Monday, January 01, 2007

Ring In the New

Happy New Year, all! Wishing peace, happiness, and prosperity to you.

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Didn't parades used to consist of bands and floats and horses and stuff actually moving down the street? What is this crap where they set up in one spot and do a little show for the cameras? That's not a parade, that's a variety show.

That said, HGTV is showing the Rose Parade with no commercials and far less annoying announcers than the major networks. Which is a very good thing, especially if you have a DVR and can rewind to catch what you miss when you go to the kitchen to get another cup of coffee. Muahahahaha.

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I rang in the New Year last night very quietly, in my house with my books and my cats (Lotus wishes to inform you that he Does Not Approve of firecrackers outside). I didn't get any significant writing done -- I always intend to, every New Year's Eve, and I never do -- but I did spend some time scribbling in my journal and some time reading poetry.

One of the best things about blogging, these past couple years or so, has been reading books by fellow bloggers. I know the Internet is full of lousy poets and bad-to-mediocre poetry, and when I first started blogging, I fully expected to find a lot of that. And I know that just because poetry gets published is no guarantee it's going to be any good -- I've been disappointed by many books published by perfectly reputable presses.

(Ooh! There's a herd of llamas in the Rose Parade! Llamas are so cute.)


Anyway, I've read a bunch of books and chapbooks by bloggers in the past couple of years, and I am happy to say that I've been pretty impressed, overall, by the quality. Maybe it's because the bloggers I read are mostly pretty serious about poetry, which is one of the reasons I enjoy reading what they have to say. (What you have to say. Oh bother. Who am I talking to here, anyway?) In the past several weeks I have read three in particular that, just in case you don't read all the same blogs I do and are thus well aware of these publications, I want to bring to your attention:
  • Radish King by Rebecca Loudon. In some ways this is an odd little book, wider than it is tall to accommodate the postcard-proportioned cover image; the funky size does more than just serve the cover art, though, as it lets you know before you even open the book that this is not going to be your standard "pretty much like any other collection" poetry book. More than once I found my expectations about voice, language, and content subverted, in a good way. Books that do this usually make me pick up a pen and start writing, and this one was no exception -- in fact, I suspect this will be one of those books that I'll turn to when I feel stuck, so it can shake the words loose for me.
  • Living Things by Charles Jensen. A slim little chapbook. I started out wanting to describe these poems as elegiac, but I think of elegies as being in some way about the person being mourned, and in this chapbook, the deceased beloved is present only as body -- we don't get a strong sense of what he was like in life. Instead, the experience of mourning itself takes center stage and serves almost as a character, a personage. There is the necessity of dealing with the body of the deceased, the necessity of funeral and ritual, the necessity of coping with the day-to-day post-funeral mundanities (e.g. bills that continue to arrive), and there is the way mourning rings out into the world and, for a time, changes everything the mourner sees. These poems aren't about the dead, or even really about the memory of the dead: they're about the living. I'd read many of these poems before, and I'm glad to have had the opportunity to read them in the context of this small collection.
  • Mortal by Ivy Alvarez. I spent part of my New Year's Eve with this collection, and I'm glad I did. These poems intertwine the matrilineal experience of breast cancer (which does often run in families) with the Demeter/Persephone story, here reconfigured as "Dee" and "Seph." To me, the book ends up not being "about" breast cancer so much as it is an exploration of the mother/daughter bond and what is passed from one generation to the next, which is sometimes dark and bloody and painful. Going through chemo must be kind of like going down to the underworld and hoping that eventually you'll be permitted to emerge again. Despite the simplicity of the language and structure of these poems, it's a complex book, and one I will probably return to.
On deck for today is Suzanne Frischkorn's Red Paper Flower. I know this will be a worthwhile read; her Spring Tide was, I think, the last poetry I read in 2005, and it was good stuff. I'd be willing to bet money that I'll be reading a full-length collection from her soon.

And if you're a poet reading this blog, I hope I'll be reading your poems soon, as well. Cheers and Happy New Year -- may 2007 bring lots of wonderful new poetry!

12 comments:

C. Dale said...

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

And happy New Year!

Artichoke Heart said...

Happy new year, Anne! :)

Suzanne said...

From your lips to God's ear, Sistah. Thanks for the shout out, Anne! xoxo

Laura said...

Great descriptions, Anne! Made me want to get all three books...

Sheryl said...

Thanks. I will be checking these out too soon. Have a great new year!
Cheers.

Radish King said...

:)

Anonymous said...

What a great little review of blogger books. I just got Radish King today and from the few poems I've read, I totally agree, they're inspiring. Can't ask for more than that in a book of poems.

Suz's Spring Tide is a gorgeous book. I loved it. It inspired me.

Haven't read Charles' book yet. He's next on my list.

Oh btw, I got the early schedule from P-Town today. I'd really love to take the workshop with Henri Cole. I love his work, he's so wonderfully gifted. There wasn't much in the area of memoir around that time, so I may just take his poetry workshop. Another highly tempting one is with Maxine Kumin.I'd love to take that one too but it's early in June and I may have other plans at that time.

Anonymous said...

Happy New Year, Anne.

Anonymous said...

Just realized I previously posted a Happy New Year here -- sorry for the duplicate comment.

I've also been thinking, lightly, about Provincetown, though it will depend heavily on who's teaching the classes. Will wait until they've posted the schedule online and then will give it more thought. Still a big maybe for now.

Anne said...

A happy new year to all y'all! (Lyle, no need to apologize for wishing me double extra happiness! *grin*)

Glad people enjoyed my little review-ettes. I would like to do more of that kind of thing this year; goodness knows I've added many a book to my "must read" list based on bloggers' comments and reviews. Not that I think anyone reading this blog has a shortage of titles on their "must read" lists....

Jenni and Lyle, I got my early registration info from FAWC today and there are so many wonderful teachers to choose from, as always! Would be great to run into one or both of you there. Jenni, I agree Kumin would be fabulous -- though I think I'm going to have to go with something in July or August (I'll blog about this). It's so expensive, but it is such a terrific program.

Anonymous said...

Anne:

Thanks for adding me. Great and thoughtful post.

Best wishes for the New Year!

Greg Rappleye