Reading This Week

Just finished Madeline Stevens’s Devotion this week – review forthcoming!

Re-reading Leaves of Grass in tandem with the captivating beauty that is We Contain Multitudes, a new YA novel from Sarah Henstra.

“Corrie” by Alice Munro, read by Margaret Atwood on The New Yorker Fiction Podcast – As usual, I enjoyed the narration and discussion with Deborah Treisman just as much as the story itself. A student of mine introduced me to Alice Munro quite recently, I regret to say. But, fear not! I now have a copy of Too Much Happiness and am looking forward to hanging out in “Munro country” for a while. (It was extremely difficult to know which story collection to select! I chose the above, because the introduction was written by Miriam Toews. So, obvi.)

Tap Out – Kunz

When teaching poetry, I often notice students’ interest in writing long, winding narrative poems. I teach a variety of forms, but ultimately allow them creative freedom when composing their own poem. Inevitably, the majority choose a form of their own invention, a lengthy narrative structure where they breathlessly describe a breakup, a childhood memory, or a trauma of some kind. They want to tell their stories, and they seem to find solace in this malleable structure.

I read these poems with interest. After all, it is a common experience to have memories that won’t stay put in a single neat, delineated description, experiences that seep into the rest of our lives, coloring every experience and changing our perspectives.

Edgar Kunz, in his recent poetry collection, Tap Out, has a similar eagerness for telling his story, letting the narrative seep slowly from one poem to the next, repeating characters, events, and images. The strength of this method is that it allows Kunz to emphasize the memories which provide a sort of structure to his life. For example, a childhood friend, Daryl, shoots himself, and this memory reverberates throughout the entire collection. Sometimes Daryl is simply, “Mikes brother Daryl,” other times he is a loudmouthed kid trying to impress girls, bragging about girls. But this memory, “The way your brother Daryl took himself out of the world,” is the vital cord to these other memories of this character.

There are some weaknesses in this collection. Poems like “Dry Season,” patch past experiences with the narrator’s current travels and the pastoral elk watching in Colorado. The poem is trying to tell us a story, but it is lost in the patchwork of its own images.

Kunz’s overall vision of these poems emphasize the tragedy belonging to place, to one’s origins, of regional experiences that ring out beyond their seemingly humble roots. The poems sing with clarity.

Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner Books and NetGalley for the advance copy of this title.

Tap Out by Edgar Kunz

Poetry – Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner Books – Publication date 5 March 2019

Reading This Week

“Search for the New Land” by Morgan Parker, in the Feb 21 issue of The New York Review of Books – This poem moved me so much that I went to a bookstore within the hour and bought Parker’s poetry collection, “There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce.”

Discovering Words by Neepin Auger – This is a wonderful picture book for very young children (approx. 0-2). There is one illustration per page, and each illustration is described in English, French, and Cree. This is a must-have book for children living in Canada.

Trail of Crumbs by Lisa J. Lawrence

Continuing my read of Vice, Crime, and Poverty by Dominique Kalifa – This book prompted me to read the entire Wikipedia article on the Black Death. Yikes.

Reviews from this week:

Anna at the Art Museum by Hazel Hutchins

Diana Dances by Luciano Lozano 

The Learning Curve by Mandy Berman

Reading this Week

Learning Curve – Mandy Berman

An excerpt from Tom Pickard’s “Fiends Fell” from the February 2019 issue of Poetry Magazine – I keep trying to get to the end, but I keep getting hypnotized by the gorgeous photos.

Hedgehog Needs a Hug by Jen Betton – Our household has been reading and re-reading this, but, alas, it must now be returned to the library.

Cameron Anstee’s Book of Annotations (for the second time!)

Flipping my way through Danish author Asta Olivia Nordenhof’s the easiness and the loneliness, realizing how amazing it would be for all literary translations to have the source language next to the translated text.

Titles reviewed this week:

A Boy and A House by Maja Kastelic

Permission by Saskia Vogel

My Cat Looks Like My Dad by Thao Lam