Monday, August 13, 2007

pile of reading

In the Hub of the Fiery Force: collected poems, 1934-2003 by Harold Norse
Having read Norse’s memoir recently I thought I should get to his poems. I’m only a few pages in.

Bastard Out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison
I try to keep a novel in my pile. Too early to have much of an opinion.

580 Split, issue 9
The literary magazine for Mills College. Deadline is fairly soon. October 1. So I figured I should read it soonish.

Twinkle Tales by L. Frank Baum
I recently read the short stories starring Twinkle (a little girl on the frontier) and her friend Chubbins (a boy) that were gathered under the title Twinkle and Chubbins. Bison Books now has a volume that also includes the full-length fantasy novel Policeman Bluejay, which continues their adventures, so I’m reading Policeman Bluejay.

Bay Poetics edited by Stephanie Young
This collection of SF Bay Area poets came out last year. I’m not in it.

Sunflower Splendor: three thousand years of Chinese poetry edited by Wu-chi Liu and Iring Yucheng Lo
Mostly these English versions don’t impress me as poetry. Just read some nice translations of Mei Yao-ch’en by Jonathan Chaves. “I just saw the gatherer of shepherd’s-purse / walk out alone from the capital’s south gate: / brittle iron knife eroded by the earth; / green bamboo basket mottled with frost.”

Indian Days of the Long Ago: Indian life and Indian lore by Edward S. Curtis
This is written in a not-quite idiomatic English that, I suppose, suggests the otherworldliness of the Indian for Curtis’ average American reader. “Far into the night lasted the dancing. … Furious was the dancing of the old chiefs and warriors as they acted in pantomime the story of their battles.” The whole is probably a novel, a didactic novel, I guess, in which Curtis has two travelers from far tribes stop to tell their life stories to a plains Indian tribe (and drop a bunch of ethnographic information on us).

Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 by Anna Deavere Smith
I’ve never seen Smith in performance but I like the idea of building a story from disparate voices, voices that can disagree. Smith went to L.A. shortly after the riots and recorded interviews. These are rendered as monologue-poems. So far my favorite is the one attributed to an anonymous juror in Simi Valley. The jury had just acquitted the officers of all charges in the beating of Rodney King. To his horror, as the jurors are being led to the bus that will take them home, he hears a reporter asking, “Do you know that buildings / are burning / and people are dying in South LA / because of you?” He sounds earnest, tried to do his civic duty being a juror. He had no idea what that would mean. He seems shaken by a look at the world entirely new to him. What is fair? Was he fair? He thought so. He claims still to think so ...

3 comments:

blair said...

Policeman Bluejay is one of my favorite Baum stories. I read it many years ago on the Island of Montserrat.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

a tuxix-free zone, I trust.

Anonymous said...

If you find the ES Curtis book interesting, there is a film about him, mostly in his own words.
The Indian Picture Opera

www.curtisdvd.com