Posts Tagged ‘Good Reading’

Spring Fever

Spring has sprung here in Western New York.  The snow is almost gone, except for those dirty piles here and there.  I have even broken out the short sleeves (but not the sandals, not yet).  Today, my students spent classtime staring out the window.  I wasn’t mad — it’s just that I wanted to spend time staring out the window, too.

With spring, comes new poetry books and new poetry news.  First, I preordered two poetry books the other day.  I have never preordered anything — I always wait for the magic words, “In stock.”  But I couldn’t resist.  One book was due out at the end of March; the other was due out in April.  Guess what?  Jehanne Dubrow’s Stateside arrived in my mail today — so yes, this third collection from this talented poet is out on the streets.  I know what I’m going to be reading tonight!  More good news:  I also preordered Sandra Beasley’s I Was the Jukebox — and according to a recent email, this book will also be sent out earlier than expected. I should have this second collection by the end of March.

And have you checked out Alison Stine’s news?   Ohio Violence was one of the best books I read last year, so of course, I’m looking forward to Stine’s second collection.  Want to know a secret?  I’ve heard that Stine is going to be reading at SUNY Fredonia in a few weeks — that’s in my backyard.  So I guess, I will have to trek up there to see her….

Three Books

I see three books in my near future (probably library books — I have put myself on a budget). 

First is The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. I first read about Henrietta Lacks on Nancy’s blog, and I have been interested in Lacks’ life (and her life after her death) since.  I have enjoyed Skloot’s works in various science magazines, so I have a feeling that this book is going to be really good.

Second, I have always been interested in the dark true story behind Alice in Wonderland.  So Melanie Benjamin’s Alice I Have Been is intriguing.  Reviews have been mixed — but I’m still curious.

Finally, I don’t understand how I had to learn from Entertainment Weekly  that the great Dan Simmons (who penned such personal favorites as Drood and Terror), has another book out.  Black Hills promises to be another great read.

That’s the good thing about winters in Western New York.  One does not have to feel too guilty about staying inside and reading.

How Many Books Do You Read?

I’m a reader — more of a reader than a writer.  And I read everything.  Anthony calls me a cereal box reader — the person who at breakfast, will sit and read the ingredients on the cereal box.  I grew up in the small town where the library had a general rule — you could get a library card if you could write your own name.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table practicing my name over and over again, until the K had a straight back and the r was pointed in the right direction.  I was the little girl who would drag home a stack of library books.  When I got older, I saved my money for books.  Now, our apartment is held together by stacks of books. 

I’m also not a picky reader — while I tend to read more poetry and literary nonfiction, I read almost anything (except Romance) on almost any topic.  I go in spurts where I read one type of book or one author.  For example, a few years ago, I read everything by Jodi Picoult. (Beach reading, I know, but we don’t have a lot of beaches in the snowbelt).  One year, I went through a period where I read tons of books on genocide and another year I went through a phase where I read books on Arctic exploration.  Don’t ask me why I go through these streaks — it’s just a lot of things interest me.

Once, one of my colleagues asked me how many books I read per year.  I shrugged.  I really didn’t know.  Like almost everyone else I know, there are certain times of the year where I read more and certain times of the year where I don’t read as much.  During the winter months, I read more.  During finals, where I am reading student papers, fun reading takes a back seat. 

This year, I am going to keep a booklist of how many books I do read.  I just took a look at my January 2010 list — the official tally for this past month is 16 books.  I have read six novels, two books of poetry, two chapbooks of poetry, and six works of nonfiction (including three of books of true crime).  Yes, I have read 16 books this past month, which seems high — even to me.  But that could be that I was off for two weeks and because it’s also nice to snuggle in with a good book when the weather is dismal outside.

Highlights of the month?  The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson and The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood.  Also, Brandi Homan’s second collection of poetry, Bobcat Country, which I just talked about a few days ago. 

