Monday, February 13, 2012

Transfer Fat by Aase Berg

I had so much fun reading this! Berg's poetry is so delightfully strange. I kept laughing and reading out lines of her poems to my husband.

Transfer Fat was written about pregnancy, and just about everyone poem has something about fat, or whales, milk or hares. I read some of this book in Remainland: Selected Poems, and I didn't realize that it was about pregnancy at first. I thought it was just about being fat. There is a lot about milk in the book, so I think it is more obvious that it is about pregnancy.

The book is translated by Johannes Göransson, who translated Berg's books that are available in English. It has been chosen for the Rumpus's Poetry Book Club this month. (I was a member of this great book club, but I couldn't afford it when my cat got sick. I plan on resubscribing after I get the debt from her treatment paid off.) I am excited to hear the discussion.

It is refreshing for once to read poems about fat that don't talk about being fat as a bad thing.

Right now I am recovering from ovary removal surgery and my stomach is extra large, so I am enjoying all the whale and fat references more than usual. "Whale" in Swedish is "val."

My favorites from the book:
The Hare Infects Dad With Rabies

Whole Whale (This is in my review of Remainland, in the middle of the page)

Blubber Biter

Birth Rubber (At the end of the page).

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Delusions, Etc. by John Berryman

John Berryman is one of my favorite poets. The Dream Songs is one of my favorite books. I didn't like his early work very much, although I think it is technically good, I think it is way too dry.

The Dream Songs, Berryman opens up and the poems are unique, gorgeous, emotional, and very funny.

I was worried about [book:Delusions, Etc.|1402046] because I wasn't sure if it was going to be like the Dream Songs or the older style. Luckily, the poems were like the Dream Songs (mostly). The poems were in 5 sections. I didn't like the first section that much. There was a section of poems to famous people, like Emily Dickinson and George Washington that section was great.

There were even a couple Henry (the main character in the Dream Songs)poems in the book, which I was happy to see, just a few, just enough for a nice visit with Henry.

Berryman, as usual was very structured and I had to read each poem many times before it became clear, but he is worth the time. I wish there were more poems. I think I've read all of his books.

My favorite poems in the book:

Your Birthday in Wisconsin You Are 140 (at the bottom of the page)

Henry by Night

Washington in Love



Slow Down!

My reading goal is kind of taking over my life. I set the goal to read 100 books this year and I am obsessed with it. I was waiting around at midnight on January 1 for Goodreads to open the 2012 book reading challenge goal so I could set my goal. The most I read in a year was 71. Poetry books are much shorter than fiction, so I didn't think it would be an issue to finish 100.

I am ahead of schedule, but I am doing nothing else lately, and I always have a feeling that I have to "catch up." Part of the anxiety is I organized the current books I have here at my house and put all the titles on Goodreads. I was shocked at my ratio of read vs. unread books.

So many closing bookstores, and great library book sales made it really easy for me to accumulate a huge amount of unread books. I didn't have a lot of books in the house before I could drive/get my own library card, so every book I had I read over and over, and there weren't enough books go on a shelf. Books are the only extra thing I spend money on, and it going to bookstores is one of my favorite things to do (another is going to libraries). Everyone who sees my house asks if I thought about getting an e-reader.

I haven't finished writing any poems yet this month. I feel like I might need to scale back my reading goals. I bet if I set my goal lower, I would still read the same or almost the same amount of books, but without stressing out about it.

As I was putting my reading list together, my first instinct was to pick the shortest books in my library so I could read more books this year/help out my read vs. unread ratio.

Very often, I will have an obsessive feeling about something and writing about it helps me sort of dissipate the obsessiveness. I am hoping this blogpost helps.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Miss America by Catherine Wagner

Catherine Wagner's poems are not the most understandable, but I liked them a lot. Her phrases are funny. She mixes types of speech and tones in a pleasing way. I want to find more of her books, and also get my own copy of this one because I borrowed this copy from the library. I also feel like I need to spend more time with these poems to understand them.

The line and stanza breaks were not orderly, which suited the tone and construction of the poems. The titles were often poems in a series (magazine titles, or a title with a number after it).

My favorites in the book (I couldn't find any of these online! I found a lot of her poems, which are worth checking out.):

White Man Poems
A Poem for Sears Roebuck
This Land is Your Land
A Poem for Poets & Writers

Monday, November 21, 2011

I read two books about extinct animals over the weekend

Swift as a Shadow by Rosamond Wolff Purcell

This is a good introduction to extinct animals. I wish there was more information on each animal, but this book is more about the photographs.

