Reviews-A-Plenty

Hi folks, so I’ve been keeping up with my creative goal to read a book a week! Thought I’d better catch you up on the wonderful things I’ve been reading.

caravalCaraval by Stephanie Garber | Scarlett’s grandmother has told her and her sister Tella stories about Caraval since they were young– an audience-participation game that is like a magical carnival. Scarlett has always longed to go, but getting tickets now— less than two weeks before her marriage to a mysterious count she has never met– is not the ideal timing. At Caraval, Tella goes missing, and the game revolves around the sisters. Julian, the young sailor who brought the girls to Caraval, is shrouded in mystery too, and Scarlett can’t tell who is friend or foe, or whether the game is really just a game.

It’s intense, has gorgeous imagery, and keeps you guessing the entire time. I am happy to say that I did not figure the ending out ahead of time!! This is a must read, folks.

cursed-childHarry Potter & the Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, Jack Thorne, and John Tiffany | I think I went into this screenplay with reasonable expectations. I waited quite a while to read it because I knew that it was not going to be like “the 8th Harry Potter book,” as some stores touted. First, it’s a screenplay, not a novel; I knew I couldn’t expect the same thing. Because I went into it with realistic expectations, I loved it!

The story picks up about nineteen years after the Battle of Hogwarts took place; Harry’s youngest son Albus is headed to Hogwarts for the first time, and it is hard living in your father’s shadow, especially when your father is Harry Potter. Albus isn’t like his dad, and they butt heads, which leads Albus and his friend Scorpius Malfoy (Draco’s son!) on an adventure that gets worse and worse and worse … until it all comes together in J.K. Rowling fashion. I loved getting to revisit the characters. The important thing, I think, is not to treat it as the 8th book but as what it is: the script for a play that takes you back to the wizarding world for one more adventure.

poem-she-didnt-writeThe Poem She Didn’t Write and Other Poems by Olena Kalytiak Davis | This one was staggering. I absolutely adored it. It was like e.e. cummings had become a female spoken word artist. The rhythms were impossible to miss, even without hearing them, and I was exposed to a new vocabulary. I thought it the poem topics were really brave, and there were quite a few that she approached from such a stunningly unique perspective. The title poem, in particular, was mind-blowing. I will be purchasing her other books.

chinoiserieChinoiserie by Karen Rigby | This was the 2011 winner of the Sawtooth Poetry Award– and well deserved. Beautiful writing, rich imagery, the poems took me to other places, something I always love. I was happy to let this collection sink into my bones.

Review [via Insta]: Best Thought, Worst Thought by Don Paterson

This has been on my radar a while. Starting tonight.

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#BestThoughtWorstThought by Don Paterson

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#BestThoughtWorstThought Man, I need a new phone with a better camera. I shouldn't even be allowed on insta.

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#BestThoughtWorstThought

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#BestThoughtWorstThought

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All that to say, read it! Paterson’s aphorisms are a cross between poetry and personal essay, and I gobbled it up.

A Weekend of Poetry

On Saturday, I had the pleasure of lounging in my bed and reading three (!!!) collections of poetry. They were all wonderful, and all very different from one another.

Ultra-Cabin by Kimberly Lambright is described as post-ironic, a clever collection that showcases her total command of vocabulary. Fascinating and provocative.

Yes Thorn by Amy Munson is full of beautiful, thoughtful poetry that reminds me why the mysterious calls to me. Really unique rhythms to these poems, incredible depth of subject matter.

The Rain in Portugal by Billy Collins features the poet’s trademark humor, which is always used in thought-provoking ways.

Bottom line: I need poetry. I’d forgotten how much.

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2016 Poetry Campaign: Siphon, Harbor by Brooklyn Copeland

I have 8 creative goals this year, and behind door 7 is reading a book of poetry every month. Want to join me? You can see what book I’ll be reading each month here. March’s book was Siphon, Harbor by Brooklyn Copeland. Join me in April reading Aimless Love by Billy Collins.

siphon harbor

How amazing is this cover?!!

So. Siphon, Harbor. It was a little too post-modern for me to really connect with, though there were some sweet moments.

The title of the novel comes from a line from a very sexy poem called “Seall,” which I think is the last name of her boyfriend.

There was an interesting poem about subjective/objective-ness, which this grammar nerd found intriguing:

In any pair
one does as if doing’s gracious– 

                the other
as if sacrifice– 

Another line I really liked was this:

To this day, to me all
silver smells red.

Will you like Siphon, Harbor? Maybe! Give it a try. It’s such a fast read– no joke, it will take you fewer than thirty minutes. Let me know what you think!

And join me next month in reading Billy Collins!

2016 Poetry Campaign: It Becomes You by Dobby Gibson

it becomes youThis was a re-read for me. I first read Dobby Gibson’s It Becomes You about two years ago, and I loved it so much that I immediately bought his other collections (both of which I also enjoyed very much!). He is a brilliant writer, and to top it off, he’s local! It was fun to read poetry about Minneapolis.

How to describe his work? While I read, I had comparisons bouncing around in my brain. Dobby Gibson writes with the tremendous peeling-open-of-ideas and thoughtful phrases of Billy Collins, with the great breadth of vocabulary of Annie Dillard but much more accessible. There are phrases that will make you pause in awe, and every poem will leave you feeling thoughtful, somehow weightless and heavy at once.

