Thankful Thursday: Literary Compass

After a tough slog through a sludge of books, what a relief to find light.

You’ve felt it too, right? Book after book leaves you listless and bored, or even worse, annoyed. You think you’ll never read a good thing again. You’ve lost your literary compass. You can’t tell so-so from super.

And then, like love, you try again, pick another, and stumble upon a striking line, a moving passage. You race through chapters, stay up all night, and wake wishing work away so you can stay in and read.

On this Thankful Thursday, I’m grateful for the turn of literary luck, the golden page. Sometimes just a passage, or a single poem, is all it takes.

These books recently restored my bookish faith:

Don’t Let Me Be Lonely
by Claudia Rankine

Before her award-winning book, Citizen: An American Lyric, Claudia Rankine wrote this mixed-genre collection thrumming with power, politics, observation and heart. Defying containment, this is a work of essay, image, memoir and poem. Passage after passage resounds; I’ve marked nearly every page.

“Sometimes,” she writes, “I think it is sentimental, or excessive, certainly not intellectual, or perhaps too naive, too self-wounded to value each life like that, to feel loss to the point of being bent over each time. There is no innovating loss. It was never invented, it happened as something physical, something physically experienced . . . [she] said the poem is really a responsibility to everyone in a social space. She did say it was okay to cramp, to clog, to fold over at the gut, to have to put hand to flesh, to have to hold the pain, and then to translate it here. She did say, in so many words, that what alerts, alters.”

Pulp
by Celina Villagarcia

With roots in the Rio Grande Valley of Texas, Celina has penned a slim collection and a strong debut. She drew me in with this poem (the linebreaks are excellent):

Outside

At ten,
I felt and
heard things

differently. This
knowing — made me

live — like I was
on the outside

always looking in.
I felt I was

walking—
without skin—

vulnerable to
every thing

—every
one.

When I write—

these words protect
—when I write

these words
give me skin.

— Celina Villagarcia

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The Do-It-Yourself Guide to Fighting the Big Motherfuckin’ Sad
by Adam Gnade

No larger than my hand, this small book packs a punch of candid, funny, touching truth. In a series of lists — DIY Guide to Navigating Youth Without Going Bitter, or, Guide to Not Freaking Out All The Time — the advice sometimes veers toward sap before making a tight swerve to tough love.

Irksome Particulars
by Matt Cook

I found this treasure (and the book above) tucked in a corner of small-press gems at the mammoth Powell’s City of Books. This is a pocket-size collection of irreverent prose poems, each no longer than a page and most just a few lines long, from the former poet laureate of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Rinky Dink Press
On a mission to get poetry back into the hands, and pockets, of the people, this Phoenix, Arizona-based micro press is small in size but big on quality. Each palm-size gem is handcrafted from one sheet of paper into a book that “marries a DIY attitude with skilled poetics and fine-art aesthetics.”

I love this poetry-for-the-people vibe. Write on!



It’s Thankful Thursday. Joy expands and contracts in direct relation to our sense of gratitude. What are you thankful for today? A person, a place, a possession? A book, a song, a poem? What makes your world expand?


Fast Five with Theresa Wisner

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"I have a dogged determination to keep going; to not be a quitter." 

— Theresa Wisner

Welcome to Fast Five, in which we ask a writer five questions to open the door to know more.

Theresa Wisner lives on the central Oregon Coast and works aboard Oceanus, an Oregon State University research vessel. Hailing from a family of commercial fishermen, as a young woman she went to sea to both continue the family tradition and prove her own fortitude. In her memoir and literary debut, Daughter of Neptune, Theresa blends seafaring adventure with family dynamics in a story of personal and professional self-discovery.

1. 
Daughter of Neptune is a powerful story of family, addiction, and perseverance in an industry dominated by men. What prompted you to tell your story?

I sometimes think that the goal was to write a story, and the events came along to give me a story to write about. I don’t know that I ever thought, I’m going to write a book about this one day, but from my earliest memories I’ve wanted to write. 

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2.
In your memoir of working at sea, you reveal the fears and insecurities that led to your alcoholism. Why was this important for you to share, and in the face of struggle, what keeps you going?   

