Titiana in Yellow by Dayna Patterson, finished January 1
I'm already familiar with Dayna's work, of course, and the collection is as excellent and worddrunk as I expected, so this is also an opportunity to think about the chapbook publisher, Porkbelly Press. The book, as it ends up, is lovely---and their books tend to have excellent covers, as you can see if you follow the link. Many of the poems in Dayna's collection did not quite fit on a page which led to many a widow and orphan. Turning a page to get one more line is subideal. But overall, very satisfactory. And I imagine the collection felt necessary to Dayna, practically self-titled as it is.in bed, one night
The Tree at the Center by Kathryn Knight Sonntag, finished January 5
This poetry collection feels like the sequel Mother's Milk deserved (rather than the one it got)---it takes the concept of a single-author Heavenly Mother-themed poetry collection and grounds it in new references and new forms and finds new things to say about it. I feel Kathryn and Rachel are pretty similar in skill (though one gets the sense this book is trying harder) but the new scope and ambition of Tree at the Center makes it the more satisfying read.one day
I also get the sense it'll reward a rereading more---and the notes are more helpful. It is kind of funny, though, how the books even have the same sort of notes sections, isn't it?
003) After Earth by Michael Lavers, finished January 12
under a month
This is one of the finest collections I've read in some time. And it's a good thing, too. His wife, an excellent poet herself, is always talking about how she's married to her favorite poet. Now we finally get to decide for ourselves without having to hopskip across the interwebs.
You, dear reader, may have heard of him in 2011, except he refused to allow up permission to include his work in Fire in the Pasture. He said it as still too amateur. But where six years of practice and publication were insufficient, I guess another near-ten are enough.
Anyway. Enough about that.
This is a terrific collection. His use of words and metaphor, his originality, his consistency. And it doesn't hurt (for me) that he occasionally engages Mormonism in unique ways. (I feel justified in using the u-word; I'm more wide read in the field of Mormon letters than your average goose, even given the notorious holes in my library.)
Anyway. I might be writing about it for Dialogue so i suppose I should include a few more notes here, now.
But instead I'll just make a couple connections to Mormon poets I don't think Lavers intends (he would probably prefer I see connections to Lance Larsen and Kim Johnson---two Mormon poets who do not like the Mp-phrase).
First, Michael Collings. Lavers has a couple cosmic poems that face each other upon a spread that reminded quite a lot of some of what Collings did in Temple and Cosmos.
Second, R.A. Christmas. Lavers includes some (translations? paraphrases?) of classic poems, including Purgatory and the Aeneid, which are excellent. Similarly, in Christmas's latest collection, one of the highlights was a translation. There might be more interesting to say about that.
004) Monstress, Volume One: Awakening by Marjorie Liu and Sana Takeda, finished January 15
It was visually interesting and pulled no punches, but my enthusiasm faded by the end of the volume.
005) The Last Hot Time by John M. Ford, finished January 17
All of which is disappointing. I put it on hold because it's the only John M. Ford novel the local library system has and I had just read a fascinating article applauding the author and his work. I may still give some of his allegedly better books attention when they come back into print this fall.
But he must be good. I mean---listen to the back-of-the-book blurbs:
Orson Scott Card says Ford is "simply one of the finest writers the field has ever produced. Gene Wolfe called another of his books "the best mingling of history with historical magic that I have ever seen." These are opinions I respect.
Too bad this book sucked.
At least it was short.