Already Loving This Collection…

After being on backorder forever (okay, not forever, a few weeks — it seemed like forever), my copy of January Gill O’Neil’s collection, Underlife, came in the mail today.  I admit it — I’ve only read one poem so far, the opening poem titled “Nothing Fancy” where the narrator states, “I am from hush puppies & barbecue/from chitlins & fatbacks/hog maws & hog jaws & grits & scrapple.”  But, the voice is so, so,  real.  This poem reminds me of the poem, “Where I’m From” by George Ella Lyon, another personal favorite, and a work that I often read out loud to many of my creative writing classes.  Bloggers have been out and about talking about Underlife since Christmas, so I know that I’m going to be up half the night reading this great collection.

2010: More Poetry Collections to Come

Consider this Part II of  Poetry Collections to come in 2010. See my first list.  Several people contacted me (via email, Goodreads, etc..) to tell me about other books due out this year (plus, since I am snowed in, I could do more research).  So here are more great reads:

  1. Glossolalia by Amanda Auchter
  2. Seeded Light by Edward Byrne (Turning Point Books)
  3. Stateside by Jehanne Dubrow (Northwestern UP)
  4. Girl on a Bridge by Suzanne Frischkorn (Main Street Rag)
  5. Within Reach by M.J. Iuppa (Cherry Grove)
  6. My Father’s Kites by Allison Joseph (Steel Toe Books)
  7. Temptation by Water by Diane Lockward (Wind Publications)
  8. Light and Travels of Light by Cynthia Reeser (Finishing Line Press)

Looks like it is going to be a very busy reading year!

2010: Poetry Collections to Come…

With all this recapping, it’s also nice to look forward to 2010.  Here is a list of poetry collections (books and chapbooks) that will be released (or have been recently released) that I really want to read:

  1. Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room by Kelli Russell Agodon (White Pine Press)
  2. Barefoot and Listening by Margaret Bashaar (Tilt)
  3. I Was the Jukebox by Sandra Beasley (Norton)
  4. Saint Monica Mary Biddinger (Black Lawrence Press)
  5. A Classic Game of Murder by Katie Cappello (Dancing Girl Press)
  6. Breach by Nicole Cooley (LSU Press)
  7. The Least of These by Todd Davis (Michigan State UP)
  8. The Devastation by Jill Alexander Essbaum (Cooper Dillon)
  9. Bobcat Country by Brandi Homan (Shearsman Books)
  10. The book of small treasures by Christine Klocek-Lim (Seven Kitchens Press)
  11. Ghost Lights by Keith Montesano (Dream Horse Press)
  12. O Body Swayed by Berwyn Moore (Cherry Grove)
  13. Underlife by January Gill O’Neil (Cavankerry)
  14. Diwata by Barbara Jane Reyes (Boa)
  15. Soot by Jeff Walt (Seven Kitchens Press)
  16. Persons Unknown by Jake Adam York (Southern Illinois University Press)

Did I miss anyone?  Does anyone have a book coming out in 2010?  (I do realize that some of the books above have 2009 publication dates — but they were published too late in the year for me to get a hold of them)   Please let me know!

Finally, for those of you on Goodreads — a 2010 Poetry Readers Challenge Group has been started.  The object is to read at least 20 books of poetry in the year 2010 and complete brief reviews of these books.  Please, check it out! You will notice that I have listed books above on my list, but of course, I will read more!

The Year in Review: Best Poetry Collections

In Part Two of  my “Best Of..” posts, I have listed my top 10 full-length poetry collections of the year.  I did not rank them; instead, I only listed them in order by the poet’s last name:

  1.  Temper by Beth Bachman (University of Pittsburgh Press)
  2. Mistaken For Song by Tara Bray (Persea Books)
  3.  Allegheny, Monongahela by Erinn Batykefer (Red Hen)
  4. The Hardship Post by Jehanne Dubrow (three candles press)
  5. Ohio Violence by Alison Stine (U of North Texas Press)
  6. The Brother Swimming Beneath Me by Brent Goodman (Black Lawrence Press)
  7. Perpetual Care by Katie Cappello (Elixir)
  8. Blue Collar Eulogies by Michael Meyerhofer (Steel Toe Books)
  9. Holding Everything Down by William Notter (Southern Illinois University Press)
  10. My Kill Adore Him by Paul Martinez Pompa (University of Notre Dame Press)

