Despite being quite busy, I was a very productive reader in May. And most of what I read was brilliant and inspiring.
Borderlands 37. I was excited to find a number of Round Top poets in here. This is one of the best issues I have read so far, and it reminds me that I need to submit to this journal in the future.
Dead Until Dark by Charlaine Harris. No, vampires aren’t my traditional reading fare. In fact, anyone who knows me well is probably wondering what inspired me to pick this up in the first place. That would be sheer curiosity. Most of my friends love these books. It spawned an HBO series. I had to see what the fuss was about. Ultimately, I can understand why this was a huge cultural hit. And despite the fact that I wasn’t captivated by the book, Harris did keep me interested in reading until the end, and the big reveal managed to surprise me. I enjoyed it well enough, but I wasn’t enthralled to the point where I plan to read the rest of the series.
The Narrow Road to the Interior by Kimiko Hahn. I love this book. I love this book. I love this book. It’s one of my two favorites from May. Although it borrows on a text by Basho, it’s undeniably contemporary, and resonates well in the twenty-first century. My only lament is that I read a library copy, so I couldn’t highlight and underline important passages to my heart’s content.
Toxic Flora by Kimiko Hahn. This is the sort of book where I could understand it intellectually, but it didn’t have the emotional punch of Narrow Road to the Interior. However, poetry is subjective. This collection is well-crafted, and I understand why it’s gotten so much attention. I certainly admire Hahn’s work here.
Leap by Elizabeth Haukaas. This is a fine first book, though like Toxic Flora, I engaged with it more on an intellectual rather than emotional level. Still, just because it didn’t change my life doesn’t mean it won’t change yours.
I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde. This collection, edited by Rudolph P. Byrd, Johnetta Betsch Cole, and Beverly Guy-Sheftall, is a volume of Lorde’s prose pieces. It draws from speeches, introductions to works, lectures, and includes the full text of A Burst of Light: Living With Cancer, which was eye-opening to me on a number of levels. A must-read for anyone invested in Lorde’s work. (Side note: Maxwell, who has never before showed an interest in chewing books, for some reason decided to make a snack out of this one, much to my dismay.)
Spinning Goldfish by Karla K. Morton. This chapbook is based on the Sufi principle that to know the love of God, one must first experience secular love. This is everything that a chapbook should be. The theme is carried well throughout, and Morton’s writing is as strong as ever.
This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley. A quick read that ultimately didn’t tell me much that I didn’t already know. I am sure there are plenty of people who would get something out of this book, but it wasn’t quite for me. Although the section on why fiction writers should study poetry did make me smile.
Transfer by Naomi Shihab Nye. This is my other favorite from my May reading list. I was actually reading this while at the Round Top festival, so hearing Nye read poems from this book at the same time was extra thrilling. This collection deals with Nye’s loss of her father, but given that grief is universal, it was particularly resonant in light of my own loss this year (which was almost six months ago, which I cannot believe). “Cinco de Mayo” and “Chico Brothers #2” were especially important to me, but the entire book shines
Poets & Writers May/June 2012. A strong issue all around, and the feature on writing contests was great. It helped down just exactly where those contest fees go.