friday roundup: The Curiosities, poetry foremothers, and literary tattoos

Sylvia Plath ~ 1956; photo from Colorado State Univ. archive; I hope it's public domain

Hello, Reader, it’s Friday again. I have successfully (well, or at least adequately) navigated my last 100th day of Kindergarten celebration, and I’m back at my desk for the morning. Dear 100th day of Kindergarten, it was fun while it lasted, but I won’t miss you.

On to the roundup:

The Curiosities  Last Friday evening I went to a reading sponsored by the Peninsula Literary Series. The reading took place in an art gallery, which was a very cool setting. Several writers — poets, essayists, and fiction writers — read, and then one of the artists whose work was displayed in the gallery spoke about her art and her process. I am always fascinated by the creative process for all different types of artists.

But I digress. I am here to tell you about the book I’m head-over-heels for this week: The Curiosities by Brittany Perham. Brittany Perham was one of the featured poets at last Friday’s reading. I am only about one third of the way through the book, but I am taken with this poet’s incredible images (“the dune’s pelvic indent” ! from “The Outer Banks”) and the restraint she uses as a counterpoint to emotionally charged scenes, often difficult scenes within a family. For example, in “Ambulance” she sketches a story of a person riding in the back of an ambulance with his/her her brother. Their mother rides in the front with the EMT. The speaker of the poem narrates the ambulance ride to the brother, telling him as they pass by familiar landmarks. At the very end of the poem, the father is introduced in memory, and the poem ends: “The truth is, / I bring my father to the poem only / suddenly, to amend the law of his absence, / and because my brother’s eyes are closed.” I think that’s such a cool moment in the poem!

I’m also enjoying the rhythms of Perham’s poems; some are almost incantatory. I leave you with a snippet from the collection’s opening poem, “Unit: broad waking“:

“Always there will be a dream always / a waking. Someone will come to stand in the doorway, or darkness will come to stand in the doorway. / Think of everything in terms of absence: / no snow falling, nothing held / in the high branches of the tree.”

Buy this excellent book here.

poetry foremothers  Whenever I feel my writing go a bit stale, or when I just want to bask in the wild rides that words can take us on, I go back to the triumvirate of poetry foremothers on the edge: Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, and Anne Sexton. This week, I’ve been communing with Sylvia each night before sleeping. And, wow. Every time I read her work I’m astounded and inspired all over again. Here is one of my favorites, “Poppies In October.” I always read that apostrophe — “O my God, what am I / that these late mouths should cry open” — as a mother.

And for a special treat, you can listen to Plath reading this poem here; go to the 1min. 4sec. mark of the audio:

literary tattoos  And speaking of curiosities… . Just when I think I’ve found every cool literary thing in the whole wide universe, the universe surprises me again. Check out this website of literary tattoos! I confess, I’m not the tattoo type (if there is such a thing), but if I ever had a tattoo, it would definitely have to be literary. Hmmmmm, I am turning 40 this year… .

That’s it for this week’s roundup. Happy Friday, happy weekend!

2 thoughts on “friday roundup: The Curiosities, poetry foremothers, and literary tattoos

    • Isn’t it quite an experience to hear the poet read her own work? Can you stream audio in class? There’s lots of great poetry audio on youtube and poets.org (find Gwendolyn Brooks’ “We Real Cool” and have your class listen — it’s awesome).

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