So much has kept me busy lately, so I’m getting to this list much later than I prefer. But here’s an update on what I read last month. You’ll notice that I’ve let go of my plan of one novel, one nonfiction work, 4 poetry collections, one literary journal, and one craft book. The length of time it takes me to read one of George R.R. Martin’s novels, plus the fact that certain books (or their library due dates) were calling to me means I’m pretty much done with that plan until I’ve gotten through A Feast for Crows (currently reading) and A Dance With Dragons.
Kim Addonizio, What Is This Thing Called Love: I picked this up at the end of September, and it was the only poetry book I read last month. But what a collection it was. The poems range from heartbreak to grief to parenthood, and yet all speak to each other despite the variations of subject matter, showing all the forms that love can take, and how it can affect our lives.
And then, of course, there are brilliant lines like this:
merciless, the way it travels in
and keeps emitting light. Beside the stove
we ate an orange. And there were purple flowers
on the table. And we still had hours.
This is the kind of poetry collection I aspire to write: one in which the collection has a theme, but has room to move and explore.
William J. Higginson, The Haiku Handbook: I recently submitted some haiku and haiga for the Dos Gatos Press Anthology of Haiku/Senryu and Higa (submissions stay open until January 15th, by the way). In the guidelines page, editors Scott Wiggerman and Constance Campbell were kind enough to list some recommended resources for learning more about haiku. I decided to read The Haiku Handbook as I was preparing my submission, and wow, am I glad! This book greatly enhanced my understanding of haiku and how it works. I ended up drastically changing my submission, cutting pieces that no longer worked in favor of new haiku I wrote that better reflected what I learned from this book. Of the original 8 haiku I had been preparing to send in, I only kept one. But I feel like I really understand haiku now, and I’m sending more engaging poems into the world. That’s a great feeling.
George R. R. Martin, A Storm of Swords (finished): Started in October, it took me well into November to get through this 1,100+-page literary behemoth. When last I mentioned it, I talked about how this novel felt heavier than the other three, how it seemed to drag more in the middle. I will say, though, that while it probably could have used a bit of tightening, the ending to this book is incredible. Totally worth the long road it took to get there. I closed the book anxious for more.
Gary L. McDowell and F. Daniel Rzicznek, eds., The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Prose Poetry: I noticed recently that I hadn’t written many prose poems lately, probably not since July. While this isn’t a bad thing per se, it’s true that I love reading them and writing them. There are two prose poems in my chapbook, and a handful of them in the current draft of my collection so far. I’d had this book in my “To Read” stack for a while, and decided now was the time, in order to get some inspiration and make prose poems a regular part of my writing again. This collection of essays and poems really did the trick, too. Since reading it, I’ve done a few prose poems a week. I was also surprised how quickly I read this. But it’s so good, you will devour it.
December so far has been taken up by A Feast for Crows. If I finish this book before the new year, I’ll probably focus on poetry, but we’ll see. I hope during the busy holiday season, you find time for your own pleasure reading.