Monday, May 31, 2010

The Old Man and the Sea

My friend Allison said that she would rather have her eyes poked out than read this book. I recently picked it up so I figured I would read it and see what I thought of it.

I didn't like it either. It wasn't bad enough to make me poke my eyes out, but I don't like fishing, baseball. I didn't like the way the narrator talked to himself, I didn't like the way he and the boy talked. It seemed like they weren't actually talking to each other, they were explaining to the reader what their relationship was, and their history. The style really annoyed me.

I usually like Hemingway's writing, but I just couldn't connect with this book. He is usually much better.

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror by John Ashbery

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror is the first Ashbery book I've read. I heard audio recordings of a couple of his poems, but never read any of his books.

Ashbery has a reputation for being hard. I see why! The first time I read through the book, I didn't start understanding the poems at all until about half way through the book, yet still liked them. When I read the book again, I understood it a lot more (but not totally) and really liked the poems. It is a weird feeling, liking poems while they didn't really make sense.

One of his poems "In the Tomb of Stuart Merrill" includes a quote: "I have become attracted to your style. You seem to possess within your work an air of total freedom of expression and imagery, somewhat interesting and puzzling. After I read one of your poems, I'm always tempted to read and reread it. It seems that my inexperience holds me back from understanding your meanings." And continues: "I really would like to know what it is you do to 'magnetize' your poetry, where the curious reader, always a bit puzzled, comes back for a clearer insight." I want to know the answer to this question too! I am looking forward to reading more Ashbery books to find out!

My favorite poems in this book (While I was looking for poems online, I found out that you can get Ashbery ringtones!):

City Afternoon

Fear of Death

Forties Flick (half way down the page)

Mixed Feelings

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

I Am Not the Star of This Video

Here is a video of me at a reading. At about the two minute mark, the gallery dog sniffs the camera.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Factory of Tears

I moved Mort's book Factory of Tears to the top of my reading list because I heard Mort reading on the Poetry Magazine podcast. I was impressed by both her reading and her writing.

I am still impressed after reading her book. Her images are very often surprising and she seems to write simply, but the poems are somehow heavy and they stick to you. They are gorgeous, even when their subjects aren't.

This book was translated from Belarusian, but Mort has started to write in English. I only heard one of her English poems, but if all of her future Enlish poems are as good as the one I heard/read on Poetry Magazine. (The poem is Jean-Paul Belmondo), I can't wait for her next book. I missed the chance to see her read in Massachusetts last month. Even though the drive would have been an hour and a half away, I am mad I didn't go.

My favorite poems in the book:

New York

Grandmother (4th poem from the top)

White Apples

On a Steamer

Sunday, May 09, 2010

I didn't even notice the wings

I had this book for a long time and just recently realized that the cover isn't a beehive, it is a bee abdomen.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Blind Huber by Nick Flynn

When I started reading Blind Huber: Poems this week, I met at beekeeper at work, a friend on mine sent me a poem that she wrote that included bees--bees were everywhere.

I am so glad I picked this book for the 20th I've read so far this year. It was wonderful. It didn't feel like this whole book about bees was repetitive, or gimmicky.

In addition to bees, there were poems about a specific bee researcher, Francois Huber (yeah, he was blind), and his assistant, Francois Burnens. I love how the poems are from the first person's perspective, either from Huber, Burnens or each type of bee. It sounds cheesy, but it isn't at all.

I read a lot of Flynn's poems online when Some Ether: Poems came out, and I really liked them, but I think these are even better. It feels like he ascends himself.

My favorites in this book:

Hive (Third poem down. It also has 4 other poems from the book)

Queen (failed)

Twinned

Queen (It is on page 3 of this document. It is the poem that made me buy the book)

Monday, May 03, 2010

I still have a nagging feeling that I have a poem I need to write today

I did NaPoWriMo again this year. This was the first time I posted the poems as I was writing them. I was on a private facebook group with a local group of poets. I didn't want to post them to the blog because some magazines consider them published if they are on a blog.

Because I was showing them to other people every day, my standards went up, and instead of spending my usual hour writing a poetry draft, I spent 2 hours every day writing my drafts so they would be good enough to post to the group.

It was great, I never pushed myself this hard during poetry month, and like more of the poems than I usually do.

Near the end of the month, whenever I saw anyone from the group we all looked the same: exhausted. I was having trouble sleeping (I ended up writing some poems about sleep disorders) and as I was writing the last (short) poem, every single line was a struggle. I was squeezing a completely dry sponge.

This weekend, I went on a bike ride (to the ice cream stand, ha), watched Dr. Horrible's Singalong Blog with friends. (I've seen it before, but Kris hasn't so I arranged a viewing with Kris, Phil and Allison).

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Immortal Sofa by Maura Stanton

Immortal Sofa is another book by Maura Stanton that I am disappointed by. It is better than Life Among the Trolls but is not as good as Snow on Snow or Cries of Swimmers. There were some good poems in the book, but there were a lot of poems that I didn't like that much. I don't like Stanton's formal poetry. It seems like I am always seeing Stanton's prose poems (which are great) published in literary magazines, but I haven't seen any of them published in any of her books that I've read (I think I read four out of six of her poetry books). Stanton also had some tributes to her cats, and although very sweet, they did not reach the quality of her other poems. I hate to say it, because I love cats, but pets and kids are one of those subjects that the poem has to be extraordinary to overcome the subject matter.

I think I just have appreciate that her first two books are wonderful, and to stop comparing them to her other books. I own her two other poetry books and will probably be reading them soon, just in case they end up being as great as her first two. I can't wait to find out.

My favorites from this book:

Stare-e-o Vision Postcards

Nineteenth Century Animals

Pride and Prejudice: the Game

Ode to Pokeweed