Sunday, January 24, 2021

The Ethics Provocateur of Poetry


Carolyn Srygley-Moore's latest poetry book, Ode to Horatio and Other Saviors, which I recently had the honor of publishing through Crisis Chronicles Press, continues to receive rave reviews. The latest is on Amazon from someone who goes by the name Shadow Wing:

"This is the ethics Provocateur of poetry without the dry experience often attributed to glib yet well-intended narratives. The insight is as eloquent as it is relevant to the cause. Images burst with anecdotal testimony and coupled with stunning photography; moments caught in art are often images etched in heart. This is a brilliant and riveting read...worth every cent (or more)."

U.S. or Elsewhere?


Available for $12 from Crisis Chronicles Press, 3431 George Avenue, Parma, Ohio 44134 USA.

And don't forget a percentage of all proceeds from the sale of this book go to support Rescue Dogs Rescue Soldiers, an organization that pairs shelter dogs with veterans and provides pet therapy programs.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Unfinished Novels: Yea or Nay? And Which Do You Recommend?


One of my favorite literary quotations is from the French poet Paul Valéry: "A poem is never finished, only abandoned." And I agree wholeheartedly, though there may be a vast difference between abandoning a poem as an infant and abandoning it as a young adult. (But that's a topic for a future blog post.)

Anyway, the quotation came to mind today after I read Matthew Redmond's new LitHub essay Why Should We Read Unfinished Novels?.

The only unfinished novel I remember reading is The Garden of Eden by Ernest Hemingway, which was actually the first Hemingway book I ever read. I was 19 or 20 at the time and had just finished a marathon of reading nothing but John Steinbeck books. Somehow I'd gotten into my head the notion that Hemingway was the next great American novelist I should binge read. So I went to Bookseller in Elyria, Ohio, and bought The Garden of Eden (which I had no idea was unfinished, though I guess I should have because I knew it was posthumously published) because it was his newest release (this was probably 1986) and because the title made me think it might be a little more fun than, say, For Whom the Bell Tolls. Though I loved a lot of the writing, in the end I found the novel rather unsatisfying (I wonder if I would feel the same today) and, coincidentally, unfinished. Then I kicked myself for picking that one to read first.

Anyway, I don't believe I've read any other "unfinished" novel. But now I'm thinking it's strange that I can easily consider every poem to some degree "unfinished" but not most novels. Why is that?  (Saving this to the future blog post file too).

Also, it's interesting that Matthew Redmond's article focuses predominantly on the 19th Century and does not mention The Garden of Eden or Hemingway's other posthumously published unfinished novels (Islands in the Stream, True at First Light) - or, for that matter, F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Last Tycoon (one of two Fitzgerald novels I've not yet read).

After my Garden experience, I've spent decades avoiding reading unfinished novels. But now I'm thinking maybe I should reconsider.

Which unfinished novels have you read? Are they any you'd recommend?

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Other New Books I've Picked Up in Early January 2021 (and a review)

Memorabilia by A.S. Coomer [2019, 11:11 Press]

Orange Alert: essays on poetry, art, and the architecture of silence by Kazim Ali [2010, University of Michigan Press]

The Invisible Waterhole by Joe Kidd [2020, JKSB Media]

The Prettiest Girl at the Dance by John Dorsey [2020, Blue Horse Press]

The Far Mosque by Kazim Ali [2005, Alice James Books]

Wooroloo by Frieda Hughes [1998, Harper Flamingo]
 

The first of these I've finished reading is John Dorsey's. I left this brief review of it on Goodreads:

Victor Clevenger, in his introduction to this wonderful new collection of poetic vignettes, calls it "quite possibly [John Dorsey's] greatest work to date." I have to agree. That's saying a lot when you consider we've read a stack of Dorsey books and loved his work for years. Boy or girl, I'm pretty sure you're gonna love taking a spin or two (or more) around the ballroom floor with The Prettiest Girl at the Dance.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A James Baldwin Yearning

Last summer I decided to read more books by Black authors. One who I admire (mostly based on a biography, YouTube videos of him, and the 2016 film I Am Not Your Negro) is James Baldwin. But I have never read any of his books. I want to rectify that.

Then earlier this month I saw that poet Michelle R. Smith is leading a year-long class on Baldwin's work for Literary Cleveland. I wanted to sign up. But looking at my calendar I realized I already have commitments on several of the Saturday afternoons when it happens.