Quitting drinking was, by far, the biggest challenge of my life. There were people who showed me it could be done. I wanted to be brutally honest in my struggle, and in so doing, let someone who might be struggling know there is hope, even in the darkest time. I wish I could say that there was something inspirational in me that kept and keeps me going. I think it’s solely a dogged determination to keep going; to not be a quitter. 

3.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve received?

Write. Really. Just write. Sit my tail in a chair and write. It seems so easy, but it’s difficult to practice. There is always something that can, and often does, call me away. Even if I have nothing to write, the act of sitting in front of the computer or paper brings the story to me, it doesn’t come from living my life. It comes from having the intent to write. More dogged determination!

4.
What books or authors have shaped your life? 

Although I don’t read him much any more, Stephen King shaped much of my desire to be concise about description, and evoking emotion from it. The Stand, in particular. Theodore Dreiser and Tolstoy were big in my early years. More recent work is Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy. I love the simplicity of these works. Isabel Allende is simply brilliant. There are so many more, but these come to the top of my head. 

5.
I’m a word collector and keep a running list of favorite words. What are your favorite words?

As a Pacific Northwest gal, I love a couple of words:

Pluviophile: one who loves the rain.

Petrichor: the smell of the first rain. 

Bonus Question:
What question did I not ask that you wish I had? 

I’m currently working on a book of fiction that puts a young woman on Ernest Shackleton's failed Antarctic Expedition. I don’t know if I’ll keep Shackleton’s name, but the story has intrigued me since I worked in Antarctica. 


• Buy Daughter of Neptune at Amazon

• Learn About Theresa:
Coming to terms with being the Daughter of Neptune - Oregon State University magazine


Thankful Thursday: Spring, and other triumphs

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Dear C,

Looking back, everything takes on a patina glow. I don't trust my perceptions, and realize lately how much of my life has been a lucky stumble. Do other people map out their lives? Were they given a map or a menu? I mean, how did they know the choices ahead?

All of which is to say I'm okay. You asked, which was thoughtful, and I got your note on a particularly low day so I hesitated to answer. You know how it is: when you feel low it seems you've always been low and will always be low. But it's not true, and I forget and remember every damn time. 

Sometimes it seems this internal gnaw will grind me away. And yet I return again and again, without will or intention, to this place and space I know so well: Oh yes, here we are again at the corner of lonely & sorrow

The routine is both inexplicable and familiar. The bed is made, lights are dim, and every hush and holler says, hello, make yourself uncomfortable

But today is new, and the sun is shining. The lilacs are about to burst and I'm cheering on this small triumph. 

 At the nursing home, I lead a writing group. It’s an assorted collection of sick and frail old people with a tough batch of challenges: dementia, stroke, paralysis, loss of hearing and sight . . . and I love it. At a recent writing session, Betty*, who has suffered one loss after another, wrote: I am thankful for all the springs I've had. 

 I just about cried. 

 So, yes, I am here and thankful.

With love,

Drew

Because attention attracts gratitude and gratitude expands joy, it's time for Thankful Thursday. Please join me in a weekly pause to reflect and express appreciation for people, places, things & more. What are you thankful for today?

 * as always, names have been changed.


How to Play With Your Words

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It’s National Poetry Month, but don’t tell anyone.

Nothing ruins a happy buzz like the announcement of “poetry.” The poets may cheer but the non-poets — which, face it, is almost everyone — groan.

“I don’t like poetry.”

“I’m not a poet.”

“I don’t get it.”

Stick with me, I say. Poetry is just word play. Let’s have fun. Like sneaking veggies into sweets [as in: carrot cake], I slip poems into the everyday. You don’t even know all the goodness you’ve absorbed.

For National Poetry Month, I’m celebrating in some covert ways:

1.
Share a Poem
Poem In Your Pocket Day is on Thursday, April 18, 2019. Pick a poem (or write your own), carry it with you, and share it with others. I like to mail poems to friends & family, combining my favorite things: poetry and the personal letter. Sometimes I place poems on car windshields, randomly. Or slip them into my water bill. Or tape them to the bathroom mirror at Fred Meyer.

