1.Brenda Shaughnessy’s newish book of poems Our Andromeda. So far, I am sockless, meaning she has knocked them off. The poems’ emotions: anger, indignation, tenderness, grief, set to such tough, smart music!
2. Listened to Delillo’s Falling Man in my car during a period where I was having to drive constantly, often for 3 hours at a stretch. His prose seems both rich and spare, every sentence tight and honed with almost prescient intelligence, while employing a perfect level of detail. So I’m going on a Delillo kick, now reading White Noise which thus far seems great also and way funnier than Falling Man ( F. M. being a “9/11 novel” and resultantly not a laff riot.)
3. Marjane Satrapi, Persepolis. I love graphic novels and try always to have one next to my bed. Also, it seems a good moment to read something from an Iranian woman’s point of view. Engaging, informative and moving mashup of personal and political history.
4. Mary Ruefle. Selected Poems. Deep, energized delight. Get a load of this: (quoted in its entirety)
O Lord, I did walk upon the earth
and my footprints did keep pace with the rain
and I did note, I did note where orange birds
flew up from the puddles thou hast made
and where the toads leapt from your trenches,
but nowhere was there that I could go
for I could not rise from the firmament
upon which I was placed, and nowhere could I
so I kept until I could no more straight
then bent and said I am down to make room for the more
and you half hearing did send me down
into the soul of another by mistakes
and I would like to thank you for it
from where I lie, risen in the eye of the other.
5. Donald Barthelme. Snow White.
Had never read it. Was ashamed. What a wild, on fire mind. Constantly detonating imagination, to the point where it’s almost tiring to read, but not really, then it becomes more like drinking a LOT of really good, idea-producing coffee.
Julio Cortazar, Terrance Hayes, Atlas of Remote Islands, Jenny Boully.
Congratulations to Michelle Chan Brown, Drunken Boat‘s Poetry Editor, for the publication of her new poetry collection Double Agent! Michelle received the 2011 Kore Press’ First Book Award; you can read Drunken Boat’s blog post about that by clicking here.
Congratulations to Hafizah Geter, who is among Poets & Writers‘ 2012 Amy Award recipients! Hafizah’s “the unrequited, its aftermath” appears in the current issue of Drunken Boat. Poets & Writers hosts a reading for the winners in New York City on Wednesday, October 17. Click here to find out more.
I’m reading the chilling and brilliantly constructed Jane by Maggie Nelson, which investigates the life of a young woman murdered by a serial killer. One of my grad students is translating it into Spanish, and I can’t imagine how difficult it must be for her on a psychic level. Less heavy are Bernadette Mayer’s poems, which I love to teach, and which have led me to Catullus, translated by Roy Arthur Swanson. I’m not sure if these are considered good translations, but my uninitiated reading of him, without the need to teach or write about him, is pure pleasure. Catullus can be so deliciously dirty and funny and boastful: “nine uninterrupted screws.” I’ve just started reading Hector Viel Temperley’s Hotél Británico (in The Last Books, translated by Stuart Krimko), and have returned to the poems of David Shapiro, who so long ago encouraged me to become a poet and translator. Shapiro’s “Friday Night Quartet” means more to me now than ever: “My mother said, The worst words in the English language/ Are these David—Don’t move/ And what do you think the best words are: Here’s some water.” After reading an interview she did with Charles Bernstein in 1995, which was recently published in S/N: New World Poetics, I’ve also returned to Barbara Guest’s Forces of Imagination, a collection of essays that read like poetry: “To be a poet requires that one also be a reader,” she writes in “Early Days of a Poet,” adding, “Instead of a ‘writer,’ I became a Reader.”