I pick up the Sunday paper and if there are no reviews of poetry books in the Book Review, I move along. I usually leaf through the sports page looking for some non-Yankees, non-Mets baseball coverage, or a quick pass through the Review for something not about politics, but nothing in the paper is satisfying. A student of mine said to me the other day: “I told my friends you only read poems.”
I put down the paper and pick up the poetry I am reading: Dunya Mikhail’s The Iraqi Nights and pick up where I left off last night, with a 24-part poem called “Tablets.” Last night, it took me over an hour to get through the first poem in the book, the title poem, because I was researching all of the references to Arabic mythology about which I am woefully uneducated. (Ishtar and Tammuz, if you are interested.)
I don’t read memoir or creative non-fiction. I haven’t read a novel in months. Almost a year, I think. I really only read poetry because there’s so much I haven’t read and I think at this point in my life, I will never get caught up. Here’s a short list of what I’ve finished or started reading in the last few weeks: Benjamin Alire Sáenz’s Dreaming the End of the War, Martín Espada’s Vivas to Those Who Have Failed, Raúl Zurita’s Purgatorio, francine j. harris’s Allegiance, Krista Franklin’s Study of Love and the Black Body, Diana Garcia’s When Living was a Labor Camp.
I think there are some others, but I’m losing track.Where to go next?