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Favourite reads of 2019

Generally what lights me up are novels and memoirs that let me suspend disbelief and drop me into a timeless space. That’s magic to transfer mental images through squiggles. It’s not the subject but the resonance. Stories that model community and friendship caught me this year, accepting and rolling otherness into an us.

 

Novels:

  • Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW, 2019) is an amazing trip through the universe as a girl comes of age as an extraordinary leader with intergalactic stakes, and forming her family of choice
  • The Allspice Bath by Sonia Saikaley (Inanna, 2019) is about living in a conservative Lebanese family and trying to find your own path despite being marriageable age.
  • Journey of a Thousand Steps by Madona Skaff-Koren (Renaissance Press, 2015) is a spy story with a protagonist fighting her limits with MS.
  • Amusement Park of Constant Sorrow: a novel by Jason Heroux (Mansfield Press, 2018) is absurdist in a way that’s realistic. Oddly it like Skaff-Koren’s novel also involves unwelcome home security systems.
  • No one can pronounce my name by Rakesh Satyal (Picador, 2017) follows a few people moving from isolation to connection, confession and to community
  • The Kennedy Moment by Peter Adamson (Myriad Editions, 2018) was a compelling thriller of how to drawn government funding to immunization.
  • Fish in a Tree: a novel by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Penguin, 2015) where a special teacher sees through the coping strategy of a funny kid to the dyslexia beneath.
  • Son of a Trickster by Eden Robinson (Alfred k Knoff, 2017) is inside the world of urban indigenous and trickster magic
  • Sister-Mine by Nalo Hopkinson (Grand Central Publishing, 2013) was an absorbing ride through twists of magic and myth
  • Grave Importance: A Dr Greta Helsing novel by Vivian Shaw (Orbit, 2019) like a lot of supernatural fiction has a core community of support within the strange contexts. It’s the strongest piece in the trilogy.
  • The Uninvited by Geling Yan (Faber & Faber, 2006) follows a poser who accidentally enters the world of newspaper food critic /socialite and lavish eating in an otherwise impoverished neighbourhood. Hooting social criticism but at the same time elicits rooting for characters.

Memoir and non-fiction:

  • Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 years by Sarah L Delany and Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (Dell book, 1993) is a memoir of transcribed interviews of 2 unique and spirited strong women who lived through a century of change for black women in the U.S. There’s a power to oral histories in print in their own voices.
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama (Crown, 2018) which is a story of acting for change to give a hand up to make equity and empowerment happen. By audio book hearing it in her own voice was particularly powerful and heartening.
  • Love lives here: a story of thriving in a transgender family by Amanda Jetté Knox (Viking, 2019) Is a memoir of a family’s journey as 2 come out as transgender and one as queer. It made us cry and laugh as my partner and I read it all aloud.
  • The Howls of August: Encounters with Algonquin Wolves by Michael Runtz (Boston Mills Press, 1997) because he has a thrilled passion for his subject and deep knowledge.
  • Brave: Living with a concussion by Kanika Gupta (Language of Growth, 2019) is a brilliant illustrated book on understanding and navigating concussion. See images here: https://www.bykanika.com/brave.html

For Poetry:

  • Eleven Elleve Alive: poems by Stuart Ross, Dag T Straumsvag & Hugh Thomas (Shreeking Violet, 2018)
  • The day the moon went away by Marilyn Irwin (above/ground, 2019) is an economical chapbook but with an impact that doesn’t get less with rereads
  • Espesantes by Stuart Ross (above/ground, 2018)
  • Concealed Weapons/Animal Survivors by Natalie Hanna (above/ground,2018)

Categories: 95books, Currently reading.

Year in Review: books read in 2019

I generally read a lot of memoir and science, but novels have foregrounded lately and poetry has dropped to less than half of my titles read in 2019.

In my total I include chapbooks (27/111 titles) and YA and lids books, comic books, graphic novels and audio books. Still it adds up to over 18, 300 pages of completed. (I have a couple dozen partly read books as the year closes.)

After the list are graphs of where I found books & the demographics read. Another post will highlight my favourites.

