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Monday, February 13th, 2012
3:39 pm - Transfer Fat by Aase Berg
I had so much fun reading this! Berg's poetry is so delightfully strange. I kept laughing and reading out lines of her poems to my husband.

Transfer Fat was written about pregnancy, and just about everyone poem has something about fat, or whales, milk or hares. I read some of this book in Remainland: Selected Poems, and I didn't realize that it was about pregnancy at first. I thought it was just about being fat. There is a lot about milk in the book, so I think it is more obvious that it is about pregnancy.

The book is translated by Johannes Göransson, who translated Berg's books that are available in English. It has been chosen for the Rumpus's Poetry Book Club this month. (I was a member of this great book club, but I couldn't afford it when my cat got sick. I plan on resubscribing after I get the debt from her treatment paid off.) I am excited to hear the discussion.

It is refreshing for once to read poems about fat that don't talk about being fat as a bad thing.

Right now I am recovering from ovary removal surgery and my stomach is extra large, so I am enjoying all the whale and fat references more than usual. "Whale" in Swedish is "val."

My favorites from the book:
The Hare Infects Dad With Rabies

Whole Whale (This is in my review of Remainland, in the middle of the page)

Blubber Biter

Birth Rubber (At the end of the page).

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Wednesday, January 11th, 2012
2:19 pm - Slow Down!
My reading goal is kind of taking over my life. I set the goal to read 100 books this year and I am obsessed with it. I was waiting around at midnight on January 1 for Goodreads to open the 2012 book reading challenge goal so I could set my goal. The most I read in a year was 71. Poetry books are much shorter than fiction, so I didn't think it would be an issue to finish 100.

I am ahead of schedule, but I am doing nothing else lately, and I always have a feeling that I have to "catch up." Part of the anxiety is I organized the current books I have here at my house and put all the titles on Goodreads. I was shocked at my ratio of read vs. unread books.

So many closing bookstores, and great library book sales made it really easy for me to accumulate a huge amount of unread books. I didn't have a lot of books in the house before I could drive/get my own library card, so every book I had I read over and over, and there weren't enough books go on a shelf. Books are the only extra thing I spend money on, and it going to bookstores is one of my favorite things to do (another is going to libraries). Everyone who sees my house asks if I thought about getting an e-reader.

I haven't finished writing any poems yet this month. I feel like I might need to scale back my reading goals. I bet if I set my goal lower, I would still read the same or almost the same amount of books, but without stressing out about it.

As I was putting my reading list together, my first instinct was to pick the shortest books in my library so I could read more books this year/help out my read vs. unread ratio.

Very often, I will have an obsessive feeling about something and writing about it helps me sort of dissipate the obsessiveness. I am hoping this blogpost helps.

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1:43 pm - Delusions, Etc. by John Berryman
John Berryman is one of my favorite poets. The Dream Songs is one of my favorite books. I didn't like his early work very much, although I think it is technically good, I think it is way too dry.

The Dream Songs, Berryman opens up and the poems are unique, gorgeous, emotional, and very funny.

I was worried about [book:Delusions, Etc.|1402046] because I wasn't sure if it was going to be like the Dream Songs or the older style. Luckily, the poems were like the Dream Songs (mostly). The poems were in 5 sections. I didn't like the first section that much. There was a section of poems to famous people, like Emily Dickinson and George Washington that section was great.

There were even a couple Henry (the main character in the Dream Songs)poems in the book, which I was happy to see, just a few, just enough for a nice visit with Henry.

Berryman, as usual was very structured and I had to read each poem many times before it became clear, but he is worth the time. I wish there were more poems. I think I've read all of his books.

My favorite poems in the book:

Your Birthday in Wisconsin You Are 140 (at the bottom of the page)

Henry by Night

Washington in Love

No

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Saturday, November 26th, 2011
4:17 pm - Catherine Wagner's Miss America
Catherine Wagner's poems are not the most understandable, but I liked them a lot. Her phrases are funny. She mixes types of speech and tones in a pleasing way. I want to find more of her books, and also get my own copy of this one because I borrowed this copy from the library. I also feel like I need to spend more time with these poems to understand them.

The line and stanza breaks were not orderly, which suited the tone and construction of the poems. The titles were often poems in a series (magazine titles, or a title with a number after it).

My favorites in the book (I couldn't find any of these online! I found a lot of her poems, which are worth checking out.):

White Man Poems
A Poem for Sears Roebuck
This Land is Your Land
A Poem for Poets & Writers

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Monday, November 21st, 2011
2:52 pm - I read two books about extinct animals over the weekend
Swift as a Shadow by Rosamond Wolff Purcell

This is a good introduction to extinct animals. I wish there was more information on each animal, but this book is more about the photographs.

Rosamond Purcell photographed stuffed animals, some times in groups or in their storage/specimen boxes. The photos are so sad and beautiful, they are the perfect tone for the subject.

I want to pick up a copy--it is almost a reference book.



A Gap in Nature by Tim Flannery, Peter Schouten

I read this around the same time I read Swift as a Shadow. Both books are about extinct animals including photos or drawings of the animals and short descriptions of the animals and why they went extinct.

The descriptions of the animals were a little more extensive, but I still wanted more information on each animal. I think I am going to have to find an individual book on each animal to be satisfied with the amount of information I want.

I liked the paintings in this book, but I preferred the photographs in Swift as a Shadow because it gave me a better idea of what the animals looked like.

I think both books go together very well.

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Monday, October 24th, 2011
10:51 am - Halflife by Meghan O'Rourke
I've read complaints about how Meghan O'Rourke doesn't deserve all the success she has had in the poetry world, and I don't understand it. After reading [book:Halflife|3419397], I am a fan of her poetry. I think it's great! The book was an enjoyable read.

Her poems are polished and tight, the images were surprising.

I love the tone of the book, it feels menacing and uneasy like a dream before it turns into a nightmare. As I read the poems, I kept thinking that they were all true, even when it would be pretty unlikely. She is a credible narrator and I love when a writer can make me believe something that is not real.

I think her titles could be better. They are all either one word titles ("Spectacular," "Halflife"), or simple phrases ("Lost Sister," "Peep Show"). The line and stanza breaks are mostly not orderly, but some have regular line and stanza breaks.

When it came time to find O'Rourke's poems online, I had no trouble at all, her poems are reposted by fans on their blogs and on tumblr. I feel like her poems are some of the most "available" when I had to search for specific poems online.

My favorites in the book:

Inventing a Horse (Sorry about the ridiculous background on the website)

Sandy Hook

Checklist

Descent

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Monday, September 26th, 2011
11:49 am - Mornings Like This by Annie Dillard
I was excited when I picked up this book a couple years ago, so I posted my purchase to my blog. My friend Rebecca said that she liked the book, but thought it was cheating to take something very poetic (like Van Gogh's letters) and make them into poetry. I didn't really think about that at the time, but after reading this book, I can understand exactly what she is talking about.

I really like the idea of found poetry. I also like when a found poem is an unaltered piece of writing that a poet took from another person and recognized the poetry in it that the original author didn't see.

I have a personal issue with a poet removing certain words from the original author's work because it is very distracting to me while I am reading it. I can't see the poet's hand in this type of poetry, and I spend the entire time I am reading wondering what the poet did and what the original author did. Did the original author write something completely un-poetic and the poet had to do a lot of word-removing, or did they break into lines something that was poetic to begin with? The ones I liked the best were from medical reports or manuals, because I knew those weren't very poetic, and Dillard made them that way. I guess it is just a hang up I have, which is too bad, because these poems were beautiful and I bet a lot of work was put into them. Maybe if I read the poems more times, I can see them as their own poetry.

This type of found poetry is such a vibrant form, I am going to try and train myself to just enjoy it and stop trying to analyze the whole thing.