2.
Write About You
Almost every (normal) person will say they can’t write — but of course they can! Because almost everyone likes to tell about themselves, the Six Word Memoir is an excellent gateway to Poetry World (a real place, in mind). It’s fun, easy, and sorta addictive. Once you start, your mind seems to sort everything into six word increments.

3.
Listen to Poems
Like playing a piano or singing a song, cadence and pace make a poem. Poetry shines with the music of language. When you listen, rather than read, the experience can shift you out of critical mind and into a playful, often more powerful, experience. Try it!

4.
Start Now
Writing is free. No license, permit, or permission required. Write a line, read a poem, imagine a story. No rules or regulations, no excuses or explanations. Don’t think you can? Waaay back when, this book got me started (and keeps me going): Writing Down The Bones: Freeing the Writing Within.

Start now.

Make something.


Try This: Word Catching

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Get out the pen and paper, let’s write!

Yes, I said pen & paper, writing by hand. The physical act of fingers gripping pen against page is an elemental process that stirs mind and words. You want to think, but not too much. Hand and touch keep it real and close. There’s a time for keyboard and making sense — it’s called editing. Right now we’re writing. Kick your editor (and laptop) to the curb.

I like writing prompts and gimmicks, any path that gets me out of my right mind and into my write mind. I can fill up pages with direct writing — this happened, that happened, I feel, blah blah blah. That’s not writing, that’s a diary.

When I want to write — indirect, sideways, with a slant — I need an approach that tricks my mind into low-pressure and all fun.

Here’s my latest way in: Word Catching

1.
Find an audio recording of a poem.
Go here, or here, or find your own.

2.
Listen — not for content but for words.

3.
Write down words & phrases as fast as you can. You won’t be able to write them all but you’ll catch a few here and there. It won’t make much sense, or maybe it will, and that is the magic.

4.
Assemble your words and phrases. See what fun, insightful or unexpected connections you can make.

5.
Refine. Go into Editor mode. A poem doesn’t have to make sense. Sometimes a poem is music and play. Do what feels right and true for you.

Tada! You have exercised the mind. Maybe you have a poem, or a good workout. Maybe your next great poem is peeking, waiting for you to begin again.

Side Gate

Warnings are chewable. 

We cannot feel touch, cannot know ourselves

without looking between the space we lost. 

You have a before that is part of the now. 


What at first is a condition of knowing

is his body too close.

Absence came to you. 

Nothing is a complex space. 


Somehow a center disappears, 

sensation is erased. 

You feel your body wince. 

You are in the dark. 

You wanted to stop. 

Keep walking.

 
Trauma is a side gate, 

a back entrance, locked. 

You press firmly. 

You are wound. 

Everything pauses. 

Everyone is always sorry. 

— Drew Myron


Don't Wanna Lose You

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With age, comes a lift. Yes, you’ve noticed — this website got a facelift.

And with change, annoying glitches can arise and you may get lost in the shuffle. In this change, I don’t wanna lose you. Stay with me. Don’t miss a minute. There are many ways to read this blog.

You can:

1.
Subscribe to this blog by email. Just provide your email address here. (No spam, no sharing, I promise). If you’re already receiving these blog posts by email, no need to resubscribe.

2.
Click on this link, below:

3.
Follow this blog on Feedly, another handy organizer of your favorite sites.

4.
Show up here anytime. Feel free to wander in and out.

However you find me, I’m happy to have you. Life is nicer when you’re here.



On Eleven

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Eleven is long limbs and inbetween.

Eleven is a master number, signifying instinct and intuition.

Eleven is not quite noon and not yet midnight, an almost there.

Eleven is over a decade, veering toward old.

Is 11 vintage?

Eleven is an angel, symbol of spiritual enlightenment.

At 11, I was rolling around Skate City, a suburban disco ball as my guide. I was eating Capn’ Crunch by the case. I was riding a bike for what seemed like miles but was probably just blocks.

And now, this month, this blog turns 11.

“And so, let’s go,” I wrote that first day in 2008, “not with the thunder of the self-absorbed, but in the same way a single word, spoken softly, carries great weight.”

And here we are. Still.

Thanks for skating with me.

Witness to the Wounds

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When you ask how I'm doing, I don't know how to answer. 

I mention the weather, how the gray has finally, just today, peeled away to reveal a swell of blue like some kind of hope. The weather inside me is barometer of every fresh pressure.

It's not what you want to know, and yet isn't it? We speak in signs and symbols, trusting we share a common language. 

-----

"Later I will try to recall the names of all the places I went, the spaces I passed through and passed through me, their location, their feel, like a gouge in the granite of some northern mountain,” writes Natalie Singer, in California Calling: A Self Interrogation. “But I remember so few details, so much feeling and so few facts.”

-----

Now, more than a year has passed and still I must convince myself: Of course she loved you. 

There were pedicures and phone calls, banter and laughs. There was a shorthand of love, wasn’t there? There was, right? Yes, yes, of course. But so few photos. I have no evidence, no photographic proof. 

But yes, of course. After the storm and silence, after the thaw, there was understanding. There was love. 

I envy those who love easily, to whom love is a given, an “of course.” Those who don’t think, just know. I envy that ease, the key that fits and locks, the tidy closing. No jiggle or grease, no certain angle or point. The key slides in, turns and opens, or closes. All done. 

-----

At the nursing home where I work, a small woman with a small voice looks to me with wide eyes: Do you know me, she asks. Do you like me?

My words are quick and easy. Yes, I say, tucking my hand in hers. I like you very much. 

-----  

"Gouge, the word," writes Singer, "is so close to gauge, as in measure, as in witness, as in all the minutes and hours and days spent silently gauging my own level of comfort, or discomfort. My belonging. Gauging the likelihood of my voice catching in my throat.”

-----

Adele is crying softly when I stop in to visit.

Family, she tells me, her voice reaching for firmer ground. “My daughter doesn't understand me. I would never do anything to hurt her.” 

I lean in to give a hug but she waves me away. She will not take comfort, so we sit together in the quiet, each of us holding our hurts. Sometimes, still, I have no words for all our aches. 

“Family,” I say finally, “sometimes knows us least of all.” 

* Names and identifiers have been changed to protect privacy. 



 

Landscape as Metaphor

Absence, photo by Drew Myron

Absence, photo by Drew Myron

Keeping Things Whole

In a field

I am the absence

of field.

This is

always the case.

Wherever I am

I am what is missing.

 

When I walk

I part the air

and always

the air moves in   

to fill the spaces

where my body’s been.


We all have reasons

for moving.

I move

to keep things whole.

 

— Mark Strand

 

I have absence on my mind. A sort of seamlessness. Land meets sky with no distinction. Someone called this blur an ordinary loneliness.

Somewhere is a center, then a horizon as a single grounding line — of fence or hill or endlessness — holding us in or keeping us out. I'm not sure which. 

As often happens, I discover a poem that holds what I feel but can't articulate. Poem as map, as landmark, as grounding and center. Thank you Mark

 

What's in your (emotional, physical, mental) landscape?

 

Thankful Tuesday: Find, fancy, forget

Island House by Andrew Wyeth

Island House by Andrew Wyeth

Because it's winter and we need an early and extra dose of gratitude (and Thursday is just too far away), it's Thankful Tuesday. Please join me in a pause and perspective shift by expressing gratitude for people, places, things and more. 

On this Thankful Tuesday, I am grateful for:

1.Andrew Wyeth 

For this:

A landscape becomes a stage for a crisis of thought.

And this:

"I think anything . . .  which is contemplative, silent, shows a person alone — people always feel is sad. Is it because we've lost the art of being alone?"

—from The Art of Andrew Wyeth

2. Unaswerables

The Book of Questions, by Pablo Neruda, is a slim collection I often forget, find, fancy, and forget again. Like a horoscope or fortune cookie, today I dip in and find: 

Is it true sadness is thick

and melancholy thin?

and this:

In winter, do the leaves live

in hiding with the roots?

What did the tree learn from the earth

to be able to talk with the sky? 

3.  Thrum of Winter

People are dying, still and again. In my personal life, my professional life. Even this season — winter — feels like a deep thrum of silence. 

