I Wanted to Write a Poem: The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet

I Wanted to Write a Poem: The Autobiography of the Works of a PoetI Wanted to Write a Poem: The Autobiography of the Works of a Poet
by William Carlos Williams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Editor Edith Heal does a great job of capturing Williams’ honest reflections of his entire body of work from the beginning of his career up to the time of the interviews. Williams is open and honest and consistent on his desire to capture the American Idiom in both prose and verse.

Even more insightful are the commentaries from Florence Herman Williams, aka Flossie, the poet’s wife. An astute reader and honest voice, these interviews cement her role as the key collaborator behind all of Williams’ work.

A must read for any poet who is struggling to find the balance between working full time, fulfilling family obligations, and crafting a body of enduring work.

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Viewing: Inception (Christopher Nolan, 2010)

Inception is definitely the cure for the Hollywood summer movie blues of remakes, sequels, reboots, and remakes of reboot sequels. Bucking against the studio exec’s idea of a movie goer with a limited IQ, Christopher Nolan crafts a film that satisfies all the rubrics of an action blockbuster (beautiful stars, exotic locales, chase scenes, explosions, guns and bigger guns!) while daring to push the audience to think its way around the multi-layered labyrinth created by the characters and filmmaker.

Some immediate comparisons come to my mind while I was watching Inception and the most immediate one was that this is the true sequel to the Wachowski Brothers groundbreaking The Matrix, a movie so right on the cusp of the social networking age that it became prophetic and obsolete in almost the same breath in its commentary on how our interactions between the actual and virtual world can become so blurred that the definition of “the real world” has become a continuously complicated point of debate. Unfortunately, the Wachowski Brothers couldn’t push the envelope any further and instead of adding to their initial mythos, they fell back and let The Martix become allegory for older philosophies.

With Inception, Nolan grabs the baton and doesn’t stop at creating a dual version of reality but blazes forward and forges layers and layers of reality that fold into themselves. Staying true to the title, Inception is the creative process brought to cinematic life where the primary actors create subworlds with characters crafted with such vivid details that the subcharacters create their own agency and write themselves into the story that is both limited and freed by the vision of the original creator. Trippy, yes. Mystic, sort of. Fodder for adventurous storytelling, definitely.
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Kanye West’s Thank You and You’re Welcome

Thank You And You're WelcomeThank You and You’re Welcome by Kanye West
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Just the kind of book you’d expect from an author who “doesn’t read.” On the plus side, it is brief and direct especially the sections where Kanye speaks on his own arrogance and how he never censors himself. (Prophet!) On the down side, his mantras can be contradictory, one paging refuting the other but that’s Kanye for ya.

Gotta say, I am having way too much fun pulling this book out at parties and having people pick a random Kanyeism and see how they can apply it to their lives. Hence, the one star.

(Props, kudos and shoutouts to Sunny Vergara who lent me his signed copy of Kanye’s book so I could finally read this seminal text. You didn’t think I paid money for this, didja?)

I’ll leave the final word to a friend who I showed the book: “Is this a joke? C’mon, dude wears $2000 polo shirts with a platinum watch and that ridiculous fade while sayin’ ‘I’m real. I’m real!’ Please.”

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Review: Luis H. Valadez, what i’m on (University of Arizona Press, 2009)

My review of Luis H. Valadez’s what i’m on is live at the Latin American Review of Books.

Valadez’s speaker continues to wrestle between the details of his life against the decisions forced upon him. The modern urban environment is filled with similar stories but Valadez’s poems rise above these common tropes with bold leaps into experimental and fractured narratives that look to bring together the disparate pieces of the speaker to help him reach a new path.

Complete review is here.

Many thanks to Latin America Review of Books editor Gavin O’Toole (who also has a review of Juan Felipe Herrera’s Half the World in Light in this issue) and Francisco Aragón (who reviews Poema by Maurice Kilwein Guevara) for the opportunity to share my thoughts on a book of poetry folks should be reading.

Acknowledgement: Poets and Artists (O&S 2.5)

Many thanks to publisher Didi Menendez, reviewer Melissa McEwen and everyone at Poets and Artists for the review of Heaven Below. Here’s some of it:

“In Heaven Below, Heaven is a night swim at Orchard Beach. Heaven is the train coming on time. Heaven is playing skelsies. Heaven is what you make it and in his new chapbook, Oscar Bermeo shares with us a slice of paradise he has found right here on earth.”
– Poets and Artists, O&S: Volume 2, Issue 5, 2009

The whole review will be available in print very soon via Amazon.com but O&S publisher GOSS183 offers some free web friendly option. Print out the PDF via this link, view on issuu.com here, or browse it in the embedded image below.