My favorites in the book:

A Visit to the Mayo Clinic
The Graduate Student: Apects of the Tongue (I could only find the original source which is a medical book from 1828)
Building a Treehouse
Signals at Sea

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Monday, September 12th, 2011
10:36 am - Everything is Every Thing by Cristin O'Keefe Aptowicz
A friend of mine lent me this book. He thought I would enjoy it because the poet and I have common interests: trivia, weird history, presidential history, weird presidential history. I did enjoy the book. She is a slam poet, and is known for her dramatic performances. I do think I am missing something by just reading some of the poems, but overall, the poems stand on their own.

I keep a mental list of poetry books to give a person who is interested in poetry but isn't sure where to start. This is on my list because Aptowicz is not hard to understand, isn't stuffy (don't get me wrong, I also like stuffy poetry), and isn't prose broken into stanzas.

I don't have the book in front of me because I had to return it, so I can't talk about the line and stanza breaks. I do remember her titles were usually very long. Probably too long (something I am guilty of myself).

My favorites in the book:

Every Winter, Everyone Thinks My Boyfriend is Elvis Costello (second to last one on the page)

Insults That Only Work if You Are a Presidential History Buff (Last one on the page)

Choke

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Monday, August 1st, 2011
10:36 am - Cloud of Ink by L.S. Klatt
I enjoyed this book, but I feel like the poems didn't resonate. They were clever and elegant, there was a musicality to the work, but after I read them, I felt like I couldn't remember what the poem was trying to tell me, even after re-reads. It is hard to tell sometimes if this is me or the poet, but I just didn't connect with them, although I did appreciate the crafting. I felt like they were well written, but a bit cold.

About half the poems have one word titles, and the other half have great, complex titles (like "Semiconductors in the Breadbasket"). The poet uses a variety of line and stanza breaks.

This book took way longer than it should have to read because I wasn't that into it.

My favorites in the book:

Ovation
More Splendid
Liquification
Andrew Wyeth, Painter, Dies at 91

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Saturday, July 23rd, 2011
11:16 am - To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
I'm so glad I finally read this. I noticed it was on a lot of lists of "best books" or "books everyone should read." I've been meaning to read it but my copy had a ripped cover, so I'd been putting it off. I didn't have to put up with the ripped cover for long, because the book was a very quick read.

The only good thing about my cat being sick, and me having to give her hour-long tube feedings is I have a lot of time every day where I am just sitting around and can't do much but read. I am trying to take advantage of this and read as much as I can.

The book is great, just like everyone says. I thought the main characters were complete in a way that makes me understand why people say the characters had to be based on people that Lee actually knew. I want to read more about Lee's life, and I was delighted to find out that the character Dill is supposed to be based on Truman Capote. Lee's writing style is friendly and engaging.

I do think this is still an important book to read, and when it came out in 1960 it must have been revolutionary.

The sad part is that Lee only wrote one book. I would love to see how her writing evolved over the years.

I am looking forward to seeing the movie now, which I have heard was really good.

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Sunday, July 17th, 2011
3:56 pm - Abigail Adams: An American Woman by Charles Akers
Before reading this book, I knew almost nothing about Abigail Adams. I bought this at a library book sale because I wanted to learn more about the First Ladies. I was a little worried about my First Ladies project because I didn't know what to expect. I know a lot of first ladies accomplished a lot, but I wasn't sure how many sacrificed too much for their husband's careers, or just served only as support for the president.

I am so glad I started with Adams's biography. She and John Adams were equals in their marriage, and she argued how important it was for girls to be educated. She had her own opinions and was her husband's most important sounding board. I was surprised how much the couple was physically separated during their marriage, but it seemed like they were very happy together, overall. She was an avid reader and letter writer. The book included a lot of quotes from letters by Adams.

I saw one or two episodes of the series John Adams before reading this. I am looking forward to seeing the rest of it. I would also like to find a more extensive biography of Adams, because I feel like there is probably a lot missing from this book.

