The Week in Reading #imwayr 8/17/20

On the blog:

In reading:

I’ll start with the best book I read this week, Angela Narciso Torres’s poetry chapbook, To the Bone, available as a free download from Sundress. These are gorgeous poems, full of insight and lush language and imagery and restraint. There was, for me, just the right balance between accessibility and mystery. Most of the poems in this collection focus on the experience of being the daughter of a mother who now has Alzheimer’s. I very nearly started Torres’s full-length collection, Blood Orange, as soon as I finished To the Bone but then decided I’d better save it for a little later in my August reading challenge.

It’s been years since I’ve read Picnic, Lightning, and rereading it was like visiting an old friend. I’ve decided to give myself the gift this month of rereading each of the Collins collections that I own. What I love about Billy Collins is the clarity of his language and image and how acutely he observes the most mundane moments.

The Book of Light got me thinking about about how the Sealey Challenge may not always be the best way to experience poetry. Poems need time to settle, and they also need revisiting. We would never listen to a song just once and consider ourselves done. I’m not usually a huge rereader (simply because there are so many books I still want to read for the first time, and reading time is limited), but poetry, especially, demands rereading. I’ve dipped back into this book throughout the week and find that the poems hit much harder when read 2-3 at a time rather than gulped down in one sitting, as I did at first.

Another free chapbook. Many striking images and metaphors and use of language, but I found these poems a little too opaque. I don’t think I understood a single one of them, even as I appreciated their language and craft.

I love the cover of Antiracist Baby! I’m going to need to sit with this title a little bit longer to decide what I think. I am confused about audience with this one. But I love how it normalizes talking about race and racism from an early age and the guidance and encouragement it provides for parents who may not know how to start conversations.

This is another book I’m going to have to sit with (and probably share with younger readers) before I decide what I think. I love the concept and the commitment to activism and the way these poems provide a language and hope. Is it wrong to wish the poems were just a bit more, well, poemy?

This is a very quick read with some guidance for flipping the writing workshop. We are starting remote and I want to prioritize interaction and connection during our virtual time together, so I’m planning to video my mini-lessons and teaching demonstrations for students to watch during their asynchronous learning time. I really like how this book simplifies the process and makes it seem so doable.

What are you reading this week? I’ll keep going with my poetry challenge (and try to catch up because I’m 2 books behind!), and I’d also like to start a new novel because I’m not reading any prose right now.

4 thoughts on “The Week in Reading #imwayr 8/17/20

  1. I, too, am not a huge re-reader. But your thoughts about poetry are true to my experience. I’ve memorized certain poems just so I can consider them over and over.

  2. What I seem to be doing with poetry that’s mostly for adults & some teens is read some of one book then turn to another. It keeps me looking at different poets & their own ways with words. Of course, that means I rarely share an entire book because I don’t exactly finish! Thanks for these new ones, Elisabeth. I enjoyed Anti-Racist Baby & Woke, would have read them to younger readers if still teaching. Hope your ‘start’ goes well!

  3. To the Bone sounds like a wonderful book of poetry! I appreciate your point about how poetry needs time to settle—when I do take the time to read poetry, I almost always read poems I’ve already read (usually ones by Mary Oliver), and I don’t know if that’s me letting them settle or me avoiding trying new things! I imagine I wouldn’t love Negotiating With Objects, since I don’t have much skill deciphering confusing poetry. Thanks for the great post!

  4. I always mean to read more poetry, but I don’t always think to grab it. Thanks for the reminder and the recommendations.

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