A Poet's Double Life

For poets working outside the literary world.

What I’m Reading Now

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A summer reading list was way too ambitious for me. I finished the Penguin Anthology of Twentieth Century American Poetry last week for the November book club. I did manage to read a few of the other books on the list: Zami: A New Spelling of My Name (Audre Lorde), City of a Hundred Fires (Richard Blanco), and Life on Mars (Tracy K. Smith). I started Toi Derricotte’s Undertaker’s Daughter, but quickly learned that it is not the kind of poetry book I can read in a sitting or two. Each poem packs a punch. I’m still waiting for the smelling salts to revive me. In the meantime, I devoured This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz, which wasn’t even on the original list, which I read on my Kindle, which I will probably read again before the year is over.

Instead of making a list, I’m just going to share what I’ve been reading lately.

Thrall by Natasha Trethewey: Many of the poems are based on paintings or photographs (and you know how much I love ekphrastic poetry). We’re reading it for the December book club. I’ve got the “Poet Laureate of the United States” hardcover edition.

Circle and Salvinia Molesta by Victoria Chang: Found one of her poems while searching through the new literary magazine issues in the stacks. Picked up her books – ‘nuff said. Well actually, I’ll say this: “I’ve never told her I have a hidden talent / for loving men with only three chambers / in the heart, his salted lips / iron aftertaste of an imagined kiss.” (from “Holiday Parties”)

One for the Money: The Sentence as Poetic Form edited by Gary Young and Christopher Buckley: This book is an anthology of sentence poems as well as a manual of how to write them. Here’s one of my attempts

Longing is like this

Peeling off gloves
pressing flesh against
winter bare trees
trying to feel
for life
beneath cold skin

The Stories of Vladmir Nabokov & Nabakov’s Dozen: Nabokov’s imagery and attention to detail are making me swoon. A poet can’t help but be inspired by sentences like this: “I can see her now, in her black sealskin coat with a big, flat muff and gray fur-trimmed boots, walking on her slender legs, as if on stilts, along a very slippery sidewalk; or in a dark, high-necked dress, sitting on a blue divan, her face heavily powdered after much crying.”

Let me know what you’re reading by leaving a comment.

Author: poetsdoublelife

Poet and data guru living in Durham, NC.

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