1 Gros Morne National Park by Michael Burzynski (Breakwater Books, 1999)
2 Towers by Frances Boyle (Fish Gotta Swim Editions, 2018)
3 The Way of Tanka by Naomi Beth Wakan (Shanti Arts LLC, 2017)
4 Petit-Bleu et Petit-Jaune by Leo Lionni (lutin poche de l’école des loisirs, 1970)
5 Spherical Harmonic by Catherine Asaro (TOR, 2001)
6 Yellow Crane by by Susan Gillis (Brick Books, 2018)
7 Diamond Star by Catherine Asaro (Baen, 2009)
8 Raising Goats Naturally: The Complete Guide to Milk, Meat and More by Deborah Niemann (New Society Publishers, 2013)
9 The Night Chorus by Harold Hoefle (mqup, 2018)
10 A Season in Lowertown By David Blaikie (unpublished)
11 The Invention of Hunger by Rae Armantrout (Tuumba 22, 1979)
12 27 canadian sail craft by Daniel f Bradley (unarmed, 2018)
13 Carnelians by Catherine Asara (Baen, 2011)
14 The Second time by Marco Fraticelli and Philomene Kocher (King’s Raod Press, 2004)
15 The Way of Haiku by Naomi Beth Wakan (Shanti Arts LLC, 2019)
16 The Windigo Chronicles by David Groulx (Bookland, 2016)
17 The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking (Penguin, 2016)
18 Calling Down the Sky by Rosanna Deerchild (Bookland, 2015)
19 Sunrise Alley by Catharine Asara (Baen, 2006)
20 Asleep by Banana Yoshimoto, translated by Michael Emmerich (Grove Press, 2001)
21 Pooh’s Workout Book by Ethan Mordden (Dutton, 1984)
22 Living Starts with Love: Learning To Make Your Life Shine by Lesley Strutt PhD
23 We, Old Young ones by Dominik Parisien *Frog Hollow, 2019)
24 Sister-Mine by Nalo Hopkinson (Grand Central Publishing, 2013)
25 I’ve been meaning to tell you: a letter to my daughter by David Chariandy (M&S, 2018)
26 Yardwork: A Biography of an Urban Place by Daniel Coleman (Wolsyk & Wynn, 2017)
27 When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön (Shambhala, 1997)
28 Keep Moving: And other tips and truths about living well longer by Dick van Dyke (Hachette Books, 2016)
29 The Inner Life of Animals: Love, Grief and Compassion: Surprising Observations of a Hidden World by Peter Wohlleben, trans by Jane Billinghurst (Grestone, 2017)
30 The Reason you Walk by Wab Kinew (Viking, 2015)
31 Dead as a Doornail by Charlaine Harris (Ace, 2005)
32 Choose your own poem by Laura Farina (above/ground, 2019)
33 Beautiful Stupid by John B Lee (Black Moss, 2018)
34 All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris (Ace, 2005)
35 You’re going to have to keep this up Forever by IAN MARTIN (AngelHouse, 2018)
36 Trauma Head by Elee Kralji Gardiner (AnvilPress, 2018)
37 Bob Snider: on Performing, or how to break a leg (Gaspereau, 2008)
38 from Turtle Island to Island Gaza: poems by David Groulx (AU press, 2019
39 Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 years by Sarah L Delany and Elizabeth Delany with Amy Hill Hearth (Dell book, 1993)
40 Dirty River: A queer femme of colour dreaming her way home by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Arsenal, 2015)
41 Who Fears Death, by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW, 2010)
42 Rommel Drives on deep into Egypt by Richard Brautigan (A Delta Book, 1979)
43 Con/tig/u/us by Kevin Heslop (Blasted Tree, 2018)
44 No Tv for Woodpeckers: poems by Gary Barwin (Buckrider, 2017)
45 Water by Bapsi Sidhwa (key porter, 2006)
46 Make Contact: Contributive Bookselling and the Small Press in Canada Following the Second World War, thesis by Cameron Alistair Owen Anstee (U of O, 2017)
47 a hole in the light: the red moon anthology of English language haiku of 2018: ed by Kim Kacian (red moon, 2019)
48 This is where I get off by Kirby (Permanent Sleep press, 2019)
49 Witness: poetry and prose of Joanne Page by Stan Dragland (A Fieldnotes Chapbook, 2014)
50 Am a Skin Too by David Groulx (anstruthervpress, 2018)
51 Fireborn by Keri Arthur (Penguin, 2014)
52 Dear Kestrel by Khashayar Mohammadi (K | F | B, 2019)
53 At the water’s edge, edited by Devin Harrison and Mike Montreuil (HaikuCanada, 2019)
54 The Golden Shovel Anthology: New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks, edited by Peter Kahn (University of Arkansas Press, 2017)
