The Hermit Poet

April 10, 2008

What I’ve Been Reading

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:57 am

Lately I haven’t been blogging much, or even writing much, but I have been reading. Every time I go to campus, I take one or two books of poetry with me and read them on the bus. It’s been rather productive — I’ve been finally working my way through the large stack of books picked up at various conferences and readings over the past few months.

Recently read:

  • Paisley Rekdal’s The Invention of the Kaleidoscope — I really enjoyed this book, particularly the title poem which resonated with me as a possible model for some of my work on Charles M. Babbage.
  • Ilya Kaminsky’s Dancing in Odessa — another great read, perhaps one of my favorite books in the last little while. Solid all the way through.
  • Cecily Parks’ Field Folly Snow — a very pared down, almost stark rendering of world through fragmented language and distorted correspondence. Interesting, but sometimes I felt the voice was more distant than I would have liked.
  • Ivy Alvarez’s Mortal — I was delighted by the reinvention of myth, the sharpness of language, and the razor-fine balance which renders complex emotion and memory without falling into tired or sentimental language
  • Li-Young Lee’s Behind My Eyes – another fantastic collection and testimony again of why I return to his books again and again. “Descended from Dreamers” has joined my list of favorite poems — I may use it to open some of my readings.
  • Jean Follain’s Transparence of the World as translated by W.S. Merwin. Transparence is the right word — there is something quite startling about the luminous poems about history, the simple life, and beauty.
  • Claudia Emerson’s Late Wife — this too has joined my list of great books of poetry — solid solid solid. The poems are incredible.

Still on the stack:

  • C.G. Hanzlicek’s The Cave
  • Susan McCabe’s Descarte’s Nightmare
  • Juan Felipe Herrera’s 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross the Border
  • Eliot Weinberger & Octavio Paz’s 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei

I think this summer I’ll try to systematically read through all the books in my collection (a bit over 300 poetry books at this point). Ambitious? Yes. But I’d like to be a lot more familiar with what I’ve acquired over the years — and perhaps do a little weeding as well.

2 Responses to “What I’ve Been Reading”

  1. Ivy Says:

    Thanks for the mention here, Neil. :-)

  2. Noel Says:

    Wow, that’s some great reading there. I just finshed Li Young Lee’s Behind My Eyes and got the audio CD of him reading it, there’s a certain almost ethereal quality to his voice when he reads.

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