Yes, yes, I know, where there is darkness there is light. This is life: births, deaths, hellos, goodbyes, and the great stretch of dailyness in which we are stretched between dishes, laundry, office, errands and chores.

We forget this is living only because it seems like existing — until it ends, and then we cherish the mundane routine as if it were a gripping movie we wish to see just once more. We are actors and audience. We are clapping, then nodding off, in a loop of begins and ends. 

I don't want to count the bodies, tally our grief. And yet, we do, don't we? We justify our agony. This is why, and this and this. But grief isn't logical,  so the score means nothing, and yet, everything.  

4. Maudlin

Am I maudlin? Yes, I am, if only to wake myself, to stir the sadness with something more than understanding, to stir the understanding with something more than tears, to stir the tears with something more than surrender.  

5Rowing 

but I am rowing, 

I am rowing

though the wind 

pushes me back.

— Anne Sexton

6. Blast from the Past

The Mary Tyler Moore Show

I cannot stop watching this landmark television show. I'm on a binge, cheering for Mary Richard's burgeoning career, independence, friendship and fashion. Thank you 1970s. 

And that theme song!

Love Is All Around 

by Sonny Curtis

Who can turn the world on with her smile?

Who can take a nothing day

And suddenly make it all seem worthwhile?

Well, it’s you girl and you should know it

With each glance and every little movement you show it

Love is all around, no need to fake it

You can have the town, why don’t you take it?

You’re gonna make it after all

How will you make it on your own?

This world is awfully big

And all this time you’re all alone

Well it’s time you started livin’

It's time you let someone else do some giving

Love is all around, no need to fake it

You can have the town, why don’t you take it?

You’re gonna make it after all

You’re gonna make it after all

Your turn: What are you thankful for today? 

Envy is Exhausting

Headlined 

The chicest people

you've never heard of

wake up with more energy

eat better, sleep longer

feel happier + find

more time for balance.

Some days it feels impossible

to rise, shine, believe

in good and

heartwarm

the world.

— Drew Myron

This is a poem "ripped from the headlines."

Also known as a found poem, a cut-up poem, a warm up poem & an exercise for the writing muscle.

This poem is also a reminder why I should give up fashion/lifestyle magazines. 

Tell me, what are you writing?

Cut Up, Cut Down, Cut Away

What's your trick?

To get out of my head and onto the page, I sometimes need to 'trick' my mind with a Cut Up Poem.

Some writers cut words from magazines and arrange them into lines and stanzas. Others gather, scatter & place their own orphan lines (phrases they wrote but haven't yet placed in a piece) to use as a foundation for a new poem. 

Whatever your method — cut up, cut down, cut away, cut back — this approach steers the mind into new territory. The best part of this prompt is the bubble of fresh associations and unexpected themes. You may be surprised where the poem takes you, and even a 'bad' poem is good exercise for the writing muscle.

Traveling, Questions While

Was I born this blistered, all cramp and knots?

Did I grow from scrubby plain to bear

every prickle, thistle and thorn?

Even now, after so many years, I still

travel through noise and discord, winded

and drawn across endless landscape.

Is sadness a habit?

I did not calculate the heart

how heavy this muscle

prone to stutter and stall

how tired and worn.

Who knows why you love 

why you can’t and why

you keep trying

Consider how you carry your

own weather, stormy or steady, how 

you study the horizon for every change.

What if you lost your self in the distance

spending your silence on the rise and ache

of this long answerless road?

— Drew Myron

Bone Structure

The Mill, by Andrew Wyeth, 1959

The Mill, by Andrew Wyeth, 1959

1.

"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure in the landscape — the loneliness of it — the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show."

— Andrew Wyeth 

The Art of Andrew Wyeth 

2.

Opal died today. Unexpected. 

It’s always a surprise to me, though we are in a nursing home and nearly everyone is ill and elderly. 

There's not much talk, as if it is routine, and of course it is. And yet, even when expected, every passing feels fresh and unexpected. I haven't found words for this startle and weight — something like sadness but with a puncture that lodges in remote crevices of body and mind.  

3.

While hanging the memorial announcement, Ada watches my every move, watches me hang the board, watches me straighten the frame. She does not speak, never speaks. But today, her eyes are steady and from her wheelchair, she reaches for my hand. I bend close and talk quietly.

