Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fragment of the Head of a Queen by Cate Marvin

Cate Marvin's poetry is really well constructed. It feels dense when you read it. I feel like I am getting twice the information that I would normally get in each line. I loved Marvin's World's Tallest Disaster so I was eager to read this one too.

Somehow, Marvin's poetry is even more condensed in this book. The sentences are shorter, which might be why the words feel like they are packed even tighter?

It took me longer to read this book. It was at the same time, a pleasure and a torture to read. I am always so worried about the speaker in her poems. They are a mess, desperate, and angry. However, they describe their troubles with the most gorgeous language.

I think I might like Marvin's first book slightly better, but both are worth checking out.

This has nothing to do with the writing, but the cover is one of my favorites. It is disturbing and familiar.

My favorites in this collection: (Almost all of them have audio links. Her reading adds quite a bit to the poems.)

A Brief Attachment

Lying My Head Off


Love the Contagion

Colder, Bitterer

The Cate Marvin page on From the Fishouse is great.

Friday, January 22, 2010

If you can eat sugar like a normal person, you wouldn't like them

I made sugarfree brownies twice this week. I haven't eaten a brownie since I had to quit sugar three years ago. I made special cream cheese icing for them.

Last night, I had a dream that I found a hidden stash of brownies after I thought I ate them all. It was the best dream ever.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Here, Bullet by Brian Turner

After earning his MFA, Brian Turner served in Iraq with the US Army for a year. He called himself an embedded poet.

Learning about the war through poetry, it is easier to understand daily life for the soldiers, and about the place where they are living away from their families. It describes parts of a place that I haven't seen before. I don't think I ever got a real picture of what Iraq looks like, even though I've seen it on the news. These poems paint a picture that includes, smells, weather.

Many of the poems are heartbreaking. Most are related to war, but not all of them. I like that Turner includes poems written about landscapes, and dreams too. There is a series of dream poems "Dreams from the Malaria Pills" which are interesting and disturbing. Also, I didn't know that malaria pills gave people weird dreams.

I am interested in seeing what Turner writes about for his next book.

My favorite poems in this book:
Sadiq - I love the ending of this poem: "it should break your heart to kill."
Jameel - This poem has a great description of cowbirds, bees.
Milh - A gorgeous poem about salt production.
Here Bullet - I love the ending: "here is where the world ends every time."

From the Fishouse (my favorite poetry website) has a good Brian Turner page.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Life Among the Trolls by Maura Stanton

Snow on Snow and Cries of Swimmers are some of my favorite books, and they are also the only two Stanton books I've read before this one.

I probably had unfair expectations for Life Among the Trolls, Stanton's fourth poetry book, since I loved the other two so much.

There were some great poems in this book, but I really didn't like the style of about half of the poems. Those were kind of loose and rambling, or they rhymed, at times, awkwardly.

I feel like it is a transition book, and she is between styles. I know later she writes prose poems, which are also good.

I still think the book is still worth reading for the great poems, but I would rather recommend her first two books of poetry, where every single poem is fantastic.

I loved the poem "A History of Criticism," which was in 5 parts. I think people who work in academia would especially enjoy it.

My other favorite poems in the book:

Returning to Arizona - As someone who has moved a lot, I can relate to this.

Chairman - I enjoyed the mysterious characters Mr. X, Mr. Y and Mr. Z

Ice Storm on the Pennsylvania Turnpike - It snows a lot in Massachusetts, and I think Stanton describes perfectly the feelings of driving in horrible weather.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Scary, No Scary by Zachary Schomburg

I really like how this book uses the same subjects, and images throughout the book, and it feels like they are talking about the same specific hummingbirds or jaguars that keep appearing. It reminds me of when an artist will use the same image in different settings and combinations. The whole book works together.

It has a similar, surreal and whimsical style to The Man Suit, but there is less variety in Scary, No Scary. The book is still good, but it is hard to compete with The Man Suit, which is one of my favorites.

The section of the book called The Histories has linked poems where objects appear and then aren't really there. The objects are a table chair, chandelier, sheet, floor and ceiling. In each poem, some of the objects are there and others are there, they cycle so every object has a chance to be there and not be there. Although this section isn't my favorite, it is an interesting set of poems.

