Category Archives: Reading

Poetry Suggestions for Summer Book Bingo

As promised, a list of a few suggestions for poetry collections that satisfy the Seattle Public Library & Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Summer Book Bingo squares:

You Finish Reading in a Day

Geography III, Elizabeth Bishop — only 10 poems, and some of her best. (Also works for Published Year You Were Born if you were born in 1976.) “The art of losing isn’t hard to master.”

Woodnote, Christine Deavel —an utterly lovely book. It brings you right in and doesn’t let you go, in ways you possibly don’t expect. Also works for Local Author; she is co-owner of Open Books in Wallingford. “caraway     caraway”.

From Your Childhood

Shel Silverstein — “listen to the mustn’ts, child”. Continue reading

Tagged ,

Book Bingo NW

The theme for my 2015 is totally clear: Reading.

Books, bookstores, book contests, books books books. Hot on the heels of the Independent Bookstore Day challenge came Summer Book Bingo, the Seattle Public Library and Seattle Arts & Lectures’ totally awesome summer reading program for adults.

Get a Bingo, get entered for a gift certificate from a bookstore. Do a Blackout, get entered for a chance at season tickets to Seattle Arts & Lectures’ next season and books by all the speakers. Deadline: Labor Day.

SummerBookBingo_card

OH HELL YEAH.

Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Not Knowing vs Knowing

I picked up the novel The Martian by Andy Weir at our first Independent Bookstore Day stop, and the sum total of what I knew about it before buying it was:

  • The cover is orange.
  • I’ve seen people really engrossed in it on the bus.
  • I’ve seen it on several bookstores’ Staff Recommends shelves.
  • It has something to do with an astronaut left behind on Mars.
  • The first chapter begins:

LOG ENTRY: SOL6

I’m pretty much fucked.

That’s my considered opinion.

Fucked.

And then I spent a whole Saturday (that I hadn’t intended to spend reading) not being able to put it down. Could NOT put it down. Had other things to do. Should have been doing them. Didn’t. Couldn’t put it down.

Continue reading

Tagged , , , , ,

Seattle Independent Bookstore Day! Saturday 5/2

Independent Bookstore Day 2015 vertical logo_0

This Saturday, support your local bookstore!

Which, in Seattle, means you’ve got a LOT of choices.

Of those tons of choices, 17 are participating in Independent Bookstore Day—at the different stores you’ll find various events, discounts, exclusive art, free food, cool readings, kids storytimes, literary madlibs, in-store scavenger hunts, group Exquisite Corpses, wheels of fun and fortune, board game battles, a famous first lines quiz—I mean all that plus BOOKS, can it get any better!

I’m VERY excited! Continue reading

Tagged ,

Random Books, Forgotten Poems, Funny Podcasts, and A Forklift Whose Beep Has Lost Its Tone

Pop Culture Happy Hour, the awesome NPR pop culture podcast hosted by Linda Holmes, ends each podcast with a round-the-table of “What’s making us happy this week.” And one of the things that’s making me happy this week is their Oscars Omnibus podcast (all about the nominated pictures) — an even more awesome than usual feast of smart, clever people being intelligent and entertaining about pop culture from high to low.

Other things that are making me happy this week: having been reminded of a poem I’d somehow forgotten about, Philip Levin’s “This Be the Verse” (the one that begins “They fuck you up, your mum and dad”), the two books I’m reading, The Bullpen Gospels, recommended by a friend last summer because I liked Scott Simon’s Home and Away so much, and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, a mystery with, as the blurb promised, a heroine who’s a cross between Sherlock Holmes and Eloise, which I picked up at Mercer Street Books on a jaunt to lower Queen Anne last weekend.  Continue reading

Briefly Reviewed: Rin Tin Tin & Stiff & Packing for Mars

Susan Orlean’s book Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend tells three stories, well four. There’s the partly heartbreaking and partly inspiring tale of Lee Duncan and the puppy he found on a French battlefield and named Rin-Tin-Tin, there’s the legend of Rin Tin Tin in all his film, television, merchandising and dog breeding iterations, and then there’s the story of the changing place of the dog in Americans’ lives in the twentieth century, in our homes, in our wars and on our screens. It’s an engrossing read, and I found the balance of informational detail to pace just right (that’s always my litmus for a good non-fiction book).