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Thursday, July 14th, 2011
10:19 am - Some Ether by Nick Flynn
I loved Flynn's poetry book about bees: Blind Huber. It was gorgeous, and didn't exhaust the subject, which often happens with poetry books that have just one topic.

Some Ether is also fantastic. I read some of the poems from this book when it first came out because some of them were on Poetry Daily. I don't think they featured the best poems. I think the best poems in this book are the darker ones.

Most of the poems in this book are about life with his mother, who committed suicide when he was young, and there are also some about his father, who was homeless. None of the poems were about who took care of Flynn and his brother after the suicide, which gives this book even more anxiety. I feel like Flynn brings me, easily, so deep into his feelings. So many people write about losing someone, but he wrote something new--I haven't heard these poems before. I feel so emotionally invested in these poems, I want to do research to make sure the poet is doing okay.

The titles are mostly one word or a short phrase. There are a lot of poems with "fragments" in the title throughout all the sections and subjects. The stanza and line breaks are not regular, which contributes to feeling off balance. There are gorgeous images, and good endings in the poems.

My favorites from the book:

You moved me through each room

Fragment (found inside my mother)

Visible Woman

Twenty-Pound Stone (This poem was posted as the answer when someone asked "What are some good contemporary poets or poems")

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Saturday, July 9th, 2011
9:34 pm - Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
I am very interested in memory. My memory is better than average, and it used to be a lot better than it is now. Ever since I learned there are memory championships, I thought it might be fun to do some memory training, but didn't really know where to start.

This was a great book to read because it gives just enough practical information so I could understand the processes of memorization, but most of the book looked at memory in scientific, historic, and social points of view.

I like hearing about the ins and outs of a group of people who all are interested (or obsessed!) with a certain subject, and this book brought me inside the group.

I also enjoyed Foer's writing style, it was fun and easy to read. He is good at explaining things, and making potentially boring subject matter seem lively.

Because the author did a lot of research on memory to write the book, he mentioned pretty much every book on the subject. Now I have list of more books I can read.

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Wednesday, July 6th, 2011
5:26 pm - Mount Clutter by Sarah Lindsay
I didn't want this book to end! The poems were about some of my favorite subjects: extinct animals, history, explorers the North and South Poles, science. What I liked even more is the whimsy the poet uses to write about the subjects.

Almost all her titles were words or places I didn't know or understand but I could either look in her notes in the back of the book, or the poem taught me what the title means. I feel like the writer is good at explaining new things to the reader without a lot of explanation.

The poems are dense, and I had to read them a few times to fully understand them. They didn't feel hard to read--it was enjoyable to read each one a few times. The poems are full of surprises: striking images, unusual links and conclusions.

Most of the poems have long lines and stanzas. There are many styles of stanza breaks: some even, some not. Most of the lines broke on the half or the end of the sentence.

I like the first two part of the book more than the third, although they were all great. The first part has a historic feel to it, the second involves islands that the poet made up, called the Bufo Islands, and the third seemed like the poems were less linked to each other. I think of the last section as miscellaneous.

My favorite poems in the book:

Hasselblad Meteorite

Mount Clutter

Escape by Garbage, 1903

Mawson's Pie

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Monday, July 4th, 2011
4:57 pm - Aram Saroyan's Complete Minimalist Poems
The only poem of Aram Saroyan I read before this book is his famous poem, eyeye. I think concrete poems are fun, so I was happy to pick up this book at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival this year. Saroyan is kind of the representative for concrete poetry, or at least the most famous. I would like to look into the genre more and see if I can find modern poets doing this.

I zipped through the book quickly since there were just one or two words on most of the pages. I don't think all the poems were even in quality or creativity. The most charming poems really stick with me more than I thought such short poetry would.

My favorite poems in the book: (I am just writing the poems since they are only one or a few words; each poem is on its own line)

Typewriter Kittens

Shakespeare!

eyeye

nnausea

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Wednesday, June 8th, 2011
6:29 pm - My Favorite Yard Sale
There is a woman in her 80's who lives near our house that has a yard sale every weekend all summer.

