Monday, January 30, 2012

Monday Morning Quote: Jeffery Levine on Craft Annotations

[T]he idea behind craft annotations is to learn by close examination and informal analysis just what’s going on inside poems written by others. We hold the pen in our hand as we walk and talk our way through a poem, while trying to pay close attention to just one or two elements of the poet’s craft. We ask ourselves, just how does the poet make this or that transcendence happen on the page? The idea is to become a poetry explorer, and as befits and benefits the role of the explorer, to make discoveries that we can then claim for ourselves – both for our own enlightenment (what are some of the ways in which this poet makes that poem effective?) and for our own use: now how can I employ these elements of craft – these tools from the poet’s tool belt – in order to write better poems?

...Let me say that I’ve always found it helpful when annotating a poem to write the thing out, longhand. There’s no better way to get a tactile feel for what’s going on in a poem.

This series of blog posts by the editor-in-chief of Tupelo Press has been incredibly helpful reading for me—especially as I am just starting to write craft annotations myself—and I recommend it to you highly.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monday Morning Quote: Marvin Bell

Much of our lives involves the word “no.” In school, we are mostly told, Don’t do this, do that. Don’t do it this way, do it that way. But art is the big yes. In art, you get a chance to make something where there was nothing.

—Marvin Bell, Commencement Address, Whidbey Writers Workshop, Northwest Institute of Literary Arts, MFA Graduation

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Independent Booksellers + eBooks = Awesome

I got a Kindle a little over a year ago, and traded up to an iPad last month. Eight of the books that will be in my top ten for 2011 were read on an ereader. (Confession: I did make a second purchase of one, Leah Hager Cohen's The Grief of Others in hardcover because I loved it and wanted a version signed by the author. I see this kind of thing happening with some regularity in my ereading future).

I love that I can just slip my ereader into my purse instead of lugging one or, on vacation, many books around. I love that I don't have to find more space in my already overcrowded home for the books I cannot seem to stop buying, new year's resolutions about using the library notwithstanding. But I've also felt sad and a little ashamed that I am neglecting my several local independent bookstores.

No more! Last week I read in the Porter Square Books blog that many ereader users can buy some or all of their books from independent booksellers. Here's the full list, organized alphabetically. I haven't tried it out yet but intend to do so with my next purchase and will let you know how it goes!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Happy New Year

One of the things I love best about milestones like New Years and birthdays is the opportunity to make a fresh start.

This is, of course, completely delusional. You can make a fresh start any time—every Tuesday, if you so desire. Or maybe you can never really make a fresh start, but I'm in a good mood and not going there.

So the blog has gotten a bit of housekeeping this weekend. I've restarted the poetry and non-poetry top 10 lists in the right margin. I've gone through and deleted or posted all the entries in "draft" state that I'm not actually drafting (yes, little post on sloth, I am never getting back to you—ironic, no?). I've back-filled top 10 lists for all the years I've been keeping them, so they are now all in one place (here).

It feels good. This is defininitely the kind of deluded I could get used to.

Happy New Year to all!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Monday Morning Quote: Sharon Olds

Poems like mine—I don't call them confessional, with that tone of admitting to wrong-doing. My poems have done more accusing than admitting. I call work like mine "apparently personal". Or in my case apparently very personal.

—Sharon Olds, interviewed in The Guardian in 2008
Some of my favorite Sharon Olds poems:
First Thanksgiving
I Go Back to May 1937
The Promise