Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Summer reading Part 2, and etc.

So, I think last night's post may have been my first drunken blog update. Fun. I had taken the day off yesterday, to recover from the weekend, so I slept late, walked the dog, then spent a couple hours at a coffee shop. After dinner, I decided to drink some wine that was left at my apartment a couple weeks ago and read poetry, which is what I was doing when I got the text inviting me out on a Monday. If I hadn't already been drinking, and/or if I wasn't still in weekend mode, I would not have gone, but as it was, I did, and it was fun.

Anyway, on the reading update I meant to give... I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being last week. Read Autobiography of Red yesterday, and will re-read it soon. As I was reading, I didn't love it; much of it really did not read as poetry for me, more like chopped up lines of prose. But the images and story have stuck with me, and I am looking forward to re-reading it. What else? I finished Late Wife and loved it. Still working on the James Wright letters. Oh, and I read Mirror Mirror by Gregory Maguire (of Wicked fame) - I'd read his Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister and found it lacking, and this wasn't as good as Wicked either, but better than the other.

Thinking a lot about this summer and these three holiday weekends in a row and how different they are. Pride is a celebration of community, a defiant assertion of identity, and (for many of us) a cathartic, Dionysian, revel where we can drink and dance and kiss and fuck our sorrows and issues away in a safe place. Comfest is a "party with a purpose" as the slogan goes; it is idealistic and rejuvenating, an escape into an idyllic mindset for a weekend which can inform and inspire and anchor us as we go back out into reality. And now this coming weekend is the dichotomy of Red White & Boom on Friday (the patriotic, mass-culture, traditional display of fireworks downtown) and the DooDah parade on Saturday (complete anarchy and irreverence).

Next week, I'll start planning my move. And my going away party.

Monday, June 29, 2009

The tail end of a long weekend

(or the most perfect summer)

It it late, but I can not motivate myself to go to bed. I only have a three-day work week, so it's a little hard to care about a lack of sleep. I, against my better judgement, accepted an invitation to meet J for drinks tonight, on a Monday, and am now, slightly tipsily, taking advantage of the miracle that is internet access at home.

Comfest was last weekend. It was perfect. It was hot and sunny and sweaty and dirty and crazy and drunk and sad and amazing. I love my life here, I love it so much and am so very grateful for it and for everyone who makes it what it is, and it is so very very hard to think about voluntarily leaving all of this, BUT I am still so excited to be going to school and to be doing an MFA and I KNOW it is the right decision.

The weekend before was Pride, which was also perfect, in all the same hot, sunny, drunk, friends-I-adore ways.

It's hard to be so happy. It's hard to see someone I was happy with be with someone else. It's hard to be disappointed but not heartbroken, to know things work the way they're meant to work. It's hard to feel so lucky to have been with her, and to have the people in my life that I do. But I'm lucky that these are my difficulties.

I am lucky. I am happy. This truly is the summer I wanted. The most perfect summer I can conjur. I am like the child whose world revolves around her; I wanted a perfect summer to say goodbye to Ohio, and I am getting it.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

a snippet

Where is the line between
sun and shade? It moves
you know as an afternoon
flows on. We start in the sun
and end in shadow, pinked
and chilled in the evening.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Lit survey (from a facebook friend)

1) What author do you own the most books by?
Without looking at my bookshelf, I can't be sure, but I think it's probably Anne Rice. I know, that's embarrassing. I went though a vampire phase when I was younger, what can I say?

2) What book do you own the most copies of?
I don't own more than one copy of any book. There are plenty of short stories and poems that appear in more than one anthology I own, but no single book appears more than once in my collection.

3) Did it bother you that both those questions ended with prepositions?
I didn't notice it, but now that you mention it......

4) What fictional character are you secretly in love with?
hmmm, I guess I'm pretty good at separating fiction from reality ;)

5) What book have you read the most times in your life (excluding picture books read to children; i.e., Goodnight Moon does not count)?
I'm not sure. The Vampire Lestat, by Anne Rice. Or Tolkein's LOTR trilogy (since I read it the first time at a young age). I go back to escapist favorites like that, with their associated memories of the past, when I'm bored or depressed.