Magic.

Highly recommend: also, his other books Skirmish and Polar are fantastic reads too!

Join me next month for my 2016 Poetry Campaign. We’ll be reading Brooklyn Copeland’s Siphon, Harbor. Click here to see the schedule for the rest of the year!

 

2016 Poetry Campaign: A Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine Von Radics

I have 8 creative goals this year, and behind door 7 is reading a book of poetry every month. Want to join me? You can see what book I’ll be reading each month here. January’s book was A Mouthful of Forevers by Clementine Von Radics. Join me in February reading It Becomes You by Dobby Gibson, which will be a re-read for me, one I’m excited about.

mouthful of foreversA Mouthful of Forevers was young, fresh, edgy, sexy. I read it in one sitting, to be honest, and thoroughly enjoyed it. If I had to summarize it, I might say something like “Looking for love in a time of modern scars.”

Here were some of my favorite parts:

What no one ever talks about
is how dangerous hope can be.
Call it forgiveness
with teeth.

I also loved the imagery here:

Your voice is right here
coloring my voice. Nothing is helping me
forget your hands, how they shook
like apologizing mountains
hollowed in suffering.

She had a really interesting poem about, of all things, Salome and Kim Kardashian, which– I’m not kidding– gave me a fresh look at KK. I loved these lines so much:

Salome
moves like a dream
half-remembered.
Salome dances
like a siren song.
All the men ache to see
the hot sugar
of her hip bones
.

Verdict? I really enjoyed the collection and am hoping it helps me push the envelope. Join me next month with It Becomes You by Dobby Gibson. You won’t regret it!

Poetry 2015 Review: 20 Love Poems & a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda

I’m reading a book of poetry every month this year! This month’s book was Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. Next month, join me in reading Black Aperture by Matt Rasmussen. Click here for a list of all the books in my Poetry 2015 Campaign.

poetry2015.3This book was delicious and sexy.

“But my words become stained with your love / You occupy everything, you occupy everything.”

“becalmed in the throat of the fortunate isles / that are white and sweet as cool hips.”

“You are like my soul, a butterfly of dream, / and you are like the word Melancholy.”

Are you convinced? I am.

Be sure to track down Black Aperture for April!

A Collaborative Poem about Truest

I wrote this with my friend Mary, who is a genius. She is going to change the world, and I’ll just say, “I knew that all along.”

Untitled
by Mary and Jackie

Friday.
There is rain falling on Green Lake, and how can you say
the words that hang between you
like a veil you cannot tear?

The swans are quiet now, a silence that digs and destroys,
and you marvel that he can believe the sun will ever rise.

Saturday.
There is rain falling on Green Lake, a liquid pit that
takes and takes and never gives.

Sunday.
There is rain falling on Green Lake, and this time, you see it:
the stark splendor of it all, and the echo of the swan’s lamentation,
which roots you to the earth like a promise.

swimming male mute swan 7882

Poetry 2015 Review: Stupid Hope by Jason Shinder

stupid hopeThough Jason Shinder is highly esteemed, this was the first of his work I’d ever read.

It was interesting. Very spare language. Very vulnerable.

There were four parts. In the first two parts, Shinder talks a lot about his mother’s illness. But in part three, readers learn that he also has an illness– and is dying from it. This is where the book took a turn for me. The first half I could do without, but the second half– when Shinder was facing his own mortality– had an urgency and honesty that made it special.

It was, in fact, so imbued with urgency, that I wondered if Shinder would die before part four. Then I realized that there wouldn’t be a part four without him.

It was tragic, and readers learn in the postscript that his dear friends put together the book after he died and at his request.

You should read this one, or at least the second half.

If you’re reading along with my Poetry 2015 Campaign, then make sure to track down a copy of Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair for March!

Poetry 2015 Review: Polar by Dobby Gibson

I’m reading one book of poetry each month this year!

For January, I read Polar by Dobby Gibson. For February, I’ll be reading Stupid Hope by Jason Shinder. You should read it too. For a list of all poetry books I’m reading this year, click here.

polarDobby Gibson is a local poet. I’ve seen him around Minneapolis, tweeted with him a little. He used to be my friend Alison’s boss! I’ve read two of Dobby’s other books (reviews here and here), and I loved them both.

I think Polar is his first book, and I found it less accessible than his later two. That said, I still very much enjoyed it. To me, this collection felt like a blender of Billy Collins and Annie Dillard, whose poetry is nothing like the other. Dobby was a comfortable middle ground between the deeply accessible and the brilliantly obscure.

“Two hands for undressing, / one mouth for lies, / a moment for every question / we save only for ourselves.” Love this.

Or how about this? “It’s luncheon-meat cold, and even winter rain / isn’t anything new, but it hurls itself / at us like a smashed chandelier.” Yes.

One of the biggest things that stood out to me was his vocabulary, which is clearly massive. For Gibson, it’s like an arsenal that has every weapon available, and he need only choose the best one for the situation.

He does. Over and over again.

Did you read Polar this month too? What did you think? Feel free to leave a comment. If you blogged about it, include a link!

I hope you’ll track down a copy of Stupid Hope for next month!