And the fourth story is the story of Susan Orlean’s quest to find those other stories. Orlean herself is definitely a figure in the writing, not only why she became interested in Rin-Tin-Tin in the first place, but stating which topics she cares about, and is therefore delving more into than others, and why. (For instance mentioning that it’s unclear in many Rin-Tin-Tin movies which dog is actually playing the part, but not getting much into what is and isn’t provable about that, because that’s not something she finds very interesting). So it’s on that level a different style than, say, Dorothy Ours’ Man O’War: Legend Like Lightning, which I also highly recommend, but which isn’t about Ours’ personal story. I like Orleans’ voice, and found the occasional personal sections worthwhile. It’s a big-hearted book, without getting treacly.


 

I’ve read two Mary Roach books now, Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, and Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Voidand I highly recommend both for learning, with just the right filter of humor and empathy, about the stuff you might never have thought to ask about the human body or if you had thought to ask wouldn’t have been sure who to ask (or might not have been sure you wanted to). But I also highly recommend not reading them while you’re eating— Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

2013

2013 ends on a great note, with another poem of mine published in online journal  The Broken City‘s music-themed issue, just posted today! (My poem, “At the Bardot,” is on page 9). 13 was a bit my lucky number this year — I had work in Beatdom‘s #13 issue too, and (though it was doesn’t work for a number-13 trifecta) I was terribly excited to be in issue #89 of FIELD this fall.

And now, after a quick reminder that you can sign up to receive an email alert when there’s a new post in the new year towards the bottom of the page (the “Yes Please” button on the lower left under where it says “Be Alerted To New Posts”), here’s my traditional quick look back at what I read and watched this year… first the books: Continue reading

Beatdom #13 & The Attic Recommends

Just a quick note about two other places you can find me —

My poem “The Drunken Helicopter” is hot off the press in Beatdom #13 (The Drinking Issue) which is available on Amazon in hard copy or for Kindle. It’s a Rambo-era take on Rimbaud’s “The Drunken Boat.” A taste:

Up through the veils, gravity’s fingers
slipped from my runners and then nothing
but the Poem of the Universe
uncorked with a wet squeak […]

And I am delighted to be editing The Attic Institute’s new monthly “The Attic Recommends, a Hot Sheet for Writers” which spotlights new and interesting work in all genres, plus publication news, contest opportunities, and updates on the doings of Attic alums.

p.s. I also pop in to Twitter and say something or (or, you know, retweet something cool someone else said) every once in a while too…

By Heart

I’m an increasingly big fan of memorizing poems, and have decided to do something I’d thought about before but never implemented: memorize one poem a week this year. (And now that I’ve said so publicly, well I’ll have to do it won’t I. Oh well, why not? This week it was “Musee des Beaux Arts” by Auden.)

I think knowing poems by heart is wonderful as a regular person (among other things, it means if you’re stuck somewhere totally boring you can recite a great poem in your head, or if you come to a split in a ski trail you can go all Robert Frost and impress your friends, and you just never know when you might wind up stranded on a freaky tropical isle, or a post-apocalyptic wasteland, and will need something memorized with which to entertain yourself between adventures, or console yourself during zombie terrors etcetera. Television has made me sure of that possibility.) And it’s probably essential as a writer. (How wonderful to not only have great poems even faster than “at hand” but also to internalize their rhythms and movements and mystery.)

There are lots of methods out there for memorizing poems — here’s mine. Continue reading

Tagged , , ,

Most Vivid Reads #5

This is the final installment of my “Most Vivid Reads” series. (See below for the full list of books).

The Book of Nightmares — Galway Kinnell

I loved this poetry collection when I read it in college, and I still do. It’s melodramatic, its images are overwrought and its underlying emotion is morbid. It talks madness, birth and death, and how mortality underlies everything, speaking alternately straight up and with a bemused chaser, and that’s exactly why I love it. It hits that youthful ‘but life leads to death, death, death’ phase we all go through (especially (?) us artsy types), but it’s such well-written morbid angst. It’s like the best part of revisiting your youthful darkness-obsessed phase, because Kinnell has such a great control of language. I don’t find it amazingly profound or deeply moving in its mysticism, which is what some claim about The Book of Nightmares. But I do love it. Continue reading

Tagged , , ,
%d bloggers like this: