So, I’m trying to make my time count right now. I’m reading as much as I can. I could read more, probably, but I get restless from sitting overlong. I’ve just finished Engine Empire by Cathy Park Hong, and I loved it. I’m mailing it to a friend so he can love it too.
I read Longenbach’s The Art of the Line, which was good, and just started The Art of Syntax by Ellen Bryant Voigt which is likely also good, but rather drier. Both of them seem better than Dean Young’s Art of Recklessness, which, as the title would suggest, seemed inchoate.
I’m also picking my way through Our Andromeda by Brenda Shaughnessy — but picking mostly because it’s so affecting in places I just can’t handle more than a few poems at a time. So I’m doing the book a disservice, I suspect.
I’m also reading in snatches the collected Mark Strand I picked up at Sewanee. It has selections from Darker in it — one of the first books of poetry I bought with my own money as a teen — along with Galway Kinnell’s Book of Nightmares. Odd pairing, those, and yet somewhat representative of the two strains I often feel run through my work. I was startled at how well I remembered the poems in Darker — I kept nodding, and thinking, “Oh yes, this one” — I must have read the books several times back then. There is also more Strand in my work than I realized, which is a funny thing — I think we both like negation. At least in my case, I like defining through absence.
I’ve also started Finney’s Head off & Split, which seems good. A very solid book I have no quarrel with.
And bits of Transtromer, just to try him, though it’s like reading haiku to me. In fact, I hit some haikus within the book and the whole exercise seemed redundant for him.
And finally, at long last, reading D.A. Powell’s latest as well. Quite good. It’s been a pleasure to watch his work change over these books, though his love for a pun is consistent from book to book, and seems only to deepen as time goes on.