I didn’t read many books in 2019. I started a few novels that I didn’t finish because of other things commandeering my time. This year I set my Goodreads goal to twelve books. I can manage one book per month, right?
I’m terrible at book reviews but here are my takeaways from January’s reads.
I read two poetry collections — The Darkening Trapeze (Last Poems) by Larry Levis and Going Out with Peacocks and Other Poems by Ursula K. Le Guin.
The Darkening Trapeze is a collection of long form poems arranged by David St. John with the help of Levis’s sister and peers. The afterward is as interesting as the poems, so if you have a tendency to skip afterwards, don’t skip this one. David describes how he and others explored Levis’s poetry drafts after his death, determining which were the most recent drafts of each poem and how to edit and arrange them with respect to Levis’s creative process.
It will make you think about how you’d want your loved ones to handle your work when you’re gone. Do them a favor — make your wishes clear and keep things organized.
Two pieces that stuck out to me — the poem “Make a Law so that the Spine Remembers Wings”, which is still relevant today in how the justice system doles out stricter punishments to black people and other people of color versus their white peers, and the sole short essay “The Worm in the Ear” about Van Gogh and his ear.
Le Guin’s poetry style is vastly different from Levis. Her poems are shorter but just as hard hitting like in “Her Silent Daughter”. There’s more variety in poem lengths and makes for a quicker read than Levis’s longer poems. I adored her poems “The Woman and the Soul” and “Fragments from the Women’s Writing.” Le Guin writes an introduction to “Fragments…” explaining how she read about a discovered secret language only women in Hunan, China knew. The language was passed from mothers to daughters to correspond with other women — their sworn sisters. The poem is Le Guin’s imaginary translation of those correspondences.
For February, I have started reading A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle.
Read any good books lately? Let me know in the comments below.