)
94. Trace – Simone Muench (Black Lawrence, 2014)
95. –Drinking Coffee Elsewhere – ZZ Packer (Riverhead Books, 2003)
96. Like Oysters Observing the Sun – Brenda Sieczkowski (Black Lawrence, 2014)
97. Lilies Without – Laura Kasischke (Ausable Press, 2007)
98. All About Lulu – Jonathan Evison (Soft Skull, 2008)
99. The Professor of Desire – Philip Roth (Farrar Straus Giroux, 1977)
100. In Orbit – Kim-An Lieberman (Blue Begonia Press, 2014)
101. School – Jen Currin (Coach House Books, 2014)
102. Seam – Tarfia Faizullah (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014)
103. A Handbook for Drowning – David Shields (HarperPerennial, 1993)
104. The Albertine Workout – Anne Carson (New Directions, 2014)
105. Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman – Haruki Murakami (Knopf, 2006)
106. Two and Two – Denise Duhamel (Pittsburgh, 2005)
107. ---How to Feel Confident With Your Special Talents – Carol Guess & Daniela Olzewska (Black Lawrence Press, 2014)
108. Top – Sandra Yannone
109. A Rainbow in the Night: The Tumultuous Birth of South Africa – Dominique Lapierre (De Capo Press, 2009)
110. The Tulip-Flame – Chloe Honum (Cleveland, 2014)
111. Not Nothing - Ray Johnson (Siglio, 2014)
112. red doc> - Anne Carson (Knopf, 2013)
113. Coeur de Lion – Ariana Reines (Fence, 2011)
114. Trances of the Blast – Mary Ruefle (Wave, 2013)
115. The Other Hand – CD Wright (Horse Less Press, 2012)
116. Patriot – Laurie Saurborn Young (Forklift, Ohio, 2013)
117. Loud Mouth – Jay Nebel (Steel Bridge Publishing Co., 2012)
118. Mercury – Ariana Reines (Fence, 2013)
119. The Unfolding Center – Arthur Sze & Susan York (Radius Books, 2013)
120. Figment – Rebecca Wolff (Norton, 2004)
121. The Paper Snake – Ray Johnson (Siglio, 2014; 1965 reissue)
122. The Dance of No Hard Feelings – Mark Bibbins (Copper Canyon, 2009)
123. Ithaca: Little Summer in Winter – Olga Broumas & T Begley (Radiolarian Press, 1996)
124. X= Stephen Berg (University of Illinois Press, 2002)
125. Deeds of Utmost Kindness - Forrest Gander (Wesleyan, 1994)
126. The Waste Land and Other Poems – John Beer (Canarium, 2010)
127. Glamorous Freak: how I taught my dress to act – Roxanne Carter (Jaded Ibis Press, 2012)
128. Kamastone – Pamela Mills (Jaded Ibis Press, 2015)
129, His Days Go By the Way Her Years – Ye Mimi, trans. by Steve Bradbury (Anomalous Press, 2014)
130. Work from Memory: In Response to In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust – Dan Beachy-Quick & Matthew Goulish (Ahsahta Press, 2012)
131. Letters from a Seducer – Hilda Hilst, trans. by John Keene (Nightboat, 2014)
132. Falling in Love Falling in Love With You Syntax – Sheila E. Murphy (Potes & Poets Press, 1997)
133. Black Box – Erin Belieu (Copper Canyon, 2006)
134. The Wisdom of the Desert – Thomas Merton (New Directions, 1970)
135. ---The Cow – Ariana Reines (Fence, 2011)
136. The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri
137. Illness and its Metaphors – Susan Sontag
138. Vital Signs – ed. Richard Canning (Carroll & Graf, 2007)
139. What Silence Equals – Tory Dent (Persea, 1993)
140. Poets for Life: Seventy-Six Poets Respond to AIDS – ed. Michael Klein (Persea, 1992)
141. 7 Miles a Second – David Wojnarowicz (Fantagraphics Books, 2012)
142. Catastrophe Practice – Nicholas Mosley (Dalkey Archive, 1979)
143. Reader’s Block – David Markson (Dalkey Archive, 1996)
144. --253 – Geoff Ryman (St. Martin’s, 1996)
145. Flash Fiction: 72 Very Short Stories – James Thomas, Denise Thomas, & Tom Hazuka, eds. (Norton, 1992)
146. The Murder of King Tut – James Patterson (Grand Central Publishing, 2010)
147. Incarnadine – Mary Szybist (Graywolf, 2013)