I limited myself to ten with the above list, but as we all know, lists are subjective, and if I wrote this list tomorrow, I would probably change my mind. So, I must mention other great collections, some I have professionally reviewed (or will review) for other sites and journals: Midnight Voices by Deborah Ager,  Cradle Song by Stacey Lynn Brown, Wild Rose Asylum by Rachel Dilworth, From the Fever-World by Jehanne Dubrow, Dirt Sandwich by Linda Annas Ferguson, American Fractal by Timothy Green, Dear Apocalypse by K.A. Hays, I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl by Karyna McGlynn, Cold Mountain Elementary by Mark Nowak, Bad River Road by Debra Nystrom and Torched Verse Ends by Steven D. Schroeder.

The Year in Review: Best Chapbooks

Yes, I know that I had my first chapbook published this year, but I’m not going to put Stealing Dust on my list.  Instead, I have listed my top 10 chapbook picks of the year in alphabetical order according to poet’s last name.

  1. The Doors of the Body by Mary Alexandra Agner (Mayapple)
  2. Slow the Appetite Down by Michele Battiste (Spire Press)
  3. Spring Melt by Katherine Bode-Lang (Seven Kitchens Press)
  4. Hunger All Inside by Marie Gauthier (Finishing Line Press)
  5. The Beaded Curtain by Megan O’Reilly Green (Spire Press)
  6. Barbed Wire and Bedclothes by Alice Pettway (Spire Press)
  7. Inside Bone There’s Always Marrow by Rachel Mallino (Maverick Duck)
  8. They Speak of Fruit by Gary L. McDowell (Cooper Dillon Books)
  9. In the Voice of a Minor Saint by Sarah J. Sloat (Tilt Press)
  10. Flood Year by Sara Tracey (Dancing Girls Press)

Also, I have to  mention the wonderful In the Kingdom of My Familiar (Tilt Press) by Julie Platt.  This chapbook was published at the end of 2008, but I read it at the start of 2009.  Finally, Notes from the Red Zone by Christina Pacosz was republished by Seven Kitchens Press, and as I mentioned in another post, this chapbook was originally published in 1982 — and it’s back for a new generation to read.

Of course, I must also post a disclaimer — I have a short memory and it’s been a long year, so if you had a chapbook published this past year and I have not read it, or God forbid, I did read your chapbook and I didn’t mention it, please drop me a note.

CLSC Book Two: City of Light

So I tore myself away from student papers to finish reading City of Light  by Lauren Belfer.  Belfer’s book takes place in 1901 Buffalo, New York, when the city was in its Heyday.  I love books that show a strong sense of history and place, and have read about everything there is to read about Western Pennsylvania, so I have to venture into Western New York literature, and I have to say that this novel was a wonderful start.  For those who need to brush up a bit on their history, 1901 was the year that President William McKinley was assasinated, and Theodore Roosevelt became President of the United States.  Belfer’s book, besides displaying a wonderful and strong main heroine, really shows us how a strong historical novel can be written. 

And speaking of Western New York…Brrr…we didn’t have a summer; now it looks like we are not going to have an Autumn.  The leaves are falling, but they are still green.  It makes me wonder about the winter ahead…


The new issue of Innisfree is live, with poems by Diane Lockward, Kristin Berkey-Abbott, Brent Fisk, and Lyn Lifshin.  Innisfree’s  “Closer Look” column for this issue takes a look at the work of Alice Friman.  And in a small bit of shameless self promotion (which I have been doing a lot lately — I will get back to my regular blog posts as soon as the school semester evens out a bit), my poem “Dry Spell”  has also been published here.

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