Thursday, October 2, 2014

Books Read :: September

Ah, the true beginning of the semester. I was teaching 6 classes for a majority of September, 2 of which ended as September dwindled away. I still managed to get some reading in. Here's how I did.

Books Read in 2014: 35/52, according to GoodReads
(I also sort of abandonned the other challenge I had been doing, of prompts for each month, though I was enjoying it. I just forgot one month to check for the prompt. Maybe I'll pick it up again now that it's October? Who knows)

Want for Lion by Paige Taggart -- I needed a book of poetry that sort of roared at me and this one did the trick. So much poetry feels passive or detached, not in a bad way, but this book comes at you like, "what?!" It's jazzy and spazzy and not always punctuated and worth reading if that's your thing. I'm glad it's mine.

The Self Unstable by Elisa Gabbert -- I very seriously had trouble not dog-earing every page or every other page of this collection of poems/lyric essay/prose poetry/what have you. This book really spoke to me, and it's something I both want to keep to myself and share with the world. I recommend this book to all modern writers and all modern livers. Anyone alive. Anyone who likes to read. I know this is a vague recommendation, but the book just talks to you. It's like a friend, but minus how cheesy that sounds.

Nestuary by Molly Sutton Kiefer -- This was a book of lyric essay that at first I thought I might not be able to read because... I am hypochondriac, and the poet discusses an issue she had with conceiving in the early pages of the book.

Little Known Facts by Christine Sneed -- This novel-in-stories focused mainly around the son of a divorced couple, a mother who is a doctor and father who is a famous actor, should be a movie. It wasn't one of those novels that I thought, "this novel would make a better movie", but one of those novels that made me think, "this novel would make a really cool movie." I read it on my Kindle, and I was glad Kathleen Rooney recommended it to me.

Antwerp by Roberto Bolaño -- I felt very "what the fuck" about this novel-- novella? About this strange collection of obviously linked prose pieces that were each titled with a number. It read almost like a novel-in-prose-poems, except there was no clear narrative, no clear beginning middle and end. What it seemed most like, the most time I spent with it, was a strange version of a script for an abstract film that has yet to be made about a crime that maybe was committed, the perpetuators/victims of this crime, and/or the detectives investigating it. I liked it, but I didn't like it. I liked the writing, but I constantly felt like I was doing a puzzle and there were pieces missing. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

PHILALALIA: Unofficial List of Off-Site Events [9/25-27]

I've been doing social media for the upcoming art/lit/small press/poetry extravaganza PHILALALIA, where Gigantic Sequins will be tabling AND co-hosting an on-site event as well as kicking off the first "official" off-site event of the event at Tattooed Moms along with Philadelphia Review of Books and The Head & the Hand Press. 

The on-site events' schedule is on the official PHILALALIA site, and each and every one of them is FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. So please come out to the book fair and make some time to stop by one or more of the great on-site events. I am of course partial to the GS/Apiary reading, looking forward to the Temple Contemporary Publication Studio Presentation and their event Thursday night featuring the Poet Laureate and Youth Poet Laureate of Philly, and how can you go wrong with Eileen Myles Potluck Brunch? You just can't.

There's so much great lit-ness happening during the 3-day period of the whole shabang, though, that I wanted to get all the off-site events all in one place, too. So, without further ado, here's everything lit-related going on  9/25-9/28 in Philly. Try to go to everything. 


This is the *official* Philalalia off-site event, and it's going to rock, especially because it's at Tattooed Mom. Sean Hoots of the great Philly band Hoots & Hellmouth is a contributor to The Head & the Hand Press's Asteroid Belt Almanac, and I can't wait to see him read along with the Head & the Hand's Nic Esposito, who has a second book forthcoming from the press. Philadelphia Review of Books is having two poets, Rachel Milligan and, well, me, read for them, and Caitlyn Luce Christensen, who is in the latest and super badass-est 5.2 issue of Gigantic Sequins,  is coming out from Pittsburgh to read representing Gigantic Sequins. There are drink specials. It's gonna be a great night.

Book Fight Live!
The only thing sad about Book Fight Live! is that I will have to be at the event listed above, and will be missing out on the hilarious-yet-always-cunning antics and conversation, usually on in podcast form but live for this night, between Barrelhouse editors Tom McAllister and Mike Ingram. This event is in Manyunk at the Spiral Bookcase, a great bookstore, so it's for all of you people who live out there and don't want to come into the "city-city", but still want to get your lit on. What makes this event even more awesome, is that it doesn't only feature Mike & Tom, but Katherine Hill, Lee Klein, and musician Joey Sweeney.

