Tuesday, April 1, 2014

2014 1/4



I do my best to stay away from the internet on April Fool's day. It's not that I'm gullible--I lean more towards not believing anything I hear--it's that I dislike cleverness more than most people. There's a circularity to it, intelligence used to forward the joke, to forward the look of itself. It's too often a tautology of something I'm not particularly interested in. This is why most gross humor is uninteresting to me as well. And certain styles of contemporary poetry. Poems that take the long road home from, well, home. Poems that don't use their intelligence to go anywhere. April Fool's day pranks feel this way to me. A strutting for the sake of the strut, or to shut someone out. Maybe this isn't making a whole lot of sense. It's not something I've thought through thoroughly. Just another minor disinterest in the grand scheme of things. Some pranks can be utterly fantastic though, can shed a different light on something. Much of what The Onion does, for example. So, if you've pulled something really great today: good on you.

And if you thought that would be the lead-in to talk of some really stunning fooling, sorry to disappoint! I would rather talk about the elegant way nature is making a fool of itself these days (spring! spring!) and about, yes, what I'm reading.

What I came here to do today before heading back into the sunshine and books and pruning to be done in my front yard is to list a quarterly reading report. This year I have decided to write mini-reviews for each book because I realize that from lists just two years ago there are several titles I have absolutely no recollection of. I do not keep a journal, but if I did it would probably just look something like that: mini-reviews and clippings of things I like, vague outcroppings of contemplation on how literature conforms, expands, or rejects my world view. And then I would talk about my dog. But nothing else, for fear of being found out. No joke.

I may or may not compile the reviews and include them here later. For now, just the list, simply. It includes several of the books I picked up at AWP (which numbered what-is-not-nearly-as-astounding-as-it-could-have-been - 32 books).

  1. New Year Letter - W.H. Auden
  2. Eating in the Underworld – Rachel Zucker
  3. Apocalypse Theory: A Reader – Kristy Bowen
  4. The Fall – Albert Camus
  5. Quipu – Arthur Sze
  6. Slouching Towards Bethlehem – Joan Didion
  7. Stories That Listen – Priscilla Becker
  8. A Coney Island of the Mind – Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  9. Sayonara Michelangelo – Waldemar Januszczak
  10. The Book of Frank – CA Conrad
  11. Heads in Beds: A Reckless Memoir of Hotels, Hustles, and So-Called Hospitality – Jacob Tomsky
  12. My Lorenzo – Sebastien Smirou
  13. Impossible Princess – Kevin Killian
  14. Madness – Marya Hornbacher
  15. The Monarchs – Melanie Noel
  16. –The Vital System – CM Burroughs
  17. Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History – Eduardo Galeano
  18. On Ghosts – Elizabeth Robinson
  19. Enormous Changes at the Last Minute – Grace Paley
  20. Both Flesh and Not – David Foster Wallace
  21. When My Brother Was an Aztec – Natalie Diaz
  22. The Next Monsters – Julie Doxsee
  23. --Herman Hesse: Pictorial Biography
  24. Drift – Rachel Maddow
  25. Make Me a Mother – Susanne Antonetta
  26. We Come Elemental – Tamiko Beyer
  27. The Rings of Saturn – W.G. Sebald
  28. Pact-Blood, Fever Grass – Miriam Bird Greenberg
  29. MxT – Sina Queyras
  30. Dark Sky Question – Larissa Szporluk
  31. Spectacle – Susan Steinberg
  32. The White Album – Joan Didion
  33. All You Do Is Perceive – Joy Katz
  34. Whip Smart – Melissa Febos

I have also just started Gregory Robinson's All Movies Love the Moon and Stephen Burt's Close Calls with Nonsense and have nearly finished Ronald Johnson's Ark.

If only all things could be designed and kept to as well as an engaging reading list.

Oh, also, this: Meg Allen. I came across this photo series over the weekend and have liked it very much. Butch pride, y'all. In all its forms.






Wednesday, February 5, 2014

on saturation

I am wondering about the relationship between good work, success, and self-promotion. I haven't come to any conclusions, but I am thinking about it. The louder the better? The louder the better known? How to find good work? I mean, I just ask a few people I trust for reading recommendations. Places like facebook are so saturated with people yelling about all kinds of things that I don't find it an appropriate place to be led to things that excite me.

Lately I am loving Melanie Noel's The Monarchs and Natalie Diaz's When My Brother was an Aztec and kind of liking Grace Paley's short stories. I'm reading Enormous Changes at the Last Minute and the stories are really solid, but some of them bore me and some are out of this world fantastic. And (on deck) I really want to read all of the new Ricochet Editions books and Stephen Burt's Close Calls with Nonsense, which I feel like I should have read by now.

Happy reading, y'all.


Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2013's book list

This year my goal was 150 books. I don't usually set the goal until I get about midway through the year when I feel like I can gauge the possibilities. The first half of 2013 started off slow, as I was in school. And then there were huge stretches where I was going through a bit of a valley emotionally and nothing seemed to stick as fabulous. For this reason, there are some things I will have to go back to.

For the first day of the year today I am reading Auden. For last, well, here it is, all 100 by women, 47 by men, 3 by both, 30 nonfiction, 28 fiction, 92 poetry:

  1. Just Kids – Patti Smith
  2. The World Doesn’t End – Charles Simic
  3. Just Whisper: A Valentine – C.D. Wright
  4. Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal? – Jeannette Winterson
  5. The Game of Boxes – Catherine Barnett
  6. Watching Lumia – Nick Admussen
  7. Tip of the Iceberg – Laura Szumowski
  8. The Art Lover – Carole Maso
  9. Madness, Rack, and Honey – Mary Ruefle
  10. –Collected Poems – Marianne Moore
  11. Nomina – Karen Volkman
  12. Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present – Ed. David Lehman
  13. Time and Materials – Robert Hass
  14. As If A Bird Flew By Me – Sara Greenslit
  15. Translucent Salamander – CAConrad
  16. How Literature Saved My Life – (David Shields)
  17. News of the World – Philip Levine
  18. Harm – Hillary Gravendyk
  19. The Bruise – Magdalena Zurawski
  20. --Rent Boy – Gary Indiana
  21. Corinna A-Maying the Apocalypse – Darcie Dennigan
  22. Theophobia – Bruce Beasley
  23. Are You My Mother?: A Comic Drama – Alison Bechdel
  24. Shelter – Laura Jensen
  25. If Not Metamorphic – Brenda Iijima
  26. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – Ken Kesey
  27. Cat’s Cradle – Kurt Vonnegut
  28. Flowers of Evil – Charles Baudelaire
  29. Our Lady of the Ruins – Traci Brimhall
  30. Carnival – Jason Bredle
  31. Two Kinds of Decay – Sarah Manguso
  32. –Readings in World Literature – Srikanth Reddy
  33. The Monkey’s Mask – Dorothy Porter
  34. Render / An Apocalypse – Rebecca Gayle Howell
  35. The Lake Has No Saint – Stacey Waite
  36. Baguette – Emily Kendal Frey
  37. Quiet – Susan Cain
  38. Begging for it – Alex Dimitrov
  39. Full Catastrophe Living – Zach Savich
  40. The Commandrine and Other Poems – Joyelle McSweeney
  41. Small Porcelain Head – Allison Benis White
  42. Fortino Samano (The Overflowing of the Poem) – Virginie Lalucq & Jean-Luc Nancy
  43. Heavenly Questions - Gjertrud Schnackenberg
  44. Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits – Bill Porter
  45. Potential Strangers – Killarney Clary
  46. Human Dark With Sugar – Brenda Shaughnessy
  47. Video Tape – Andrew Zawacki
  48. --Riva: A Chapter – Soham Patel
  49. My Life and My Life in the Nineties – Lyn Hejiinian
  50. Blood – Shane McCrae
  51. The Craft of Translation – John Biguenet and Rainer Schulte, eds.
  52. Theories of Translation – Rainer Schulte and John Biguenet, eds.
  53. –F IN – Carol Guess
  54. Snapshots – Alain Robbe-Grillet
  55. Deepstep Come Shining – C.D. Wright
  56. Drawing Water – Eva Heisler
  57. Alphabet - Inger Christensen
  58. On Sal Mal Lane – Ru Freeman
  59. Open Winter – Rae Gouirand
  60. Another Governess/The Least Blacksmith – Joanna Ruocco
  61. The History of Anonymity – Jennifer Chang
  62. –Say Goodnight – Timothy Liu
  63. Poems in the Rough – Paul Valery
  64. Body Toxic – Susanne Antonetta
  65. Play – Liz Waldner
  66. The Writer’s Notebook: Craft Essays from Tin House
  67. O Holy Insurgency – Mary Biddinger
  68. Beyond Heart Mountain – Lee Ann Roripaugh
  69. Drought – Debra DiBlasi
  70. The Orphan Conducts the Dovehouse Orchestra – Deborah Woodard
  71. The Boss – Victoria Chang
  72. Bough Down – Karen Green
  73. Dreams of My Russian Summers – Andrei Makine
  74. Notes of an Anatomist – F. Gonzalez-Crussi
  75. Collected Poems (Ghost Money, Star Ledger, The Only World) – Lynda Hull
  76. The Bridge – Hart Crane
  77. A Meaningful Life – L.J. Davis
  78. Starts with O – Olga Broumas
  79. Human Nature – Alice Anderson
  80. Medieval Scenes – Robert Duncan
  81. –Veronica – Mary Gaitskill
  82. By Night in Chile – Roberto Bolano
  83. All My Pretty Ones – Anne Sexton
  84. The Mansion of Happiness – Robin Ekiss
  85. The Terrible Stories – Lucille Clifton
  86. At the Bottom of the River – Jamaica Kincaid
  87. The Girl with Brown Fur – Stacey Levine
  88. Blue Nights – Joan Didion
  89. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter – Carson McCullers
  90. My Brother – Jamaica Kincaid
  91. The Poetics of Space – Gaston Bachelard
  92. Have You Seen Me? – Sandra Cisneros
  93. Burial – Claire Donato
  94. Barf: A Manifesto – Dodie Bellamy
  95. +|’me’S-pace – Chr|st|ne Werthe|m
  96. Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir 1969-1980 – Lucille Clifton
  97. Death Centos – Diana Arterian
  98. Pnin – Vladimir Nabokov
  99. Afterpastures – Claire Hero
  100. –--Fierce Attachments – Vivian Gornick
  101. Love, Like Pronouns – Rosmarie Waldrop
  102. Musca Domestica – Christine Hume
  103. The Situation and What Crosses It – Amy Schrader
  104. Concentricity – Sheila Murphy
  105. An Alphabet for Gourmets – MFK Fisher
  106. Archer Avenue – Kristy Bowen
  107. Useless Landscape, or A Guide for Boys – D. A. Powell
  108. Eulogies – Elizabeth Soto
  109. The Body Artist – Don DeLillo
  110. Darkness Visible – William Styron
  111. Break the Glass – Jean Valentine
  112. Destroyer and Preserver – Matthew Rohrer
  113. Abstraktion und Einf├╝hlung – Percival Everett
  114. Prayers of an Accidental Nature – Debra Di Blasi
  115. Strangeland – Tracey Emin
  116. The Orchard – Brigit Pegeen Kelly
  117. 50 American Plays – the Dickman twins
  118. Holy Land – Rauan Klassnik
  119. Sputnik Sweetheart – Haruki Marukami
  120. The Universe War – Guy Benjamin Brookshire
  121. My Mother: Demonology – Kathy Acker
  122. --I Was There For Your Somniloquy – Kelli Anne Noftle
  123. The Angel Esmerelda: Nine Stories – Don Delillo
  124. Poems & Prose – Gerard Manley Hopkins
  125. Self and Simulacra – Liz Waldner
  126. Liliane’s Balcony: A Novella of Fallingwater – Kelcey Parker
  127. 67 Mixed Messages – Ed Allen
  128. The Fortieth Day – Kazim Ali
  129. Vulgar Remedies – Anna Journey
  130. Black Dog Songs – Lisa Jarnot
  131. This Connection of Everyone With Lungs – Juliana Spahr
  132. Theories of Falling – Sandra Beasley
  133. –I was the Jukebox – Sandra Beasley
  134. Tender Buttons – Gertrude Stein
  135. Life on Mars – Tracy K. Smith
  136. Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems – Thomas Sayers Ellis
  137. Revolver – Robyn Schiff
  138. Cooling Time: An American Poetry Vigil – C.D. Wright
  139. Negro League Baseball – Harmony Holiday
  140. The Art of Cruelty: A Reckoning – Maggie Nelson
  141. Garbage – A.R. Ammons
  142. Reading Emily Dickinson in Icelandic – Eva Heisler
  143. One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses – Lucy Corin
  144. The CIA Makes Science Fiction Unexciting: The Life of Lee Harvey Oswald – Abner Smith
  145. Bright Power, Dark Peace – Traci Brimhall & Brynn Saito
  146. Tiny Beautiful Things: Advice on Love and Life from Dear Sugar – Cheryl Strayed
  147. Shattered Sonnets Love Cards and other Off and Back Handed Importunities – Olena Kalytiak Davis
  148. A Magic Book – Sasha Steensen
  149. Aliens & Anorexia – Chris Kraus
  150. Flowering Mall – Brandon Brown

And while I hate to play favorites, some that I really loved (of those I was reading for the first time) include Mary Ruefle's Madness Rack and Honey, Allison Benis White's Small Porcelain Head, Bruce Beasley's Theophobia, Andrew Zawaki's Video Tape, C.D. Wright's Deepstep Come Shining, Jennifer Chang's The History of Anonymity, Brandon Brown's Flowering Mall, and Lucy Corin's One Hundred Apocalypses and Other Apocalypses.


Friday, November 29, 2013

Sandra Beasley's "Small Kingdom"


It is the day after Thanksgiving. There was no turkey. But there were magic tricks. And whiskey. I made my signature dish of kale& butternut squash over herbed polenta with blue cheese crumbles& pomegranate seeds with a drizzle of balsamic fig reduction. The reduction alone takes two hours (while I stir and watch old X-Files on Netflix) and makes me smell wonderful. 

Now it's black Friday and I am still in my bed mulling over a dream of margaritas and buttery nipples on the topside of a cruise ship. I have never been on a cruise, though sometimes that three-hour ferry to Vancouver Island feels like it should count as one. No buffet. 

This morning I finished (re)reading (every time I come to this book I come to it new) Juliana Spahr's This Connection of Everyone With Lungs and I finished reading Lisa Jarnot's Black Dog Songs, which is incantatory in its sounds and repetitions, a book I am sure I will return to for this, but never in its entirety. I have also been paging through The Arcadia Project while thinking about what models I may use for the class I'm teaching at the Hugo House next week on ecopoetics. 

For now though I've turned to Sandra Beasley's Theories of Falling. I have only read Beasley's poems in journals and always liked them. Then her work came up at a dinner with somany poets a few weeks ago (initially in relation to allergies) and so last week while perusing a friend's shelves I decided to borrow her two books of poems and overall am finding I like them very much.


SMALL KINGDOM

Who doesn't love a small kingdom?

The lion has her pride, the mole

her starnosed tunnel. My mother

grows three kinds of basil, and I

collect movie stubs in a box marked

Memories. A whelk knows only

the golden ratio of its chambers,

the figure 8 of nerve endings—

drawbridge mantle, moat ocean.

Washed up, its perfect enclosure

reeks of salt. I sort by color.

I file by coast. I know a man

by the cans and coffee cups

he leaves in his car, the thick

puppy mess of him. Who doesn't

dream of cleaning out her small

kingdom, tilting the whole stable

on its Augean edge? Who doesn't love

the disaster of her own making?

Boy, give up your slow reach

before I try to fix your life, before

I let your shell jangle to dust

in my pocket, before I burn

your operculum gate for incense.

I don't know how to keep you

without killing you a little—the way

my mother pares down the rosemary

each year to keep its flavor bright.

The way we must make all loves smaller

before they can enter our kingdom.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Percival Everett

PROCESS

1

The ritual of making
dies upon completion.

The body remembers,
like making love.

The body remembers
the gestures,

the midair changes,
the fall of an arm,

the angle of approach,
of withdrawal.

A calligraphy
survives completion,

but the making
is long long done.


2

The midair
changes
are the
tough
ones.

Catch me
before
I release,
if you please,
can.


3

eye
raylease



Monday, April 22, 2013

Upcoming reading...

Hello! I promise to get better at updating once I graduate, but! I wanted to shout out about this reading that happens in a few days:

This weekend there is the hard-to-remember-the-name-of-no-matter-how-many-times-I-hear-it Long Talking Bad Conditions Blues reading series on Saturday, April 27 at 6pm. I will be reading at Liberty Bar in the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle with my friend, and one of my very favorite poets Tarfia Faizullah, a former classmate from WWU who has taken the noir side of the fiction world by storm and whose second book has just come out Urban Waite, as well as others I do not know as well, but am equally excited to read with: Jamaal May, Tara Conklin, and local Seattle luminary Tara Hardy.