Thursday, July 26, 2012

Literary Largesse

Living by Fiction by Annie Dillard
Star Trek: Doctor's Orders by Diane Duane
Star Trek: The Wounded Sky by Diane Duane
The Rivan Codex by David and Leigh Eddings
Rocksalt: An Anthology of Contemporary BC Poetry Ed. by Mona Fertig and Harold Rhenisch
The Hippopotamus by Stephen Fry
Strange Devices of the Sun and Moon by Lisa Goldstein
Poetry in the Making by Ted Hughes
Some Kind of Hero by James Kirkwood
The McSweeney's Book of Poets Picking Poets Ed. by Dominic Luxford
Delan the Mislaid by Laurie J. Marks
Strike/Slip by Don McKay
Paradoxides by Don McKay
Nabokov's Dozen by Vladimir Nabokov
Virtual Zen by Ray Nelson
Dream Work by Mary Oliver
The Sleeping Dragon by Joel Rosenberg
Babylon Steel by Gaie Sebold
Talking to Dragons by Patricia Wrede
Except the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

I bought all these and several magazines this month, from different places, but most especially from Victoria, where we discovered a store called Snowden's, with shelves from floor to ceiling filled with yellowing tomes. I'm reading "The Wounded Sky" and "The Rivan Codex" right now. I also read a bit from "Rocksalt" and I'm very happy about it.

This Word

It used to be a good word, a poet's tool 
For stitching truths together. I started writing
Because I thought words were free
But don't spend them willy-nilly
Or like this word, they will turn
To sawdust in your mouth, a sound
Signifying nothing but a generation's
Inherited uncertainty.

written while walking home from the bus stop on 25 July, 2012

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Name-dropping (plus digressions)

can be a pretentious act for a writer, naming your influences, your allusions, your literary mentors. It can also be a wonderful way to discover new writers and thinkers, as I sometimes do when I encounter strange new names dropped like seeds scattered among the texts I read. You never quite know which one will take root in my literary imagination.

Some names dropped whose work I have yet to find: Frank Bidart, Patti Smith, Angela Rawlings, Nicole Brossard, Steve Savage, April Bernard, etc.

I've been reading bits and pieces of The Verse Book of Interviews: 27 Poets on Language, Craft & Culture (ed. by Brian Henry & Andrew Zawacki) and I found one entry particularly lucid and readable. It's by someone named Reginald Shepherd. And then I google him and find out he died three years ago. I want to look for his books and his work. There's a bio of him at Poetry Foundation. There's also a blog. Some poems of his can be found in either link, including from the latter: "You, Therefore" and "God-With-Us" which was the last poem he wrote.

I also recently bought poetry books by Erin Moure, whose work I encountered at the Poetry International website. I fell for "The Unseizable Elegy" and had to look for more. I bought three at once, the largesse coming from a different kind of feeling these days: I am on vacation and steadily shopping for clothes and make-up, things which I have previously resisted.

Why resist? I think beauty and the pursuit of it, especially as a woman, is an onerous task, a constant struggle. I have long ago decided that I lived a life of the mind, through books and stories and intellectual passions. I have been mostly indifferent to my flesh. I have also been influenced by a strange upbringing that taught me to fear vanity and uphold modesty, to see blending in as a way to stay safe, and to see my own womanhood as something to be kept in a locked box, for someday.

Well there are no somedays for me. And now I am learning to live within this body not as a soul trapped in a cage of flesh, but as an integrated whole. And that means being responsible enough to eat healthy food, to exercise regularly, and to be well-groomed and well-dressed. (The last one, I'm sure you'll agree, is the most exciting.)

Now this is a different kind of name-dropping. I've been scouring fashion blogs and tumblrs and along the way accumulating wants that snowball into need. Isabella Marant. Zara. Chanel. Well, reality, as always, fails expectations. I've been getting my usual fare, except simpler, and from mall stores instead of thrift shops. I've become so obsessed in fact that I wrote down my own fashion rules. (They're tailored to me and not to current trends or looks, so they're easy to follow, mostly about what flatters me, what I can comfortably wear, what fits my lifestyle.) 

So that's my life these days: poetry and fashion. We'll see which one sticks.  

Monday, July 2, 2012

Current Goals

1. Write another poem a day for this month. (I'm on vacation, so there's no excuse.) But don't post it. Just mine the material for better poems, so you can:
2. Submit poems to places like PRISM, or to writing contests.
3. Read the poetry magazines and books I own, and annotate them. (I've begun on a couple.)
4. Read poems aloud (mine and other people's) and record them in my own voice. (I did before, but it gets harder to get a moment to myself nowadays.)
5. Read other poems and use as jumping points for writing my own poems.
6. Leap! Sing! Frolic! Dive! Condense! Elude! Articulate! Prance! Have fun with poetry.