Tag Archives: Walt Whitman

Books Acquired Recently: AWP Edition

This morning I got back from the 2019 Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Portland. It was a fantastic time! I saw some authors that I love and encountered some new writers whose work I cannot wait to check out.

As usual when I go to conferences, the bookfair was a highlight of the trip. AWP’s gigantic bookfair is legendary. It is, frankly, overwhelming, even for a hardcore bibliophile/book-buying addict such as myself. I acquired 17 books. I was able to get Awkward-Rich’s, Berggrun’s, Chee’s, Chen’s, Davis’s, Dawn’s, Dentz’s, and Tedesco’s signed. Note that all of the books except Chee’s are published by small independent presses, which are more important to support than ever. I bought most of the books from the publishers themselves, but I got Awkward-Rich’s, Chee’s, Chen’s, and Smith’s from the Powell’s display at the center of the fair. Powell’s handed out free commemorative tote bags and pins with purchases from their booth, both neat souvenirs.

I also bought a Walt Whitman Brooklyn Poets t-shirt–I couldn’t resist. I also wanted to get the Audre Lorde shirt, but they were a bit pricey ($25.60 each) so I will have to get it another time.

Awkward-Rich, Cameron. Sympathetic Little Monster. Los Angeles: Ricochet Editions, 2016.

Berggrun, Chase. Red. Minneapolis: Birds, LLC, 2018.

This book is an erasure poem created from Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula.

Chee, Alexander. How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays. Boston: Mariner Books, 2018.

Chen, Ching-In. The Heart’s Traffic: A Novel in Poems. Los Angeles: Arktoi Books, 2009.

Dangarembga, Tsitsi. This Mournable Body. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2018.

Davis, Todd. Some Heaven: Poems. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2007.

Dawn, Amber. How Poetry Saved My Life: A Hustler’s Memoir. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013.

Dentz, Shira. the sun a blazing zero. New Orleans: Lavender Ink, 2018.

Hopkinson, Nalo. Report from Planet Midnight Plus…. Oakland: PM Press, 2012.

Jih, Tristan Allen, and Adam Vines. Day Kink: Poems. Greensboro, NC: Unicorn Press, 2018.

Le Guin, Ursula K. “The Wild Girls” Plus…. Oakland: PM Press, 2011.

Sato, Hiroaki. On Haiku. New York: New Directions, 2018.

Scenters-Zapico, Natalie. Lima:: Limón. Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2019.

Smith, Danez. Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2017.

Soto, Christopher, ed. Nepantla: An Anthology for Queer Poets of Color. New York: Nightboat Books, 2018.

Tedesco, Adam. Mary Oliver. Fruita, CO: Lithic Press, 2019.

This is a book of poems about Oliver. Meta!

Tovar, Virgie. You Have the Right to Remain Fat. New York: Feminist Press, 2018.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

Davis, Todd. Native Species. East Lansing: Michigan State University Press, 2019.

Davis is a former professor of mine and he also kindly blurbed my new book. Native Species is his six full-length collection of poetry. I bought it directly from the publisher.

Gallop, Jane. Anecdotal Theory. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002.

I loved Gallop’s most recent book, Sexuality, Disability, and Aging, in which she discusses her earlier book Anecdotal Theory. The latter work sounds like it is relevant for my current project so I bought a copy from amazon.com’s network of independent booksellers.

Giovanni, Nikki. A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter. 2017. New York: William Morrow, 2018.

I received this signed copy from a friend who attended Giovanni’s reading at Colgate University earlier this week. I enjoy Giovanni’s work–I have one of her poems on my office door–but have not read any of her recent stuff, so I am looking forward to diving into this volume.

Whitman, Walt. “Leaves of Grass” and Other Writings. Edited by Michael Moon. New York: W.W. Norton, 2002.

I love Whitman, and thus ordered this exam copy from the publisher in order to read its paratext.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently

The Laurel Poetry Series.

The Laurel Poetry Series.

Blake, William. Blake. Ed. Ruthven Todd. New York: Dell, 1960.

Browning, Robert. Browning. Ed. Reed Whittemore. New York: Dell, 1960.

Herbert, George. Herbert. Ed. Dudley Fitts. New York: Dell, 1962.

Herrick, Robert. Herrick. Ed. William Jay Smith. New York: Dell, 1962.

Jonson, Ben. Ben Jonson. Ed. John Hollander. New York: Dell, 1961.

Keats, John. Keats. Ed. Howard Moss. New York: Dell, 1959.

Marvell, Andrew. Marvell. Ed. Joseph H. Summers. New York: Dell, 1961.

Whitman, Walt. Whitman. Ed. Leslie A. Fiedler. New York: Dell, 1959.

I was at the grocery store yesterday, and they were having a used book sale to benefit a local charity. A set of books that was rubber-banded together immediately caught my eye because the cover of the top volume was clearly an illustration of Walt Whitman, one of my favorite writers. The books turned out to be selections from the Laurel Poetry Series. The set only cost $1.00, so I bought it because the books are so aesthetically pleasing. It was definitely an instance of appreciating books-as-furniture. While I enjoy the work of Whitman, Blake, and Herrick, I’m not sure if I will actually read any of the books, but they deserve a good home, which I will give them. They are all in very good condition despite being from the 1960s. Several volumes have a stamp on the first page that reads “Dave Harralson English Department,” and a Google search quickly turned up a Dave Harralson who worked at Utica College (which is where I currently teach), so their provenance is established.

Waters, Sarah. The Paying Guests. New York: Riverhead, 2014.

The New Yorker had a brief review of Waters’s latest novel last week, and I bought it (on amazon.com) immediately, as she is one of my favorite writers. It is nearly 600 pages long, but I hope to find time to read it soon.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Lucy

I decided to see the movie Lucy today because the commercials I’d seen for it made it look like it would raise some interesting philosophical questions about what it means to be human rather than simply being a stereotypical action film, and I was not disappointed. I enjoyed it thoroughly; it was one of those rare art pieces that helps me touch the sublime. My mind is still buzzing from it.

I won’t go into too much detail about the film here because I don’t want to spoil it, but I will say that the major reason I liked it was because it dealt rather explicitly with two of my favorite theories: Walt Whitman’s idea that everything is connected and thus life is in a sense eternal (though not in a religious way) and Donna Haraway’s idea of humans as cyborgs, beings that extend beyond the boundaries of their physical bodies to encompass other elements of the world. At one point Lucy says “we never really die,” and this idea is never explained clearly within the context of the movie itself (I fear that most viewers will miss its significance), but in light of Whitman’s constant assertions throughout “Song of Myself” that we continue to exist after our bodies die in the natural world, the statement makes perfect sense. At the end of the film a character asks of Lucy “where is she?,” and she, for lack of a better term, texts “I am everywhere,” just as the 1855 version of “Song of Myself” ends “I stop some where waiting for you.” Likewise, the film explores Whitman’s idea of universal divinity as Lucy becomes a kind of secular Christ figure, connecting humanity back to the Big Bang and reconnecting with the first human, “Lucy” (for whom the title character is, of course, named), reminding us that we are all interconnected.

Similarly, with regard to Haraway’s idea of what it means to be “post-human,” Lucy literally becomes a cyborg in the RoboCop sense of the word, melding with a super computer before her ultimate meld with the universe. This post-humanness is the saddest part of the film, and is acknowledged by Lucy as such, because even though she breaks the restrictive bonds of what it is to be human, in doing so she loses her humanity, her selfhood, and is not given a choice in the matter. She is impregnated with her powers in a way reminiscent of the virgin Mary (i.e., it is not literal rape, but it is very close, and yes, Lucy is both a Jesus figure and a Marian one, but the film manages this double symbolism quite nicely), forced to do her best with her lot. Scarlett Johansson does an excellent job portraying Lucy’s other-than-humanness in heart-breaking, compelling fashion. By the end of the film, her character makes the viewer uncomfortable because as a post-human she has become objectified, and this objectification verges on exploitation, but at the same time Lucy recognizes her objectification and uses it for the good of humanity, so maybe it is okay. I’m still trying to process it. But that is a good thing because the best art refuses to offer easy answers, and this is why Lucy succeeds.

2 Comments

Filed under Miscellaneous

Books Acquired Recently: Strand Edition

Yesterday I once again visited my favorite place in the world, the Strand Bookstore at 12th and Broadway in Manhattan. I was recently remarking to a friend how when I lived within walking distance of the Strand about a decade ago it always seemed like I would go there and there would be a book specifically waiting for me, whether it was the book that I had gone there to look for in an exquisite edition, or a book that I didn’t know that I was looking for (as I would often go just to browse and see what caught my eye) that grabbed me and was somehow a perfect fit. The past few times I’ve gone to the store this hasn’t happened, and it has been depressing (though, of course, I’ve still enjoyed myself there) as a symbol of how both my relationship to the city and the store itself have changed (the Strand looks fantastic now, but I miss its old, badly lit grittiness before the renovations that were completed seven or eight years ago). But when I went yesterday, it happened again in three instances! It was tremendously exciting.

I eschewed a shopping cart when I entered the store, vowing that I would only buy as much as I could carry in one hand. I am proud that I had enough fortitude to stick to this vow, which is why I only bought five books.

Ashbery, John, and James Schuyler. A Nest of Ninnies. 1969. Champaign: Dalkey Archive, 2008.

I have been wanting to read this novel for quite a while because I am a big fan of the New York School poets and because I enjoyed Schuyler’s novel What’s for Dinner?, but it is a relatively minor work and thus I have never gotten around to it. But there was a stack of copies on one of the fiction tables at the back of the store on the first floor, and it was priced at only $5.95 new, so I had to have it.

Davis, Lydia. The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis. New York: Picador, 2009.

I have never read any of Davis’s work before, but recently read an article about her in the New Yorker that intrigued me, so I decided that I would begin looking for this collection the next time I was in a good (i.e., not Barnes & Noble) bookstore. Of course the Strand had a stack of this aesthetically pleasing volume right at the front of the store!

Robbe-Grillet, Alain. A Sentimental Novel. 2007. Trans. D.E. Brooke. Champaign: Dalkey Archive, 2014.

I have enjoyed the work of Robbe-Grillet’s that I’ve read, so I picked this book up while browsing and was immediately drawn to it by the beginning of its blurb: “In France, Alain Robbe-Grillet’s final novel was sold in shrink-wrap, labeled with a sticker warning that this adult fairy tale might offend certain sensibilities.” Sold! I read it on the train ride home and enjoyed it (on an academic level, you dirty-minded readers) for the most part. It is like a better version of Sade without all of the political diatribes.

Wallace, David Foster. Everything and More: A Compact History of Infinity. 2003. New York: Atlas-Norton, 2010.

I love David Foster Wallace, so I bought this book even though I am not a mathematics enthusiast. I appreciate learning about intellectual history, though, and am therefore hopeful and expectant that Wallace will make this subject fascinating to me. After I read his unfinished novel The Pale King, which is mostly about IRS agents, I was half-tempted to become an accountant, so I am confident that my investment in this volume will not have been in vain.

Whitman, Walt. Franklin Evans or The Inebriate: A Tale of the Times. 1842. Ed. Christopher Castiglia and Glenn Hendler. Durham: Duke UP, 2007.

I love Whitman’s poetry, but have never read this, his only novel, which is supposed to be awful. I’ve been wanting to read it since one of my students did a presentation on it this past year, and when I saw it I knew I had to buy it immediately because I am acquainted with Chris Castiglia! He is a lovely man who teaches at Penn State. It is always exciting to buy a book by someone whom you know. Thus I will enjoy reading it even if the novel itself is terrible.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently: Desk Copies Edition

Today I received all of my desk copies for the upcoming semester. I’ll be teaching semester one of the first-year composition course, American Literature to 1865, and American Literature Post-1945. It should be a fun semester toggling back and forth between the two American literature extremes! It will make a fascinating contrast.

I already have copies of most of these books, just not the editions that are currently in print, hence the necessity of acquiring the ones listed below.

Bottini, Joseph P., and James L. Davis. Utica: Then & Now. Charleston: Arcadia, 2007.

Cooper, James Fenimore. The Last of the Mohicans. 1826. New York: Penguin, 1986.

DeLillo, Don. Falling Man. 2007. New York: Scribner, 2008.

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Young Goodman Brown and Other Short Stories. New York: Dover, 1992.

Irving, Washington. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and Other Stories. New York: Penguin, 1999.

McClatchy, J.D., ed. The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Poetry. 2nd ed. New York: Vintage, 2003.

Nelson, G. Lynn. Writing and Being: Embracing Your Life Through Creative Journaling. Novato: New World, 2004.

Poe, Edgar Allen. The Complete Short Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (Volume I of II). N.P.: Digireads.com, 2012.

Roth, Philip. Goodbye, Columbus: And Five Short Stories. 1959. New York: Vintage, 1993.

Walker, Alice. The Color Purple. 1982. Orlando: Harvest, 2003.

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass. 1855. New York: Penguin, 1986.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature

Books Acquired Recently: Rocky Mountain MLA Edition II

Today I walked around downtown Boulder, Colorado with a colleague and several new friends as Rocky Mountain MLA wound down. We visited two excellent bookstores, Red Letter Secondhand Books (where they gave me my books in a recycled Borders bag! Independent bookstores forever!) and Left Hand Book Collective, a fantastic all-volunteer leftist bookstore (though I’d like to think that their name is inspired in part by Simon and Garfunkel’s “A Simple Desultory Philippic”: “I been Ayn Randed, nearly branded Communist, ’cause I’m left-handed. That’s the hand I use… well, never mind.”). I bought the Atwood and Whitman at the former and the Marable and Hugo (half-price!) at the latter.

Atwood, Margaret. Dancing Girls and Other Stories. 1977. New York: Anchor, 1998.

I have an essay coming out on one of the stories from this collection, “Rape Fantasies,” but did not actually own the collection itself. I’ve been looking for a copy of it for a while, and this one is in good condition and was only $6.00.

Hugo, Richard. Selected Poems. New York: Norton, 1979.

I’ve enjoyed the Hugo that I’ve read in anthologies, and have almost bought his Collected Poems several times. I haven’t bought or read any poetry in quite a while, so I decided to finally break down and buy one of Hugo’s books since both the vendor and the price were right.

Marable, Manning. Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention. New York: Penguin, 2011.

Marable’s book has gotten excellent reviews (in fact, it won the Pulitzer) and I’ve been meaning to pick it up for a while.

Whitman, Walt. Leaves of Grass and Democratic Vistas. London: Everyman’s, 1912.

Whitman is one of my literary obsessions, and as such I own numerous printings of Leaves of Grass. This Everyman’s Library edition is aesthetically pleasing and includes an introduction by one of Whitman’s friends, Horace Traubel. It’s interesting to note that Whitman died in relative obscurity in 1892, but twenty years later he was already canonical enough for the Library to reprint his work.

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature