Jane Eaton Hamilton

"I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.” – Lillian Hellman

Tag: Shannon Maguire

Books books books

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A periodical inquired about the books I’m reading and this was my reply:

I couldn’t be any author’s ideal. I read around. I can’t borrow books from the library because deadlines are too linear. I read ten or more books at a time, a book soup that simmers forever. I always think that I don’t read much, but I read constantly, just not in the way I’d like to, finishing one title and moving along to the next. When I look at what I’m reading now, it’s:

The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson—I love her frankness; I love her smarts

My Mother: Demonology by Kathy Acker—Yag. They should publish this wallet sized

Marry and Burn by Rachel Rose—this country has fine poets. Damn

Tomboy by Nina Bouraoui–this choice because she’s translated into English here (by Marjorie Attignol Salvodon and Jehanne-Marie Gavarini) although I prefer her in French and should persevere despite my lousy language skills

A Primate’s Memoir by Robert M Sapolsky—lots to deplore here about colonialism etc but I admire his language skills

How Animals Grieve by Barbara J King—I don’t think research on animal sentience could ever move speedily enough for my liking, but sound data on grieving is good to have

Holy Mōlī by Hob Osterlund—the compelling story of Hawaii’s albatross

Myrmurs by Shannon Maguire—surely one of our best and brightest poets

Peggy Guggenheim by Francine Prose—say no more. Francine is good

Mother and Child by Caroline Maso—ahhh, stylistically mind blowing, of course

The Book of Dead Birds by Gayle Brandeis—a daughter kills her mother’s pet birds (! In so many accidental ways) and goes off to rescue pelicans

I have another stack on the go in the bedroom, but I hesitate to add more to this. Suffice to say that every day I’m humbled by my own meagre skills, as well as gratified and indebted to the numbers of brilliant writers generously available to enrich my experience.

For fun, here is one of maybe 5 stacks to get to (athough I notice there are a few I’ve recently read in there like The Mercy Journals and Lydia Kwa. I do try to shelve the read ones, ordinarily):

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NaPoWriMo

I’ve never participated in any writing intensives, but this month I have been writing a poem every day for National Poetry Month.  It’s been fun experimenting at the edge of form and from intriguing prompts.   I would never have written these poems otherwise.  I have written on the Tar Sands, on being given up for dead as a 2-year-old, about being in NYC for Hurricane Sandy, about a magician on the metro in Paris, a poem made up of ten lies, a poem to something inanimate, and so on.  Catch the New York School prompt, below, for a great example of what we’ve been challenged with.

The other terrific part has been participating as a group member with 17 extremely talented Canadian poets–their support has been invaluable, their talent and skill breath-taking.  To read their work day after day?  Priceless.  (For everything else, there’s MC.)

This challenge has been completely and utterly exhausting.  I will be glad when it’s over next week.  Really, really glad.

To quote Thom Donovan, whose guidelines we used for the New York School poem:

“It is a “recipe” or constraint of sorts for writing a New York School poem (my class read James Schuyler, Bernadette Mayer, Charles Bernstein, and Dorothea Lasky—a heterodox selection, I realize; and listened to Eileen Myles, Schuyler, Robert Creeley, and Ron Padgett via PennSound).

“Students were encouraged to use as many of the following “ingredients” as possible:

  1. at least one addressee (to which you may or may not wish to dedicate your poem)
  2. use of specific place names and dates (time, day, month, year)–especially the names of places in and around New York City
  3. prolific use of proper names
  4. at least one reminiscence, aside, digression, or anecdote
  5. one or more quotations, especially from things people have said in conversation or through the media
  6. a moment where you call into question at least one thing you have said or proposed throughout your poem so far
  7. something that sounds amazing even if it doesn’t make any sense to you
  8. pop cultural references
  9. consumer goods/services
  10. mention of natural phenomena (in which natural phenomena do not appear ‘natural’)
  11. slang/colloquialism/vernacular/the word “fuck”
  12. at least one celebrity
  13. at least one question directed at the addressee/imagined reader
  14. reference to sex or use of sexual innuendo
  15. the words “life” and “death”
  16. at least one exclamation/declaration of love
  17. references to fine art, theater, music, or film
  18. mention of genitals and body parts
  19. food items
  20. drug references (legal or illegal)
  21. gossip
  22. mention of sleep or dreaming
  23. use of ironic overtones”

NaPoWriMo

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