How Big Is Your Personal Library?

Apple Vendor (La Marchande de pommes)

  • Are you guilty of tsundoku?

“We collect, covet, and guard books the way a dragon does jewels. There’s even a word for having too many books: tsundoku.”

Do you buy more books than you can afford and/or more books than your house can accommodate? Do you have more books than you can ever read? Do you like the feel of a real tangible book?..

Read this article on the joy of reading, the love of books, and learning to let go.

  • So, have you bought any new books lately?

Are your bookshelves overstuffed? Can you barely see your house behind the dusty stacks of books you might read one day?

Maybe it’s time for a purge. Alternatively,

“…stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes.”

Read this article on why having way too many books is a very good thing.

What say you?

Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Apple Vendor (La Marchande de pommes), 1890. Oil on canvas, Overall: 25 9/16 x 21 7/16 in. (65 x 54.5 cm). BF8. Public Domain.

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Have You Finished That Book Yet?

Portrait of a Woman (Portrait de femme)

  • Have you heard of the Hawking Index?

It’s an attempt at an estimate of how far into bestsellers people read, and it’s named after A Brief History of Time, apparently one of the least-finished books ever written.

I’ve recently read suffered through a book by an acclaimed contemporary author, whose earlier novel I found very interesting. The experience got me thinking, and I’m not alone.

“…you should stop reading when…you aren’t impressed, lulled, entertained, lightened, depressed, remoulded, whatever you go to books for.”

— Tom Lamont, Observer writer

When I started the book I’m referring to I felt it was not my kind of read pretty much from the very beginning: it was doing nothing for me. I didn’t want to quit, though, and kept thinking, what if the next page, chapter…brings some kind of revelation?

“…if you give up on a book the minute you don’t like a character, twig a plot development, see quite where the author’s going with it all, have a sudden yen for a game of Candy Crush – then you’re going to miss out.”

— Alex Clark, writer and literary critic

The revelation never happened. I finished the book, and I felt two things: relief, because I was finally done with it, and regret, because I could have spent my time differently. Not once since I closed the book have I thought about the story, the characters…

Should all books be read from cover to cover? What say you?

Image: Paul Cézanne. Portrait of a Woman (Portrait de femme), c. 1898. Oil on canvas, Overall: 36 3/4 x 28 7/8 in. (93.3 x 73.3 cm). BF164. Public Domain.

Why Read, Write & Teach Poetry?

Promenade (La Promenade)

“A good poem is a delight to read because it sparks the imagination and elicits a response from the reader–a chuckle, a groan, a sigh, an epiphany. The conciseness of poetry, especially when combined with an engaging rhyme and meter, can make just about any topic memorable.”

Listen to Heidi Roemer–author of many poetry picture books and more than 400 poems published in various children’s magazines–talk about poetry, the importance of reading it, writing it, and teaching it to young children.

Get inspired, and start creating your own “Child’s Garden of Verses.” 

And don’t forget to mix a bit of mystery in. Steer clear of the–often encouraged–“quantifiable process of demystification.”  It’s okay to leave poems unsolved.

Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Promenade (La Promenade), c. 1906. Oil on canvas, Overall: 64 3/4 x 50 15/16 in. (164.5 x 129.4 cm). BF571. Public Domain.

Poetry: Write It & Get Paid, Read It & Get Enchanted, Analyze It (Or Not)

"A Montrouge"–Rosa La Rouge

  • You cannot make money writing poetry, can you?

Erica Verrillo has compiled a list of “twenty noteworthy publications that pay in the professional range for poetry. Most of these also accept fiction and creative nonfiction, and many are more than happy to nominate accepted poems for prizes.”

  • What’s the point of reading a poem?

The point of reading a poem is not to try to “solve” it. Still, that quantifiable process of demystification is precisely what teachers are encouraged to teach students, often in lieu of curating a powerful experience through literature.’ (Andrew Simmons, The Atlantic, 2014)

Here’s more on how to read poetry: “curious wonder” vs. “critical judgement.”

Image: Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. “A Montrouge”–Rosa La Rouge, 1886–1887. Oil on canvas, Overall: 28 3/8 x 19 1/8 in. (72.1 x 48.6 cm). BF263. Public Domain.

On Narrative-Fitting Summer Reading Lists & First Amendment Rights

Leaving the Conservatory (La Sortie du conservatoire)

  • Two books that include police brutality and racism as themes have drawn attention to a suburban Charleston, South Carolina high school.

The Hate U Give (HarperCollins, 2017) by Angie Thomas and All American Boys (Simon & Schuster, 2015) by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely are two out of four books that comprise a summer reading list for Wando High School students.

The Fraternal Order of Police has a problem with the list, and the police organization president, John Blackmon has called for The Hate U Give and All American Boys to be dropped.

In the guild’s open letter to the police group, executive director Mary Rasenberger writes, “This interference–which is clearly based on the content of the books in question–must stop.

It is a blatant violation of students’ first amendment rights and an improper attempt at censorship by law-enforcement officials.”

Find out why The Fraternal Order of Police is in fact free “to support or oppose just about anything they desire.”

Or why a “First Amendment infringement argument could be made by or on behalf of the students” in this case.

“Just one more thing” (© Columbo):

Why aren’t there any classics on the reading list?

Enjoyed the post? Share it, like it — thank you.

Image: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Leaving the Conservatory (La Sortie du conservatoire), 1876–1877. Oil on canvas, Overall: 73 13/16 x 46 1/4 in. (187.5 x 117.5 cm). BF862. Public Domain.