55 These Wings by Kim Fahner (Pedlar, 2019)
56 Sasanka by Doris Fiszer (Bywords, 2018)
57 China Suite by Julie de Belle (Éditions Vaudreuil, 2018)
58 The Kennedy Moment by Peter Adamson (Myriad Editions, 2018)
59 Paperdoll by Manahil Bandukwala (Anstruther, 2019)
60 Babymouse: our hero by Jennifer L Holm & Matthew Holm ( RandomHouse, 2005)
61 Still No Word by Shannon Webb-Campbell (Breakwater, 2015)
62 Flesh, Tongue by Yaya Yao (Mawenzi House, 2015)
63 The Orville: New Beginnings, part 1 of 2, by David A Goodman (2019)
64 Binti: The Complete Trilogy by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW, 2019)
65 In the Silhouette of your silences: poems by David Groulx (Now or Never Publishing, 2916)
66 Hiraeth: Tercets from the last Archipelago by Eileen R. Tabios (Knives, forks & spoons press, 2018)
67 Forest Primeval: poems by Vievee Francis (University of Illinois, Triquarterly, 2015)
68 You are enough: love poems for the end of the world by Smokii Sumac (Kegedonce Press, 2018)
69 The Spaceship Next Door by Gene Doucette (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018)
70 An Aorta with Branches, A Travelogue by Deborah Wood (Sunnyoutside, 2017)
71 Machina by Nina Jane Drystek (& co collective, 2017)
72 Welcome to the last earth show by Michael Sikkema (where is the river, 2018)
73 Ninety Tiny Poems by Stuart Ross (above/ground, 2019)
74 The Orville: New Beginnings, part 2 of 2 by David Goodman (Blackhorse, 2019)
75 Algonquin Wild: a naturalist’s Journey through the seasons by Michael Runtz (Fitzhenry & Whiteside, 2019)
76 Probability Moon by Nancy Kress (Tor, 2000)
77 The Allspice Bath by Sonia Saikaley (Inanna, 2019)
78 Rose-water syrup: a poetry collection by Maha Zimmo (Cyberwit, 2019)
79 Hard work cheering up sad machines by Jason Heroux (Mansfield, 2016)
80 The accidental chef: a memoir by Caroline Ishii (2016)
81 The Orville # 3: the Word of Avis, part 1 of 2 by David Goodman (Blackhorse, 2019)
82 If I were born in Prague: poems of Guy Jean, trans by Katie Farris and Ilya Kaminsky (Argo Books, 2011)
83 Grave Importance: A Dr Greta Helsing novel by Vivian Shaw (Orbit, 2019)
84 Side by Side: a novel by Anita Kushwaha (Inanna, 2018)
85 On Forgetting a Language by Isabella Wang ( Baseline Press, 2019)
86 Spells for Clear Vision by Neile Graham (Brick Books, 1994)
87 No one can pronounce my name by Rakesh Satyal (Picador, 2017)
88 Fish in a Tree: a novel by Lynda Mullaly Hunt (Penguin, 2015)
89 What looks like crazy on an ordinary day by Pearl Cleage (Avon, 1997)
90 The day the moon went away by Marilyn Irwin (above/ground, 2019)
91 Hymnswitch by Ali Blythe (icehouse, 2019)
92 Maze by Hugh Thomas (invisible books, 2019)
93 These are not the potatoes of my youth by Matthew Walsh (Icehouse, 2019)
94 The cat who said cheese by Lilian Jackson Braun (Jove, 1996)
95 Frying Plantain by Zalika Reid-Benta (Anansi, 2019)
96 The Fly in Autumn by David Zieroth (Harbour, 2009)
97 Blood Memory by Neile Graham (Buschek Books, 2000)
98 The Kabir Book: 44 of the Ecstatic Poems of Kabir, versions by Robert Bly (Beacon Press, 1971)
99 Slip Minute by Anne-Marie Turza (Baseline Press, 2018)
100 Od Magic by Patricia A. McKillip (Ace, 2005)
101 Love lives here: a story of thriving in a transgender family by Amanda Jetté Knox (Viking, 2019)
102 Brave: Living with a concussion by Kanika Gupta (Language of Growth, 2019)
103 Son of a a Trickster by Eden Robinson (alfred k knoff, 2017)
104 The Lost Ones by Sheena Kamal (Harper, 2017)
105 A Thief, A Spy, and the corpse who rode shotgun by Adam Thomlison (40-watt spotlight, 2019)
106 Annie John by Jamaica Kinkaid (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 1983)
107 The Landscape that isn’t There by Mary Lee Bragg (Aeolus House, 2019)
108 Amusement Park of Constant Sorrow: a novel by Jason Heroux (Mansfield Press, 2018)
109 Journey of a Thousand Steps by Madona Skaff-Koren (Renaissance Press, 2015)
110 Cluster by Souvankham Thammavongsa (M&S, 2019)
111 Becoming by Michelle Obama (Crown, 2018)

In the year my poetry reading dropped by more than half of total. I didn’t do as much classics as I planned reading half that were published within 2 years. I binged on a couple novelists. I did more audio books than ever.

Most books from the library, followed closely by new from bookstore, used from bookstore then from press fair or festival table.

Most books: from the library, followed closely by new from bookstore, used from bookstore then from press fair or festival table.

50% of books read were from 2018-2019, 30% from the decade before and 18% from over a decade but less than half a century.

50% of books read were from 2018-2019, 30% from the decade before and 18% from over a decade but less than half a century.

 

55% of books that weren't poetry were novels, memoir 20% and essays 16%

55% of books that weren’t poetry were novels, memoir 20% and essays 16%.

13% were by GLBTQ2+

13% were by GLBTQ2+

9111 were from indigenous writers and 28 from POC.

9/111 were from indigenous writers and 28 from POC.

dissatisfaction only 1% of books, 2 star for 5% of books and was blown away by 16% of books read.

I dropped more books, persisting to 1 star dissatisfaction only 1% of books, 2 star for 5% of books and was blown away by 16% of books read.

 

Most ends of year book list have ones I’ve heard of. Or ones I own, but haven’t read, and some I’ve read but most I’ve never heard of although I’m pretty bookish. Some lists are contained to books of 2019, or books that moved, or a genre or a geography. What amazes me of end of year enjoyed books lists is how few overlaps there are, which underscores how many books there are. Here are lists of others: derek beaulieu, Kerry Clare, Vicki Ziegler, rob mclennan, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jonathan Ball,Nick Moran, CBC, Esquire, 49th shelf poetry, and all the #95books people on twitter, and weekly regulars of Michael Dennis and Jessica Drake Thomas.

 

Categories: 95books, Currently reading, CWILA.

Short poems and editing poems classes

Want to get your poetry mind in higher gear this year? Have poems at an impasse that you want out the door before New Years? The classes have forums to share with fellow poets (closed to the public) and in each class you can send me 6-10 poems for direct feedback. As well, each has readings and exercises to bring up your game.

Register for Editing poems
https://pearl-s-school-a933.thinkific.com/enroll/433123?price_id=453218

Week1 : Translating You: Cento, Golden Shovels, and writing what only you can
Week 2: Recut: line work. Focusing on the structure of the poem
Week 3: You do you: writing from where and who you are.
Week 4: Ending it: ending lines, ending poems

$138 U.S./$180 Canadian
open for 9 weeks

Register for Brief poems
https://pearl-s-school-a933.thinkific.com/enroll/580995?price_id=613704

$138 U.S./$180 Canadian
open for 9 weeks

Week #1: Write Tighter: Muscular poems
Week #2: Haiku and Senryu: The aesthetics of small
Week #3: Short Lyric: What can you do in under 12 lines?
Week 4: Minimalism: Subtraction for the sake of focus

A third class on feelings in poetry may be added before January.

Categories: PSA, Poetry.

Short Poem Class

Hello Poets,
You asked, sometime since 2016, to be in the loop when my short poem class got up and running. We’re there!

It will be 4 weeks long at a site for learning called Thinkific.

It starts this week, where you can set your own pace. The space is open for 2 months.

I’ll be present on and off, but for sure each Saturday afternoon for discussion forums.

We’ll cover heavy structural editing, haiku and senryu, short lyric poems and minimalism in many forms.

Each lesson has principles, examples, with 4-8 stretch exercises.

There is a discussion forum for talking about the process, the principles and each other’s poems. I can give feedback on poems to your comfort level.

Week #1: Write Tighter: Trimming the Fat: 5 pages, 4 exercises, starting with your poems that are giving you problems.
Week #2: Haiku and Senryu: The aesthetics of small8 pages, 12 exercises
Week #3: Short Lyric: What can you do in under 12 lines? 7 pages, 4 exercises including golden shovels and translations of Sappho
Week 4: Minimalism: Subtraction for the sake of focus9 pages, 5 exercises including assembly, erasure, and minimalism

There are surveys of what you are looking to learn and we’ll adapt accordingly.

My CV.

It will be $180 (Canadian) by Visa, M/C, or Paypal. Note that the price is listed in U.S. dollars. $138 U.S. is $180 Canadian.

Register now

If you need a reduced rate, there are a couple spots and we can work out how to do that.

Categories: PSA, Poetry, Workshops.

