Saturday, March 22, 2008

Bookmarks for January/February 2008

Below are not really reviews, but some of the notes I took reading a couple books earlier this year. With eight classes of papers to grade, I haven't have much time for other writing, but I got tired of waiting to do it and also of having nothing posted here for sometime.

Ever the Fallen by David J. Thompson --winner of Nerve Cowboy chapbook contest.
--lots of poems that seem to come from daydreams about literary figures.
--humor that is dry, almost angry.
--lots of hope for "getting laid."
--no pretension; why poetry like this isn't provided and presented more often surprises me.
Some of this is not great art, but it isn't because of language or subject matter, but because they do not seem to say anything beyond the surface. But maybe that isn't fair to say. Of course, I don't expect a "message" or even insight. Maybe these poems, like Seinfeld, leave us with observations that need no comment. Maybe nothing needs to be said, and therein lies the art.
The Branch Will Not Break by James Wright (1963)
--called a
"Groundbreaking Book" on
--mostly Ohio setting
--neither hope nor despair --lots of horses in this book-don't know why, but the horses seem to be content where ever--little joy, little sadness; strong, constant waiting.
Yet he was beautiful, he was the snowfall

Turned to white stallions still

Under dark elm trees

("Two Poems About President Harding")

gallop terribly against each other's bodies

Autumn Begins in Martins Ferry, Ohio")
-- some political poems lose me because I am unfamiliar with the context-the loss is mine, not the poet's.

I also took some time to read one of my favorite books, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I cannot recommend this powerful, funny, and insightful little novel more highly. I would not say it is the most neglected of Lewis' oeuvre, but it is one of the most neglected books of the previous century. The satire is too difficult for some, but the fact that we live in a generation increasing unable to read satire should not dissuade good readers. Lewis' Christianity is apparent, but this is not a book only for believers. Further, it does not preach, but most readers learn something of themselves in experiencing the book. This is why I return to it every few years.

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