148. No Shelter: Selected Poems (trans. Forrest Gander) – Pura Lopez-Colome (Graywolf, 1989)
149. The Transformation – Juliana Spahr (Atelos, 2007)
150. Post Subject: A Fable – Oliver de la Paz (Akron, 2014)
151. Put Your Hands In – Chris Hosea (Louisiana State University, 2014)
152. Powerless: Selected Poems 1973-1990 – Tim Dlugos (Serpent’s Tail, 1996)
153. f2f – Janet Holmes (University of Notre Dame Press, 2006)
154. Oh Baby: Flash Fictions & Prose Poems – Kim Chinquee (Ravenna Press Books, 2007)
155. Time Is a Toy: The Selected Poems of Michael Benedikt – ed. John Gallaher & Laura Boss (Akron, 2014)
156. The Big Smoke – Adrian Matejka (Penguin, 2013)
157. Particle and Wave – Benjamin Landry (The University of Chicago Press, 2014)
158. Palm-of-the-Hand Stories – Yasunari Kawabata, trans. Lane Dunlop & J. Martin Holman (North Point Press, 1988)
159. Beyond the Chainlink – Rusty Morrison (Ahsahta, 2014)
160. On the Cave You Live In – Philip Jenks (Flood Editions, 2002)
161. Sweethearts – Jayne Anne Phillips (Wingbow / Truck Press, 1982)
162. Blood Meridian – Cormac McCarthy (Vintage, 1992)
163. The Art of Daring: Risk, Restlessness, Imagination – Carl Phillips (Graywolf, 2014)
164. My first painting will be “The Accuser” – Philip Jenks (Zephyr, 2005)
165. –Letters to Kelly Clarkson – Julia Bloch (Sidebrow, 2012)
166. HIV, Mon Amour – Tory Dent (Sheep Meadow, 1997)
167. The Balloonists – Eula Biss (Hanging Loose, 2002)
168. --To Keep Time – Joseph Massey (Omnidawn, 2014)
169. Not That Kind of Girl – Lena Dunham (Random House, 2014)
170. --Beautiful Signor – Cyrus Cassells (Copper Canyon, 1997)
171. My Brother – Jamaica Kincaid (Macmillan, 1997)
172. Fragments: The Collected Wisdom of Heraclitus, trans. Brooks Haxton (Viking, 2001)
173. The Inside of a Dog – Alexandra Horowitz (Scribner, 2009)
174. Citizen – Claudia Rankine (Graywolf, 2014)
175. Forgiveness, Forgiveness – Shane McCrae (Factory Hollow Press, 2014)
176. The Book of Beginnings and Endings – Jenny Boully (Sarabande, 2007)
177. Salvinia Molesta – Victoria Chang (Georgia, 2008)
178. Figure Studies – Claudia Emerson (Louisiana State University Press, 2008)
179. The Book of Accident – Beckian Fritz Goldberg (Akron, 2006)
180. Night Scenes - Lisa Jarnot (Flood Editions, 2008)
181. Dream Machine – Sade Murphy (co-im-press, 2014)
182. --Head Off & Split – Nikky Finney (TriQuarterly Books, 2011) (won National Book Award)
183. Shakespeare Wrote for Money – Nick Hornby (McSweeney’s, 2008)
184. The Paradise of Forms: Selected Poems – Aaron Shurin (Talisman House, 1999)
185. Stone Butch Blues – Leslie Feinberg (Firebrand, 1993)
186. And For Example – Ann Lauterbach (Penguin, 1994)
187. If the Tabloids are True What Are You? (2014)
188. The Nine Senses – Melissa Kwasny (Milkweed Editions, 2011)
189. And the Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks – Jack Kerouac & William S. Burroughs (Grove Press, 2008; 1945)
190. Enduring Freedom – Laura Mullen (Otis Books | Seismicity Editions, 2012)
191. The Boys I Borrow – Heather Sellers (New Issues, 2007)
192. The Garden Room – Joy Katz (Tupelo Press, 2006)
193. In the Company of My Solitude: American Writing from the AIDS Pandemic – Ed. Marie Howe & Michael Klein (Persea, 1995)
194. History of Collage: An anthology of collage, assemblage and event structures – Eddie Wolfram (Macmillan, 1975)
195. Glass, Irony & God – Anne Carson (New Directions, 1992)
196. I Remember – Joe Brainard (Grainary Books, 2001)
197. Dear Apocalypse – K.A. Hays (Carnegie Mellon, 2009)
198. Ariel: The Restored Edition – Sylvia Plath (Harper Perennial, 2005)
199. The Descent of Alette – Alice Notley (Penguin, 1992)

