Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Day 212 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project, and I continue to find, in a brain-folding origami kind of way, what people are reading in books.

For instance, in Like Happiness, a book of poems by Michael Hettich that I am still reading, he is reading The Winter Sun, by Fanny Howe, in the poem "The Burning Door," which I should have known from the epigraph:

If a bird has a problem with its whistle,
it has to whistle to fix it.

--Fanny Howe

...But which I did not actually realize until section 9 of this long, amazing poem. So now, of course, The Winter Sun, a memoir, subtitled Notes on a Vocation, is on my wishlist.

Pause to digress, and fold brain: I have a poem called "Silver Sun," based on a painting by Arthur Dove, and published in an ekphrastic magazine called Beauty/Truth, which, with its editor, suddenly dropped off the edge of the earth. I worry about that guy.

I have a poem called "Virga," and so does Diane Lockward, in her book, What Feeds Us. They are completely different--hers is about the virga of snow, mine about the virga of rain--and this kind of coincidence, of title and topic in poems, happens frequently, no cause for alarm, only for astonishment, joy, and brain-folding.

I missed church on Sunday, staying home with my family, my son home from college for the Labor Day weekend, then going off to work, seeing the man on the bicycle who wants to read Franzen, etc., but I read the reflection later online, so I know Susan was reading A Life at Work: The Joy of Discovering What You Were Born To Do, by Thomas Moore, a book that has been on my wishlist so long I finally took it off, figuring I'd get it at the library.

Notice how the subtitle folds the brain back to Fanny Howe...

And on the morning drive to the high school (deprived of school bus, thanks to redistricting, though one reason we moved here to central Illinois was safe, free public education and free school transportation with non-drug-using-non-drug-dealer-non-pimp school bus drivers) I pondered, in addition to opium-financed terrorism (NPR story on NATO), the fact that Helen Degen Cohen's chapbook, On a Good Day One Discovers Another Poet, is entirely about what she is reading--poetry, mainly, but also film--an intertextual, brain-folding, saddle-stapled work.

I don't think I ever stopped digressing, so now that I've got my panties brain in a bunch, it's time to return to the ongoing euphoria of blue morning glories in my own backyard.


Anonymous said...

I love the word virga. And I wish I had made up the word Euphorigami. It's Euphoriphabulous!

ron hardy said...

Kathleen, The Winter Sun has been on my wish list too. You reminded me. A long excerpt from the book was in an issue of Poetry last year or in 2008. It put me on the trail of her poetry as well. So I've had a little section of the excerpt on my blog for a while. Here:

"Are we in for a surprise?
The future is like magic. It wears no robes or veils, but arrives naked, tossing its surprises to the right and the left. How does it arrive? It neither comes from ahead nor do we enter it running. This is because it and we can only approach what is always coming toward it and us. There is no possible action or sound that can be made without being received elsewhere, thereby describing and deciding the future which only wears the attributes of something recognized as past.
Is there such a thing as truth objectively speaking? This question curves around and demands that I ask myself why I am asking myself the question in the first place, what good an answer will do for me before I am annihilated. If I am convinced that the story of your life and thought reveals the truth about our condition on this planet, then will I be happier as I proceed? Why else am I asking it?"

-Excerpted from The Winter Sun: Notes on a Vocation, by Fanny Howe