March 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
As would any serious readerly person, I treat my books like real estate.
Or is it a bad thing to treat one’s books like real estate? Either way, I like to look at my shelves the way an Austen character might look on the prospect of a mansion–you know how that is.
OK, I have to say this before I forget it: I’ve been bingeing on BBC televised versions classics for the past couple of days in order to get over the trauma of yet another academic term as a doctoral student. The best thing about these shows is how all the characters say RRUHM for “room.” Apparently it’s some sort of old-fashioned British thing, like the way they used to say GUHLANT for “gallant.” Such beauties.
Onto far more important things, I only bought two books in February, but they were both so excellent, and strangely of similar sizes and colors even.
Teresa Carmody is a super talented PhD peer and co-founder of Les Figues Press. I don’t know how much you can tell this from my scan, but the book is narrow and long. It feels very different in my hands. I like.
The Claudette Sartiliot is an utterly random discovery. I looked up “discourse of flowers” in the library’s search engine, figuring that someone must have written a measly essay or two on the subject, and turns out there’s a whole book. It’s out of print and rather exquisite. Hardback with actual dead flowers in the mix. « Read the rest of this entry »
January 25, 2014 § 1 Comment
Apparently, most people make such lists at the end of the year rather than a month into the next.
Apparently, also, lots of people read what is published in the same year, whereas I merely buy those books and feel proud and then read dead people or people I’ve already read.
Generally, this means I’m taking classes over whose reading lists I have no control or that I am attempting postponement of pleasure, which is a thing some of you may know about though most of you will probably be questioning the sanity of such nefarious sacrificial tendencies.
As I have been, imaginably, awake this whole night due to self-diagnosed insomnia* caused by unnecessary thinking about life events, I have decided to give you my list of best things I read in 2013.
[*I wrote this post yesterday and saved a draft. Following writing this post, which I did in a moment of extreme alertness useful to the writing of blog posts but not to reading PhD things, I slept for sixteen hours. So clearly, no insomnia.]
things = book-length works, chapbooks included
read = read for the first time, re-reads not included
Amal al-Jubouri. Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation. 2008. Translated from the Arabic by Rebecca Gayle Howell with Husam Qaisi. Alice James Books, 2011.
Jorge Carrera Andrade. Micrograms. 1940. Translated from the Spanish by Alejandro de Acosta & Joshua Beckman. Wave Books, 2011.
Inger Christensen. alphabet. 1981. Translated from the Danish by Susanna Neid. New Directions, 2001.
Eduardo C. Corral. Slow Lightning. Yale University Press, 2012.
Robert Creeley. Selected Poems, 1945-2005. Edited by Benjamin Friedlander. University of California Press, 2008. « Read the rest of this entry »
December 2, 2013 § Leave a comment
Wanda Coleman died on the twenty-second of November. I’d been introduced to her work roughly a year ago and hadn’t been able to let go of her long poem, “African Sleeping Sickness.” Some months ago I found her email address and contacted her. She gave me this stunning poem, which Asymptote published in its annual English Poetry Feature.
I knew Ms. Coleman had been ill, and you can find many instances of her thinking on her mortality in this poem:
My urine keeps getting darker, I must be passing.
But that very brief, personal admission is followed by a response—the poem is structured as a dialog—written in an entirely different register: a less inward-looking voice, a voice that opens out to a world of small, happy objects: a voice seeking, offering a sad pleasure, one could say.
Twenty-two cents, and a pack of mints
a rubber band and a paper clip.
Pass the bourbon and give it a kiss.
The title of the poem is “Tremors & Tempests: A Poetic Dialog.” The shaking, the sign of future destruction or pleasure, the barely perceptible movement, and the storm—that’s how I read it. And it’s a useful way to characterize the various natures of speech as well, or what are privately known quantities and what is gathered from public witnessing. Then, how these speak to each other.
I’ve also been thinking, via this poem, on the tension between the local and the international. « Read the rest of this entry »
August 16, 2013 § Leave a comment
Here is a list of translated books I am currently reading or have recently read or re-read or plan to read or have recently bought or plan to buy or have been thinking about for whatever reason. They are all excellent.
Samuel Beckett. The Unnameable. 1953. Translated from the French by the author. Grove Press, 1958.
Beckett, the great self-translator. I recently finished this, the third of the trilogy whose other two books are Molloy (1951) and Malone Dies (1951). The Unnameable is not surprisingly the most difficult of them all, but glorious. A thing to note: I have the Grove Press editions for all three of these, but for The Unnameable I was able to find one with the (above pictured) Roy Kuhlman cover. I will also say that my copy is less beat-up looking than the one above and at this moment there is a smug look on my face.
Inger Christensen. alphabet. 1981. Translated from the Danish by Susanna Nied. New Directions, 2001.
Wow—is there any other way to describe this book? « Read the rest of this entry »