Doesn’t it always start with poetry? Or at least a poet. Or at least a writer....more
Posts Tagged: Last Book I Loved
The poet does what poets do: reactivates words, makes odd associations, connects things that do not ordinarily belong together in order to create deeper meaning....more
Laura Jensen’s Memory begins with the eponymous poem about a falconer, whose falcon flies after its prey and doesn’t return until evening, surprising its master when it lands in the window clutching its prize. The poem ends with a lovely figure that I extend to her poetry’s effect on me:
Like memory, it
returned when it was unexpected.
It was strange. Volume One of Karl Ove Knausgaard’s six-volume memoir/novel was, with one traumatic exception near the end, the story of a typical young man. He had a typical childhood broken up only by a typical divorce. He was a typical teenager; excesses of emotion, dreams of stardom, and experimentation with substances....more
It’s fitting that Nicole Blackman leads into the poems of Blood Sugar with a quote from the confessional poet W.D. Snodgrass: “I am going to show you something very ugly. One day it may save your life.” The chief construct of confessional poetry is the brutally honest autobiography of the poet and the act of writing bravely, honestly and transgressively....more
I was born in 1986, the year that this story takes place, but like Eleanor I remember sitting on a boy’s carpet and feeling uncomfortable and excited and getting mixtapes and shaking for hours after kissing someone once....more
Sara Habein on the last book of poems she loved, Richard Blanco’s Looking for the Gulf Motel....more
Slouching Towards Bethlehem isn’t just a collection for hopeful writers or even for people who are young and unmoored. It’s for all people who have lost their sense of place...more
This is not an easy book to love. As an object, it is one of those books all of an age: squat, with yellowing, pulpy pages, the kind whose corners you can’t turn down...more
Cataclysm Baby, a short story collection by Matt Bell, explores fatherhood under the guise of a book of baby names. The innocent abecedary form belies the book’s dark contents....more
My dreams, for so long unrestrained by land, air, or even death—and frequently including scenes of me tumbling through the air on glossy black feathered wings or jumping into an abyss with a smile on my face—now generally take place in a building with four walls and a roof....more
My relationship with John Berryman’s Dream Songs, like the songs themselves, is murky, complicated, obscure in origin, and not easy to explain—not even to myself.
Rents, Sick Boy, and sweet addled Spud are the same as ever—only here they are pre-skag and still naïve about a world that will leave them jaded and vicious in a few books’ time....more
Building on our Last Book I Loved series, we’re teaming up to highlight Tumblr writers and the books they love.
Got a book you can’t stop thinking about? Send us a writeup – a little bit book review and a lot about why you loved it – along with a short bio....more
If Thomas McGrath were a painter, he would apply fat brushes to giant canvasses in complex color and texture. Gershwin’s gloss and the landscape of Copland are tame music compared to his. McGrath writes in the dissonance of Ives – American cacophony in contrasting threads of autobiography and cause, the red-white-and-blue Midwest against a vein of committed activism....more
As if Anne Carson were a geological epoch, a little ice age or a period of Cretaceous warming, I divide my life into B.A.C. (Before Anne Carson) and after A.A.C. (After Anne Carson). Few people can write like a verb is a dog they command....more
Jericho Brown’s Please explores the way love and violence coexist with each other and how the two sometimes intertwine. The collection of poems is categorized by four sections: “Repeat,” “Pause,” “Power,” and finally, “Stop”; the first three sections address self-identification both psychologically and sexually, his relationships with his father, mother, and lovers, and what it is like to tame terrorized beauty....more
I read a lot in the bathtub.
This isn’t because I’m particularly drawn to cleanliness, but because I’m drawn to the readerly space that a hot tub of water can create. The stillness of a full bathtub—that sporadic spigot drip, the lazy drawdown of heat, the tiles’ passionless whiteness—spins a hive of deep focus for me....more
“When the imminent demise of the great writer Prétextat Tach became public knowledge—he was given two months to live—journalists the world over requested private interviews with the eighty-year-old gentleman. …Monsieur Tach viewed his diagnosis [of the rare Elzenveiverplatz Syndrome, cartilage cancer] as a hitherto unhoped for ennoblement: with his hairless, obese physique—that of a eunuch in every respect except for his voice—he dreaded dying of some stupid cardiovascular disease.”
And then the unsuspecting journalists begin to arrive for their long, sharp, demeaning lashings....more
My boyfriend sometimes says things like, “Back in high school, I was a theater geek.” What he means is that he attended acting camps during all his summer vacations, and he played juicy supporting roles like Horatio and Don Pedro in his high school’s Shakespeare productions....more
How do we know what we know ’til we learn what we’ve learned? Once upon a time I fashioned myself to be one of those thinkers who, as I sophomorically put it, “find the deep in the superficial.” When I write that Robyn Schiff’s second poetry collection surpasses all of my heavy thoughts of mundane, I mean it as an intense compliment....more
Ask a group of book-loving Oregonians who their only Pulitzer Prize winner in fiction is, and what do you suppose the percentage of correct answers might be?
Easier to predict would perhaps be the most frequent incorrect answer. My money is on Ken Kesey’s Sometimes A Great Notion, although H....more
Everything from the theme of creation to the understated technique resonates; it is a book of poetry which has inspired both reflection and furious meditations of my own as I spin my own arcs from Bidart’s example. It is excellent art....more