Welcome

Welcome to my blog, where I post infrequently about books I'm reading, cool things I've found on the internet, poems I've liked, and other things that catch my attention.

Poem

My Heaven On Earth anthology introduced me to Les Murray. He's written some extraordinary poems, and there are hundreds of them online. What a mountain of wonder.

"Spring Hail" is lovely, so vivid and specific. The repetitions (not just the first line, but eating ice as well) breathe rhythm into the whole and make the memory more immediate.

(I'm not sure how he's using "prop," and my dictionary isn't helping; I'll have to look that up some more.)

Poem

I love villanelles, and I love how Stallings follows the rules of the form until she makes the choice to modify that last line (and add a blank line for emphasis, or at least mindfulness).

I love how she invokes the whole of the typical morning - toast, and, sensibly, butter, and then also the morning mail.

There are actually only a few references to burning and smoke, but the whole poem seems infused by the scent, the way everything takes on the burnt smell when something gets blackened in the toaster.

She is so brilliant.

Other poems read today:

Little Donkey - Wendy Cope

Poem

I found this in my 180 More anthology. I love the careful rhyming that is quieted by the lengths of the sentences, how, reading it aloud, I want to pause mid-line, making the rhymes fall irregularly internally.

That structure, that soft nudge toward reading it conversationally, in a low voice, finding my way to the invisible punctuation, made me want to read it three times, four, five, and I in my initial rush read it as if it were a poem about travelling, about the dust on your own feet as you rush through and across the world, but no, it's an ode, to dust, to road dust,

Poem

I picked up my copy of 180 More, and instead of picking a random poem, I decided to start with the first one:

"First Hour," by Sharon Olds.

This is a lovely, jarring poem that lifts me out of my immediate life into the moment she's describing.

I immediately wanted to know more of her work, and found a large collection at PoetryFoundation.org. I haven't read them all yet - I want to take them slowly - but I'm anticipating more surprising, welcome alien images.

Blog entry

I recently discovered that WikiHow articles are often available in other languages - and now they're my favorite source of dual-language practice.

I can bring up an article in the target language (Spanish, French), and read it to practice comprehension and find new vocabulary words. It's terrific for the specialized vocabulary that goes with a particular hobby or daily activity, like playing the piano or making an omelet.

Book
Author
Hermione Lee
Started

This is a fantastic biography. It's incredibly well researched (literally: I find it hard to believe how much time and trouble the author took to talk with everyone, read every archived document, chase down every source), and clearly and compellingly told.

Poem

I am lucky enough to own a couple of volumes of poetry by the amazing A. E. Stallings.

Randomly picking a few poems to read while sipping my tea, I came across "Pencil."

I love the rhymes, the occasional repetition or additional rhyme on the first and third lines.

She's so masterful, so skilled.