Monday, May 24, 2010

Elliptical Poetry

So, after months of complaining that, as an editor, I don't get to read a nearly high enough ratio of good poetry, and after months of complaining that my ass is expanding by the week, I've decided to kill two proverbial birds with one stone: I'm going to use my elliptical machine at least twice a week, and read poetry that I've been meaning to read forever while on the elliptical machine. I'll post what I've read here (hopefully), and maybe say a little bit about each book/chapbook/fistful of papers that I read.

Sunday's elliptical poetry consisted of three chapbooks. I was on the elliptical machine for about 45 minutes, and read each of the chapbooks aloud in the following order:

1. Pink Leotard & Shock Collar by Juliet Cook (Spooky Girlfriend Press, 2009 - $3) While it's awesome that this chapbook is sold out (only 25 copies were made, and I'm pretty sure that those of us who are familiar with Juliet's poetry snatched them up pretty quickly back in July), it's also sad, because this short chap (10 poems altogether) was by far my favorite of the three to read aloud. Juliet has a great ear for sound and that really comes through in the poems in this collection - "Purple Speculum" in particular was fun read-out-loud poem. She unsettled me more than a few times, and often those were the same times I found myself nodding in agreement and understanding as I read. I can't wait to meet her and to hear her read next month when she comes into Pittsburgh for TypewriterGirls Gone Furry. I would highly recommend picking this up, but as it is no longer available, I suggest borrowing it from a friend who was lucky enough to snag a copy.

2. All the Little Red Girls by Angela Veronica Wong (Flying Guillotine Press, 2009 - $8.50) This gorgeously designed chapbook was probably the most thematically strong of the three. Wong brings together, in a beautiful/disturbing/oddly loving way the themes of pregnancy/childbirth and Red Riding Hood being devoured by and then freed from the wolf. I loved, loved, loved "The Aftermath", which closes out the chapbook. Some of the poems were a little too short for my tastes - or rather, there were too many very very short poems all in a row at certain points, and this was possibly accentuated by my attempts to read the chapbook aloud, straight through. Like Cook, Wong has a wonderful grasp on sound in her poetry and I will most definitely be seeking out more of her work.

3. Fabulous Essential by Niina Pollari (Birds of Lace, 2010 - $5.00) I've been following Niina's blog and her poetry for the past two years or so, and, as I expected I would, greatly enjoyed Fabulous Essential. One thing I really appreciated about this collection was how Pollari seemingly effortlessly included within her poetry bits of modern technology/social media in such a way that was non-intrusive and that would certainly not lead me to say that she was attempting to write a pop culture poem or a poem about technology and modernity. I think sometimes poets have difficulty with things like that; mentioning the television and email without the poem becoming about those things. A fine read to finish out my elliptical time with.

On Thursday I read aloud The Mushroom Valeda and about half of The Folkways Chant from Maria Sabina: Selections (University of California Press, 2003) by Maria Sabina, which actually took longer than reading all three of the above chapbooks combined. My husband and I have a Maria Sabina project in the works and I will write more on her later.


Laura the Poet said...

Great post and reviews. I would like to borrow Wong's chapbook please. :-D

Unknown said...

I'm so glad that you guys are getting into Maria Sabina! There's not enough people that know about her past her influence on Waldman's "Fast Talking Woman".

Margaret Bashaar said...

Laura - you are most welcome to borrow "All the Little Red Girls" - I'll try to remember to give it to you next time I see you!

Crystal - I'm just super-glad you suggested we read her at the last TWG show. Mihnea and I both love her work - we pretty much immediately picked up the book.