Monday, November 20, 2006

Last 3 Poetry Purchases

Picking up Rob's idea, here are the last three poetry books I bought.

Kay Ryan’s The Niagra River – I first read Kay Ryan in Atlantic Monthly, when it published her “Hailstorm.” Being a fan of short poems, I wanted to love this book. It does have a couple good moments (“Pitcher” and the title poem, z.B.), but it didn’t catch fire for me. After I bought this, I browsed through “Elephant Rocks” in a bookshop, which looks like a better book.

Nick Flynn’s Some Ether – This one I bought under peer pressure to be honest. But indeed, chiefly focused on a mother’s suicide, the poems are harrowing and beautiful. Expert language and real gravity.

Jim Moore’s Lightning at Dinner – I had never heard of Moore when I picked this up in a shop and read a few of the poems. But maybe because I had seven or so other books in my hand and it wasn’t on my list, I didn’t buy it. Still the pleasure of a couple of the poems I read lingered, so I said if the next bookstore I visited had the book, I would buy it. This book is also largely concerned with a mother’s death, in this case her dying, but it’s more a meditation on mortality than tragedy. No pyrotechnics or lexical acrobatics, but some satisfying poetry.

My favorite image:

I remember my mother toward the end,
folding the tablecloth after dinner
so carefully,
as if it were the flag
of a country that no longer existed,
but once had ruled the world.

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