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Well, on the top of the pile is a book called Bird Brains by Candace Savage, a picture book with text on the intelligence of crows, ravens, magpies, and jays. I’ve asked my workshop students this semester to focus on the making of images. We’ve agreed to think together about birds. In Bird Brains, I’ve just read where Savage cites the story of someone’s a pet crow named Gagee “who took on the task of feeding and caring for an injured fledgling. When the fledgling young bird died, the usually garrulous Gagee was stone silent for four days.” I can think of a couple of things wrong with those sentences, but what’s made (or unsaid) undoes me.


The marvelous poet Saskia Hamilton sent me Thomas Hardy’s ‘Poetical Matter’ Notebook (edited by Pamela Dalziel and Michael Millgate). I knitted (badly) a welcome sweater for her recently born son, Lucien, and she sent me this fine book. Opened randomly, I find this entry: “|| A mental refrain = refrain of idea, not a verbal repetition”,  “Subjects known to the writer; unknown to the rest of the world.”, and “Xmas party at Lesnewth — Farm house: the clink of the locket. Wd this combine with “Burning the Holly?””


As for poems, I keep reaching between other things for Alfred Starr Hamilton’s A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind.  Such a fresh, wide voice and mind. He makes me happy with all that repetition, makes me uncomfortable in the best ways, and then there’s his tenderness, his joy. Wallace Stevens’ Collected Poems is always open facedown somewhere in my house. Sustenance ongoing, decades now.


I’ve left off at the beginning of the 14th chapter of César Aira’s crooked, clean The Mistress and the Wind, after reading this sentence: “Let’s suppose a man who, as a result of a mental disturbance (I can imagine this because yesterday I saw it), cannot walk, advance, or move at all, without the accompaniment or propulsion of very sonorous music, which he is obliged to provide for himself at the top of his lungs.” It was a good place to wind the reading into thinking. How about that crow?



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Published Sep 20, 2013 - Comments Off on What I’m Reading Now… by Kathleen Peirce

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