Day 33 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project.
Lauren, like several other people, was reading more than one book at a time when I first asked this question, and one of them was This Nest, Swift Passerine by Dan Beachy-Quick, which is poetry. I think this is because she is a poet herself, as well as a visual artist.
We poets read lots of poetry, or we should, anyway. How else are we going to know 1) what's been written and 2) how it's done!
But, like the non-poets out there who also love poetry, I also read it for pleasure, comfort, wisdom, and delight. Poetry, which seems to have few readers during a poet's lifetime, can acquire generations of readers, as soon as we die.
But some poets are very popular during their lifetimes. Robert Frost, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Billy Collins.
I am reading Ballistics by Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States, because my dad accidentally bought a second copy of it while buying a book about cars. He needs to replace his Avalon...brake issues...probably with another Avalon...overall customer satisfaction. (It'll all work out.) He loves Billy Collins. He just forgot he already had this book, in hardcover.
So I got the paperback, just out this February!
Now, if poetry is so memorable as to become immortal, you might ask how my dad had forgotten that he already had Ballistics...and I will just say 1) my dad is sometimes an impulse buyer and that this sometimes involves gigantic flat-screen televisions and 2) people do this with mysteries all the time, and 3) my mom bought the earlier hardcover of Ballistics. She loves Billy Collins, too. Both my parents appreciate a poet who is clear, often funny, and has something to say.
So do I. I have all his other books, too, including a first edition, first printing hardcover of The Trouble with Poetry, which I found on the sale table ($4) of Border's still in the first year of its publication, which shows you 1) the fate of poetry during a poet's lifetime, even a popular one, and 2) that not even all poets like him, sometimes dismissing him as glib and lightweight because of his humor, but I always find his humor going deeper than glibness, in a book as a whole, and the humor lightening a heavy truth just long enough to carry it into mind or heart, where it lodges like a bullet the surgeons can't remove.
Not like the bullet that passes through the Queen of Hearts on the cover of both the hardcover and softcover Ballistics.
I am also reading Stepping Through Moons, by Toni L. Wilkes, and Looking for Montrose Street, by Carol Frith, two poetry chapbooks from Finishing Line Press. I will return to these in a future blog, I'm sure, because now I am reading them too quickly in voracious delight, as the poets are people I've met through print or electronic correspondence and now want to meet through their poems.
I can already say that the little boy I've met in Toni's poems "The Birthday Party-1952" and "Coming Down" just breaks my heart.
And what delight to see that Carol Frith is exploring formal poetry in Montrose Street. And I have learned that "viburnum" means "wayfaring tree."
A poetry chapbook is a slim book, often, these days, saddle-stapled, and, in the case of Finishing Line Press, tied along the spine with ribbon. The history of chapbooks links them with peddlers as they were light enough to carry in a pack or on his person with other objects for sale. They might be compared in length to chapters of a longer book, or to pamphlets carrying current news, treatises, or ephemeral information. The form survives for poetry, and, for example, with journal reprints or museum exhibit catalogs, where a single article often appears between card covers or stapled wrappers.
This is the last week to order my new chapbook, Living on the Earth, from Finishing Line Press, in its crucial advance sales period, so here's the link to the New Releases page, where you can find it if you want it. I don't think it will ever appear at Borders on the sale table, due to that saddle stapling, but it will eventually turn up at Amazon, where the link will take you back to Finishing Line. Like a little ribbon looped around the spine.
And now it's time to spring forward into your day.... Did you change your clocks?