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Yesterday was my brother's birthday. I have two half-siblings who I love very much, but this is the only one 100% my blood, same mother, same father, with all the strengths and weaknesses that came from them. His is also the first birthday to happen since the four of us lost our mother five months ago. He doesn't even know she's gone.

Things are always changing. Next week I start a new job. Teaching. WWU. My alma mater (I have always loved that term), where I got the first of my masters degrees. I will be teaching a writing-intensive class on the literature of AIDS. I learned in one class while teaching at UW that my 20 year old students didn't realize the impact it had on the gay and lesbian communities in the 1980s and 90s. That initially it was considered a gay cancer. Many of them had no idea there had been any link at all to the queer community. It's everybody's disease, sure. But without gay activists, the road to manageability of the disease (I don't think anyone even talks about "cure" anymore) would have been much longer. And with even more dead. There were so many incredible stories and books written in that time. Documenting how fast and bizarrely it hit, paralleling the natural evolution of gay lit from coming out stories to a focus on family dynamics, documenting the anger, the politics, the intensity of community bonds. Most now are out of print. Which presented the first challenge of putting the class together. In any case, I am excited to be teaching again. And to be taking a closer look at some of these stories.

I got back two days ago from a week on the peninsula. The good of that. I got a lot done (wrote my syllabus!), read a lot, got further in editing book two of Bowerbird (it's long, but so so beautiful). I watched the boats go in and out. And lights across the water. Drank whiskey. Ate well. I do wish life could be like that all the time. Calm. No real work but what I want to do, beautiful place, beautiful people. I was in love with life a lot last week.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Poetry Month Reading List Rundown Part III

Okay, as quick as I can with these last few… to get on to other things…

32. Factory of Tears – Valzhyna Mort, trans. Elizabeth Wright (Copper Canyon, 2008)

History and image key, and self-making, resilience. From the opening poem:

even our mothers have no idea how we were born
how we parted their legs and crawled out into the world
the way you crawl from the ruins after a bombing
we couldn’t tell which of us was a girl or a boy
we gorged on dirt thinking it was bread
and our future

33. Another Water: The River Thames, for Example – Roni Horn (Scalo, 2000)

Roni Horn took pictures of the Thames. And wrote about it. Large images spanned two pages with text / footnotes running along the bottom. Some footnotes repeat, collage.

82 Water is a spiritual presence (In the company of water I feel in me the presence of things that exceed me.)

323 We should recognize that contemporary water is mostly a parody of waters past.

34. The Lost Art of Reading: Why Books Matter in a Distracted Time – David L. Ulin (Sasquatch Books, 2010)

A meditation on how the internet has eroded our powers of concentration; some talk of what good has replaced that, but it’s mostly nostalgic for reading as a young gun.

Real reading “demands space, because by drawing us back from the primacy of the instant it restores time to us in a more fundamental way.” (80)

Which reminds me of the article I read about how internet usage actually devolves our brain from the ability to shut out external stimuli and focus on a task at hand and returns us to hunters and foragers and hunted constantly taking in information in order to fight or fly. This is a really rough summary of what’s actually said.

I agreed with pretty much everything Ulin said, but/so nothing was earth-shattering here.

