The book I’m reading right now is The Cineaste, by Van Jordan. It is “about” many things, but it is first and foremost a poetic manifestation of the author’s love affair with the movies. The centerpiece is a tour-de-force poem cycle centered around the life and work of the auteur Oscar Micheaux, which in the process ranges across a stunning array of subjects and in a virtuoso display of formal technique.
I just finished Sharon Olds’s Stag’s Leap—would have done so earlier, but waited to buy it when I knew I would have the chance to get her to sign it for me (yes, I’m still attracted to the poet’s signature). It’s a book about loss—the loss that comes with divorce after a long period of marriage—and, let me tell you, the husband is far from the only thing that has departed. I’ve been reading her work since grad school, and I’m glad the Pulitzer will give a new round of potential readers a nudge in Olds’s direction.
Another book I read this past week (tore through it in a single afternoon) was Jennifer Tamayo’s new chapbook, Poems Are the Only Real Bodies: E-Pistols for Hurryet Tubman. Tamayo hilariously and pointedly brings the historical figure into the same frame as the massive memorial sculpture of her in Harlem (and inserts letters to the similarly named, similarly fierce poet Harryette Mullen). This book fires words, full of Tamayo’s characteristic, playful misspellings, at some of the very targets one might imagine Harriet Tubman pointing her famous pistol at today, if she were still alive.
I had a cross-country flight several days ago, which was more than enough reason, in my world, to buy a new speculative fiction novel. To my delight, the second book in Deborah Harkness’s All Souls Trilogy, Shadow of Night, was finally out in paperback, so I got to indulge my endless thirst for worlds less familiar to me than this one. But however strange, of course, Harkness’s alternative world has things in common with ours–especially insofar as certain rules—originally laid down for self-protection—have outlived their usefulness, while becoming all the more powerful. I’m now in post-Book-2/pre-Book-3 hell in two fabulous trilogies (the other is Patrick Rothfuss’s Kingkiller Chronicles), and hope I will be able to survive the wait for both Book 3s.
Last, but not least, I am still reading Joseph Jeon’s critical book, Racial Things, Racial Forms: Objecthood in Avant-Garde Asian American Poetry. I started it awhile back, got about halfway through and had to put it aside for a variety of reasons not relevant to how much I’m enjoying this book. Glad to return to it now. Jeon has discussions of Theresa Hak Kyung Cha (not on Dictee, but other parts of her work, for a change), Myung Mi Kim, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, and John Yau—lovely readings of their poetry, usefully informed by the complicated cultural contexts in which they write.
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