So, I dive in again. The first focus was to concentrate and complete, not skim and browse restlessly. To completely read and completely rest to prevent cognitive exhaustion. Next to up the percentage of people read who are not just contemporary middle class white. To focus on Canada’s classics, but not exclusively. To consider the reading and the take aways. Consider how to read a book, not just Elementary, or Inspectional, but analytical or syntopical where it seems worthwhile.
Consider what Mark Goldstein said on translation at Jacket2,
My whole approach to literature is active and is, first and foremost, as a reader. At a certain point, if one is reading widely and deeply enough, a response becomes inevitable, especially when reading translations of a poet’s work with whom you acutely identify.
If you haven’t already you should read Jonathan Ball’s write on schedule post. He quote Paul J Silvia who says
The secret is the regularity, not the number of days or the number of hours. It doesn’t matter if you pick 1 day a week or all 5 weekdays — just find a set of regular times, write them in your weekly planner, and write during those times. To begin, allot a mere 4 hours per week. After you see the astronomical increase in your writing output, you can always add more hours.
I’d like to show excerpts for value added of what’s what. Already it’s almost March and I haven’t.
- The Best Canadian Poetry of 2014, ed, Sonnet L’Abbé (Tightrope, 2014) which has a diverse set of voices. A survey of what’s happening in CanLit poetry from sacred verse to surreal to genre fiction tributes.
- Some Mornings by Nelson Ball (A Stuart Ross Book, 2014) with very brief but crafted clear as a window, short poems you have vignettes of places and conversations without ornamental bs.
- To Keep Time by Joseph Massey (Omnidawn, 2014). With rigamarole the publisher wants for direct orders, print out form, mail request, to be send a book cod to be paid in US funds or money order in a month or two, I just went thru Amazon. Glad I did. It’s nerve wracking to get a book by someone whose previous books you enjoy. Terse but not overtight poems, sharp images. Looking forward to his next book illocality coming in a couple months.
- Fragments: The Love Letters and Haiku of Chiyo-ni by Marco Fraticelli (King’s Road Press, 2012) where the haiku are made into haibun by his imagining the context and voice around them. Interesting.
- Texture: Louisiana by rob mclennan (above/ground, 2015) seems like convergent evolution with Basho. A travelogue of anecdotes and kaleidoscopic fragments of travel, where deep history, recent history and personal in the moment all collide.
- Sapphic Derivations by Dan Sargent, (Ahadada Books, 2006) The publisher website is gone. Is that Daniel Sargent or another? The fragmentary poems are kind of vague. They de-queer the text as far as I can tell, but maybe that’s me taking the narrative voice as the same gender as the writer, therefore the object of affection being het.
- Van Gogh, Letters From Provence by Vincent Van Gogh (Collins & Brown, 1990) showed the pop culture lies about the man. He was in a fugue state in the whole ear incident. When in ill episodes he couldn’t function. He created despite not because of and his innovations were conscious explorations of colour theory and extending the history of European art and what his impressionist colleagues were doing.
- Songs of the Colon by Eileen Tabios (Ahadada Books, no year, 2006?) has more density and thought per line, I daresay, that some whole pages or sections of some poetic work. Structured kind of like definitions under clusters of heading, it plays against the form. Extremely condensed and witty. I’ve had it on my computer for years before I read it.
- 19 Varieties of Gazelle Poems of the Middle East by Naomi Shihab Nye (Greenwillow Books, 2002) who is a brilliant writer. She can make lucid and find beauty without ignoring the shadows. A master craftsperson of words. Not surprisingly this has gone thru a few print runs.
- Amy Clampitt Selected Poems (Borzoi, 2010) shows what can be done and well. Her poems are rich but not rococo. Heavily bookmarked, it could make a text of this is how you use adjectives. It’s not that poets shouldn’t use adjectives, but that they are knives that one should be coordinated enough to use properly. Like? “brute honey” (not the person but the bees honey), featherweight wheels of cobalt (of the train) howling doodlebug of fright (in rain), the busy daisy. It’s the combination of things and the sound that begs to go to voicebox.
- The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pickup Artists by Neil Strauss (Harper Collins, 2005) has general human psychology and to my surprise, a narrative arc. And language “his smile seemed like a plastic, snap-on attachment,”(p.228) catching the gesture of people, and wit of situations, “He was validated. She was validated. They validated each other. They were a perfect pair, each completely unaware of each other.” (p.283)
- Asking by Shawna Lemay (Seraphim, 2014). As I mentioned to a class, it sits between genres, poem-essay or blog-post-poem, they are units of meandering musings. The upshots are often towards being aware of beauty, reflecting on how it is we got here. An enjoyable read.
- The Poetry of French Canada in Translation ed by John Glassco (Oxford, 1970) was a bear to get thru. The preface says translation makes choices. Some more embedded in language than story can’t readily be conveyed. That forced some choices. Apparently poetry in Quebec of the era was a winter zombie apocalypse. So many corpses, I regret having to repeat the word again now. With meditations on ocean. A lot of sad young men thinking about boobies. But among them, every few poets there was someone doing something spectacularly vivid like François Hertel, André Brochu, Anne Hébert and Gérard Godin that blow the roof off with a saucy and lively alert presence. Code-switching and conflict between what ideals and broken sense of self and rebuilt implications. A whole miniseries within a lyric arc.
- A Chrystal though which love passes: glosas for PK Page ed by Jesse Patrick Ferguson (Buschek, 2013) increasing my kick of doing glosas with more samples, reminding me to pick up a collection by Sarah Yi-Mei Tsiang and to keep watching for Sandy Pool’s next collection.
- Poems of the Late T’ang, trans by A.C. Graham, (Penguin Classics, 1965). Wouldn’t it be lovely to own a penguin classics library. I entered a draw but didn’t win the lot. The poems vary over time. They seem remarkably similar to Quebec poetry. Perhaps poetry is not place or time so much as age. The young men drinking and going to prostitutes and bragging while having a mope by a waterfall. Some begged the definition of reading. Is running my eyes over them enough. To be told in footnotes that the frogs are eunuchs and it an allegory for some nobleman’s woman on the side wouldn’t have interested me if it weren’t coded as rabbits, etc. But among those Tu Mu and Li-Shang Lin who have verses that cross easily, moving into more reachable universals, concrete details.
- Introduction to the Introduction to Wang Wei by Pain Not Bread (Brick, 2000) is a writing name of the collective or Roo Borson and Kim Maltman. They are reading notes around various classic Chinese writers. They unpack the dense into meditations, more essays, often very much in the head and in abstracts. They feel floaty interjected with aphorisms or sharp observations.
- Stéphane Mallarmé: The sonnets trans by Marshall Hryciuk (Imago, 2011) The publisher site’s domain has been squatted on. The poems are semi-faux translation, a trippy fun kind of rhyming play.
So, that’s the year to start. Perhaps I’ll dip back at some point and add excerpts. We’ll see how time and year go. Would that be value-added for you?