AWP Eve

January 31, 2011

I’m all packed for AWP and leaving Fresno tomorrow morning en route to D.C.!  This will be my second time around for the conference, and while I’m looking forward to all the panels and readings and parties, as well as being on the east coast for the first time, also while tabling with The Normal School, and hopefully finding out about opportunities to keep me busy this fall post-MFA… I have to say that, deep down in my nerd-heart, I am looking forward to the books.

I picked up so many amazing poetry collections last year, and they are what kept me company since then.  There’s something about a giant gymnasium filled with tables of books, often at great deals for teachers or just in general, sold and bought in person by folks who love reading and writing.  Off the top of my head, I am grateful for picking up Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s first two from the Tupelo table, All-American Poem by Matthew Dickman somewhere somehow, The Real Warnings by Rhett Iseman Trull at the Ahsahta table, an anthology of Mexican poetry titled Reversible Monuments from Copper Canyon, and so many more books of poems that fueled me, talked to me, and helped me write over the past year.  I look forward to stuffing this year’s readings in whatever crannies of my suitcase I can find, because they’ll certainly carry me through more than I can foresee.

On leaving

January 30, 2011

“[L]eaving home is mere practice / For leaving all, all the leavings learned / Again and again, until goodbye becomes / Addictive, last look behind, first look forward, / What you carry everywhere.”
—Shirley Geok-lin Lim, “Bogie Hole” from Walking Backwards

I just finished this latest collection from Shirley Geok-lin Lim, a poet who was recommended to me a couple years ago because of her connection to Malaysia, the place that contributes to half of my own background.  During my undergraduate years, Li-Young Lee was easily the only Asian poet I’d encountered, and it surprises me how much I’ve been able to read the past couple years to add to that.  How lucky I am to have explored his work more as well as the work of others in such a short time.  Lim’s poetry has a special significance for me, though, and this last book seemed to arrive at just the right time.

On what is enough

January 24, 2011

“There are enough things here / to remind me who I am.”
—”Letter Home,” Bellocq’s Ophelia by Natasha Trethewey

I don’t often underline words in my poetry books; I prefer to dog-ear pages and re-discover whatever moved me, or discover for the first time something I hadn’t noticed before.  But this line was so startling I couldn’t help myself.  (The whole poem is available on the Poetry Foundation website here.)

For me, the word “enough” conveys all the emotion, because it suggests a threshold.  At what point do we cross the threshold from present moment into reminder and memory?  What falls short of bringing us there, and what pushes us even beyond that?

I loved this book as much as Trethwey’s other two, possibly even more.  I’m sure I’ll revisit all three again and again.

Upcoming readings

January 23, 2011

I don’t post here much, but with a new year and my last semester at Fresno, I thought I should change that! So here’s a new layout, plus a new “readings” section. I’m looking forward to helping Calyx celebrate their 35th anniversary in March in LA, as well as reading at the Fresno Public Library in April. Somewhere in that mix I’ll also be reading at the Rogue Festival and from my thesis.

My hope is to check in here more often — much better than harassing my Facebook friends list with random quotations from poems. If you happen to be reading, say hi!