She had been collecting things for years, and planned to open an antiques/collectibles shop with her husband. He was hit by a car and died while crossing the street 10 years ago, so they never opened the shop.

Every weekend she sells off the stock that was supposed to go into her store. Her stuff is way better than a normal yardsale, and she is fun to talk to and has a cute cat with double wide paws. Last year, we got a bunch of great books, old magazines, and the Eva Gabor Wig.

She opened up last weekend. I'm excited she is doing this again this year!

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Thursday, June 2nd, 2011
10:18 pm - Cherimoya, my delicious new friend
Kris and I have a project: if we see a fruit at the supermarket that we've never tried before, we have to buy it and try it out. As someone who didn't eat a lot of fruit for most of my life, I had a lot of fruit-catching up to do.

My most successful/exciting fruit discovery is the cherimoya. It has a green skin that looks kind of like a weird artichoke, and great big seeds throughout the flesh. The fruit itself tastes kind of like a banana, but better. After thinking about it awhile, I figured out that they kind of taste like banana candy, like banana Runts. However, it doesn't have the artificial candy taste, and is good for you--it's perfect!

I looked the cherimoya up on Wikipedia, just like I do with every new thing I become obsessed with. It says Mark Twain called the cherimoya "the most delicious fruit known to men." I can't disagree!

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Monday, May 9th, 2011
11:36 am - Running Outside
Kris and I ran outside yesterday at the local track. I loved it and wish I could run outside all year!

The last time we ran outdoors was when we visited New Jersey last July and ran the route my friend Ryan usually trains on. He runs outside all year. I used to run on the limestone hills near my apartment in Austin, and I really miss it.

I ran pretty slow, but I didn't stop to walk at all during my two mile run. I think I could have kept going.

I like everything about it except I can't really tell what speed I am running, and the bugs. I didn't notice bugs at all while I was running, but once I started walking for my cooldown lap, they were suddenly everywhere.

Sometimes running is hard on a treadmill because I see the seconds ticking of how long I have left in my workout. I don't think I am ready for outdoor winter running, so I am not a total convert to training outside, but I am going to try to jog outdoors as much as I can this Spring/Summer/Fall.

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Sunday, May 1st, 2011
10:47 pm - Homage to the Lame Wolf by Vasko Popa
I finally finished this book! I read a lot of it right before Poetry Month, and then I was so busy I didn't get to read anything in April. I finished reading it right away after I was done writing my last poem of the month.

Everyone from bloggers, to the person who works at the bookstore seems to love Vasko Popa. I can understand why--now I love him too! At first, when I started reading Homage to the Lame Wolf, I thought everyone was wrong, and Popa was getting too much credit. The first few poems weren't that great, but the weird thing about Popa is the poems seem to be great as a whole, the more poems you read, the more they build on each other. Popa writes all his poems in a series. There are usually around 7 poems in each series, and they are all very closely linked. Sometimes they are parts to a poem, sometimes they are individual poems.

Some of the series I like better than others, but I thought the book was very enjoyable, and even though this book was twice as long as an average poetry book, I wished there was more to read at the end.

I can't think of anyone who writes like Popa. Between the strange subjects, his style of writing, and his habit of writing in a series, Popa is unique.

The titles aren't great, but I overlook that because I like it so much.

My favorites in the book: (I am thrilled that when the poems are published online, the whole series is included. I think that is the only way these poems should be read.)

The Little Box series

Give Me Back My Rags

St. Sava's Spring

Raw Flesh

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Monday, February 14th, 2011
11:25 am - The DiMartino Method
For years, I've admired my friend Joanie's systems for keeping track of which books she's read on her bookshelf. She takes gold foil star stickers (the types teachers use) and sticks them on the spines of the books that she read.

I decided to finally do it. I bought the stickers and put them on all the books I read. I was expecting lots of gold on my bookshelves, but once I put stickers on the books, I realized I've hardly read anything on my shelves! I have to get to work!

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