Monday, November 30, 2009

Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector by Benjamin Moser

The life of one of Brazil's most celebrated novelists is carefully and meticulously documented in this biography of Clarice Lispector. This larger-than-life celebrity was lauded during her lifetime and has attained cult status with Brazilians of every age but has not been recognized by the world literary community for her body of work. Benjamin Moser succeeds in highlighting her achievements and bring into focus the brilliance of this mysterious novelist.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

From Theory of Mind: New and Selected Poems by Bin Ramke

49 Views of Childhood

But he was a quiet child, I was, he was never
one, such a one as would wander

into wilderness alone—untrue, he was
one to play at death as boys will.

I was small when I was small and then
I was no longer. Dolls are delicate. Legs

and arms articulate to sit them
around you and tell them stories, to have them

tell you stories tell him stories make them
up. Dress them. If an end comes

it will come the sky will remain sky
and weather will be simple, simply

where we live during it. Another version
of this world engages these little ones

around us, about our feet, small humans
who have forgotten the future who

splash happily as if weather were a cure
for childhood. We didn't, he didn't, know

better than to sulk heavily as if
I did not watch secretly gathering

clouds, gathering under them
into likely groups—action figures. Us.

It was better when birds did not
gather so forcefully, mournfully back

before ravens and crows had moved
into cities following the pioneer

pigeons—boys walked under groups
would dismally look down, boys and blackbirds

crossing Sunday paths home
back before sparrows would

so cravenly eat from our hands;
children of today know only

small wishes and crooked feet,
articulated legs and artificial voices

to cry Mama or Papa at whim, at the least
tipping of self into horizontal . . . .

They do not see the green sky
we knew then, such empty grandeur:

in silence such insolence, solitude's
reward for being good, which is part

of every eros of childhood. In all parts
of this world there are children

except in the coldest southernmost,
Antarctica as imagined goal, to gather

there his dolls, my wish, his need
for clean weather and snow

articulated weather; is there no
child to sleep on that continent?

No child's dream floated ever above
the white horizon of an ice containment

bends the bodies to its will,
makes a wish. Like birds

the bodies fit in the fist. The still
children play those little games

the birds of the air the lilies
of the field, the insolence of the whole

agon; suicide as self expression
is paradox, as is sex as self. He made

little houses for his dolls to sit
through afternoons to peer

out narrow windows and be
invisible to have things to see.

I have, he has, things to say, he has
he had things. To say he was

a boy belonging to the end
of habitation, health and happiness.

If this doll could sin she would sing
to him I would sing also, to her

it is like forsythia, logical because
the branch wavers and blossoms bloom

while wind does what wind will?
A dance is like this: to console

as to clasp these hands, touch there
in the air away from bodies

and then to angle the arms, turn
the hips and some part submerges

drowned as the doomed self would
like voodoo, dolled up and doomed—

dancing anyway ever. He could sing
and does deliberately, the child, it

follows that anguish is not me,
nor do we suffer who make those cries.

He would drown his dolls slowly
slide into agonized waters

which reflect the intricate lace
of the bridge which trembled above

them, a bridge which fell in the end
vortex shedding and resonant

oscillations, a dance the bridge did
with the air, not the words the wind

is the reason for suffering. A past
is anything's childhood is a reason

flares into mind like burning
burning which might have been

mind, a doll could have one
and could dance like anything.

Copyright © 2002 Bin Ramke

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker

Paul Chowder is suffering from writer's block and his long-time girlfriend has left him. As Paul wanders through the days trying to write the introduction to a long overdue poetry anthology, he struggles to rediscover his own poetry as well. Love him or hate him, Paul's stream of consciousness narration never fails to entertain.

This is a book that grew on me as I read it. You kind of want to bop Paul on the head but there is also a fascination about how (or if) he will manage to pull himself out of the mess he has made of his life.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Versed by Rae Armantrout

Versed explores both broad and personal topics in this work of astonishing range. The first half of this collection explores violence and contemporary society while the second half narrows in focus as Rae Armantrout chronicles her struggles with cancer. This darkly honest poetry is a touchstone to the human experience and provides the reader with a whole new range of questions to ponder.

by Rae Armantrout

We love our cat
for her self
regard is assiduous
and bland,

for she sits in the small
patch of sun on our rug
and licks her claws
from all angles

and it is far
to "balanced reporting"

though, of course,
it is also
the very same thing.


Sunday, November 01, 2009

Blogging Anniversary

Three Halloweens ago I went to my first blogger meet-up. It was a relatively safe start for trying out these events where I would be meeting whole new groups of people. Especially since the friend hosting, gonemild, is a dear friend and someone I have known for years. It was supposed to be a Halloween party but I didn't get past the "and I will be serving my homemade beer" part of the invitation before hitting the RSVP button so I was the only one there without a costume. In spite of that, or maybe because of the beer (which remains my all-time favorite gonemild brew) I had a wonderful time.

That night was so important to me because I ended up meeting people that have become some of my very best friends. In addition to gonemild and his wife, I found Keith, Janet, Spyder, Kanga, XO, Eric, Well Hell Michelle (blog now retired), Average Jane, M Toast (blog now retired) and Krissy. I have met many wonderful people since that party but these are the people who will always hold a special place in my heart for their warm acceptance of me in their lives.

And General Blather, of course!