“Your hair looks nice,” I say. She stares at me, eyes soft.

I try again, “You look good in pink.”

She murmurs, her eyes fixed on mine, as if to speak. But we do not talk, just look into eyes, back and forth, with some tender wordless exchange. 

I say goodbye, I’ll see her again, because this is what you say. Because I say it again and again to the old and confused, to the dying. We are accustom to goodbyes and yet, and yet, it always jolts. Maybe I’m not alone in this. Maybe Ada is with me, reaching out to mark a moment, saying every death deserves a pause.  

4.

I've started a file: Things to say after a death. There's been so many, I've run out of words. 

5. 

In the writing group, we pen letters to ourselves:

Dear Younger Me, writes Betty, I wish I could go back and appreciate life more

6.

“Can I get you anything?” I ask Lucy, who is sitting alone, yawning.

We exchange hellos and she smiles wanly, a sign of her decline. Once buoyant and cheery, she now speaks slowly, if at all, and with much effort. 

“There’s no getting,” she says with a half smile, and I think she knows, more than any of us, about these ends.  

* Names have been changed to protect privacy.

With Resolve

swift — a blackout poem by drew myron

swift — a blackout poem by drew myron

In this new year, let's not make plans, projects or promises.

Let's start here, now, with small measures like this: 

Be swift to be kind.

Isn't this everything and enough? 

Good Books of 2018

Ahhh, don't you love these languid days between Christmas and New Year? 

For readers and writers and those who enjoy soft unstructured time, it's an excuse to sink into books without distraction or guilt. And a chance to look back with gratitude at books that have entertained, elevated and sustained. 

Here are some of my favorite books I read this year (not necessarily books published in 2018):

FICTION

 
The Great Believers
by Rebecca Makkai

I have just a few chapters left in this page-turner and it just may be my favorite novel of 2018. It's a wrenching and real character study of shame and despair of AIDS in the 1980s. 

 

 
Little Fires Everywhere
by Celeste Ng

A slow-burning story about a small town thrown into disarray by a court dispute, with a simmering plot on the complicated angst of family love.

 


Nutshell
 
by Ian McEwan 

A classic tale of murder and betrayal, and such an odd, delightful, unexpected novel.

 


The Italian Teacher

by Tom Rachman

A novel with a slow start but phenomenal build, with unexpected twists and a nicely wistful conclusion. (My favorite of his novels is The Imperfectionists).

 

MEMOIR

 

Calypso
by David Sedaris

Here's my new discovery: David Sedaris is best enjoyed by audiobook. An animated performer, Sedaris tells a story with vivid voice and comedic timing that leaves me laughing out loud. I'll never "read" him again. (My favorite of his audiobooks is Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls)

 


My Misspent Youth: Essays

by Megan Daum

I'm late to the party on this one but glad I caught up. I lived briefly in New York, and while not usually nostalgic, this collection of sharp and honest essays brought back the wonder and ache of those Manhattan days. 

 

ESSAY

Notes from a No Man's Land: American Essays 
by Eula Bliss 

I'm still not sure if I like this book but months later I keep thinking about it so it definitely stirred me — and isn't that the best kind of reading experience? Reviewer Robert Polito sums my sentiment:  " . . . a mix of insistence and quandary, as though she is despairing and pressing on simultaneously." 


Wedding Toasts I'll Never Give
by Ada Calhoun 

On our first date I told my now-husband that I didn't believe in the institution of marriage. And so, this collection, both sharp and tender, hits me where I live and love. "By staying married, we give something to ourselves and to others: hope. Hope that in steadfastly loving someone, we ourselves, for all our faults, will be loved; that the broken world will be made whole," she writes. "To hitch your rickety wagon to the flickering star of another fallible human being — what an insane thing to do. What a burden, and what a gift."

 

NON-FICTION

The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use if for Life
by Twyla Tharp 

From the renowned choreographer, an excellent, practical guide to fostering creativity.