Rosamond Purcell photographed stuffed animals, some times in groups or in their storage/specimen boxes. The photos are so sad and beautiful, they are the perfect tone for the subject.

I want to pick up a copy--it is almost a reference book.

A Gap in Nature by Tim Flannery, Peter Schouten

I read this around the same time I read Swift as a Shadow. Both books are about extinct animals including photos or drawings of the animals and short descriptions of the animals and why they went extinct.

The descriptions of the animals were a little more extensive, but I still wanted more information on each animal. I think I am going to have to find an individual book on each animal to be satisfied with the amount of information I want.

I liked the paintings in this book, but I preferred the photographs in Swift as a Shadow because it gave me a better idea of what the animals looked like.

I think both books go together very well.

Monday, October 24, 2011

HalfLife by Meghan O'Rourke

I've read complaints about how Meghan O'Rourke doesn't deserve all the success she has had in the poetry world, and I don't understand it. After reading [book:Halflife|3419397], I am a fan of her poetry. I think it's great! The book was an enjoyable read.

Her poems are polished and tight, the images were surprising.

I love the tone of the book, it feels menacing and uneasy like a dream before it turns into a nightmare. As I read the poems, I kept thinking that they were all true, even when it would be pretty unlikely. She is a credible narrator and I love when a writer can make me believe something that is not real.

I think her titles could be better. They are all either one word titles ("Spectacular," "Halflife"), or simple phrases ("Lost Sister," "Peep Show"). The line and stanza breaks are mostly not orderly, but some have regular line and stanza breaks.

When it came time to find O'Rourke's poems online, I had no trouble at all, her poems are reposted by fans on their blogs and on tumblr. I feel like her poems are some of the most "available" when I had to search for specific poems online.

My favorites in the book:

Inventing a Horse (Sorry about the ridiculous background on the website)

Sandy Hook



Monday, September 26, 2011

Mornings Like This by Annie Dillard

I was excited when I picked up this book a couple years ago, so I posted my purchase to my blog. My friend Rebecca said that she liked the book, but thought it was cheating to take something very poetic (like Van Gogh's letters) and make them into poetry. I didn't really think about that at the time, but after reading this book, I can understand exactly what she is talking about.

I really like the idea of found poetry. I also like when a found poem is an unaltered piece of writing that a poet took from another person and recognized the poetry in it that the original author didn't see.

I have a personal issue with a poet removing certain words from the original author's work because it is very distracting to me while I am reading it. I can't see the poet's hand in this type of poetry, and I spend the entire time I am reading wondering what the poet did and what the original author did. Did the original author write something completely un-poetic and the poet had to do a lot of word-removing, or did they break into lines something that was poetic to begin with? The ones I liked the best were from medical reports or manuals, because I knew those weren't very poetic, and Dillard made them that way. I guess it is just a hang up I have, which is too bad, because these poems were beautiful and I bet a lot of work was put into them. Maybe if I read the poems more times, I can see them as their own poetry.

This type of found poetry is such a vibrant form, I am going to try and train myself to just enjoy it and stop trying to analyze the whole thing.

My favorites in the book:

A Visit to the Mayo Clinic
The Graduate Student: Apects of the Tongue (I could only find the original source which is a medical book from 1828)
Building a Treehouse
Signals at Sea

Monday, September 12, 2011

Everything is Every Thing by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz

A friend of mine lent me this book. He thought I would enjoy it because the poet and I have common interests: trivia, weird history, presidential history, weird presidential history. I did enjoy the book. She is a slam poet, and is known for her dramatic performances. I do think I am missing something by just reading some of the poems, but overall, the poems stand on their own. I keep a mental list of poetry books to give a person who is interested in poetry but isn't sure where to start. This is on my list because Aptowicz is not hard to understand, isn't stuffy (don't get me wrong, I also like stuffy poetry!), and isn't prose broken into stanzas. I don't have the book in front of me because I had to return it, so I can't talk about the line and stanza breaks. I do remember her titles were usually very long. Probably too long (something I am guilty of myself). My favorites in the book: Every Winter, Everyone Thinks My Boyfriend is Elvis Costello (second to last one on the page) Insults That Only Work if You Are a Presidential History Buff (Last one on the page) Choke