Day #12

Inheritance

after Cassandra de Alba

Slivers of soap marking years like tree rings
fused into a pillar;

a collection of clown figurines glowering
over the duct-taped couch;

glass, marble, and plastic eggs
embossed with Florida
and Eloise;

jars caked in ancient dust, a coffee can rattling
baby teeth, yellowed newspapers barking
the end of the war

one day
all of this can be yours

NaPoWriMo Update

So I’ve been writing a lot, but most pieces I’ve been working on are intensely personal. I have elected to leave them off of the internet.

Something I’m doing differently this NaPo around is reading actual books of poetry to supplement my own writing. Matthew Olzmann’s Mezzanines, Kristen Stone’s Domestication Handbook, and Natasha Trethewey’s everything have really helped get my blood pumping.

Day #3

Funeral for Home

Watercolor paper stacked
rough as old hands–
heater grates open
to a desert.

Florence Boulevard smolders
in inch-deep volcano ash–
thick merlot carpet
petrifies like bone.

A ghost kicks dirt
in the basement. Long
hairs drizzle the bathtub.

Hornets lull the dead,
fruit drops and worms feast.

5 Words to NEVER Use in Poetry

Another in the JBAC series–this time, gearing up for NaPoWriMo. I’m still considering if I will participate, but I’m leaning yes. I need something to rev my poetry into high gear, and last time I participated (in 2012), I ended up with half of my creative writing thesis.

There are many things worthy of a poem: the weather, an especially delicious cupcake, the erotic whoosh of a freshly laundered cotton dress, dreams. In truth, the realm of the poetic is wide open to discovery and exploration (of the non-colonizing variety, please).

However, there do remain things that should never be touched by the long fingers of poetry. These things may be tantalizing, omnipresent, and even inescapable; yet this does not mean that they belong in a poem. This is a list of five words that should never under any circumstances find their way into a poem.

Continue reading “5 Words to NEVER Use in Poetry”

Hibiscus

Purple HibiscusPurple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yowza. This novel is electric. Narrator Kambili is at once intuitive, observant, and silenced, leaving the reader with sparse, sensory descriptions that defy time. The language shifts with Kambili’s awakening to a world larger than Mass, prayer, and obedience, revealing a level of insight unexpected in such a passive narrator.

First-person POVs can either frustrate readers or open an entire world to them; Adichie does the latter by creating body languages, undercurrents of specific images, and a simple narrative style driven by dialogue and effective, understated characterization.

For fans of Toni Morrison, the bildungsroman genre, or for anyone looking to get into Nigerian fiction, Purple Hibiscus should not be missed.

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Hipster Lit

Another from the series of Juniper Bends Author Collective posts–this time, I reflect on millenial literature and reveal my inner grandma.

Yesterday, after getting off of work to a rainy afternoon, I sat in my blue reading chair and polished off the entirety of Tao Lin’s Shoplifting from American Apparel. I was left with a sole question upon completion: why does this book exist?

Sure, I’m happy to see a vegan protagonist, even as he jokes about spending gambling winnings on a steak. I’m even happy that Vegan Sam tries to subvert capitalism by shoplifting from everybody’s favorite fair trade corporation, American Apparel. But then again, is he just bored?

So what is this book trying to do? It seems to detail the humdrum exploits of a privileged New York dude who can afford daily iced coffees from various (presumably hip and independent) coffee shops. He is having a quarter-life crisis. He doesn’t ever seem to finish his novel. His ex-girlfriend commits herself and his relationships with other women are by turns childish and empty. He resorts to shoplifting to “feel alive,” I guess.

To me, this bro is just another idiot that I don’t want to be friends with. Nothing Lin writes is especially evocative of the contemporary Sea of Ennui that Vegan Sam and so many others flounder around in for years on end. He just floats, like flotsam. Or jetsam. Whichever.

Pros: The language is basic, which is refreshing in a world of chronically overused adverbs (hah!). But that’s sort of it for me.

Am I missing out on something quintessentially millennial here? As an advocate for smart phones, social media, and yes, even e-readers, does my disinterest in this book unmask me as the big fat fuddy duddy that I am on the inside? Or does it just reveal that I should never, ever move to New York?

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There are vegan popcorn crumbs all over my couch, I spent yesterday recovering from recovering, and I still think most writers are silly, apolitical plebes. All in all, a great AWP weekend.