6) What was your favorite book when you were ten years old?
Probably something by Betsy Byers.

7) What is the worst book you've read in the past year?
hmmm.... Probably a scifi novel I picked up at the library solely for it's title: Till Human Voices Wake Us. I loved the Eliot reference, but the book did not interest me at all.

8) What is the best book you've read in the past year?
I am loving Claudia Emerson's poems in Late Wife!

9) If you could force everyone you tagged to read one book, what would it be?
That's not my style. Read what you love.

10) Who deserves to win the next Nobel Prize for Literature?
uhm, I feel like I should probably have an intelligent suggestion here, but I don't.

11) What book would you most like to see made into a movie?
Nothing comes to mind. I generally don't like book to move adaptations.

12) What book would you least like to see made into a movie?
Anything by Dan Brown. Keep him away from me and next to airport toilets! Gracias! (Lol! I'm keeping this answer directly from Tory, because it's funny, and I agree!)

13) Describe your weirdest dream involving a writer, book, or literary character.
hmmm..... none come to mind.

14) What is the most lowbrow book you've read as an adult?
I read plenty of fantasy and scifi, "genre fiction" if you will. Can't say just one book. I did read the Harry Potter series, but I have however NOT read Twilight. I grew out of my vampire phase when I was about 19.

15) What is the most difficult book you've ever read?
oooh, good question. Uhm, The Sound and the Fury, or Vanity Fair? Those are the first that come to mind.

16) What is the most obscure Shakespeare play you've seen?
hmmm, I've never seen anything too obscure. Maybe Much Ado About Nothing?

17) Do you prefer the French or the Russians?

18) Roth or Updike?
Roth, definitely.

19) David Sedaris or Dave Eggers?
That is a toss-up. I've really not read much of either.

20) Shakespeare, Milton, or Chaucer?
Shakespeare, of course!

21) Austen or Eliot?
Eliot. Go ahead and take away my chick card. It's okay. I admit it: I don't love Jane Austen.

22) What is the biggest or most embarrassing gap in your reading?
Probably Medieval/Renaissance. And nonfiction. And my complete lack of a background in theory. I fear this will haunt me in the coming years.

23) What is your favorite novel?
The God of Small Things, by Arundahti Roy. If I have to pick just one.

24) Play?
A Doll's House, by Ibsen. Maybe. Or, this isn't a play per se, but Twilight Los Angeles, by Anna Deveare Smith, is absolutely brilliant, and a crazy-important historical document about race and class and violence in the 90s.

25) Poem?
How about book of poetry? Rilke's Duino Elegies (David Young's translation). Hands down. Going back to question 9, if I could tell everyone to read one book, this might be it. It speaks so beautifully about life and death and what it really means to be human and to be an artist.

26) Essay?
"A Room of One's Own" by Virginia Woolf, if I have to pick one. That's a classic. I read a lot of contemporary essays on politics, culture, gender issues, gay issues, globalization, environment, etc.

27) Short story?
I haven't read much short fiction lately, so I'm not sure I can answer this. I will say though that I read "Brokeback Mountain" years before it was made into a movie and found it a wonderful, moving story. This is an improper comment for a writer, but short stories are perhaps my least favorite genre. I much prefer my fiction at novel length.

28) Work of nonfiction?
Kurt Vonnegut, Man Without a Country

29) Who is your favorite writer?
Oh, goodness.... Most anyone I've mentioned here already. Plus Whitman, Yeats, Edith Wharton, Michael Chabon, Salman Rushdie, Richard Hugo, James Wright, Carolyn Forche, uhm, etc, etc, etc.....

30) Who is the most overrated writer alive today?
Meh, everyone sees value in different things.

31) What is your desert island book?
The Norton Anthology of Modern and Contemporary Poetry. Plenty of variety, and thousands of pages, to keep me busy.

32) And... what are you reading right now?
Late Wife: Poems, by Claudia Emerson (wonderful)
A Wild Perfection: The Selected Letters of James Wright (wonderful)
American Sublime, by Elizabeth Alexander (meh)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

and this

read this!

if you don't read anything else i ever link to, read this.

Thursday, Thursday (sung to the tune of "Monday, Monday")

Let's see, what to say today? I am excited for the weekend, but having a good week already. Tuesday was my first carless day. I took the bus to and from work, walked over to the rental office to put money on my laundry card, and then did 4 loads of laundry (can you tell I've been procrastinating?). I also got a lot done on the jigsaw puzzle I'm determined to finish before Saturday. When my friend L moved to Arizona a couple years ago, she gave me three big 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles. They've been sitting around my apartments since then, and I finally decided to start one last week. It's probably 1/3 of the way done now. I am hosting brunch before the Pride parade on Saturday so it has to be off the table before then, and I would hate hate hate to have to put it away without finishing it. Yesterday, I bought some groceries after work, then walked my dog up to the bank with me and deposited some money, then I brushed him, clipped his nails, and gave him a bath. And then I went swimming! First time this year! It was a little cold, but nice to be in the water. Tonight I want to stop by the North Market after work and get some produce, then I have volunteer training from 6-8, and then I want to bake at least one batch of muffins, if not two. And I want to go out tonight to kick off Pride weekend. Tomorrow, I will drag myself through work, and then the weekend will commence. I've gotta get everything ready for brunch and get my apartment vacuumed again (damn that dog hair!) before the lovely irresponsible spirit takes over completely, but I will do it.

Oh, and I like this poem by Wislawa Szymborska. And I read a couple more of the James Wright letters last night. The ones where he talks about the Korean War are very interesting. If I had the book with me now, I'd quote a few passages which read as quite contemporary and relevant even now.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Within the space of less than a week, I have gone televisionless and carless. I think I like it. I will definitely do more walking, and more reading, and hopefully more writing as well.

I also started reading the poems in Late Wife by Claudia Emerson last night, and I love them. And started reading James Wright's letters in A Wild Perfection. Good stuff, good stuff! Just thinking about how I will never get past being a country girl. No matter how long I live in cities or how much I appreciate them, there is part of me that will always recognize and attach to the seasons and what they mean to the land and to those who farm it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Just read this: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/20615

Monday, June 8, 2009

Interesting article

An interesting article by Louis Menand about teaching creative writing - whether it is possible, what workshops accomplish (or don't), the ramifications of an "anti-system" like writing being part of a system like the university, etc. It's a pretty interesting read, although it focuses much more on fiction than on poetry, and I agree completely with his assessment of the value of CW workshops at the end of the article:

"Did I engage in self-observation and other acts of modernist reflexivity? Not much. Was I concerned about belonging to an outside contained on the inside? I don’t think it ever occurred to me. I just thought that this stuff mattered more than anything else, and being around other people who felt the same way, in a setting where all we were required to do was to talk about each other’s poems, seemed like a great place to be. I don’t think the workshops taught me too much about craft, but they did teach me about the importance of making things, not just reading things. You care about things that you make, and that makes it easier to care about things that other people make.

And if students, however inexperienced and ignorant they may be, care about the same things, they do learn from each other."

Those are my italics, but that is very much how I remember my undergraduate workshops.

Friday, June 5, 2009

The Letter Project

I discovered The Letter Project today. I too have always loved writing and receiving letters, and reading what is posted so far on the site has been inspiring. I just requested from the library the book of James Wright's letters that Theresa mentions. This is exciting.

Summer Reading, part 1

I'm intermittently reading The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser and Charles Simic's The World Doesn't End. Both of which I want to love, but don't quite. They both have moments I love, but I'm curiously unmoved by much of what I read. Maybe it's just me. I'm waiting for something to really grab me!

And I'm also reading Zelda: A Biography (about Zelda Fitzgerald). I confess to finding it pathetic more than anything else. Both she and Scott come across as shallow, self-obsessed, and irresponsible to such an extent that it's just sad.

Sigh! Can anyone recommend something that will knock me on my butt?