35. Heavy Jars – Anselm Hollo (Toothpaste Press, 1977)

bad sunday

longing, anger, rage

feeling both desperate and boring

brilliant sunshiney day

i don’t want it

i want deranged jottings!

how to stop envying
the beloved
the beloved’s life

flat on back
cursing the gods

silly head music:
big cat claws
striking, pow, pow, pow

screech, dying mice

general misery
on Saigon of the soul

yes, let’s have
that, too 


36. Little Mysteries – Ken Mikolowski (Toothpaste Press, 1979)

mystery #5

on the third day
no one is killed
as you begin
to relax
you hear the terrace door


The above, more subtle than the rest, was my favorite of Mikolowski’s. The chapbook is illustrated by his wife. Interesting images, tres 70s.

37. Cadaver, Speak – Marianne Boruch (Copper Canyon, 2014)

This isn’t actually any kind of review, but: the first section of this book spookily recounts memories I’ve had and forgotten. It’s not déjà vu or deja lit, but real. Her rattling doorknob in Italy of someone trying to get into her hotel room in the middle of the night; this happened to my grandmother and I in Paris. And the first poem’s walk through the night aisles of an airplane brings back exact thoughts I had the first time I rode the train overnight: “The fact is I walked through an underworld, that aisle— / I was up, had to—and saw in the dim / not-yet-dawn the arms / and legs of Shiloh and Gettysburg flung / every which way.”

38. It – Inger Christensen, trans. Susanna Nied (New Directions, 2006)

What’s written is always something else
And what’s described is something else again
Between them lies the undescribed
which as soon as it’s described
opens up new undescribed areas (50)

39. One With Others – C.D. Wright (Copper Canyon, 2011)

I’ve had this book for some time, but had yet to get around to reading it. It felt odd not to read the copy I have. Collage of songs, newspaper articles, interviews, and memory/memoir elements re: violent incidents that take place during a summer of Civil Rights Movement. Sweet Willie Wine, V, Arkansas. Through repetition and juxtaposition the momentum of the book (and narrative) builds.

40. Romey’s Order – Atsuro Riley (University of Chicago Press, 2010)

Backwoodsy childhood with heavy sound / rhyme and assonance and a lot of made up compound words. Wow, apparently Poetry loved him; 21 of the poems published there. I liked it and it made a lot of talk happen in my head (and for that I’d return), but to some degree I found the compounds overkill / self-conscious. From one page (7): jungle-strangled, supper-singed, bruise-tingeing, Y-crotch, medicine-smelling, sweet-gum, belly-worry, elbow-curve, hunker-turn, in-warped, porch-door, kick-scarred, rust-cry and -rasp, Tailspin-wind, jamb-slap, after-slap, cinder-crush and –temper, funnel-blur, red-gold, apron-yellow, rickracked, stove-coil, blade-flash, magma-brimming, ladle-splash, bramble-berry, bunker-shelss, once-bedded, beanvine-roots, moonvines, dew-shining. Wow. That was more even than I head-thought there would-be.

41. Meditations in an Emergency – Frank O’Hara (Grove Press, 1957; reissue 1996)

A perennial favorite I had not visited in several years.


The eager note on my door said “Call me,   
call when you get in!” so I quickly threw   
a few tangerines into my overnight bag,   
straightened my eyelids and shoulders, and

headed straight for the door. It was autumn   
by the time I got around the corner, oh all
unwilling to be either pertinent or bemused, but   
the leaves were brighter than grass on the sidewalk!

Funny, I thought, that the lights are on this late   
and the hall door open; still up at this hour, a   
champion jai-alai player like himself? Oh fie!   
for shame! What a host, so zealous! And he was

there in the hall, flat on a sheet of blood that
ran down the stairs. I did appreciate it. There are few   
hosts who so thoroughly prepare to greet a guest   
only casually invited, and that several months ago.

42. Torn Awake – Forrest Gander (New Directions, 2001)

What I like about Science & Steepleflower I like about this, which is, I think, it’s follow-up: how main threads are taken up wholly in sections, how sections are their own one poem composed of many. In this there is much about the relationship with the son. Also love letters, love’s letters.

