Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Back in love...

...with books. It happened so quickly, a coup de foudre for me, as it always has been. I bought a batch of decent poetry books today from an old friend who is downsizing - one of the books is Charles Simic's My Noiseless Entourage (Harcourt 2005, and what a great title for a book is that), and when I opened it up at random while pricing it, I saw his poem "Used Book Store" (of course). The first stanza reads (p.21):

"Lovers hold hands in never-opened novels.
The page with a recipe for cucumber soup is missing.
A dead man writes of his happy childhood on a farm,
Of riding in a balloon over Lake Erie."

The rest of the poem doesn't disappoint - though I wished it were much longer. MUCH longer. This book has now migrated into the possibly-keep stack, where I will let it mellow for a few weeks before I decide one way or the other. Meanwhile, I've got the rest of this big pile of poetry books to get through. This job is fraught, fraught I tell you! It's a minefield - literature, the land of books.

Poetry books! How glorious! By any chance, is there a Laurie Lee in the pile?

Summer to me means a big fat Trollpe on the porch( hmmmm...that doesn't sound quite the thing!) I just finished The Way we Live Now. Dark and brilliant!
Kind of semi-related comment, but why does modern English poetry does not rhyme? Is there something that makes rhyming beneath poets anymore?
I grew up in Russia, where every great poet that I know of (and read a lot) from genius Pushkin to Lermontov, to Nekrasov, and early 20 century greats Akhmatova, Pasternak, Blok, Yesenin, even Mayakovsky (who was pretty innovative) to modern Yevtushenko - they all rhyme!
Am I missing something?
No Laurie Lee poetry, Vicky - though I did just get an illustrated copy of "As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning" (autobiographical prose - a wonderful book).

I have yet to crack a book by Trollope. I think I'm afraid I'll be swept up and will lose months and months to the series-void.

Hi anon - I don't know why, but I suspect that freedom is involved, in a general sense (the same sense in which artists stopped - for the most part - painting in an academic manner, and began painting more freely). I enjoy reading both rhyming and metered poetry and so-called free verse. Most of what I write is non-rhyming, but I have written some rhymed poems, too. I don't think rhyming is "beneath" poets at all - in fact it strikes me that rhyming is very hard work indeed, and can correspondingly come with very great rewards - I think instead it's a question of intent. No one can be Poe or Keats or Longfellow again, our age is a very different one than theirs, and the art form responds in kind.

Some people think Whitman has a lot to answer for on this topic. I love Whitman, so I am very happy that he did what he did. Practically inventing free verse, and all. Mary Oliver's "Poetry Handbook" has some great things to say about this issue.
Oh wow, I just noticed that your Location is Bangor...
That is just too far north for me to travel. My daughter just HAD to go to some store that was only at the Bangor Mall - and so we made the trip. UGH.
Ok. Ok. I know Steven King lives up there, and people tell me that it is a pretty writer-friendly place. But it is so far from here.
Anyway, I have been reading your blog for some time, and have enjoyed your travels amongst books and am glad that you are painting besides. Hooray!
Good for you, and I wish you all the very,very best - uh, well, I suppose it's because those are two things that I most value.
I am so glad that you have this blog. I truly enjoy it. If I ever happen to revisit that (shudder) area, I hope to visit your store. Is it mentioned on your site somewhere that I missed?
I must say that I was entirely freaked out by the huge talking Moose at the mall -which I later realized was a Christmasy reindeer. I just had my preconceptions about Maine North of Augusta...
Again, thank you for the blog. I much enjoy it.
Hi Clare - I've lived almost my entire life north (and east) of Augusta, and it really has been mostly painless. In fact, it's been largely filled with joy. That said, I love being alone outdoors and I don't spend a lot of time at the mall - that area of town is indeed sprawling and depressing and grotesque and I can see why Bangor made you shudder if that's all you saw of it (the interstate, and then the mall). We also have a cool old brick downtown, just so you know! That's where my shop is, and lots of other interesting businesses and buildings and people. The public library here is tremendous. Lots of readers, writers, and artists around here! Glad you are enjoying the blog - :O)
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