July Reading Wrap Up


What a month! I read Moby-Dick for the very first time (more posts on that to come, I’m sure), finally got my hands on Saga Vol. 4, and read some damn good poetry collections. Let’s dig in!

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June Reading Wrap Up


I was fortunate enough to be able to spend the majority of June reading primarily for enjoyment. I read 4 poetry collections, a poetry chapbook, and several comic books. I was able to knock out 3 books that were on my poetry TBR back in April, and am excited to report some of my hits and misses. Everything I read this month was pretty short, so there are a lot of books to cover. Let’s dive in!

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My Poetry TBR as of April 2015

Here’s a glance at my poetry To Be Read pile. For my purposes here, let’s define TBR as those books that I own, but haven’t read yet.


Several of these books were purchased at poetry readings I attended as far back as 2012, and I really should have read them by now. Others are brand new purchases. I am ecstatic about War of the Foxes by Richard Siken and can’t wait to dig in!

Child Made of Sand – Thomas Lux

Heart. Wood. – Eric Torgersen

Scything Grace – Sean Thomas Dougherty

Sasha Sings the Laundry on the Line – Sean Thomas Dougherty

Practical Gods – Carl Dennis

Wolf Lake, White Gown Blown Open – Dianne Seuss

War of the Foxes – Richard Siken

Call Me Ishmael Tonight – Agha Shahid Ali

Wolf Doctors – Russ Woods

Sappho – Translated by Mary Barnard

Have you read any of these books? 

Bi-Monthly Review: The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry

The Bi-Monthly Review is a twice monthly feature of whatever I happen to be reading. Highly informal. Opinions are my own. Try to enjoy.


This past summer, I purchased The Penguin Anthology of 20th Century American Poetry with the goal of reading it cover to cover. I wanted to become exposed to poets I wouldn’t read otherwise, and I wanted to build a framework to improve my understanding of 20th century american poetry as a whole. (More on my initial goals here: https://danaljohnson.wordpress.com/2014/08/06/currently-reading-the-penguin-anthology-of-twentieth-century-american-poetry/ ).

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Poets are real things – Go see them

It’s true. Poets are alive. They breathe, they eat, they slave away at their typewriters (what decade is this?) to make their soul-thoughts into real, tangible things we can hold in our hands, and spill coffee on. Sometimes, poets get up in front of people and say personal things about themselves, and read their poetry to strangers. Actually, they’re doing this a lot, and you should go watch them while they do it and maybe buy a book, and inconspicuously touch them shoe-to-shoe while they kindly write something silly in your copy like “good luck on YOUR poems.”

I started going to poetry readings in college, and got so hooked on them that I’m now willing to drive hours just to see poets I haven’t even read. The thing about writing is that it is highly personal… It’s something you do on your own, and sometimes, when you’re sitting in a dark room and contemplating how eerie it is that onions continue sprouting even in your pantry, it’s easy to forget that there are people out there doing exactly (well, probably not exactly…) the same thing you are. Sometimes I wonder if my writing lifestyle is disciplined enough, or if I spend enough time editing, or if any of it will ever get any easier. Listening to other poets read and talk about their work and lifestyle always inspires me, because it reminds me that there aren’t any real answers to these questions. Everyone is different.

Writers don’t just read their work… They answer questions, they tell us about their writing life. A couple of things I’ve learned:

Sofia Starnes is a ritualistic writer who takes a few quiet hours at night to work, but doesn’t write when she’s traveling.

And it’s normal for Tracy K. Smith to take breaks from writing poetry.

Yet, all the advice is telling us we need to practice our art everysingledaynoexceptionswhatesoever. Just do what works for you.

And what’s more, listening to poets read their work, on wonderful, rare occasions, can be so powerful that you forget to breathe for entire stanzas. Who wouldn’t drive a few hours for that?