I was disappointed with the titles, most of them were just a repeat of the first stanza of the poem.

Schomburg has an index of subjects at the end of the book, just like in The Man Suit, and it is just as hilarious.

My favorite poems in this book:
Scary, No Scary
The Sawing In Half
The Black Hole (middle poem on the page)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Aase Berg's Remainland

Remainland is Aase Berg's selected poems. I read her book, With Deer a couple months ago, and liked it so much I found her only other book that has been translated into English, Remainland.

Berg's poems are some of the strangest that I've read. Johannes Goransson, her translator says, "Aase Berg's poetry is impossible to make into natural-sounding English because it is not natural-sounding in Swedish." I agree, it is not natural-sounding, but it is charming. She is a poet that seems to have a lot of fun with words, and I love the unique world she created. It is full of wooded landscapes with various animals (guinea pigs, lemurs, whales, hares)as enemies, allies, or even offspring.

My favorite poems were from her book Transfer Fat, which were poems about pregnancy, although I didn't realize that at first. I am always talking about how fat my cats are, so I really enjoyed these poems. The poet compares being pregnant to being a whale, but it isn't in the usual derogatory way. It actually makes the whale comparison seem natural and complimentary. The baby is called a hare throughout these poems, which is adorable.

I couldn't find any of the poems from this part of the book online, so here is one of my favorites from Transfer Fat:

Hole Whale

Whales want water
hollow in water
lightness in fatness
flight in blubber

Some of my other favorites in this book:

Logging Time (The middle poem on this page)

X Ray (The poem after the picture of glowing Lemurs, ha!)

The only thing I didn't like about the poems is Berg's sometimes including bodily fluids, which is usually fine, but I could do without diarrhea and vomit. However, it is worth having a couple of unpleasant moments reading when the rest of the book is delightful to read.

If you want to read a review of Berg's other book, With Deer, Rebecca Louden has a good review over at Galatea Resurrects.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Paul Guest's My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge

My favorites in this book:

Bad Mood: This poem really captures the bad mood. Some days just feel like everything is wrong.

Valentine: I like the dreaminess of the poem, and love how he describes himself on the ocean floor with a shell and claws.

My Crush: The description of pain in the body as shimmering, and the "spines full of wire" were beautiful. There is a gorgeous longing in this.

Job: This poem is really funny, and sad. I love poems about working in an office.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Conversation with the guy at the bookstore, after he saw I was buying a poetry book

Guy: Have you read Paul Guest's My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge?

Me: No, but I got it and should be reading it soon.

Guy: What about Brian Turner's Here, Bullet?

Me: That's on my list too!

Guy: Okay, so what should I be reading? (pulling out a small notebook)

I told him he should pick up I Have to Go Back to 1994 to Kill a Girl, which was creative, absorbing and creepy in the best way.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

You should click the photo for a bigger version. It has eyelashes!

I wish we had one of these in the optical shop where I work. I have no idea what it is, since I only looked at it through the window. I hope I can go in when it is open and talk to them about it.

Julianna Baggot's Compulsions of Silkworms & Bees

My favorite poems: (Almost all these poems can be found on Google Books)

"In Response to Poetry is a House with Many Rooms" - I enjoyed the image of all the different rooms, and I like how the poem started light-hearted, and turned surprisingly nefarious.

"Poetry Punishes You for Your Absence" - When I wasn't writing regularly, I always dreaded the first couple poems I would write once I started again. It was so hard to get started again, and it really did feel like I was being punished.

"Q and A: Why do you write? Answer #1" - I loved all the heart imagery and the anatomy terms she included were beautiful and whimsical.

"1. Poetry Addresses Her Sister, the Novel" - As someone who has tried to write prose, but never could figure it out, and also someone with sisters, I liked this poem a lot.

Friday, January 01, 2010

The inside stitches are skin colored, the outside stitches are inside colored

I thought my incision scar from the freckle removal had a loose piece of skin, but when I pulled it I discovered it was one of the internal, "dissolving" stitches!

I got the external stitches taken out weeks ago. I guess the internal stitches still need time to dissolve.