Literary Love for January

The new year turned out to be a great month for my reading list. This isn’t a full list of everything I’ve read, just my favorites.

Sandra Cisneros, Caramelo. It’s no secret that Sandra Cisneros is my favorite poet. I read Loose Woman once a year. But I also adore her fiction, and Caramelo is no exception. Stylistically, it’s the kind of novel I want to write. It contains some of the most poetic prose I’ve ever read.

bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions. This is the third time I’ve read this book. Each time, I gain some new perspective on compassion, love, and ethics. hooks does not shy away from the often-derided topic of love, and talks about how it belongs in contemporary American life. It always makes me think, address my own shortcomings. It’s like a way to recalibrate myself, set new intentions for the way I handle people in my life.

Celeste Guzman Mendoza, Beneath the Halo. I’ve been lucky to get to take workshops with Mendoza in Austin and San Antonio, and was very excited when I found out this book had come out. Mendoza tackles family, faith, and trauma, and though each section is self-contained, the poems all play off each other, for a work that has perfect thematic resonance.

Ntozake Shange, nappy edges. I’ve been in love with Shange’s work since reading For Colored Girls… in college, but I’d never read this collection. Reading Shange’s work gives me occasional moments of poetic communion, but at the same time, it challenges me to check my privilege as a white poet and feminist, and think about my own work and what I’m doing with the political side of my writing.

ire’ne lara silva, flesh to bone. I am so proud when I can endorse the work of a good friend. It wasn’t so long ago that I was writing about ire’ne lara silva’s work without having even met her yet. But now, I’m thrilled to call her a friend, and thus be especially happy about this book. Even when she’s writing prose, silva has a poetic voice, and doesn’t shy away from taking long, hard, intense looks at the subjects of her stories.

And, in the audio department, I’ve fallen in love with Welcome to Nightvale, a podcast about a small desert town where nothing is as it seems. A mix of science fiction, comedy, and a bit of horror, too. It’ll hit all your genre buttons, and keep you coming back for more.

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