(This What We’re Reading post comes to us from 2nd year poet, Makensi Ceriani)
Hum by Jamaal May: This collection had me put up in bed for a day just keeping with the resonance. This book hums, literally, as the writing is so sound-focused and beat driven. But the beat isn’t just in the meter or the diction, I heard knees cracking, the scrub of worn velvet, the pouring of fresh orange juice, the pouring of fresh blood, “a chrome zipper interlocking throat to sternum.” May writes with beautiful, heavy intention of heartbreaks and fears and I couldn’t put the book down.
I Have to Go Back To 1994 and Kill a Girl by Karyna McGlynn: This book doesn’t want to let it’s reader in. It is actively organized to keep the reader in the dark until the better half of the last third of the collection. I have read it twice now and I am still surprised when the poems decide to let me in, because it felt like a different place. As if the poems had moved on me. And I am not mad about it. I really enjoy how this book makes the reader work to understand the driving content, and it is driving; the only way to read this is to be taken in by it. McGlynn delivers no sensitivity to placing the reader, no anchors for a “friend’s panties the glow worm man stuck ‘gainst your ribs & tumbling in ectoplastic joy”. There is an inevitability to each poem, that even if they are not clear, they are known.
The Dictionary of Sacred and Magical Plants by Christian Ratsch: I haven’t actually read this whole book, as it is more a catalog of plants that are considered throughout world cultures to have healing (and psychedelic) properties. I always tell myself I’m going to learn up on plants and flower symbolism so I can use it more in my writing. Currently I know about Thornapple or datura: aphrodisiac, narcotic, toxin, used historically throughout India, the Caribbean, and Eastern Europe. Known by witches, magicians, thugs, yogis, and monks.
And now we get to the books that I want to read; that I have lined up on my “Next If I Only Had The Time” list. (I keep these books on my desk in my office as a sort of passive aggressive reminder to myself.)
Love Poems by Anne Sexton: I want to practice writing love poems; I want to write the falling. I haven’t actually read Sexton before and I feel that we deserve each other, or that’s my romantic notion of why I’ve checked out this book three times in the past year without reading more than the table of contents. I want to commit.
Vampires in the Lemon Grove by Karen Russell: It just has a sick title for a collection of short stories.