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Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Abstract


I live more in my head than my body. Consequently I write abstractly, and feel guilty about it, hearing echoes of Ezra Pound's "Go in fear of abstractions" as I write. All those writers preaching, be aware of the body, be concrete, versus me scribbling my ingrown thoughts, hunched over, ignoring my own bad posture.

Then recently I read this from K C Cole (from Sympathetic Vibrations, Reflection on Physics as a Way of Life): “Abstractions seem magical because they can exist independent of matter—and also because they can do things that matter itself cannot do.”

How much better I felt. How much less alone.

Oh, I know concrete writing has power. But abstractions are not without their own mojo, despite the bad press.


Monday, January 1, 2018

Books Read in 2017

I've seen other bloggers publish lists of books they read in the year, so this year I started keeping track. I wasn't going to comment on the list, but realized that if I didn't, there was no point to keeping a list here, as I have a Goodreads account that does the same thing. But I don't feel like commenting. So I will just make a brief sub-list of my list. I don't think I'll do this again.

Books I particularly enjoyed: Little Labors by Rivka Galchen (given to me by my dear friend Tracy Slater); Vivarium by Natasha Saje; Magdalene by Marie Howe; Four Reincarnations by Max Ritvo; Dept of Speculation by Jenny Offill; Space in Chains by Laura Kasischke (re-read)

Books I was disappointed by: Karma Gone Bad by Jenny Felton (a book club selection); Slade House by David Mitchell; Sea of Poppies by Amitov Ghosh (a book club selection)


1. Usher, B. F. Fairchild, poetry
2. A Short History of the Shadow, Charles Wright, poetry
3. Whirl Away, Russell Wangersky, short stories
4. A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line, Emily Rosko, poetics
5. Upstream: Selected Essays, Mary Oliver, essays
6. Dark Places, Gillian Flynn, thriller
7. Dancing in Odessa, Ilya Kaminsky, poetry
8. Holidays on Ice, David Sedaris, humor
9. The Arkansas Testament, Derek Walcott, poetry
10. A Tale for the Time Being, Ruth Ozeki, novel (reread for book club)
11. Little Labors, Rivka Galchen, personal essays
12. Angle of Yaw, Ben Lerner, poetry
13. Poetic Closure: A Study of How Poems End, Barbara Hernnstein Smith, poetics
14. Love in the Time of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, novel (book club)
15. You Shall Know Our Velocity!, Dave Eggers, novel
16. Brother of the More Famous Jack, Barbara Trapido, novel
17. Amorisco, Zhaled Mattawa, poetry (reread)
18. Next Life, Rae Armantrout, poetry (reread)
19. 40 Watts, C. D. Wright, poetry
20. In the Time of the Butterflies, Julia Alvarez, novel (book club)
21. Faithful and Virtuous Night, Louise Gluck, poetry (reread)
22. Karma Gone Bad: How I Learned to Love Mangoes, Bollywood and Water Buffalo, Jenny Felton, memoir (book club)
23. Noon, Cole Swensen, poetry
24. The Girl on the Train, Paula Hawkins, thriller
25. The Wide Net and Other Stories, Eudora Welty, short stories
26. The Beauty, Jane Hirshfield, poetry
27. Truth & Beauty, Ann Patchett, memoir
28. See Under: Love, David Grossman, novel
29. The Nomenclature of Small Things, Lynn Pedersen, poetry
30. Death Tractates, Brenda Hillman, poetry
31. The Wisdom of Insecurity: A Message for an Age of Anxiety, Alan Watts, spirituality/religion
32. All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr, novel (book club)
33. The Art of Recklessness: Poetry as Assertive Force and Contradiction, Dean Young, poetics
34. Multiple Choice, Alejandro Zambra, experimental short pieces
35. Door in the Mountain: New and Collected Poems, 1965-2003, Jean Valentine, poetry
36. Columbarium, Susan Stewart, poetry
37. Hellgoing, Lynn Coady, short stories
38. Now You See Her, Whitney Otto, novel
39. Landscapes on a Train, Cole Swensen, poetry
40. A Field Guide to Getting Lost, Rebecca Solnit, personal essays
41. Come, Thief, Jane Hirshfield, poetry
42. Slade House, David Mitchell, novel
43. Silence, Shusaku Endo, novel (book club)
44. New Math, Cole Swensen, poetry
45. The Hope of Floating Has Carried Us This Far, Quintan Ana Wikswo, experimental short pieces
45. Emperor of the Air, Ethan Canin, short stories
46. In a Dark Time, Larry Watson, novel
47. Red Rover, Susan Stewart, poetry
48. The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, David Mitchell, novel
49. The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, Maggie Smith, poetry
50. Bone Palace Ballet, Charles Bukowski, poetry
51. Lucky Fish, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, poetry
52. Delicate Edible Birds, Lauren Groff, short stories
53. A Marker to Measure Drift, Alexander Maksik, novel
54. 20 Lines a Day, Harry Mathews, fragments
55. Figure Studies, Claudia Emerson, poetry
56. Saints at the River, Ron Rash, novel
57. Am I Alone Here?:Notes on Living to Read and Reading to Live, Peter Orner, personal essays
58. Days: Stories, Mary Robison, short stories
59. Winslow in Love, Kevin Canty, novel
60. Vivarium: Poems, Natasha Saje, poetry
61. Everything in this Country Must, Colum McCann, short fiction
62. The Boat in the Evening, Tarjei Vesaas, short pieces
63. Embryos & Idiots, Larissa Szporluk, poetry
64. The Flame Throwers, Rachel Kushner, novel
65. Schopenhauer's Telescope, Gerald Donovan, novel
66. Planet News, Allen Ginsberg, poetry
67. Slowly, Slowly in the Wind, Patricia Highsmith, short stories
68. Never Look an American in the Eye, Okey Nbide, memoir
69. Don't Call It Night, Amos Oz, novel
70. The Vegetarian, Han Kang, novel (book club)
71. The God's Eye View, Barry Eisler, novel (book club)
72. Bend, Natasha Saje, poetry
73. The Underground Girls of Kabul: The Hidden Lives of Afghan Girls Disguised as Boys, Jenny Nordberg, nonfiction (book club)
74. The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories, edited by Tobias Wolff, short stories
75. Sea of Poppies, Amitov Ghosh, novel (book club)
76. Magdalene, Marie Howe, poetry
77. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, Rebecca Skloot, nonfiction
78. Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Ocean Vuong, poetry
79. Where the Moon Isn't, Nathan Filer, novel
80. Four Reincarnations: Poems, Max Ritvo, poetry
81. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking, Susan Cain, nonfiction
82. Thirteen Ways of Looking, Colum McCann, novella & short stories
83. The Trip to Echo Spring, Olivia Laing, non-fiction
84. Space, in Chains, Laura Kasischke, poetry (re-read)
85. The Infinitesimals, Laura Kasischke, poetry (re-read)
86. Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, Mary Roach, nonfiction
87. Strange Theater, John Amen, poetry
88. Travels: Within and Without, Ann Tashi Slater, creative nonfiction
89. On Lost Sheep, Shiro Murano, tranlated by Goro Takano, poetry
90. Float, Anne Carson, poetry
91. My Brilliant Friend, Elena Ferrante, novel (book club)
92. Archeology of the Circle: New and Selected Poems, Bruce Weigl, poetry
93. Pachinko, Min Jin Lee, novel (book club)
94. Animae, Sam Hamill, poetry
95. Ka-ching!, Denise Duhamel, poetry
96. Feeling as a Foreign Country: The Good Strangeness of Poetry, Alice Fulton, poetics
97. Americanah Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, novel (book club)
98. The End of the Dream, Floyd Skloot, poems
99. The Empathy Exams, Leslie Jamison, essays
100. Dept. of Speculation, Jenny Offill, novel/experimental
101. Interior with Sudden Joy: Poems, Brenda Shaughnessy, poetry
102. Sharp Objects, Gillian Flynn, mystery
103. The Bird Artist, Howard Norman, novel
104. Ava, Carole Maso, novel





Sunday, December 24, 2017

Anchorage Shout-out to Whiteout

Journalist David James has put Whiteout on his list of best books he read in 2017 for the Anchorage Daily News. Lots of love from David James this year in various Alaska newspapers--thanks so much for the support!

Monday, December 18, 2017

Fairbanks Shout-out to Whiteout

Journalist David James of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner includes Whiteout in his list of books to be read from 2017. Other books on the list include Mary Kudenov's Threadbare: Class and Crime in Urban Alaska and Paul Watson's Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition. Check it out here!

Saturday, December 16, 2017

MER Review Witnesses for #Metoo

Mom Egg Review's December issue contains a folio of #Metoo poems. It's powerful, it's upsetting, it's everything that the #Metoo campaign has made you feel, as expressed by seven poets, including Leslea Newman, Zeina Hashem Beck, Eileen Cleary, Rebecca Hart Olander, me, and more. Thanks to Jennifer Colella Martelli and Cindy Veach Lappetito for curating it.