Slam Bam Thank You Ma’am!
Because two great lit events in one city in one night is never enough, Painted Bride Quarterly has something out there for all you performance poets-- and those of you who love a good slam. They're hosting this event at the Pen & Pencil Club, and you can ask them for more details by visiting the link above.


Poetry Reading at Molly's: Sasha Fletcher & Lewis Warsh
This event was specifically moved to an earlier time--6pm-- to accommodate those who want to go to the PHILALALIA "official" off-site event Friday night as well-- what dolls! Make sure you get out to Molly's Books & Records in South Philly because you don't want to miss poets Sasha Fletcher or Lewis Warsh. Like, are you kidding me? No, no kidding involved. Be there.

Bloof & Coconut at PHILALALIA: Friday Night at Snockey's
This slightly later event, scheduled to begin at 7pm, is at Snockey's Oyster & Crab house, and if that's not a reason to attend a poetry reading alone, maybe we shouldn't be friends or maybe we already are enemies. Anyway, onto the readers, there's a whole big list of themNatalie Eilbert, K. Lorraine Graham, Kirsten Kaschock, Gina Myers, Catie Rosemurgy, Kim Gek Lin Short, Shanna Compton, and Bruce Covey. Delicious.


PHILALALIA Off-Site Reading & Closing Celebration 
The last official PHILALALIA off-site event will be at Philly's beautiful Art Alliance and has a great line-up: Thomas Devaney, Samantha Giles, Daniel J Selah (Daniel Hales), Sue Landers, Alicia Puglionesi, and Nicole Steinberg. These are all poets from the following presses who are tabling at PHILALALIA: ixnay press, Furniture Press Books, Futurepoem, and Least Weasel. Awesome.

Katherine Hill + Lisa Borders @ Musehouse
While the off-site event is going to be a blast, this other Saturday night event is worth considering as well, especially if fiction is your deal or if you won't be in the city-city, as these two novelists will be reading out in Wyndmoor at Musehouse, a Center for the Literary Arts.

RSVP generally to PHILALALIA here.

***If I am missing any Philly lit events over this 3-day period, PLEASE let me know by contacting me via the contact page of my website. Thanks! ***

Monday, September 1, 2014

Books Read July/August

I went on vacation a lot in the beginning of August and somehow never posted about the books I read in July, so now I get to do a double post where I write about two months of reading! Summer reading at that! Something I did this summer that this blog nor Goodreads doesn't calculate is reread a bunch. In late August, I finished rereading the Neil Gaiman Sandman series, which I began doing back in February, and I also reread the Harry Potter series this summer, finishing that in July-- literally a few days before the "new" Rowling piece went live via Pottermore and the internet went nuts. It was really special to reread the series, and I was so enamored with it again I intend to do so every 7 years if I remember.

But without further ado...



An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
This was on my list of "Books I Will Read This Summer", so I read it. I bought it after hearing Roxane read from the first chapter. The book was extremely well written and the story was compelling, but at the same time what happens to the main character during her time as the victim of a kidnapping in her home country Haiti is terrifying, just as terrifying as one would expect it to be, and therefore the book at times is extremely difficult to read. Nonetheless, I read the majority of the last third of it rather quickly and liked how it ended.

Rhinoceros and Other Plays by Ionesco
After reading Roxane's book, I needed something more light-hearted in way, so I turned to the Theater of the Absurd, one of my favorite genres. I'd read part of Rhinoceros before but never the whole thing, and I found it extremely strange to the point of slight annoyance at times and humor at others.

Someone Else's Wedding Vows by Bianca Stone
This was also on my must read summer book list I posted earlier this year, and I had a lot of feelings after I read this book. I read it rather quickly, thinking over and over that I would most likely have to read it again. For some reason, I prefer to review books I feel a certain indescribable way about and this is one of those books that makes me feel that thing. So perhaps more from me on this book in the near future?