However, I still want to participate in my own way. So though I won't be part of the class I did recently procure three volumes of Baldwin's work (pictured) and, beginning today, will be reading along with their schedule. First up: Go Tell It on the Mountain.

Saturday, January 9, 2021

Pamela Anderson's "Favorite Poetry Books of 2020" Includes My Rattle and Numb

Thank you, Pamela! What an honor for my book to be included in such fine company. Read her post about it here. And check out her book as well.

Pamela R. Anderson-Bartholet is the author of Just the Girls: A Kaleidoscope of Butterflies; A Drift of Honeybees (2020, The Poetry Box Press).


Thursday, January 7, 2021

Lunch Bucket Brigade

After a past twenty-four hours that has been disturbing on multiple levels, at least something good came in the mail: these recent publications from the Lunch Bucket Brigade, a DIY publisher based in Toledo, Ohio.

A Stocking Stuffer for Socialists by Dan Denton

Department Stores by Craig James Ackerman

The Lunch Bucket Brigade #1 (feat. work by Dan Provost, Tom Cline, Victor Clevenger, John Dorsey and Emmanuel Ojeikhodion)

The Lunch Bucket Brigade #2 (feat. work by Ed Werstein, Jason Ryberg, Akinwale Akindayo, Michael Grover, Cindy Bosley and John Dorsey)

Check out the LBB store at https://noduckstudios.com/store.

Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Eric Jerome Dickey, 1961-2021

I am sad to see that Eric Jerome Dickey has passed away. When I was a clerk in the library at Marion Correctional Institution (I'm guessing it was around 2001), we wrote to Mr. Dickey. He responded by sending us a personal letter and a box of free new copies of all of his books. We hardly expected a response, let alone one so kind and generous.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Social Media Hiatus? Book Buying Hiatus?

Many thanks to everyone who has recently subscribed to this blog (as well as to those friends and cetera who've been here off and on for quite a while now).

I never did write my traditional year-end summary blog post for 2020. Maybe I'll end up sharing it piecemeal. One thing I did share was my list of 47 books that I finished reading last year. That sounded like a lot until I tried to count the number of new (or new-to-me) books I acquired in 2020. For years I have posted pictures on Facebook whenever I've procured printed books. Based on these pictures, I acquired 102 in 2020. But there are likely some books I missed photographing. And that doesn't count the number of e-books I downloaded during the course of the year, which I would estimate exceeds another 100. (For example, I know I downloaded 75 chapbooks just from Ghost City Press' 2020 Summer Series alone.)

I'm going on a temporary book buying hiatus in 2021, though I just received the four pictured here in the past few days and I know there are a handful more still on their way to me. I'm sharing the photo here now instead of on Facebook because, like the headline suggests, I'm also going on a social media hiatus this month. I meant for it to begin on January 1st, but so far I have had to check into my social accounts a handful of times since then just to tie up loose ends (like gathering January event information for my role as moderator of the online NE Ohio Literary Calendar). I plan to reach the point where I can avoid social media completely (at least for a while) in the next twenty-four hours or so. I'm not sure how long the hiatus will last (the rest of January? the rest of winter? the rest of 2021?). But I think that the longer I stay off, the easier it will be to continue to stay off. Maybe I will get back on regularly after the pandemic is under control and I can begin doing live events again. But mainly I want to break the cycle of being available (and feeling I need to check in) on social media all the time no matter what else I'm doing. I've been stretched too thin for a while now and I want and need to focus more on other things.

One of those things is reading more books than I acquire. Another is spending more time on my own writing. Then there are myriad household chores that need tackled. And I could go on and on. But I'll save some of that for a future post.

* * * * *

Books pictured:

Stonepicker and The Book of Mirrors by Frieda Hughes
Forty-five: Poems by Frieda Hughes
Woman's Work by Marie Chewe-Elliott
What Kittens Like by Marie Chewe-Elliott (illustrated by Jennifer Stolzer)

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Free new e-chapbook by Sandra Feen

 

voice lux press has just published a new e-chapbook by Columbus poet Sandra Feen. It features some quite moving work. And it's available for free! (But there's a link to help support the artist if you feel so moved).


Download and read her Evidence of Starving at https://thepoetsmagazine.com/e-chapbook-series.