Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Ultimate Starters List in Contemporary Poetry

I stood in front of the Barns and Noble poetry section for 15 minutes during my lunch break today. And wasn't motivated to buy anything. Most of the poets were old, for one thing (nothing wrong with that but I already have a bunch of anthologies from high-school and the library). Most of the books were bound in black, or greeny-gray. There were two ocher-yellow bound books. Common, tell me there is another poetry-lover out there who also loves pink!

Anyways, for starting my collection of Poetry Books by Contemporary Authors I'm going to abandon Barnes and Nobles. Instead I'll start out with a bunch of books I've discovered and become enthused about through blogging. I'm too sleepy to hunt them down now, but check back later for my starters list. And of course please feel free to post suggestions for your own ultimate starters list in contemporary poetry books!


Yay! Justin Evans has well-chosen ideas for starters. I'll add those to the bunch of books I've been mulling over getting. Oddly enough one of them is Justin's. I've been reading his blog.

Two books I heard about via Robert Brewer's blog:
Spare Change, by Kevin Pilkington because he writes about NYC and life in a lucid way I wish I could.
The Amputee's Guide to Sex, by Jillian Weise because she sounds utterly new (and just cause).
Lawrence Joseph's Into It because he's on my lawyer list--thanks Jilly!
Justin's Gathering up the Scattered Leaves because I like his blog.


I will decide which books to order first later. I'm sleepy again. Retail does that to you.

Friday, May 30, 2008

$270 Dollars and a Poetry Book

So today I got my first paycheck from my new job. $270 and 96 cents. Hallelujah! Life is good. Paychecks are good. Money is good. So lets see. I'll put $270 aside for rent, $270 for food, $270 for student loans, $270 for credit cards, $270 for a new dress and those pink shoes I've been talking about. Wait a minute. Is something screwy or are my math skills not working out again?

Regardless. I'll put addition in suspension for a moment and put $10 of the $270 aside for a poetry book. I hope the poetry gods will be pleased. Now I have $260 for rent, $260 for food, $260 for student loans...

Collecting Contemporary Poetry Books

Image via Colorado Canyon

I have always hated the concept of collecting. Bringing objects together by category seems so pointless. To my mind, you should buy something because of its excellence or usefulness, for instance, buy a painting because it is pretty, not because it is "Picasso". Or buy a sculpture because it fits nicely into a corner, not because it is a Kitty and fits in with your cat potholders, kitten salt shakers, and 50 other catty objects.

Having railed against collecting for years, it falls into the predictable pattern of becoming one's opposites that I should now suddenly want to start a collection of my own. Except, my collection is of course going to be both excellent and useful. I want to start a collection of poetry books by contemporary authors.

I suppose it is a symptom of finally growing up and wanting to settle down that I should suddenly want to own the books themselves. Up til now, I've been focused on living on a minimum. I've been perfectly happy cribbing books off of friends, poems off the web, and maxing out my library card. But now I suddenly want to have the books on a little shelf as all my own. I want, I guess, a collection.

I am going to start making lists and calculating budgets. I'll post updates here. Let me know of your own must-reads and must-haves.

Poems and Dreams

Image via New York Times

A silly poem about a dream today:

In a dream of mine
The world was an
Underground tunnel
You could live two lives
You could sleep on the
Speeding train or
Jump off the train into
A wonderful underground
Lake and there play
All day with silver vessels
Making vegetable
Soup splashing in
The warm water.
I love speeding trains
And splashing in
Underground lakes but
Was glad on waking
Up that I had more than
These two choices in life.

I really did have that dream, complete with vegetable soup. It got me thinking about invention, memory, boundaries, and how the mind works.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Pink Shoe Plans for the next 6 Months

Image via Beauty Daily

Come June it will be 6 months since I've moved to NYC. So far, I've completed an internship job at a photography gallery, started this blog, and I am now working at New York's oldest department store. Never mind that I was termed the the world's worst seller of art by my boss at the gallery. Never mind that that my current co-workers are mostly without college degrees. Never mind that this blog has a resounding readership of 0. In the interest of moving on, I'll call it an fabulous start.

