Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gearing up for National Poetry Month

Who says April is the cruellest month? (No, that's not a trivia question. If you're reading this, you probably know.) Not only do I celebrate buttercups and hyacinths, but I celebrate National Poetry Month. If you want to join the celebration, check out some of these cites and titles.

You may be a day late, but see Robert Lee Brewer's daily prompts at Poetic Asides. He issues a challenge to write a poem a day (first draft only--revision can wait until May) and to post on his site. He even offers some mystery incentive if you follow through for the whole month. Try it.

Garrison Keillor's daily Writer's Almanac on radio and the internet provides a poem a day, along with historical and literary anniversaries of note.

If you can't take your refrigerator everywhere you go, try virtual Magnetic Poetry. This works just like the boxed set--on your computer screen. Just click and drag.

Former Poet Laureate Ted Kooser also writes a weekly column that appears online and in newspapers across the country, American Life in Poetry.

Billy Collins, Kooser's predecessor, offers Poetry 180, a site particularly geared to school schedules, offering 180 poems for the 180 days of the traditional school year, hoping for a 180-degree turn in attitudes toward poetry.

If you google National Poetry Month, you will find a treasure trove of ideas. I have always enjoyed Robert Pinsky's Favorite Poem Project.

Other great sites are Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, Poetry Slam, Inc., and the Love Poem Generator http://www.links2love.com/poem_generator.htm (for the romantic, but lazy poet).

Stay tuned. Later this week, I plan to share a list of my favorite books of poetry, especially those written in this century!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

How About a Little Book Talk?

With a little help from my offspring, I am finally getting started with a blog of my own. I'm hoping down the road to branch out to a website, but for now here I am. While I am sure I will have to talk about all the things that are important to me (not the least of which are my brand spankin' new grandson, Stuart Benton Troup, born March 12, and his big sister, two-year-old Avery Elise), I will focus on all things literary.

Here I am carving out a place to talk about books and--I hope--to hear back from other people who love books too. I realize that I will never be able to read all the books I want to read. To add to my problem, authors keep writing more! I can't catch up. I never will. But I intend to read as much as I can as often as I can. I keep an audiobook in my car, at least on book on my night stand, and one in my Sony e-book.

This month I've read Rhett Butler's People, the authorized sequel to Gone with the Wind by Donald McCaig. While the book was interesting, I think the Margaret Mitchell estate made a huge mistake not working out negotiations with Pat Conroy. The back story for Rhett and even Belle Watling was interesting, but I wonder if Mitchell would have recognized her characters (or if they would have recognized themselves in places.)

I also read Plum Wine, the third novel (I believe) by Angela Davis-Gardner from NC State. I thought her story was intriguing. The time frame (early in our involvement in the conflict in Vietnam but involving lives of Japanese affected by Hiroshima) pulled in some interesting threads. Barbara, the protagonist, is a North Carolina girl teaching in Japan. The story has enough romance and conflict to keep my interest.

Most entertaining, though, has been James Collins' Beginner's Greek, a novel I heard reviewed on television (Today Show, I believe). Peter, the main character, believes he is fated to meet a woman on a plane and fall in love. He does, then loses her phone number. Flash forward and he still loves her--even though she's married to his best friend and soon-to-be best man. I found that even some of the characters with the most villainous potential charmed me. The story kept me squirming when I anticipated potential disasters, but I couldn't quit reading. What I found most entertaining was the insight into the different characters' thoughts and the twists they took.

Next on my list: Doug Marlette's The Bridge, Hickory's Big Read. I attended a talk by columnist Kathleen Parker at the Hickory Art Museum Thursday. Since Marlette died in a car accident this summer (after the book selection), the event organizer decided to keep the book and to arrange for other related events. Parker and Marlette had maintained a close friendship for years, and she delivered a eulogy at his funeral. She strongly recommended that we also read his last novel, Magic Time.
On my e-book right now, I'm reading World Without End, Ken Follett's sequel to Pillars of the Earth. It took him long enough to get back to his genre (historical fiction), but so far the book promises to deliver the same kind of reading experience set in the English Middle Ages around the time of the Black Plague.

I'd love to know wht's on your to-read stack or your just-read list. I'm planning to add some good lists and links.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


March 13, 2008

Nashville, Tennessee

Where better to launch my first blog posting than a fourth floor room in the Women's Center at Centennial Hospital in Nashville, as I am getting to know my second grandchild, first grandson, Stuart Benton Troup? Stuart was born yesterday morning at 7:42 am, weighing in at 9 lbs. and 2 oz. Big sister Avery seems to be adjusting well--to no one's surprise.

My purpose for starting my blog is to talk books with all my fellow readers. I've been planning (or threatening) to do this for ages. Now that I have my daughter Laura as a captive audience, she's walking me through the steps. I plan to talk about what I am reading, what I have read, and what's on my "to read next" stack. I'd like to organize and share my favorite links and intriguing reading-related articles and essays.

Please send feedback. I'm always looking for the next great read. Feel free to forward the address to anyone else who loves books too.