Thoughts

Goodbye Poetry Month. . .

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Here we are the end of April, Readers & here are the last of the personal poetry readings I’ll be posting this month.  I did have fun recording these & figuring how to best perform them, so I may keep putting up a few but for now, these are the last two.  They are “Funny Valentine” by Claudia Emerson & “Ellen West” by Frank Bidart.  Also, NPR has a fantastic poem written by a nurse/writing student about the cases she sees here.  Happy Poetry Month, everyone!

Thoughts

Poems for April

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Hello readers!  We’re just a few days away from the end of National Poetry Month.  I’ve added two more personal readings to the public Dropbox folder I’m sharing here.  This week, we’ve got “The Garden of Love” by William Blake & “Organist” by Claudia Emerson.  I’m trying to keep the two that I put up related some way, so I hope you enjoy these new readings!

Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Electric Forest

Electric ForestElectric Forest by Tanith Lee

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In a near-perfect society, the ugly Magdala bides her time on the edges, waiting for the small luxuries she allows herself & to eventually die unnoticed. That is until the charismatic Claudio enters her life & presents her with more than she could have ever dreamed: beauty &, with it, power. Little does she know the price that she must pay for this fantasy.

If I could, I would give this as a fuck-you-very-much present to the character Roman DeBeers. Because the story certainly comes across as if Tanith Lee wrote it on a fit of pique, where every justification she gave for the story & its structure is driven by “because I say so.” Why is this story about a futuristic society presented as a book? Because it’s a part of an academic presentation & because I say so. Why is the subject avatars & displaced consciousness? Because the idea of changing personas can be used in unhealthy ways & because I say so. Why should readers who like “hard sci-fi” be interested in what is ultimately a story about relationships & self-perception? Because we should not “ignore the nakedness of humanity before the huge-wheeled vehicle of progress”, oh, and BECAUSE I SAY SO.

While the story itself is captivating (it is really more of a traditional noir story reskinned with tech), I found myself drawn to Forest’s meta-ness & how the main character flits in & out of awareness of the greater forces around her. I found myself not moved by Magdala’s struggle to define & redefine herself through her trials but by the pure idealism presented in the epilogue. It is a truly authentic statement about why the arts, literature, & chosen illusion remain important in a society that is constantly looking forward & outstripping its reach with cold purpose. But I’ve also read other stories by Lee & I know that her idealism is never starry-eyed & is always waiting to be grounded by reality. I loved it & will probably reread it soon to pick apart its structure with my new insights.

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Thoughts

Poetry Reading Time!

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Poetry Month is winding down & since I had been reminiscing about Thursday Poems at my college recently, I thought I would put up a few readings.  Right now, there are just two poems in this Dropbox folder: “When All My Five and Country Senses See” by Dylan Thomas & “This Is a Photograph of Me” by Margaret Atwood.  But I’ll be adding to it over the next few days & posting updates here for those who are interested.  Enjoy!

Books, Thoughts

Off the Shelf: Green Tea and Other Ghost Stories

Green Tea and Other Ghost StoriesGreen Tea and Other Ghost Stories by J. Sheridan Le Fanu

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I recently got this little Dover Thrift collection as part of a boxed set of mystery & supernatural stories. I chose to read Le Fanu first because Carmilla is on my to-read list & I wanted to get a taste of what this author’s style was like. Unfortunately, the four stories presented here did not give me much to go on. The first story “Green Tea” was interesting enough & had a sort of Hawthorne-esque twist to it, where the reader doesn’t really know if the supernatural hallucinations are a product of the character’s guilt, some physical ailment or an actual batch of bad green tea. (If it is that last option, than this story becomes an unintentionally hilarious cautionary tale for this former Mormon reader.) However, the last three stories are all variations on deals with the devils or bad karma, with two of them being nearly identical.

I find myself wondering if I’m missing something. I’m uncertain if this is simply a poor collection or whether Le Fanu’s Victorian prose has a subtext that I’m not picking up due to his circumspect style. I do still want to read Carmilla at some point, but right now, I’m not much impressed with these stories.

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