Friday Fifteen

Happy Friday, everyone! Let’s say farewell to the polar vortex with some micro-book reviews.

1. In the Hand of Goddess (Song of the Lioness #2) by Tamora Pierce
Alanna becomes a knight, fights evil, kisses swoony guys. Maybe my favorite of the series.

2. I. by Stephen Dixon
Don’t remember much, but the depiction of his wife’s condition was striking.

3. The Littlest Dinosaurs by Bernard Most
I loved the art in this one. Tiny dinosaurs!

4. Violet & Claire by Francesca Lia Block
Liked the contrasting screenplay/poetry formats, but not one I returned to like other Block novels.

5. Picnic, Lightning by Billy Collins
The title poem is a great take on a two-word aside from Lolita.

This Year’s Words

It’s not a poem about New Year’s, but T.S. Eliot’s “Little Gidding” is about chance and transformation and the old and new. These lines feel particularly appropriate for New Year’s Day:

(image: Powell’s)

The new year is a natural time to start thinking about change and possibility and transformation. With The Chance You Won’t Return coming out in April, 2014 is primed to be a year of big changes. So excited to share them all with you and my fellow ’14 debut authors!

And in case you need to see my enthusiasm for 2014 in gif form (of course you do), head over to OneFour KidLit.

Friday Fifteen

It’s the last Friday Fifteen of 2013! Let’s end the year right with some book reviews in fifteen words or fewer.

1. Write Source 2000: A Guide to Writing, Thinking and Learning by Great Source
Our eighth grade source for all things essay-related. It was fine.

2. The Animal Tale Treasury by Caroline Royds
Mostly I remember the “Just So” stories and the illustrations.

3. Glass Town by Lisa Russ Spaar
Don’t remember many particular poems, but sharp, elegant writing works well as a collection.

4. A Hand Full of Stars by Rafik Schami
Read randomly in middle school; ended up being a first introduction to Syria. Very touching.

5. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
Didn’t expect much based on the pants conceit, but the girls’ friendships and personalities shine.

When the Wild Turkey Dreams at Night

Turkeys don’t seem like they would make for great poetry, but I’m a big fan of “A Romance for the Wild Turkey” by Paul Zimmer. Here it read as part of the Writer’s Almanac:

That last stanza gets me every time. I first encountered Zimmer’s poem as part of Poetry 180, which I highly recommend as a collection. This poem always comes to mind around Thanksgiving (or when I spot wild turkeys in the neighborhood). Happy Thanksgiving to all celebrating!

Friday Fifteen

Guys, it’s Friday and I’m starting to breathe like a normal human being again. Take that, plague! Onto the fifteen-word (or fewer) book reviews:

1. The Voice on the Radio by Caroline B. Cooney
Don’t remember this nearly as well as its prequels. Reeve is no longer crush-worthy.

2. Questions about Angels by Billy Collins
Good balance of whimsy and thoughtful poetic turns. Maybe not groundbreaking, but they satisfy.

3. Many Waters by Madeleine L’Engle
L’Engle tackles a weird part of the Bible and, of course, handles it deftly.

4. The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 2 by Lee Gutkind
Not quite as memorable as Vol. 1, but still excellent collection of essays.

5. Cherokee Bat and the Goat Guys by Francesca Lia Block
My least favorite of the Weetzie books. The band stuff is fun though.

Friday Fifteen

I can hardly believe it’s Friday. Maybe a few book reviews in fifteen words (or fewer) will help me wrap my mind around it.

1. The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
A prequel to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, not as memorable for me.

2. The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot
Different from the movie in a good way. Must be that NY vibe.

3. Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson by Judy Blume
Strong sequel; I loved seeing ‘perfect’ Rachel and her secret family drama.

4. The Ruby in the Smoke by Philip Pullman
A Victorian-era mystery starring a clever orphaned girl? Sign me up.

5. The Collected Poems, Vol. 1: 1909-1939 by William Carlos Williams
“This Is Just to Say” is literature’s best “sorry not sorry” poem.

You Are Neither Here Nor There: Seamus Heaney

Today the poetry world is saddened by the loss of Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney. Some of his most famous works include Death of a Naturalist, North, and a translation of Beowulf.

I had the opportunity to see Seamus Heaney read when I was in college, during the Virginia Festival of the Book. He was an excellent reader (which isn’t always the case for even talented and accomplished poets) and really engaged the audience. At the time, I was also taking poetry classes (both literature and writing) and had read several of Heaney’s poems. They’re expansive but intimate, and the language is clear but has really awesome turns of phrase throughout. One of my all-time favorite poems is his “Postscript,” particularly the last lines:

You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Make sure to read the whole poem, and to check out Heaney’s other work if you’re not familiar with it already.

Billy Murray, Coming to Your Next Poetry Reading

When you think “poetry,” you don’t necessarily think of Bill Murray. (Okay, maybe you do, but it’s probably because of the innate poetry in Ghostbusters.) But Murray can pull of a surprisingly good poetry reading. Here, at the 16th Annual Poets House Walk Across the Brooklyn Bridge, he reads Billy Collins’ poem, “Forgetfulness”:

I’ve seen Collins at a couple of readings and Murray really hits that Collins vibe–humorous at first, with that great thoughtful turn at the end.

Click through to see Bill Murray tackle more poetry readings.

(via Tweetspeak Poetry)

Poetry for Office Survival

It’s mid-July. A lot of people are on vacation. Going to work can feel like you’re in a barren wasteland of tumbleweeds. But this Wednesday, you don’t have to battle it out alone with the freezing office AC–it’s Take Your Poet to Work Day! Cut out a picture of your favorite poet, decorate him/her, attach it to a popsicle stick, and take your poet-puppet to work.

My work poet has to be T.S. Eliot:

Whenever I’m shuffling on public transportation with a lot of other commuters, I think about The Waste Land. Particularly:

Unreal City,
Under the brown fog of a winter dawn,
A crowd flowed over London Bridge, so many,
I had not thought death had undone so many.
Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled,
And each man fixed his eyes before his feet.
Flowed up the hill and down King William Street,
To where Saint Mary Woolnoth kept the hours
With a dead sound on the final stroke of nine.

If anyone understands how necessary that extra cup of coffee is, it’s Eliot. My suggestions for Take Your Poet to Work Day activities:

  • Write haiku about your favorite office supplies.
  • Print out sonnets and put them in random mailboxes.
  • Instead of listening to streaming radio, crank up your favorite poetry reading recordings.
  • Take meeting notes in iambic pentameter.
  • Have fun with your punctuation, ala e.e. cummings.

Share your ideas for Take Your Poet to Work Day in the comments.

(H/T bookshelves of doom)

Links Galore

Today in linkage: