Ah--the choices! Having just finished a novel (Audrey Niffenegger's Her Fearful Symmetry--more about that later. Loved it!) and having returned the two stacks of essays I had been grading all week, I have arrived at the weekend with a clean slate. I plan to start Jeanette Walls' new "true live novel" Half Broke Horses next, but I've decided for a few days to opt for the tapas of literature--poetry and flash fiction. Even before last weekend's literary festival in Chapel Hill, I have been accumulating some volumes I can't wait to read.
At a recent Poetry Hickory event at Tasteful Beans, I picked up a copy of The Main Street Rag, out of Charlotte, NC. The publication contains lots of poetry, along with fiction, essays, and book reviews. When reading poetry, I vacillate between taste-testing from a variety of poets and immersing myself in the work of one poet.
For option two, I picked up Fred Chappell's new collection Shadow Box, all poems within poems. At readings, his wife Susan joins him to give an oral presentation of this unique concept of poetry. I can't wait to read them all.
I also heard poet Dorianne Laux and immediately ordered a copy of her collection Facts about the Moon. I'm keeping my eye out, too, for her poetry collection Superman. I especially enjoyed her discussion of some of the strategies she uses to write poems. Since her husband Joseph Miller is also a poet, they challenge each other. She had two poems she had written in response to his giving her a list of words, challenging her to write a poem incorporating them all. (I seem to remember that the two she composed from the same list had the words "breasts" and "Baptist." Not surprisingly, one was about Dolly Parton.)
Along with my dive into poetry, I'm also reading Long Story Short, a collection of flash fiction written by sixty-five North Carolina writers and edited by Marianne Gingher. All of the stories have fewer than 2000 words, most fewer than 1500. Some are just a page--yet they have a lovely tightness and completeness.
Now that Saturday has arrived, I'm curled up on the sofa with my first cup of coffee and a pile of books. I may not get to the newspaper today.