As for poetry criticism, I am reading a critical book on Jean Follain, but in English the book I’m looking forward to the most is The Embattled Lyric: Essays and Conversations in Poetics and Anthropology by Nathaniel Tarn. Tarn came through Ann Arbor earlier this year and gave a couple of great presentations through the One Pause Poetry Series (you can see what they do and access videos of the readings they sponsor and the conversations they have with poets at www.onepausepoetry.org). Tarn has thought deeply about the intersections of the art with the culture that creates the art, more deeply than some other poets, and more originally than some academics. Plus he is the poet who came up with the idea of the “bird-scape,” the notion that a bird in a landscape changes our perception of the landscape. How can I not love him?
As I get older I find myself growing on the one hand much more flexible, more resilient, more inclined to take risks, and yet at the same time I can feel my interests and affections calcifying. My taste is turning pathological. More of this and less of that, then the next year even more and even less until, I suppose, one day I will cut out that entirely and shutter myself inside stacks of this. By then there will be a new “contemporary” and I will be, in some sense, happily past tense.
“In the sweep of its two wings, the huge mass of the castle mingled with the crests of the supporting rock; it lost itself, farther down, in the rugged surface of a cliff which dominated a broad stretch of ruins like the path of an avalanche; houses and terraces, here, could be seen clinging to the side of a hill whose base was already bathed in shadow. The whole pile of giant stones seemed unbelievable, looming in the sunset light against the horizon blocked by the clear blue lines of the Lubéron. This was Oppède.”
I don’t know about you, but I have tremendous resistance to gunking up my summer with to-do lists. Not that I don’t have them. An MQR summer reading list was at the top of my list, in fact. But summer in Vermont is hard earned, and hiking mountains trumped computer time. Then, there was a trip to Minnesota to help Bridget Beck celebrate her newest sculpture with poetry workshops and a reading in a corn field turned sculpture park; a show of my own to install at the Red Mill Gallery at the Vermont Studio Center; and finally, a move back to Georgia where I’ll finish up my dissertation this year. Now, lo and behold, the passage of Labor Day in the U.S. rules out white shoes till the spring, and college football tells me that it’s definitely fall even if it’s still a sweltering wet here in Georgia. While I can no longer conscionably offer you a summer reading list, the MQR blog contributors took their deadline more seriously than their editor did—bless them for it—and with apologies for my deadbeat-ness, I offer you a wonderful array of books to tempt you inside as the heat abates, and the leaves begin to turn. As the season moves toward a time when it’s cozy to cuddle up with a good book without the burden of a wandering eye begging you to head outside for summer fun, we hope you’ll make time for reading for fun. Our suggestions follow, and we hope that you’ll share your own summer/fall reading list with us (whether it’s actual or aspirational).