But... in the next 6 months I want to do so, so much more. Namely:

-get an awesome full-time job
-get my very own NYC apartment (currently living with my molecular cell biologist Aunt and her very smart poodle)
-write at least 5 poems a month
-get a poem published somewhere
-start a collection of poetry books by contemporary poets
-take the GMAT
-sign up for a triathlon

Now, I am a quiet, slow person and the only thing I really excel at in life is staring out a window. It is hard to get myself motivated to do anything. So... this is where the pink shoes come in. On completing each one of these goals, I'm going to reward myself with a pair of pink shoes. That should take care of the motivation. Waitttt. That's a lot of pink shoes (7 pairs). In the interest of variation, I'll consider substituting an equally fun and glamorous item that I would not otherwise consider. Like perfume in a pink bottle. Or a pink camera. Or a spa day with pink nails. I'll post updates on each event, I promise. :)

On being Keira Knightley

Image via Mail Online

It is 1:56am and
I've decided I'm
Going to be Keira
Morning. This is
Because at nearly
2am, I know I'm
Going to be in
A dreadful state
Waking up for
Work and will
Need inspiration.
Right now my
Thoughts won't
Stop and I don't
Care that each
Moment makes
The morning worse
But if I can be
Keira Knightley
Tomorrow morning
I'm willing to go to
Sleep for that.*

*Disclaimer: I am not Keira Knightley.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Poetry and Law

I have a new theory about poetry. I think that the thought process that goes into poetry writing is similar to the thought process underlying the study and practice of law. To test this theory, I looked into the lives of major poets and came up with a decent handful of scribes who were indeed both poets and lawyers. My findings (via wikipedia and Jilly): William Cullen Bryant, Seth Abramson, Wallace Stevens, Francis Scott Key, Moliere, James Russell Lowell, Lawrence Joseph.

My interest in linking poetry and law comes from a pet peeve of mine: the tendency to view poetry writing as windy emotional venting. Instead, it's more of a mental game, one that should require both precise logical grasp of shades of meaning and syntax, and creativity and innovation in uncovering previously overlooked linkages and possibilities.

Somewhat like how I imagine a lawyer on a good case to work. Though admittedly, I know very little about law and almost nothing about lawyers. In fact, I have had only one experience interacting with a lawyer. This happened shortly after I came to New York when I went on a date with a lawyer from an investment bank. I was still shy of the city and everything in it and it was all I could do to say a word. The guy, however, talked more than I have ever heard anyone talk, and also asked more questions than I have ever heard anyone ask. This was disconcerting, especially when he continued the barrage while trying to kiss me. To be interrogated while being kissed is confounding. Back at home, it took me three days of hard thinking to figure it out. It finally dawned on me. "Oh...he's a lawyer." He was using the same techniques to get a quiet girl to kiss as he would to get an uncommunicative witness to talk.

Why should I be Something rather than Nothing?

image via hereinstead

A poem about being a little bit lost in the city again:

Sometimes I'm a
Little like the
Nothing that a
Wrathful God stretched
Out his hand to
Tell me, why should
I continue the upset
That his harsh hand

New start

image via Prophetic

So mid-April, exactly half-way through poetry month, I managed to loose all zest for poetry. The reasons were economical. I have always had a Saint Francis sort of ideal that poetry should thive in the absense of regular income. However it doesn't seem to work out this way for me. Now however I have a new job, all sorts of new ideas, and a bunch of new goals. And thus much fuel for future posts. In celebration of this, I'm giving this blog a new title, changing the previous boring Poet's Journal to the current glamorous Pink Shoes in my Mind, courtesy of the below ditty I just wrote.

Pink Shoes in my Mind

In my mind
I wear pink shoes
With bows
My wardrobe though
Is drab with grays
And blacks and blues
Can anyone see
The pink bows in
My mind? No.