CWILA self-audit

I fell just shy of 25,000 print pages (24,357p) of books and chapbooks, including page count of audio books equivalent, completed in 2018. Average page-length is 154 pages.

Doing my numbers I realized a couple good ones weren’t in my top list. Forgot them in the spreadsheet. The post below fixes that.

160 titles, 31 of them chapbooks, and 70 of the titles from 2017 or 2018, despite wanting to read not so much more back list as older. Only 5 titles pre-1800s.

About half of titles are Canadian. More than half are not poetry, which is a switch I’ve been aiming for a reading more widely.

The biggest shift is novels, which I’ve largely avoided for years. I read 33 in 2018, most often by Catherine Asaro with 14 of her books, some audio books, some read aloud to me during concussive “fun”.

Less than 1/4 of titles were by POC or indigenous writers, less than I aimed for. About 9% are by someone in the GLBQQT2+

I tended to get magazines but not actually read so much as skim, skip and dip.

I still read more by males. 44%, compared to 41% female and the remainder being non-binary or multiple authors. My rating of the book were 0.1/5 of each other regardless of place in gender spectrum.

Where did I source books and chapbooks I finished?
1. used book store (by far ahead)
2. small press fair or festival table
3. subscription
4. library
5. review copy
6. gift
7. direct from author

I confess I got 11 from Amazon, although 1 of those I got another copy of from a local indie.

There are books I have a head start on from beginning last year (or the year before). Currently reading 3, all Canadian, 2:1 female to male, one novella, one poetry, one non-fiction.

Categories: Currently reading.

Best Reads of 2018 so far

Caveat: I have over a dozen still underway. More will likely be added by year’s end but so far the shiny wows were these in no particular order:

[edited to add last few I forgot to add to my spreadsheet or finished since.Jan 3, 2019]

Poetry

The Deep End of the Sky by Chad Lee Robinson (Turtle Press, 2015): the best clear-eyed haiku I’ve read in a long time.
A Book of Annotations by Cameron Anstee (Invisible, 2018): pared back to essential to express
A Thousand Years by Marco Fraticelli (Catkin press, 2018): to enter the life of a past century
The Man in the Black Coat Turns: Poems by Robert Bly (Penguin, 1983): elegant and timeless. the music of it.
One Window’s Light, ed by Lenard D Moore (Unicorn, 2017): gave new hope for what haiku can do vividly
I left nothing inside on purpose by Stevie Howell (Penguin, 2018)
A Woman’s Mourning Song by bell hooks (Harlem River Press, 1991)
bury me deep in the green wood by rob mclennan (ECW Press, 1999): I’ve probably re-read this 5 times now.
Blackbirds by Greg Santos (Eyewear Publishing, 2018, UK): touching poems
The Clouds Float North: The Complete Poems of Yu Xuanji, trans by David Young and Jiann I. Lin (Wesleyan, 1998): feels contemporary as if the varnish layer is removed from the past
Holy Wild by Gwen Benaway (Book*hug, 2018): a rush of intensity, compression and yet lyrical as well
Brocade River Poems: Selected Works of the Tang Dynasty Courtesan Xue Tao, trans by Jeanne Larsen (Princetown, 1987): I’m not confident of her translation but it was a glorious read.
Branches by Mark Truscott (Book*hug, 2018): I love all his lines, books. I collect it all.

 
Poetry Chapbooks
The Landscapes were in my arms (figure 2) by Sara Renee Marshall (above/ground, 2018): floored me with wows
Celebration Machine by Dale Tracy (Proper Tales Press, 2018): that, folks, is how to write.
Teaching my Mother How to Give Birth by Warsan Shire (Mouthmark Series, #10, 2011): wow, intense and moving
Eleven Elleve Alive: poems by Stuart Ross, Dag T Straumsvag & Hugh Thomas (Shreeking Violet, 2018): this spurred me to write half a dozen poems
Concealed Weapons/Animal Survivors by N Hanna (above/ground,2018): a powerful set of poems
Espesantes by Stuart Ross (above/ground, 2018): I heart this.
Before Music: haiku by Philip Rowland (Red Moon Press, 2012): after seeing what he edited, wonderful to see he writes well too

 

Biography/Memoir

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (Penguin, 2016): utterly absorbing and deft
Madame Curie: A biography by Eve Curie, translated by Vincent Sheean (Doubleday, 1937): the language and presentation embody the era
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius trans by Gregory Hays (Modern Library, 170AD, 2003): slow months of food for thought

 

