what I’ve been reading

from the archives

from the archives

Reader, I am remiss. I’ve been reading a lot of good poetry and saying nothing about it. So here’s a little post on what I’ve been reading. I’ll give you a very brief synopsis (or maybe not a synopsis but my impressions), some favorite lines, and a favorite poem with a link, when available, for each:

Paradise, Indiana by Bruce Snider  Poems of place and origin, memory, love and sex; part coming-of-age story, part elegy. One thing I really love about this book is that there are a couple of poems about a favorite teacher. We should all write those poems, I think!

Favorite line(s): “There were more atoms… / in the letter O, than people in the entire state. / I could feel God inside that letter, // the vast sky refigured, buds scrawled / on the black limbs of trees.” from “Epitaph.”

Favorite poem: “At the Midwest Taxidermy Convention” (sadly, not available online)

Buy this book here.

The Darkened Temple by Mari L’Esperance  Poems of loss and longing, and also beauty. Poems of finding the self and choosing a life, despite suffering and the Great Unknowns. Tough, restrained, layered, unflinching. I learned a lot from examining this poet’s endings — she’s really good at getting out of a poem!

Favorite lines: “…the fierce life returning– / insistent, unrepentant–despite everything.” from “After Fire.”

Favorite poem: “Finding My Mother” (listen here)

Hmm, now that I think of it, “insistent” and “unrepentant” are two more words to describe the poems in this volume. Buy this book here.

Incarnadine by Mary Szybist  Oh my, a very smart book. Use of old stories (primarily that of the Annunciation) to examine the everyday and watershed moments of life. Lots of imagination; rich with spiritual longing and a lovely ambivalence about things we are often asked to view in black or white. Inventive use of forms.

Favorite lines: “Already flesh was something to / stir you, something to make you / true. Stone-dove, untouched // by thistles, moths, / listen now / my hand is open.” from “To the Dove within the Stone”

Favorite poem: “Annunciation as Right Whale with Kelp Gulls” (not available online from what I can tell, but originally published in The Kenyon Review)

Buy this book here.

The Forest of Sure Things by Megan Snyder-Camp  A book that begins with what the poet calls a “Borrowed Memory,” and then examines how the use and/or telling of that borrowed memory shapes the speaker’s own life. A place, time, and story beautifully and effectively wrought; imaginative and precarious language; an examination of the act of creation. Love her imaginative use of acrostic (example here).

Favorite lines: “Inside the girl a field of reeds, a year of hinges” (!!!omg–a year of hinges!!!) from “Our Shipwrecks Build Houses”

Favorite poem: “Dream House” (can’t find it online – bummer)

Buy this book here.

“The Walls Do Not Fall,” a long poem by H.D.  Picked up and re-read after a poet-friend reminded me about this poem.

“…yet the frame held….” That is all.

An excerpt here.

Michelangelo’s Seizure by Steve Gehrke  Borrowed and returned from whence it came, so I don’t have the text to quote from. Many richly imagined ekphrastic poems. An examination of art and of art-making.

Favorite line(s): “art gives our own loss / back to us” (Oh dear, I surely hope so. If not, I’m sunk).

Buy this book here.

Up next:

  • What We Owe Each Other by Risa Denenberg
  • Odessa by Patricia Kirkpatrick
  • The Scabbard of Her Throat by Bernadette Geyer

4 thoughts on “what I’ve been reading

  1. Darn it, Molly! There you go, mentioning books I don’t yet own and haven’t read, and now I have to buy, even though FedEx is delivering 16 lbs of books purchased at AWP to my house, as we speak! Of the three on deck, at least I was smart enough to snatch up a copy of B. Geyer’s The Scabbard on Her Throat when we had dinner together in Boston!!!
    And people keep claiming that poetry is dead…sheesh!

    • Yeah, sorry Sandy, but you really need these books, too :). I’d suggest a triage plan, except that they are all so good. I’m still waiting for Scabbard to slip through my mail slot… (not known for my patience).

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