I’m feelin monster tired but with not much to show for it. I say this knowin full well that I have helped out at a number of local literary events with everything from watching the front door, putting chairs away at the end, and just coming through to archive the events in my Flickr and YouTube accounts. Aside from that I am still attending my BCC poetry class and (I think) gettin good grades. My jay-oh-bee continues to get more interesting (read: more work, more hours, more stress, more fulfillment) and I feel like it’s just going to keep gettin more interesting.
On the flip side, I haven’t been getting any writing done and it feels like I’m also reading less. This could be just a regular dip in energy level or it could be just a reaction to a lot of negativity I keep sensing in e-world around poetry. Mind you, I’ve never been one to pay heed to all the calls of “Poetry is Dead” or “Poetry Never Does Anything.” I always view these random editorials much the same way I view a person on the corner yelling out, “The end is near… Repent!” But this joyless tone is draining my desire to read up about anything poetry related on the net. So my reaction has been to fold up a little aluminum hat and ignore all my RSS feeds and that includes my own blog which has had little content in the last six weeks or so.
Now that I’ve typed that out, maybe I can turn it around and get more positive about poetics cuz there sure is still a lot of great work out there to read and enjoy. Emphasis on the joy part.
I only read four books in October but they were all damn good.
Continue reading “October Readin’”
My reading list remains painfully small this month but dem’s the breaks.
Without a doubt my lowlight of the month is Thank You and You’re Welcome. I would say more except for the fact that the book genuinely makes me laugh out loud and I still quote from it vigorously and at the most inappropriate times. It’s reaching the cult status of “Rappin’ Duke,” “Just a Friend,” and “I Wanna Be a Cowboy,” so far into the spectrum of suck that it’s wormholed a way into the dimension of good.
And with that embarrassing mixed bag of hip-hop, 80s and sci-fi geekenss, I’ll make my leave and go over last month’s reading list.
This book just shot to the top of my Must Have list. Probably the best thing I could say about Baca’s work is that Barb and I once traveled an hour-and-a-half to hear him read at Word Temple in Santa Rosa and (due to a family emergency) Jimmy had to cancel his appearance at the last minute. At that point, I had never heard him read live so I was completely bummed out. Luckily, host Katherine Hastings and another Word Temple regular decided they would proxy for Baca and delivered a great reading of his work. A year later, I would finally get to hear Jimmy read in person and it was just as intense, lyrical and moving; a real testament to his ability to convey his presence through his text and his text amplifying his real-life persona. It’s going to be great to have one collection that can sum up a part of that experience.
Champion of the International Poetry Slam, winner of the Before Columbus American Book Award, the International Hispanic Heritage Award, the Pushcart Prize, and the prestigious International Award, Jimmy Santiago Baca has been writing as a mestizo (part Native American, part Mexican) and an outsider ever since he learned to read and write — in English — during a six-year Federal prison sentence when he was in his twenties. Drawing on his rich ethnic heritage and his life growing up in poverty in the Southwestern United States, Baca has a created a body of work which speaks to the disenfranchised by drawing on his experiences as a prisoner, a father, a poet, and by reflecting on the lush, and sometimes stark, landscape of the Rio Grande valley.
In response to increased demand for Latino poetry in Spanish, and to thousands of Baca fans who are bilingual, this unique collection contains Spanish translations of Baca’s poetry selected from the volumes Martín and Mediations on the South Valley (1987), Black Mesa Poems (1989), Immigrants in Our Own Land (1990), Healing Earthquakes (2001), C-Train and Thirteen Mexicans (2002), Winter Poems Along the Rio Grande (2004), and Spring Poems Along the Rio Grande (2007).
Pre-order your copy here.
With all the work I’ve been doing this last month, I’m really surprised I got any reading done at all. And, much to my personal surprise, I got some first drafts done, read twice, attended a good number of readings, wrote an online review, scored more reading material at SPD’s Buck-a-Book sale, and re-enrolled into a new poetry class to continue the path to getting a degree in Creative Writing.
Continue reading “August Readin’”
A terribly unproductive reading month for me as far as attacking my “to read” list but a very productive month in terms of attending literary events, writing new work, and reciting that newness thanks to VONA and my Berkeley City College Summer Writing Intensive.
Speaking of BCC, I’m about to put on my revision glasses and polish off a 12 page manuscript that is my final assignment for my class. I’ve produced about six new poems, a three-page play start and a short story for this class all revolving around Anywhere Ave with a bit more focus on my young speaker and his relationship with his father. It’s all become quasi-autobiographical so you will and will not find a lot about me and the ole man in there. The feedback from my classmates has been productive as some get the specific references and some don’t but they all are getting back some kind of emotional connection to the place and characters.
On the recitation tip, I’ve been able to read my newer work at VONA, Poetry for the People and at a class open mic giving me a chance to get a nice feel for the words I’m typing out. And tonight’s Barbershop Reading with Barb is going to be my best reading yet. Believe dat.
As stated before, not too many new books here but a diverse list with flash reviews via the hyperlinks:
• The Ultimates Vol. 2: Homeland Security by by Mark Millar, Bryan Hitch
• Neighborhood Odes by Gary Soto
• Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin