Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Lit Readings and Candy

I feel like I have so much news to report!! As the first order of business, I have definitely used up my quota of exclamation points for the year, and it's only February. That means it's gonna be a good year.

Aside from the fact that I just scarfed down four "fun sized" candy bars (they are so scarfable), I have been a busy little beaver (are there busy big beavers?). It seems that the more I read and write, the more interested I am in participating in the wider community of literature. One of my goals at the current moment is to continue to actively use my planner, which is great, because I enjoy writing things down (and crossing things off!), and because I'm less likely to forget about appointments or events I'd like to attend if I have written them down. While I sometimes use the calendar feature on my phone, I prefer writing my life down. It feels more satisfying to me that way. All this to say, I checked back on the past few weeks of my life and saw that I attended three poetry readings.

Will and I went to a reading at the Triple Rock Social Club called Irregular Readings, and got to see John Jodzio and Matt Rasmussen read. It was a relatively small gathering. John read a hilarious story about a kid with a job at a drug testing facility (there were lots of stories and poems about drugs).

I just ate three more candy bars.

Here is Mark being a badass poet guy.
The second reading was Mark Wunderlich's book launch at The Loft with Graywolf Press. His new book, The Earth Avails, is gorgeous and haunting. My favorite poem he read was a long, dreamy elegy for a home that no longer exists, and which is aptly titled "Driftless Elegy." I had Mark sign a copy of the book, and the rumors are true: his penmanship is almost literally to die for.

The last reading I went to was at a little place called Maeve's Cafe. I guess there are readings there every other month or so. From what I can gather, they seem to showcase a wide variety of local talents. It was so wonderful to see Kristin Fitzsimmons of Our Flow Is Hard read her poems.

Oops I just spent 45 minutes watching videos on What Did You Look Up On Wikipedia?, the website that Kristin co-owns with somebody else named Sally.

I have other things to report, but I will save said other things for another time. Right now I have some more candy/videos to attend to. And I should probably do some actual work, too, but we'll see how much of this candy work I get accomplished first.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

January Wrap-Up

January's gone, so I thought I might do a January wrap-up post where I talk about some of the books/movies I've consumed this month. I read 18 books:

Jack Gilbert Collected (technically one book, technically six books)
- Views of Jeopardy
- Monolithos
- The Great Fires
- Refusing Heaven
- The Dance Most of All
- Uncollected

If you haven't read Jack Gilbert, you're seriously missing out. There's this way he has, of making small observations about humans, and making them really count. Or he will paint a small scene and put you in it. He can write a poem about cooking fish with lemons and it's perfect. It also makes me want to eat fish with lemons.

I traveled throughout the first week or so of January, and I got to see Russ Woods and Jeannette Gomes. We played a lot of Mad Libs and drank a lot of tea, and Russ gave me a few books to read:

NODS - Carrie Lorig
Root Poems - Carrie Lorig & Russ Woods

These are worth reading. In Russ's words, he said, "I feel like we're almost daring editors to like us."

You can probably tell that I read a lot of poetry.

More Books I Read in January

Among Women - Jason Shinder
Rare Earth - Bradford Tice
Sleeping With the Dictionary - Harryette Mullen
Ghost Fargo - Paula Cisewski
The Pajamaist - Matthew Zapruder
Last Night Was Worth Talking About - Gregory Sherl
Chapbook - Zach Haber
Thin Kimono - Michael Earl Craig
Bird Eating Bird - Kristen Naca
The Vital System - CM Burroughs

Of these books, the ones I loved most intensely were Among Women, Sleeping With the Dictionary, Ghost Fargo, and The Vital System. I wrote a whole post about Sleeping With the Dictionary a week or two ago, so I won't say any more about that aside from READ IT. I will say about the Shinder book that it broke my heart, and I just finished The Vital System a few days ago and I'm still thinking about it. Ghost Fargo is exactly the kind of book I needed to read this month--it's about love and loss of a physical place as home, as a place for memories. It made me so sad, wistful, made me ache for the place where I grew up, which is great because I'm trying to write about that now anyway.

I saw Bradford Tice read from his book in November at the New Rivers Press event where my friend Joe Stracci's book, Whitney, was also released, and I had to buy Rare Earth. He uses such a rich vocabulary, which can sometimes be distracting for me in poetry, especially if I don't know what certain words mean (I have to look up a lot of things all the time), but the richness of Tice's vocabulary isn't at all distracting. It beefs up the flavor of the poems, to use a phrase I hate ("beef up").

In addition to noting the books I read this month, I also wrote down all the ways I wasted my time watching a screen. Here are the movies/TV shows I watched in January:

Inside Llewyn Davis
Fargo (rewatch)
The Story of Film (we're ten episodes in, five to go)
Veronica Mars (Season 1)
Return of the Jedi
But I'm a Cheerleader
The Graduate
Kissing Jessica Stein
High Fidelity (rewatch)
I also watched a few stray episodes of X-files, Supernatural, and Undeclared.

I could rewatch High Fidelity a million times. It's definitely on my top five desert island list of movies. Fargo is pretty good, too, but not on my top five. Maybe top twenty.

Watching The Story of Film is very interesting. At first, we turned it off because the narrator's voice is so grating. Everything he says sounds like a question, and sometimes he'll go into bouts of metaphor spewing (he really likes calling Hollywood a "bauble") that are somewhat obnoxious. But his critique of films is spot on, and he knows his stuff. I've put a number of movies on my list to watch based on his analysis of the films and why they're important. This is a big reason we watched Pickpocket, which Will described as a cross between The Stranger and Crime and Punishment. Very good.