Saturday, April 26, 2014

An Illuminated Rumi : Poem In Your Post

Let us choose one another as Companions.
Let us sit at one another's feet.

Come a little closer now,
so that we may see each other's faces.
Inside we share so many secrets —

Do not believe we are simply what these eyes can see.
Now we are music together
sharing one cup and an armful of roses.

                      - Mawlana Jalal Ad-din Mohammed Rumi

For a gloriously crafted collection of Rumi poems, translated by Coleman Barks and illuminated by Michael Green, start here.

You will want your own copy to peruse in contemplation, so why not take a mindful stroll to your local bookseller to enjoy the many wonders there too?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Incendiary Girls : A What She Read Review

Do get yourself a copy and then pass it around:
you won't be disappointed!
Find it at your local bookseller,
via this Amazon link (sample the stories there too)
or via this Indiebound link.
Let me begin by telling you that I've already recommended Incendiary Girls to friends who appreciate the particular gratification of reading a beautifully wrought short story, and that I have two in the queue to borrow my copy, if and when I choose to part with it.

And for those of you who favor a healthy dose of magic with your realism - as I do - Kodi Scheer's first collection is a must-read.

It's been a swell month for the contemporary American short story at my house, as my Dave and I listened to George Saunders read his collection Tenth of December late in March, then I picked up Karen Russell's Vampires in the Lemon Grove from our amazing "little library" branch's "Happy Go Lucky" shelf (all current best-selling or critically acclaimed paperbacks, two week loans, no holds, no renewals - just happy book luck), and then Incendiary Girls rose to the top of my TBR-for-book-tours pile.

Truth:  Kodi Scheer's stories stand up easily to the works of her two oft-lauded, more experienced, and certainly better-known contemporaries.  In fact, I thought that Incendiary Girls compared favorably to Russell's latest.  Why?  Scheer offers readers equally intriguing and imaginative premises but with consistent depth of character and humor to balance sometimes bleak scenarios. Russell, not so much, on both counts.

Specifics, you say?  Scheer writes in the tradition of contemporary magical realists:  we enter the entirely ordinary worlds of everyday people and occasionally "magical" occurrences simply slip in.  Protagonists generally accept such unusual events - a divorced doctor-mom suspects that her own mother has been  reincarnated into her daughter's horse ("Fundamental Laws of Nature") or a National Guardsman's obsessive-compulsive wife discovers his ear in their laundry hamper while he is still serving in the Gulf ("No Monsters Here") - and react to them as they would any more "realistic" unusual event. We readers stay closely aligned with these protagonists, and - exhibiting an artistic restraint that does this young author great credit - neither we nor they spend much time pondering why such events happen or even what they might mean symbolically.  Instead, we readers receive the gift of pondering for ourselves how the "magical" elements and characters' responses  resonate thematically and symbolically.  I love this sort of stuff, and detest writers who insist on over-explaining, so Scheer's work engaged me completely.

Eleven stories total offer diverse themes and levels of intensity; Ms. Scheer's fictional territory most- times includes anatomical and/or medical details that might be daunting for some readers, and she certainly doesn't shy away from the darker side of human nature, but - as I noted earlier - she nearly always balances intensity with lightness.  I'd especially recommend these stories to fans of Margaret Atwood's and Francine Prose's earlier magical-realistic collections, and to those who remember fondly Richard Selzer's work and the fictions or personal essays of other doctor-writers.

Two thumbs up from me for this new collection, with gratitude to the folks at TLC Book Tours for alerting me to the promise of Incendiary Girls.  Use the TLC link to sample other book lovers' responses to Incendiary Girls.

You can bet I'll be on the lookout for Kodi Scheer's future work as well.


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Shine : Poem In Your Post


Riches, a little dollop of your shine
is everything I need to make my day:
cheek of polished apple, wink of wine,
forehead semaphore along my way;
or torque of body gilded in the spray,
toothy, tonguey, stretched-saliva grin,
melon water sliding off a chin,
eyelash droplet where a sunbeam plays.
Slick of foam that glistens on the rim,
coffee cream curl, baby oil spill, oh, 
and gabardine lap-luster, zipper shimmer,
moiré patent-leather afterglow:
I hoard it, all the gold that makes you mine
(like finger ink spot, gaudy brilliantine).

                             - Jonathan Galassi

Gratitude again to Knopf for this lovely sonnet.  What sensory experiences do you need to make your day?  

Me?  Birds.  Wings.  Flight.  And the helicopter tail-wag of a singular chihuahua.   So it's all about exuberant air for me.  Still, I can appreciate the glimmer-glamour of "Shine".


p.s. Use the links to find out more about the poet Jonathan Galassi.  And do - if you have the power - support Knopf for supporting poets.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Sight : Poem In Your Post


a single cell 
found that it was full of light 
and for the first time there was seeing 

I was a bird 
I could see where the stars had turned 
and I set out on my journey 

in the head of a mountain goat 
I could see across a valley 
under the shining trees something moving 

in the green sea 
I saw two sides of the water 
and swam between them 

look at you 
in the first light of the morning 
for as long as I can

                      - W.S. Merwin

Learn more about prolific and oft-lauded poet-translator W.S. Merwin here.  Get a poem a day from Knopf throughout the month of April by checking the appropriate newsletter in the bar on the left side of their Poem-a-Day Page (with gratitude to a large publishing house that still celebrates poetry).  

MFB, briefly,

Saturday, April 5, 2014

This Day : Poem In Your Post

This is not a day for asking questions,
not a day on any calendar.
This day is conscious of itself.
This day is a lover, bread and gentleness.

                              - Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks

More poems by Mawlana Jalal Ad-din Mohammed Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks and Shahram Shiva.
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