25 September 2008

What a Week

Prompted by my computer breaking down on Sunday along with the mortgage bail-out, the nationalization of AIG and the overall U.S. economy rescue mission, I did a heck of a lot of reading this week -- and it was pretty wonderful. I worried about connecting with my students, naturally, but I survived that by complaining to my husband and a few friends and continuing to read. First I read Papal Lies, a book my Pope-hating friend gave me about the popes of the 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th centuries. The book is so out of print that it's not even listed on Amazon, but it was a fun romp through a seriously corrupted organization that leaves no question as to why Luther and a few others were angry back then.

Then I re-read a few of my friends' poetry books in progress, including Tonya Foster's A Swarm of Bees in High Court, which is composed entirely in haiku. I also read through Zone: Zero the wonderful and very difficult new book by Stephanie Strickland which Robin Reagler has featured on Big Window this week. This one definitely bears more than on re-reading, and I haven't yet played the interactive CD that accompanies it. I read the Japanese fabulist Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore in one day -- all 436 pages of a wild and magical novel that I highly recommend. And after hearing Tomaz Salamun read his poetry at St. Mark's Poetry Project Monday night, I bought and read most of his first book in English, Poker.

Poker was originally published in Slovenian in 1966 and was seen as revolutionary and subversive. Which is a pretty good definition of what I want from poetry--words that undermine the obvious paths of thought to (help me to) break into new vistas. Of course, when I came home from the reading and told my husband I'd heard the most marvelous Slovenian poetry, he behaved as if I were trying to act like an effete New Yorker. But, truly, he is the most marvelous. Here is a quatrain from the very middle of Poker. It sits alone on a page at the beginning of a long poem called "Things."

Between any two points in space
you can always draw a straight line
but where is the way
between the same place

Where indeed is the way? No doubt we'll all find it next week. Keep blogging, my students....

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