My Dearest John
Congrats sits on the tip of my tongue but I am still grieving and I don't want to talk football anyway right now. I am still your friend no matter how it all turns out or goes down. I will say that Eli is a NOLA boy, so . . . as the one who has been in SF for over 12 years and still renews her Louisiana license, my allegiances are with my swamp-mates, always. But I still love you
Back to books --
Book Reflections of 2011which are not in a particular order per say, but what my mommy brain could muster. Geez, there are a lot in the sense of what comes our way via the gentile man in the blue outfit pushing his cart uphill, but I was trying to think of what pulled me in or what got at me somehow or maybe it just got at me cause I couldn’t say much in the end due to “ mama, mama, mama”, or a simple loss for words. I’ve forgotten many I’m sure . . .
1.) Laurie Duggan, Allotments (Fewer & Further Press) So as I have always done, (and do now far less frequently, but way more desperately) when a moment comes to me to be alone I grab 2 things: a book and a drink. I grabbed this book to take with me to the local hole (so that I am in reaching distance in case the holler comes) and I was all jived, like I had a drinking partner. The book was all alive in the bar scene on the page swatting fruit flies and mumbling barroom banter. I had to, just had to, write Jess Mynes (he is F&F Press) and tell him how thrilled I was with my new favorite poet’s work. Commenting with feminine pronouns all the while, I even was spastic enough to say, I have a “poetic sister” as I refer to Lew Welch as my poetic father and this seemed appropriate as Laurie was all in like Flynn on the haps of the poetics that move me to sound out anything and all tapped on the taps that flow, so . . . I decided to find out more, maybe she is on facebook, maybe we can be friends, maybe we can have a drink and gossip about corked wine and project-poetry and then I found her. Well, yeah, “Laurie” Duggan is Laurence James Duggan (born 1949), an Australian poet, editor, and translator. This changes nothing about my love for the book, I just reflect on it with rosy cheeks and a glance downward.
2.) Brian Richards, Enridged (UNO Press) This is a selected, 10 years worth, a narrow and hefty little package, with 160 pages. I am always happy when a poet that has given so much forth to the muse has the opportunity to collect their work and say looky-here, though I would always rather a small book in my hands. And I’m not trying to say 160 pages is large by any means. Let me back up. I first heard of Brian Richards from a professor back in college, Skip Fox. Skip had a little book out on Bloody Twin Press (Brian’s press), actually 2 books: Kabul Under Seige and Wallet and these are two of the most beautiful artifacts ever, you know like the Oyez or Perishable Press books, so much thought about how it feels in the hands, not just how it reads. And that’s what I mean by little books, the intimate art pieces that contain poetry . . . And point being that I feel Brian Richards, whom I consider a master of the sorts, deserves better. What the hell, with the spacing on the page. Wide open spaces between short nuggets of controlled beautiful verse. It fucks with the eye, the fung shui of the poems. I like so much about this book, all that should be there : the work, the cover, its slenderness, but I want a redo on the layout.
3.) Dayana Fraile, Zinc Landscapes (Cy Gist Press) Another beaut that traveled via USPS, which we received just in time for the holiday break. And the dear husband was home from work so as to take care of Little Miss Lorca and I could slip into the translated (because my Spanish stinks) fierce world of Dayana Fraile. Holy Guacamole. I think she has read the Bloody Chamber often or carries a switchblade or both. Either way I am fearfully excited to see what else she has up her sleeve, but don’t wanna rumble with her on a full moon. And this translation was done by Guillermo Parra to whom I am ever grateful for making Spanish poetry readable to little ole me. It’s all incestuous, yes, as we just typed up a selection of Jose Antonio Ramos Sucre’s verse translated by Guillermo to print on Auguste Press. Ring around the rosie, pockets full of . . . yes, poetry.
4.) Donald Guravich, World At Large (Blue Press) I love getting notes and, even better, books from Donald because of his little drawings. This one is decorated with a little pink rabbit on a patch of grass (the year of the rabbit it is). But this particular book just happens to be illustrated by the artist as well. This is a book that has caused me great grief. For no good reason other than good ole Catholic Guilt. The book is a delight of images, concise language all woven about the days ins and outs, some intimacies of blue collar days and the roll outs of nature. We printed 2 of these even in Morning Train. Are you ever so pleased with a book you don’t know what to say without sounding forced or trite? Add that to the new addition in the household and bam! here comes the guilt. I adore Donald as a person and a poet and I have not said a thing about his book, not even a Thank You, because, well because I’m lazy or I could play the new-mom card, but in the end I think I’m lazy. So here: Donald, Thank You.
5.) I feel like I should list Tumble Bumble or Goodnight Moon here. I have these books and others memorized at this point from going over them sometimes 8-10 times a day. Poetry doesn’t get to come first with a little one running amuck. It’s hard to give the ear over to it sometimes and most of the time there isn’t the time to dive in and swim freely. I find myself reading for a particular purpose these days, cramming it in while I can. Like the new skill of speed-eating that I’ve developed.. Having this drive when reading poetry leaves a meh-feeling. I’m not in school (though sometimes I wish I were) so I don’t have to read this, why I am forcing myself. But if I don’t force myself to try to embrace something I would never read anything. All the books listed above took a little self-butt-kicking beyond the shear curiosity of the personal relationships that lead me to each.
And so that brings me to the book that I desperately want to read again and want my friends to read so that we can discuss and I can better find my footing in the tightly woven landscape – Karen Weiser, To Light Out (Ugly Duckling Presse). I took this one to bed with me and devoured it, oh how gorgeous it is! I felt like I was looking through the window to another place of thought that I couldn’t enter. I want in. I felt like I was reading a study, a series of cryptic passages enlightened with myth and beauty, like I was in an Indiana Jones movie and I was close to finding an ancient treasure but I was so in awe of the mystical architecture that the secret traps were about to ensnare me. I know that seems over the top, but I was immersed in the language and it seemed the draw-bridge was crumbling. Maybe I was feeling the tic-toc of my own reading window close. Maybe I was really “in” as I wanted to be, but like a drug experience, came out of it saying “what just happened?” I can’t recall having a book get at me like this – like I was drifting, mouth agape and eyes dazed, ears fixed on sounds that recognize my own head, but addicted. Addicted to what? What was this fix I was craving? I have to read and re-read and come back. I lent it out to another poet, Christina Fisher, because I wanted fresh eyes and another perspective to guide me (and I wanted that perspective to be that of another woman and as we oh-so-often do we’ve cancelled on each other about 5x now). I can’t comfortably plead mommy-brain on this one. I do believe we can fall in love with that which confounds us. So I have. Whoever said art was about understanding anyway? I think it’s more about desire and recognition. And I have surely been left with both. I do expect to revisit this topic in my book list of 2012.