Novels

The Ruby Dice by Catherine Asaro (Baen, 2008): a ride thru the clash of empires.
The Last Hawk by Catherine Asaro (Tor, 1998): like a soap opera. read everything she wrote this year.
Fall in One Day by Craig Terlson (Blue Moon, 2017): this tender tough protagonist sees nobody is doing anything so he summons his abilities. inspiring
The Uninvited by Geling Yan (Faber & Faber, 2006): harsh view of Chinese society but absorbing read
Strange Practice by Vivian Shaw (Orbit Books, 2016): serial killer zombies aren’t really, exactly.
Midnight Sweatlodge by Waubgeshig Rice (Theytus, 2011): the people around the fire each get to tell their story. the ending raised my hair.
When I grow up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen (BOA, 2017): I gobbled it a year ago. Worth a reread.
The Night they came for Til by Rebekah Lee Jenkins (Self-published, 2017): what if a suffragette gets to be the hero of their own story?
Dreadful Company by Vivian Shaw (Orbit, 2018): the doctor to the undead got herself kidnapped by a coven of vampires. Bri said if you keep laughing you’re going to have to share so we read it all aloud.

 
Non-fiction
Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists by Margo Goodhand (Fernwood, 2017): such an eye opener and beautifully tied togehter.
Astana: Architecture, Myth & Destiny by Frank Also (Vidacom, 2017): I knew absolutely nothing of Kazakhstan and this totally reset everything.
Arthur Erickson: An architect’s life by David Stouk (Douglas & McIntyre, 2012): filled in a lot of gaps. quite the ride even if I like him less now.

 

Categories: Currently reading.

Recommended Poetry Reads

Poetry Chapbooks

  1. Unseen Garden by Roxanna Bennett (k | f | b, 2018):
  2. snow day by rob mclennan (above/ground, 2018):
  3. Espesantes by Stuart Ross (above/ground, 2018):
  4. Concealed Weapons/Animal Survivors by N Hanna (above/ground, 2018):
  5. For the Birds. For the Humans by Conyer Clayton (Battleaxe, 2018):
  6. Pipe Rose by Manahil Nadulkwala (Battleaxe, 2018):

Poetry books:

  1. I left nothing inside on purpose by Stevie Howell (Penguin Randomhouse, 2018):
  2. The True Names of Birds by Sue Goyette (Brick, 1998):
  3. A Book of Annotations by Cameron Anstee (Invisible, 2018):
  4. When I grow up I Want to be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen (BOA, 2017):
  5. The Man in the Black Coat Turns: Poems by Robert Bly (Penguin, 1983):
  6. the rush to here: poems by George Murray (Nightwood Editions, 2007):
  7. bury me deep in the green wood by rob mclennan (ECW Press, 1999): Heartrending.
  8. How Do I Look? by Senneh Yee  (Metatron, 2017): Recanting with feistiness the givens.

Categories: Currently reading.

Recommended Reads

Instead of a full list of 95books this year, at just past the halfway mark, those that I was swept up into most, in no particular order.

Novels

  1. The Ruby Dice by Catherine Asaro (Baen, 2008): Part of her series set in a universe of 3 intergalactic empires, this where the Ruby Empire’s Kelric and Eubian Concord’s Jabriol are mincing around war.
  2. Undercity (Major Bhaajan #1) by Catherine Asaro (Baen, 2014): A tough lady P..I. who comes from the underclass and works among the royals. Lack of respect is mutual but they have to work on that to work.
  3. The Last Hawk by Catherine Asaro (Tor, 1998): The missing years of Kelric he never spoke of, when he was a slave inside a matriarchal society.
  4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (1978, audio): A third re-read of this. His sequels don’t equal it.
  5. Fall in One Day by Craig Terlson (Blue Moon, 2017): A coming of age story where a young man realizes that no one will help his friend kidnapped by his unwell father. So he’s gotta.
  6. The Night they came for Til by Rebekah Lee Jenkins (Self-published, 2017): This is set in the horse-carriage era talking about women who believe in birth control for all and for abortion. The relationship she has with her assigned guard is refreshingly healthy-respectful.
  7. My Love Story in Broken English: A Novel by Ainalem Tebeje (Baico, 2018): You can hear a 4-part interview with her on Third World Players. I have Baico gets a reach with this because it has the feeling of a fable mixed with refugee issues. Her book talk at Arts Night  I broke the record in terms of turn out.
  8. No Longer at Ease by China Achebe (Heinemann, 1960): A classic of a man learning the ropes inside the corrupted Nigerian civil service.

Memoir

  1. Born a Crime by Trevor Noah (Penguin, 2016): Compelling look into South Africa, and it’s funny when you least expect it. But you probably already read it years ago.
  2. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius trans by Gregory Hays (Modern Library, 170AD, 2003): This stands the test of time. It is now a heavily marked up copy.

Haiku

  1. The Deep End of the Sky by Chad Lee Robinson (Turtle Press, 2015): This won some awards and rightly so. Not a word out of place in prairie farmland.
  2. Before Music: haiku by Philip Rowland (Red Moon Press, 2012): Really tight haiku, not sentimental blaséing.
  3. One Window’s Light, ed by Lenard D Moore (Unicorn, 2017): with poems by L Teresa Church, Lenard D. Moore, Chrystal Simone Smith, Sheila Smith McKay and Gideon Young. If you think haiku is traipsing about chasing butterflies and stage whispering about leaves to drown out the real world, this is curative.
  4. Apology Moon: Haiku by Cherie Hunter Day (Red Moon Press, 2013)
  5. A Thousand Years: The Haiku and Love letters of Chiyo-ni  by Marco Fraticelli (Catkin press, 2018): Stands out as an enjoyable read of a too often overlooked classical poet.

Non-fiction

  1. Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery (Simon & Schuster, 2015): This was a touching story of lives of aquarium individuals. It could have been expanded to be much longer and still engage.
  2. Runaway Wives and Rogue Feminists by Margo Goodhand (Fernwood, 2017): This should be basic high school reading. All these woman led woman’s rights and shelters and I have never herd of them. The old way just decades ago where of course women are chattel and can be hit with impunity isn’t long ago.
  3. Lost Boy by Brent W. Jeffs with Maia Szalavitz (Broadway Books, 2009): What happens in the Utah among the power-hungry Morman spin off group where girls are valued and boys are disposable competition. Wild ride.
  4. The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young (F&F, 2017): This is a lovely walk in the head of a British farmer reflecting on 40 years of outstanding individuals. Also pigs and chickens make appearances.
  5. Astana: Architecture, Myth & Destiny by Frank Also (Vidacom, 2017): What do you know about Kazakistan? This brought me from zero to wow. Such a complex history and interesting leader devoted to making a utopia of environmental sustainability and equality.
  6. Portraits of the North by Gerald Kuehl (Vidacom, 2017): One page has a drawing and the facing page their oral account of a life story. Elders from across Canada speak, and it is enlightening.

Categories: Currently reading.

End of Year Stats: CWILA Self-audit

All in, all done at 115 books and chapbooks. (19 were chapbooks.)

I read 17,000 pages, with an average book length of 145 pages.

1/4 of the books finished were 5/5.

4% I completed even tho they were a slog all the way. (Some things don’t get better with time and effort.)

My 2016 goal to read more written in the deeper past fell by the wayside. Only 2 titles were before mid-century. 66 titles were new in 2017 or 2016. POC and GLBTQ2+ was more prioritized with GLBTQ2+ [Or QUILTBAG: Queer/Questioning, Undecided, Intersex, Lesbian, Transgender/Transsexual, Bisexual, Allied/Asexual, Gay/Genderqueer] authors comprising 23% of the titles completed.

My goal was to read more widely. More or less tilted that way. 69:47 Poetry: Not Poetry. Of the non-poetry, novels, memoirs and science topped the list with 39%, 29% and  19% with a few books of essays thrown in.

48% of books competed were by a female, 36% by a male and the remainder by multiple people, or non-binary folks. Unlike 2016, I didn’t rank books by males as better than all all other demographics. It was pretty tight race, but titles by males were the lowest rated and multiple the highest.

Where did most of the books come from 1. Direct from author 2. Library 3. Used Bookstore 4. New from Bookstore. Less commonly,  Review Copies, Gifts, Little Free Library, Prizes, Festivals, Online or Borrowed from friend.

Some years I’ve done a blurb on each and hyperlinked. These are the top 20% standouts, in alphabetical order:

