Lots of breaking the no-starting-new-books rule this episode, I'm afraid. Largely because of my local library's excellent poetry display for Poetry Month and my renewed feelings of obligation to read more poetry. Besides the ones I finished, know that there were unfinished volumes from Claudia Rankine and Dorothy Parker and . . . others as well.
018) 77 Love Sonnets by Garrison Keillor, finished April 21
Although the types of love celebrated is broad (love for Obama, love for radio audiences, love for a daughter), most of the poems touch on or dive into romantic love. (And something strange, I must say, about reading Keillor on giving oral sex.)about a week
The book is ridden with wonderful lines, but I'm not sure there's a single wonderful poem among the 77. Frequently that's because he can't resist silly rhymes and sillier allusions as they occur to him, but regardless of reason, it's a volume of great lines buried in this and that and th'other.
The type of sonnet varies much as well. 14 lines is strictly adhered to, but good luck finding iambic pentameter---line length and rhyme scheme are loose rules to be reinvented page by page.
017) Fidelity by Grace Paley, finished April 20
I don't know her, but she's been around a long time and this was her last book. Appropriately, much of the poetry is about being old and having outlived the known world.about a week
Some poems were excellent, some I didn't make friends with, but her voice was infectious throughout. I was taken by her use of gaps within lines, something I've never liked until now.
I would certainly pick her up again, should I see her on library display.
016) The Jam Jar Lifeboat & Other Novelties Exposed by Kay Ryan, finished April 15
This slim volume of poems was published near the beginning of Ryan's term as U.S. Poet Laureate. I almost wonder if it was published be make a quick buck at that moment until her next full collection was ready. Which isn't a knock on the poem itself, which is a serious of poems inspired by quotations from Ripley's. It's as fun as it sounds, but only fifteen poems total which runs a dollar a poem, and seems rather a lot, even if it is illustrated.
[Incidentally, I was right and wrong. Yes, this was released to capitalize on her new job. But it started life as a collector's-only hardback, so. . . . At any rate, she's written hundreds (hundreds!) of these poems, so fifteen still feels stingy, even if it started life a a beautiful handcrafted object.]
maybe a week
015) Work & Days by Tess Taylor, finished April 1
Always read a neighbors' book. That's my motto. (Not one my neighbors share.)four days
This is the second of Tess's books I've read (the first) and although, like the first, her work is heavy on both bluster and guilt, the proportions have changed. The bluster is in greater supply while the guilt has slipped to the periphery.
I use the word "bluster" hesitantly as it has some negative connotations that might lead you away from what I precisely mean. Words can be funny that way.
Here's the press release. And here are three lines out of context that I thought were topnotch:
flavor is the artifact of light.And, if you're counting down, my two favorite poems were "Hung with Snow" and "Last Hay."
We hadn't seen it, hadn't tried, had been asleep.
removing, removing the stones from our soil.
1. The overriding conceit of fertility presents itself in many different contexts.
Like her last book, this book suggests it will reward rereading. I think I am more likely to address my attentions to her less bucolic book, but nevertheless: this one is good too.
Previously in 2016