April 17th, 2008

Book Salad

It is National Poetry Month in April, and I believe that nation is the US, but it’s spreading, as poetry only should. I thought I’d be celebrating this week by starting my Introduction to Writing Poetry class, but it was cancelled *due to low in enrollment*, which is horrifying to me. Doesn’t everyone want to write a good poem? I really do, so will try to self-educate by reading lots, which is the actual point of National Poetry Month anyway.

The usual problem when I read poetry is that poems are short, I read quickly, and my commute is long. By the time you’ve read a dozen pages you could easily have read a dozen poems, but if each poem is an entire world, the development and refinement of a theme or character or emotion, I shouldn’t be simply nodding and turning the page. When I do that, a dozen pages later I am at work with a jumble of half-remembered phrases in my head and nothing truly sustained or sustaining.

I’ve heard a number of good methods to ration out collections of poetry into brain-sized bites, but the one I’m using currently is to read two books at once. I picked up the next two books I on my to-read stack pretty much at random and got lucky, but perhaps some care might need to be taken in the match-up. Anyway, if you get a pair that fits, it can be wonderful to read, as I’ve been doing, one poem from Ken Babstock’s Airstream Land Yacht with full intent concentration. Then, you take a moment to collect yourself, shut the book and flip open Mil Millington’s *Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, and read merrily away with 2/3 your concentration, the other third reserved for working through “Etymology of blizzard
and sundry other packed lines and thoughts and images, which the quick reader would inevitably miss. Milington’s book is so effortlessly, undemandingly entertaining (it is the lad lit of which I spoke in the previous post, dating from those halcyon days of 2002) that it leaves portions of the mind and soul free for this. And yet, the light book *is* quite good; its entertainment is stimulating, not deadening. And the hero, Pel, (think it’s a roman a clef?) possesses a certain baffled male insight glances off Babstock’s fierce curiosity and interest in the world rather well. Of course, you can’t measure

‘This bastard deleted my essay!’ shouted…the student on top, indicating the bastard he was talking about by punching him several times in the mouth.

‘Fffmiminak!’ counted the student on the bottom. An effective reply, as what he lacked in clarity he made up for by bleeding heavily.

against “form that gives if you hold it when there’s only you”

That’s not fair–Babstock is a brilliant writer and Millington is a funny guy. But they work well together, and my commutes these days are quite pleasant. Will see how it goes next time–Ondaatje’s *Secular Love* paired with…recommendations?

Ready to bolt

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So Much Love by Rebecca Rosenblum

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