  1. According to Loon Bay by Hannah Main-Van der Kamp (St Thomas, 2004) [Twisting of the biblical stories into modern context of urbanism and ecology. Lyrically dense and inquiring, curious spirit]
  2. Acquired Community by Jane Byers (Caitlin, 2016) [A history of the AIDs epidemic told sometimes in dialogue, sometimes in anecdote. Compelling and vivid read.]
  3. Certain Details: The Poetry of Nelson Ball (WLU, 2017) [A scooping up of the some of the best of the best of the minimalist gems.]
  4. Class Proof by Deonte Osayande (Urban Farmhouse Press, 2017) [Strikingly alert and cutting thru the clutter to consider social class and teaching under the lens. The weight is more an anchor than lead shoes depression. There’s aspiration in there and advocacy.]
  5. dark ecologies by Natalie Hanna (above/ground, 2017) [Tho not in svo, the lateral leaps of words are more powerful and articulate than discursive essays would be.]
  6. Diamond Star by Catherine Asaro (Baen, 2009) [This in the series follows one character. A sort of coming of age of an empath in the music industry.]
  7. The Hidden Life of Trees: What Feel, How They Communicate by Peter Wohlleben, trns by Jane Billinghurst (Greystone books, 2015) [More has been known for decades than is common knowledge of how trees are aware and sharing in a cross-species community.]
  8. In that Old City by the Sea by David Blaikie (Éditions des petits nuages, 2017) [A sense of place, pace and song of Eastern Canada.]
  9. I Have to Live by Aisha Sasha John (Penguin random house, 2017) [Reconciling that so much is messed up and screams for personal agency but at the same time, there is this now and there’s a need for the concrete daily moment.]
  10. Invisible 2:  Essays & poems on representation in SF/F  (Amazon, 2015) [Perspectives of people sidelined by narratives, people who are not reflected in scifi in an aspect, whether, Jewish, indigenous, living with disability, have metamours, are old, or asian, puerto rican not hispanic, are fat, are non-binary, or, or. There are 3 in this essay series. I’d recommend them all.]
  11. Listen, Partisan! And other Stumbling Haibun by Chris Johnson (Frog Hollow Press, 2016) [I always look forward to new work by Johnson because of the lively yet accepting spirit in it, and this travelogue is no exception.]
  12. the lithium body by Sarah MacDonnell (In/Words, 2017) [This blew me away in the live reading, and in each subsequent reading of the text. It’s the music, how words come together, intercut, and the contents.]
  13. Little Wildheart by Micheline Maylor (UofA, 2017) [Gave me new hope for poetry when I was in a crummy run of not “feeling” any of it. This serious play resonated.]
  14. Metaphysical Dictionary by Svetlana Lilova, ill by Graham Falk (Dumagrad Books, 2016) [This off-kilter yet dead on daffynition is cutting and true.]
  15. North by Marilyn Irwin (above/ground, 2017) [Women self-portray a narrow wounded self but this opens up from sketch to competency and struggles mixed with the rest of life yet does so succinctly and with power.]
  16. One Good Turn: A natural history of the screwdriver and the screw by Witold Rybczynski (PerennialCanada, 2000) [Read this entire thing aloud. What a twisted path everyday objects have. Some have long provenance and some surprisingly short.]
  17. Rhinocerous by Yoko’s Dogs (Devil’s Whim Press, 2016) [This renga of many minds shows the art of the graceful leap. It can’t be rushed.]
  18. She’s Having a Doris Day by Jeff Kirby, (k | f | b, 2017) [The rich fuel mix of having important things to say and to be not too precious to say it simply.]
  19. She Don’t Mean a Thing if She Ain’t Got that Swing by Guy Simser (Catkin Press, 2016) [We read this one three times. A memoir in haibun, it is a fascinating life trip.]
  20. Silence by Nora Parker Cox, illus., Anna Bongiovanni (Hucklenut Press, 2016) [Breathtaking. There is a self-examination in how the self forms the self, and reaching into the dark.]
  21. Thirty-seven Small Songs & Thirteen Silences by Jan Zwicky (Gaspereau Press, 2005) [I needed a time away and this could slow my mental pace like a seaside walk.]
  22. Thirty-Three by Geoffrey Young (above/ground, 2017) [The sort of chapbook that makes me say, who? Can I get everything he’s ever done?]
  23. What a Fish Knows: The Inner Lives of our Underwater Cousins by Jonathan Balcombe (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux (2016) [This is what each person should know about individual fish. The intelligence, learning, cultures, personalities, responses to harm or threat. They aren’t as different as they appear.]
  24. Whatever, Iceberg by Tara-Michelle Zunuik (Mansfield Press, 2017) [This was shaken in the face of a few friends. It resonated enough I needed to take breaks.]
  25. The Unworn Necklace by Roberta Beary (Snapshot Press, 2007) [The book is a wonder where not a piece is out of place and each element had it own life and publication around the world but adds up to a new whole.]

On Thursday on CKCU Literary Landscape I’ll pick up half a dozen to go into with samples and maybe reasons why.

Categories: Currently reading.

Poets Laureates Come to Ottawa: Dec 1-2, Free

Laureate poster

Categories: PSA, Poetry.