Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Gimp Homecoming

Sometime late this evening Chris is supposed to come back from New York. After I have him scrape all the ice off the sidewalk and steps, I'm going to punch him in his dislocated shoulder for leaving me to do it for the last four days. Damn it, I manage the finances, do the laundry, vacuum and provide delightful repertoire; shoveling is not in my job description yet I've done the bulk of it this winter because somebody is always away or just getting out of surgery.

Being cooped up in the house with two bitchy cats has made me cranky. Too much thinking time. I finally got out this morning for a yoga class and Chipotle. When I got back home the mail I was expecting hadn't arrived and what did arrive wasn't what I was hoping for. Such is, such is.

My cooped up time wasn't all for lunacy, I finally finished my book reviews for NewPages and those should be up sometime within the week. I also read It Is If I Speak by Joe Wenderoth, one of the many books I received as Christmas and birthday gifts (thank you Amazon Wishlist). I liked Wenderoth's Letters to Wendys but I think I liked It Is . . . better. One reason is because it didn't drag on as long, it seemed more purposeful. What I liked about both of them was how they both played with ideas and philosphy both humorously and seriously. Apparently I'm reading all of his work chronologically backwards, his first book, Disfortunate is on the big heap too. Sometimes I like reading an author's work in reverse, instead of going on the journey with the poet, it's more interesting to see where they are now and play detective to see how they got there. It's a different way to look at the work. Not that I've done much teaching, but it always seemed to me that a better way to teach poetry to young people is to start with contemporary work and go back from there. Give the kids something to connect or identify with, or at the very least understand and hope that piques their interest to explore back. Sure, Shakspeare, Byron, Wordsworth, Blake (my fav), etc. are very important and should be read. I just don't know if they're the best place to start, even if so much of what has been written since stems back from them. I'm sure some teacher types disagree and could explain their positions much more eloquently than I have.

My pal David is on the board of directors at Graywolf Press and occasionally sends me their new poetry books. (Thanks David, I love free books!) I just started reading the re-release of Elizabeth Alexander's first book, The Venus Hottentot. The title is named after a South African woman, Saartjie Baartman, who in 1810 was convinced that she could become rich and save her family if she went Europe to become a dancer. When she arrived in England, she was placed in a cage at a freak show and was forced to parade around naked while aristocrats gawked at her "unusually large genitalia." She later died in 1815 in Paris after being forced to support herself as a prostitute. For more historical info, click here.


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