A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents — and Ourselves
by Jane Gross

A daunting but valuable first-person account from a New York Times columnist navigating the labyrinth of health care and housing choices for her mother.  "Wherever I was, I wasn’t where I was supposed to be, and I wasn’t doing what I was supposed to be doing . . . The car was my sanctuary. Before heading home from the Meadowview, with my mother snug in bed, I slumped over the steering wheel, sobbing. Across America, in parking lots like this one, middle-aged daughters do this all the time. I never noticed until I became one of them."

 

SHORT STORIES

You Think It, I'll Say It
by Curtis Sittenfeld

Months after tearing through this collection, I'm still pierced by the sharp and poignant ways we love and hurt one another. With echoes of Ann Beattie and Lorrie Moore, Sittenfeld, known primarily as a novelist, shines in the short form too. 

 

POETRY

Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting
by Kevin Powers

I wasn't looking for poetry when I stumbled across this book, and that makes the discovery all the better. Iraq war veteran Kevin Powers has created a deeply affecting portrait of a life shaped by war — and, frankly, it's a voice of experience I haven't read nearly enough. Read the title poem here


Believing is Not the Same as Being Saved
by Lisa Martin 

It's not a perfect book of poetry, uneven in spots and needing an editor to tighten the gems. But there are stunners in this collection that make my heart lurch with recognition.

Remind me, is this how it always goes?

There’s a way of speaking as if the difference

matters, as if the road home is finite—everything

begins and ends somewhere, like your hand

in mine . . .  The mind

seeks a place where it can learn to lie down.

 

— from Map For the Road Home

 

Your Turn: What books stirred and stayed with you this year?

 

Good Books of 2017

Good Books of 2016

Good Books of 2015

Good Books of 2014

Good Books of 2013

Good Books of 2012

Good Books of 2011

 


Thankful Thursday: Sometimes


sometimes when, by drew myron

Because attention attracts gratitude and gratitude expands joy, it's time for Thankful Thursday.

From the small to the immense, from the puny to the profound, what are you thankful for today?

Sometimes when 

the light is just right

like today, I come to

a quiet place and sit

at a wood table where

the slant of sun shines

and for a moment, or

even minutes, I am

exactly where I should

be, doing exactly what

is good and true:

with gratitude,

thinking of you.


— Drew Myron 

 

Don't tell me your dream

Art by Susannah Liguori 

1.
No one wants to hear about your dream. How vivid and compelling. How it shakes you still, that image, this morning over coffee and conversation. This conversation is over; let's talk about me. 

2
I had a dream of frogs in my house. I told no one, but Google says frogs mean fortune or fear. Just like everything in life.

3
Confession: In a book or poem, when I come upon a dream sequence I always skip ahead. 

4.
Don't tell me your dream. I'll have to feign interest and that wears us both. Well, not you. You look perky, and I just wanna go back to bed. 

5.
In the year since my mother died, I've dreamed of her just once. I woke up reassured. But I did not write the dream down and now she's gone again. 

6
Dreams are vague and real, foreboding and foretelling. Dreams mean nothing. And everything. 

7
Yesterday an old man with sad eyes told me his dream:

He and his dying wife return to the island where they honeymooned 60 years ago. They are happy, she is healthy and young. "She is just like she used to be," he says, with a strained smile and tears.  

Hushed and slow, like a prayer or a plea, he offers his vision and I accept the gift.  

8
Okay, I say, tell me more. 

 

Sunday night, reading

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1.

I'm not certain of much, but this:  

There is nothing better than a busy week as it unspools into Sunday evening, in a quiet house, with a good book, and your mind, finally, finally, finds a peaceful ease.  

2.

Today's good line

"One thing I've learned, Father — that in life it's best to keep the then and the now and the what's-to-be as close together in your thoughts as you can. It's when you let gaps creep in, when you separate out the intervals and dwell on them, that you can't bear the sorrow."

— from The All of It, a novel by Jeannette Haien

3.

It's time for a literary lookback

I'm making stock (turkey bones on the stove) and taking stock (of good books). It's time for round up and reviewWhat have I read? What have I loved?

I can hardly recall last week's novel, let alone of year of books. Was it a bleak year in stories? A crushing season of poems?

Please, help revive my reading memory: 

What good books did you read this year?