Monday, February 27, 2012

Monday Morning Quote: Kim Addonizio on Demons

Your demons are there to be used an overcome, and in this sense they are ultimately helpful. Did you think writing great, or even good, poems would be easy? What feeling of accomplishment would you get from doing what is easy, what anyone can do without trying? Athletes train relentlessly to beome stronger, faster, better. Dancers attend class every day and rehearse long hours in the studio. Actors memorize thousands of words and then practice saying them over and over to inhabit their characters. If you thought poetry was different, this is your wake-up call. Poetry is a bitch. It wants your energy, your intelligence, your spirit, your time. No wonder you want to avoid it. I know I sometimes do. But the only way past, as I read somewhere, is through. Put your ass in the chair (or the bed), and get started.

Once you do that, other demons will show up.

—Kim Addonizio, Ordinary Genius

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Final Top 10 for 2011

  • The Grief of Others, by Leah Hager Cohen
  • Middlemarch, by George Eliot
  • The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach
  • All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost, by Lan Samantha Chang
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot
  • Speculation, by Edmund Jorgensen
  • Ysabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay
  • Still Life with Oysters and Lemon, by Mark Doty
  • The Sense of an Ending, by Julian Barnes
  • A Scientific Romance, by Ronald Wright
  • A watershed year, I think, in my reading life as in 2011 80% of the books in my final top ten were read on one or another eReader. The other two, Still Life with Oysters and Lemon and A Scientific Romance, were not available in eBook form at the time I started them. I miss some things about print, but not as much as I expected—and now that I've switched to the Google eReader, which does a much better job of giving you a sense of where you are in the book (page numbers, how radical!) I miss them less. Still not a good choice for poetry, I think, but overall it's convenient and the house is (slightly) less messy.

    This year I'm also finally walking the buy-local walk. All links here and in the book lists on the right now take you to the IndieBound web site, where you can search for the books at a local independent bookstore near you. Although I still buy plenty of stuff from Amazon, I'm buying my books elsewhere.

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    Monday Morning Quote: Wislawa Szymborska

    [A]t the very core of every poem, there is emotion. What you have to do is fight against this emotion. If you were to use emotions only it would be enough to say: 'I love you. Full stop. Don't leave me. What shall I do without you? Oh my poor country! Oh my poor homeland!'

    —Wislawa Szymborska, who died earlier this month,
    in an interview in The Guardian