Thursday, February 09, 2006

book habit

I got five new books the other day:

Selected Writings of Guillaume Apollinaire (new directions). I haven’t really started reading this, but his Alcools is one of my favorite poetry books. Part of the reason I bought this book is to compare the translations of the poems in my version of Alcools. I love doing that.

“donnez moi pour toujours une chamber a semaine…”

I also got A Self Portrait in Letters, a collection of Anne Sexton letters. It’s interesting, but I must say I prefer reading her poetry. Apparently all her bad spelling has been corrected.

Shattered Sonnets, Love Cards, and Other Off and Back Handed Importunities, by Olena Kalytiak Davis. Oh, this is a disappointment. I hate to say it. Her first book was fabulous. I asked myself, if the book had been by another poet, would I have been more receptive? No. Except for “six apologies, lord,” which I love, the poems leave me asking myself “so what?”

More interesting is Brenda Shaughnessy’s Interior with Sudden Joy, but it’s also not a blockbuster. She’s a bit like an erotic Lucie Brock-Broido, whose influence is very clear. Shaughnessy acknowledges her in the book, saying Brock-Broido’s teaching “helped shape this book in a mysterious way.” Mysterious? It didn’t seem mysterious to me. Shaughnessy has a similarly nimble syntax and vocabulary. I love many of her phrases like “spastic blizzard” and “I’ve been so lovingly breathed into it appears I can’t move.” It’s good, and clever, and entertaining, but not a substitute for Brock-Broido.

The best of the five is Marie Howe’s What the Living Do. It’s beautiful, moving and spiritual. It knocks me out. So far my favorite poem is “My Dead Friends.” I know it’s a seemingly morbid title, but the poem is wonderful. It starts –

I have begun,
when I am weary and can’t decide an answer to a
bewildering question

to ask my dead friends for their opinion
and the answer is often immediate and clear.

Should I take the job? Move to the city? Should I try to conceive a child
in my middle age?

They stand in unison shaking their heads and smiling –
whatever leads
to joy they always answer,


This morning I am asking my cousin Christopher, who was killed in a hit-and-run accident about 15 years ago, if I should get the puppy we’re thinking about getting. I told him how it would surely be me doing most of the caretaking of this puppy and how my nerves are strained most of the time anyway. And Christopher answers?


michi said...

you are right, sarah, that's a wonderful poem.

great to hear about what others are reading. :)


SarahJane said...

that's not even the whole poem!

michi said...

i know, but i know the whole poem. :)

Bob Hoeppner said...

Thanks for the mini-reviews. Being the biblioholic that I am, it's always good to know what's out there. Just got several translations of Hafiz (Ladinsky), Rumi (Mojaddedi), and Attar (Darbandi, Davis.) I'm finding something worthwhile in all of them.

SarahJane said...

thanks, bob. I've been meaning to get rumi and hafiz... one of these days. Attar I'm not familiar with.

Bob Hoeppner said...

Attar is known for The Conference of the Birds. He was an older contemporary of Rumi.

mold tests said...

Warning...Warning.. Safety Tip of the WEEK...If you are having problems with colds and sickness in your home and you live in a moist wet ares of the country. Then you might want a mold tests .. If you see black dust looking stuff on your walls or around your bathtub,shower or sink then you probaly have a mold problem and need to get a mold tests . Dont panic and think you need to get a mold tests right away. You can use bleach to clean it up with some paper tools and then dispose of the towels a trash bag. If you need some more info visit .. I hope you have a safe and sickness free home...

SarahJane said...

dear mold tests,
may i suggest seeing a notary about changing your name. must be hell

Related Posts with Thumbnails