 

 

 

“Just listen, let it wash over you…”: Jeremy Irons on Narrating the Poems of T.S. Eliot

On hearing Jeremy Irons recite her late husband’s poetry, Valerie Eliot called the actor “today’s voice of Eliot.”

Jeremy Irons who recently narrated an audio book  “The Poems of T.S Eliot” talks to Stephanie Bastek of The American Scholar about the project.

  • How is driving a Lamborghini similar to understanding poetry?
  • What’s the reason Jeremy Irons listened to T.S. Eliot reading his own poetry?
  • How do you achieve a recording that’s got tremendous energy to it?

Find out. Don’t miss, it’s a delight. 

And if you are into reading poetry, rather than listening to it, here’s a different perspective on reading poetry out loud.

Finally, do you want to win a $25,800 fellowship?

  • Are you between 21 and 31 years of age?
  • Are you a US citizen, or do you reside in the US?
  • Do you write poetry?

Try your luck at Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships. Submissions are accepted until April 30, 2018. Hurry.

Enjoyed the post? Share it, like it. Thank you.

image credit: T. S. Eliot in 1923, by Lady Ottoline Morrell, public domain

 

The Voice of Silence vs. Performance Art, or Is Poetry Meant to Be Read Out Loud?

In Vaudeville: Acrobatic Male Dancer with Top Hat

Here’s what Philip Larkin said in his 1982 interview with The Paris Review (“Art of Poetry” series):

  • “Hearing a poem, as opposed to reading it on the page, means you miss so much—the shape, the punctuation, the italics, even knowing how far you are from the end. Reading it on the page means you can go your own pace, taking it in properly; hearing it means you’re dragged along at the speaker’s own rate, missing things, not taking it in, confusing “there” and “their” and things like that. And the speaker may interpose his own personality between you and the poem, for better or worse. For that matter, so may the audience. I don’t like hearing things in public, even music. In fact, I think poetry readings grew up on a false analogy with music: the text is the “score” that doesn’t “come to life” until it’s “performed.” It’s false because people can read words, whereas they can’t read music. When you write a poem, you put everything into it that’s needed: the reader should “hear” it just as clearly as if you were in the room saying it to him. And of course this fashion for poetry readings has led to a kind of poetry that you can understand first go: easy rhythms, easy emotions, easy syntax. I don’t think it stands up on the page.” 

Earlier this month Jim Moonan echoed Larkin on Eratosphere:

  • “…to my ears, poetry is the voice of silence speaking to me. To break the silence by hearing a poem recited out loud – especially if I’m not familiar with it beforehand – is inevitably underwhelming to my senses. At worst, it drowns out my own interior voice. It’s a fine line. On the one hand, the assonance and rhythms and rhymes of a piece of poetry are supremely important. And all auditory. On the other hand, the catch for me is that I have to discover those sounds inside my own head by reading it, sometimes out loud, most times silently, always repeatedly, sometimes stopping to dwell, then starting over… A sonnet can take me an hour to read from beginning to end.”

He drew the samealbeit not harsh analogy between performing music and reading poetry out loud, prompted by a poem that was written to reflect the characteristic style of Morton Feldman, composer:

  • “It is a poem I would love to hear read aloud in a way that echoes the music. Performance art. Is it fair to compare a poetry reading to a live performance of music?”

Here’s more on Poets as Performers and the art of performing a poem.

What say you? Do you enjoy hearing poetry read out loud, or do you prefer hearing it in your own head? Do you think SLAM poetry “stands up on the page”? Do you attend poetry readings?

Share in the comments.

If you’ve enjoyed the post, press the “like” and “share” buttons thank you.

Image: Charles Demuth. In Vaudeville: Acrobatic Male Dancer with Top Hat, 1920. Watercolor, graphite, and charcoal on wove paper, Overall: 13 x 8 in. (33 x 20.3 cm). BF1199. Public Domain.

 

“Curious Wonder” vs. “Critical Judgement”, or Ways to Read Poetry

Reading (La Lecture)

  • Emily Dickinson is nobody’s business but my own. I will not share her with anyone. I would no more tell you about my relationship with her poems than I would tell you about a love affair. If she is yours, I hope you feel the same way.” —  from Mary Ruefle’s essay “My Emily Dickinson” quoted in The Paris Review
  • “Some are surprised that the rigorous analytical approach PG learned to apply to poetry has served him quite well in analyzing contracts and other legal documents.” — from the Passive Guy’s post on The Passive Voice blog

How do you read poetry? Do you as a reader note, for instance, prosody — the patterns of rhythm and sound? In your opinion, should poetry be analyzed? Simply enjoyed? Both? Do share in the comments.

  • Just one more thing (as Columbo would say): head over to Indies Unlimited to vote for your favorite flash fiction entry (will it be mine?). Hurry: the voting closes at 5 pm Pacific time today. Thank you.
  • For some strange technical reason when I post the link to the voting page, it doesn’t open properly: it shows the results, and doesn’t give you an option to vote. So, if you really really want to vote for your favorite entry, please go to Indies Unlimited, open the post ‘Which “Ocean of Sand” Flash Fiction Story Gets Your Vote?’, and vote from there. This should work. Thank you.

And if you enjoyed this post, press those “like” and “share” buttons. Thank you again.

Image credit: Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Reading (La Lecture), c. 1891. Oil on canvas, Overall: 18 1/8 x 22 1/16 in. (46 x 56 cm). BF107. Public Domain.