“A past that never stops / changing its expression.  I am alive, / he wrote, and cannot bear / to be unworthy of my life.  Came to the end / of words and waited.  Then things restore silence / speaking of themselves.  Lizards / lick shadow under the dry fountain.  Lidless gaze. / The butt and very dustmark of my utmost journey. / Pain as utterance / withheld.” (p 77, from “Carried Across”)

43. Pool [5 choruses]Endi Bogue Hartigan (Omnidawn, 2014)

mathematical formulation, 9/11 figures heavily, many different forms, fantastic opening poem:

We cannot help ourselves
but believe. Look what people do.
We cannot help ourselves to
believe. Look what people do

and believe. I can't believe it
said the plum trees shivering

and then the blossoms showed
up scattered, side blown,
not just down. We cannot help
ourselves to everything

said the people unbelieving,
shaking heads. How can we believe now, look?

Atrocities blossom also, look.

The trees said help yourselves

to blossoms: democratic trees,
dreaming lessons. We believe
in teaching belief said the trees.

We cannot help ourselves with
blossoms, to blossoms of belief.

White blossoms fell on our hair
a weight barely there, so we 

left them till they blew.

44. The Book of Repulsive Women: 8 Rhythms and 5 Drawings – Djuna Barnes (from 1915; Sun & Moon facsimile, 1994)

A weird, rare used bookstore find (Michael’s in Bellingham).

45. The South is Only a Home – Daniela Olzewska (Small Monster Press, 2011)

Is a beautiful object: farm house dual green and light green sunrays burst forth from on the cover, woodcuts throughout, on quality paper. A lot of yr and + (for and) +/or’s. The effect of this, joined with the short lines and everything lower case is a casual and quick speech, a closefriendly matter-of-factness. Sonically dense, existing to slow and make brighter the pieces of narrative contained in each poem. 

46. Stag’s Leap – Sharon Olds (Knopf, 2012)

I think what I like best about this book is that I don’t have to fully engage the part of my brain that seeks narrative. Because all of this book is speaking to and of the same narrative: the husband leaving after 30 years. Then I can focus fully on the sounds, on the line breaks, on the images presented. The stutter of this one, "The Worst Thing." I have never, I don’t think, read a poem that has sobbing in it such.


One side of the highway, the waterless hills.

The other, in the distance, the tidal wastes,

estuaries, bay, throat

of the ocean. I had not put it into

words, yet—the worst thing,

but I thought that I could say it, if I said it

word by word. My friend was driving,

sea-level, coastal hills, valley,

foothills, mountains—the slope, for both,

of our earliest years. I had been saying

that it hardly mattered to me now, the pain,

what I minded was—say there was

a god—of love—and I’d given—I had meant

to give—my life—to it—and I

had failed, well I could just suffer for that—

but what, if I,

had harmed, love? I howled this out,

and on my glasses the salt water pooled, almost

sweet to me, then, because it was named,

the worst thing—and once it was named,

I knew there was no god of love, there were only

people. And my friend reached over,

to where my fists clutched each other,

and the back of his hand rubbed them, a second,

with clumsiness, with the courtesy

of no eros, the homemade kindness.

47. I Want to Make You Safe – Amy King (Litmus Press, 2011)

 48. The Not Forever – Keith Waldrop (Omnidawn, 2013)

49. The Annotated Waste Land with Eliot’s Contemporary Prose – T.S. Eliot (edited, with annotations and introduction, by Lawrence Rainey) (Yale University Press, 2006)

Most interesting things I’m learning from T.S. Eliot: Little Tich and his boots like skis (I watched a video: Clément-Maurice's film of Little Tich at thePhono-Cinéma-Théâtre performing his Big-Boot Dance in 1900); an early working title for The Waste Land was He Do the Police in Different Voices; Richard Adlington’s (the former Mr. H.D. – together only a few years, but married for 25 (1913-1938)) relationship with Eliot disintegrated due to jealousy and ended when Adlington published Stepping Heavenward in 1931, which parodied Eliot’s relationship with Viv.

Eliot says “all first-rate poetry is occupied with morality”