Books Acquired Recently

Ai. No Surrender. New York: Norton, 2010.

Last Thursday I was grading some student essays about Martín Espada’s poetry reading on campus last month, and, as is often the case when reading student work, I was seized with an incredible desire to read literature (in this case poetry specifically) rather than reading writing about it. So after I was done at the office I walked up the hill to The King’s English Bookshop to look for some poetry because they have an excellent poetry section. I decided to buy Ai’s last collection even though I am not that familiar with her work–I’ve only read a few of her poems in anthologies. I read the book immediately and loved it! The collection consists primarily of long narrative poems, all very smooth, probably the best long poems I’ve read aside from Kenneth Koch’s. I highly recommend it.

Bergen, David. The Retreat. 2008. Toronto: Emblem, 2009.

As I’ve written here before, Bergen is one of my favorite novelists. However, I did not realize this book existed until I recently read his latest novel, The Age of Hope, which included The Retreat in the list of his previous books. Apparently it hasn’t been published in the U.S., which is why I didn’t receive the usual notification from about “a new book from an author whose books you’ve purchased before.” However, I was able to find a copy of the Canadian edition from one of their used booksellers.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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