Archive for April, 2010

CLSC Book Five: Tastes Like Cuba

I live with a nonreader.  Correction.  Anthony does read — but it’s mostly comic books, since he is a serious comic book collector.  He also sometimes reads books on baseball and martial arts (his two other loves).  Still, I don’t think he has ever really understood the hundreds of books in my personal library and why it’s hard for me to let go of even a single book…

So, I am always trying to get him to read.  A month or so ago, I picked up the book, Tastes Like Cuba: An Exile’s Hunger for Home by Eduardo Machado. Anthony is a professional cook, so he also glances through cookbooks on a regular basis, always looking for something new to try.  Machado’s memoir looked interesting to me.  Written as an autobiographical account from a Peter Pan kid (children who were flown from Cuba to the United States during the early 1960’s), Machado explores his world of exile from his homeland through stories of food and specific recipes.  I thought Anthony would be interested in the recipes — everything from Newspaper Soup to Swordfish Escabeche is included in the book’s chapters.  And I was right.  Anthony flipped through and read all the recipes.  But he didn’t read Machado’s actual memoir.

But I did. Fans of the Scrapper Poet know that I am a fan of the memoir, and I really enjoyed Tastes Like Cuba — mostly because the author did not come up with any earthshattering answer to the exile’s identity crisis in America.  Machado is charming and frank, and often very funny.  Because he is an actor (mostly stage), we get to see some insight into some famous actors (including Al Pacino and his role in Scarface).  

And who knows?  I bet in the near future, with Anthony’s help, I will actually get to taste one of these intriguing dishes found in the book!


A Poetry Book A Day

I’ve been a bit behind in my blog reading — with the move, and the typical April frenzy of grading — so I am only now catching up.  I’m watching poets celebrating National Poetry Month in different ways — from urging people to buy more poetry books to writing a poem a day for the whole month of April.  However, what has fascinated me the most is Dave Bonta’s site, where he is trying to read one book (or chapbook) a day and then do a mini-review of the collection he completed.  Wow.  Could I read a book a day?  Yes.  Would I be able to write a review — mini or otherwise — every day.  No.  Nope.  No way.  So, needless to say, I have great admiration for anyone who could do this… Dave has been putting a special emphasis on chapbooks from one of my favorite small presses, Seven Kitchens Press.  However, he also included a review of These Happy Eyes (Mammoth Books) by Liz Rosenberg.   This book brings about many great memories for me because I was actually working at Mammoth Books when this book was first published.  There’s nothing like working at a small press to really give a young writer a picture of the writing/editing/publishing world.

Maybe someday, when National Poetry Month doesn’t fall in April (ha!), I could try reading a poetry book a day and writing one review per book, but for now, I will be happy with the four poetry books on my nightstand.

New Address, New Mail

Even though I love online journals, I still love getting “stuff” in the mail.  (When I say stuff, I don’t mean junk mail or bills).  This week, I finally got some packages at the new address.

First, my contributor’s copy of Lake Effect arrived, with my poem, “Epiphany with Dead Carp” tucked inside.  My work was joined by other favorite poets including Gabriel Welsch, Jim Daniels, Greg Pape, Beth Gylys, and Doug Ramspeck.  (Or should I say my poem joined their wonderful work….) I was also especially taken by a short story titled “The Paper Eater” by Gary Fincke.  I have read Fincke’s poetry, but never his fiction, and I enjoyed this story so much, I am going to read parts of it to my creative writing class.

I also received BoxCar Poetry Review’s second anthology of poems including “The Night Foreman Sees the Virgin Mary in Furnace #6” by yours truly.  I haven’t read the whole anthology yet — but I love what I see so far.

Finally, as Justin has reminded us on his blog, writers need to support other writers by buying books. We especially need to support poets!  I know that many of you went to AWP, so yes, you purchased books.  However, I just bought my first book of the month — Find the Girl by Lightsey Darst.   I have only read a few of the poems, but I am already hooked.  More later about this great read!


Ager, Stine Reading

So, what can I say?  The Poetry reading last night at SUNY Fredonia was wonderful, and a great way to take a break from moving woes and grading frenzies.  Alison Stine read from Ohio Violence, and some poems from her new book, Wait (Am I giving away a secret title?  She announced it to a whole room of students, so even though we are in Western New York, and we tend to keep our secrets, I’m not sure if this is a real, hush-hush secret.) Alison also talked a great deal about the material in her poetry and the different personas in her work.   I know that a typical student question is always, “Did that really happen to you?” — but I have to admit that question is also in the back of my mind when I read poems that are seemingly autobiographical.

In many of the same ways, Deborah Ager spoke about her work.  Deborah read from Midnight Voices, but she also read some newer poems — about living in the recession, she explained.  I love the fact that she read “Dear Deborah” which is my favorite poem in her book.

It’s often asked where poets get inspiration, and I have to say that I love poetry readings.  Yes, I buy (I just put an order in through Amazon) poetry books and I read poetry all the time, but nothing inspires me like a real life reading.  Thanks so much Cornshake, for inviting me!  And here’s hoping that both Deborah and Alison had a safe trip home!

Moved In

Wow.  I didn’t realize that I haven’t updated my blog since March!  Happy April, everyone!  Or a belated Happy April — if that makes any sense at all.

Anthony and I are moved in.  The furniture is in the new house, the utilities are on, the cat is happy.  No, not all of my books have been put away yet, but I am working on that.  We are living among boxes, but at least I have a trail through the house.   Anthony has to put one last bookshelf together and I will be happy. 

I have been reading all the AWP notes.  It seems that people are either very disillusioned about AWP or excited and exhausted.  Next year — DC, here I come!  I swear. 

I got two emails yesterday from poets whose work I admire, but I have never met them.  (Blog world or elsewhere) Both liked my rural, working class images.  It’s nice to feel appreciated, if even for five minutes.  I am wondering, however, where did both poets pick up Stealing Dust?

Finally, I swear, I am going to celebrate National Poetry Month in one way or another.  It may be finding that one huge bookshelf for all my poetry books.  But right now, I think I am going to go and see both Alison Stine and Deborah Ager at Cornshake’s school.   I know where both of their books are!