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A few things of minor interest today:

I finished Ted Kooser's The Poetry Home Repair Manual last night (started it way back in March for a class I was teaching); paired with David Orr's Beautiful and Pointless: Modern Poetry, I've been getting outside my own poetic mind a bit more of late.  Last night, we had our second meeting of a new Writers' Group I'm a part of (my first ever!), and my mind's been shuffling around in bedroom slippers all morning trying to figure out where to begin in the revision process, trying to decide who and what I want my poems to be.  It has been quite an interesting exercise, and I'm thankful for this final day of emptyhouse to allow my thoughts to jangle on unimpeded.

Like Kooser, I believe theoretically a poem should be accessible, should allow entry to many readers, so as to invite discussion, interpretation, engagement, and response.  The problem is that some of the poems I write are born of things that interested me enough to learn more about them, and they are not often things in which the collective readership would already be well-versed.  I also love literary allusion, mostly because my reading colors so much of my world that it would be false to not include those shades.  But again, for many readers, those references can be confusing, and I come off sounding like a pretentious jerk.  Where do you draw the line, reader?  How much are you willing to work?  Or perhaps the better question is: what is required of a piece to make you want to know more?

On a completely different note, I saw a little blurb on something called ebookfling, and even though I don't have an e-reader, the idea interested me, so I checked it out.  One of my friends who does have a kindle, recently said she wished she had the nook because of its ability to "borrow" and "lend" books with friends.  To my knowledge, the kindle now has this option as well, so I'm not sure how necessary this site is, but it is a great idea.  Like paperbackswap and its ilk, ebookfling allows you to "fling" your ebooks at other site users, and in return, you can have books "flinged" at you.  I don't like the connotations of fling as it feels somehow violent to me, but it might be worth a look for you ereaders out there.

Finally, my lonely days at home have been mostly submerged in things related to the house renovation, but I did get a chance today to look through some new (used) acquisitions for my children's book collection, including my first score of a Medal winner sans medal: The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick.

Despite its maturity, this graphic novel won the Caldecott Medal in 2008, and I found this true first edition at McKay for $11!  I was beside myself.  It seems like a silly thing to want, but the idea of owning a book before it "arrives" intrigues me.  This purchase does not fully qualify as I definitely bought it after the accolades, but it is a partial win because it was published before the award.  (Look for a full review in July as part of Paris in July!)

During that same great trip to McKay Used Books, (a place Brenna from Literary Musings recently called a bookworm mecca after seeing a photo on Beth's Bookworm Meets Bookworm site), I got two copies (one for my kids' school library) of Caroline Kennedy's A Family of Poems, which features paintings from my favorite illustrator, Jon J. Muth.



  1. Wow, that's a great eclectic post. First, in terms of literary allusions in poems, you must first engage the reader in the topic at hand, either through a play on words or a striking image or statement. By the time they get to the allusion, they will be so interested they will have no choice but to look it up and do some research. You could preface a poem with a quote or statement from the piece or writer alluded to. Finally, have you tried starting with the allusion and then "explaining" it throughout the rest of the poem through images and examples, etc.?

    BTW, I really love Kooser and I think he does accessible poems really well.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Serena. I'll probably grapple with this concept for some time.

  3. I've been thinking about this, and decided to add that I sometimes like less accessible poems because they give me more to mull over between readings. But, of course, I'm not a terribly typical reader.