Increment by Chris Tonelli
I bought this chapbook from Chris at AWP because I wanted one of his books and was trying to choose between a few (or couple?) of them and he told me that this one had the poem I liked in it about murder and the lawn and someone's kid and it kind of turned out that more than one poem stuck out to me as something I remembered from when he read in Baltimore but yes, the poem about the lawn, that poem was in here too and I liked it maybe even above all the others and still.

The Constitution by Brian Foley
I read this book of poetry shortly after reading Bianca's. I bought this from Black Ocean earlier along with another title of theirs I will probably read soon-- I saw Brian read earlier this year at Brickbat Books with Wendy Xu and Luke Bloomfield and enjoyed his reading, though he came off as really... serious. But it's important to be serious about poetry at times, I think. His book was equally serious in a way that makes me think to fully understand it I will need to spend more time with it. Meanwhile, there were bits and pieces of it that stuck out to me as memorable and his poetry, ultimately, is very recognizable as his own, which I think is important.


Don't Kiss Me by Linsday Hunter
I started reading this short story collection while I was down the shore with my family and my cousin Andrew peeked over my shoulder at one point and asked me if the entire book was written in capital letters. It isn't. But it was a good moment to have him peek. He asked if I imagined that the storyteller was shouting at me and I said yes and that it was effective and he laughed a bit and that was that. There is someting distinct about a Lindsay Hunter story, just as I previously noted there is something distinct about a Brian Foley poem, but perhaps even more so with Lindsay. More than anyone else who I've heard read live and then bought and read their book (there are three people in this blog post who fall in that category), I heard Lindsay reading these stories to me in that Lindsay Hunter way and though grateful for it, I imagine this collection would be just as weird, creepy, and wonderful even without that voice singed into my brain.

TweRK by Natasha N. Nevada Diggs
Natasha N. Nevada Diggs is coming to read at Temple this year, and I bought her book thinking I might use it to teach the intro to poetry creative writing workshop I'm teaching there. However, as much as I enjoyed this book, I would have needed more time than I had in August to really think about how to use these poems to teach using it. Either way, I'm glad I read this book, and like I've said about the other two full-length poetry books I read this summer, this book felt like something to come back to. Differently than the other two, though, I feel like when I read TweRK a second time, I will read it differently, I will know something more than when I first sat down to read it. She writes in a wealth of different languages and instead of seeing that as a barrier to my understanding of her poetry, I will use the notes in the back of the book to my advantage, to master these poems, to give light (in my own brain) to the power of languages other than English.

Collected Ghost by Ben Mirov & Packing by Hailey Higdon
To end August, I read two e-book versions of chapbooks, wherein I determined that my attention span for reading books online is limited. This doesn't mean I didn't enjoy both of these chapbooks (the Mirov from H_NGM_N and the Higdon from Bloof), but instead that I felt as though had I been reading physical copies of them, I would have paid more attention. #printisnotdead

Monday, July 14, 2014

Books Read :: June 2014

I don't know why it has taken me half of July to post this, but it has. Mostly, I reread for June and did the challenge for June via the monthly prompts I've been attempting to follow. I reread all of Harry Potter starting in May and finishing in early July. They were excellent, better even. I last read them seven years ago. I think I will go seven years without watching the films and read them again when I'm 37. I can't believe it's been 7 years since Deathly Hallows came out. That makes me feel very, very old. Two days after I finished, J.K. Rowling posted a "new" story on Pottermore, Rita Skeeter reporting live from the Quiddich World Cup, writing a gossip column about Harry & other members of the D.A. It felt fate-like.

Anyway, the prompt was to read "that classic you never read"-- I always try to read a long summer classic, and there isn't one in particular I avoid, so it was a great month to do just that, read my 2014 summer classic. Even though there's only a couple books on this list, since I don't write up rereads, I did plenty of reading in June...

Books read in 2014 thus far (via GoodReads count): 23/52

Books read this month:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
This was the classic I intended to read this summer, and read it I did. I thought it was excellent, though I would have had some editorial tips for Tolstoy about the last "part" of the book, had I been his editor. The intentions of the last part are clear enough, but they could have been better done. The book leads to a certain point, and once it gets there, the wrap-up that is the last part could have been kinder or more bridge-like rather than seeming to jump so out of the story. I understand why it's essential-- how the book then shows two different descents into madness, how two different people wound up in two different futures despite both suffering. But because of the book's title, once Anna is killed, a whole other part that was at times, frankly, boring and meandering and introducing new characters and information that didn't matter too much to the whole book just to the end, seemed unkind to do to a reader who just had their heart broken for 800 pages. It was kind of him to give the readers a happy ending, but almost tactless to ignore the fact of Anna's suicide for so much of the last part. It illustrates, yes, how people do not speak of those who die by their own hand in the same way that other deaths are spoken of, how grieving is different, but it too specifically avoids mention of her fate after so well allowing us in her head during her long downward spiral. Suddenly she is snuffed out and we are thrust into someone else's world who we care about, but not as much as we cared for Anna. I gave the book 5 stars on Goodreads, don't get me wrong. I just think it was a funny way to end an otherwise pretty much flawless book. One final note: On telling a friend I read this book, he asked, "does she still jump?"

Bluets by Maggie Nelson
This book is something specific and something special and something of which I have never read anything before like. It was about a color but it was about love but it was about grief. It made me want to reread it as soon as I was finished but at the same time not for a long time or even ever. It's like a really good sad song that reminds you too much of something lost or something you could lose and you like the song a lot, but you want to listen to something else first and then forget that you ever wanted to listen to such a sad song again for awhile-- until you do. I liked this book a lot, too. I also gave it 5 stars on Goodreads.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Books Read :: May 2014

As promised, back in action this May. I read a whole bunch. I "caught up" with my Goodreads Challenge and then some. And that's not even including all the rereads! I was the reread Queen this April and am still going strong-- I'm not going to blog about them, but I'm in the middle of rereading the Harry Potter series. I read most of the books each a couple times back in the day, but it's been at least since the summer of 2007 since I read any of them-- so that's a good 7 years ago. I forget if I wanted to wait 10 or what until I reread, but my husband and I have been watching the movies. I really felt a strong need to reread the books to "get straight" a lot of what the movie ruins/gets wrong. The deeper into the series I go, the more I notice the movie's lack of that UMPH that makes the books The Best. They really are so fucking good. But I digress. Back to what I read  this month outside of being in the throes of the HP series as the month ends--

A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry
This is on the syllabus for the online class I designed and am teaching this summer. I had never read it before, but I was very glad I did. I feel also like I'd love to see it performed. I love that the Obamas went to see it during its most recent run in New York. So much of this play is still (sadly) relevant today, and even the less relevant points that it make are still historically important. I'm very glad to be teaching it, and I think that the students will get a lot out of it.

Year of Wonder by Geraldine Brooks
My mother-in-law handed off this novel to me, which I really couldn't put down. It was one of those engaging candy-like works of fiction, and it was even more intriguing that much of it was based on historical events, though the characters and their dramas were invented. I feel like I learned about an era (the Plague era in Britain) I didn't know much about and was riveted by the story as well. This by no means was Literary Fiction, but for what it was-- historical fiction-- it was very good. I feel like this would be a good book club book for people who want to analyze plots and characters to death. I mean that in a nice way.

Fancy Beasts by Alex Lemon
Picked this one up from Strand Books when I was in NYC for the GS StorySalm ThreePointOne. I had been reading Lemon's new book in City Lights when I was stranded in San Fran this past March, and though Strand didn't have a copy of The Wish Book in their now-expanded---though moved!-- poetry section, I was glad to see this one on the shelves and bought it. There was an Ariana Reines title I also wanted to buy, but I didn't want to carry it around with me all weekend, so I swore I would come back on Monday before I left if I had the chance, but I went home Sunday night. Alas. Anyway, I dog-earred a good number of these pages, a sign that I have thoroughly enjoyed a poetry book for sure.

Century Swept Brutal by Zach Savich
I review this book in the forthcoming Gigantic Sequins 5.2! This is a book you enjoy reading but then almost enjoy more thinking on after you're through reading it, somehow. I recommend it.

The Theory of Clouds by Stéphane Audeguy
For the other reading challenge I'm doing this year, I chose this book for the month of May, when the prompt was to read "a book from another country". The author is French, and a person whom I met when I worked at Strand bought me this title because I told him I didn't have time to have coffee with him outside of work. (Note: I probably wasn't lying; I was working there full time, going to NYU as a full-time grad student, and in the process of starting a lit journal... I digress--) This was a really weird book, and, as I said in my Goodreads review of it "I wasn't sure if there was something distinctly "French" about this book that made its narrative seem looping and odd or if I was projecting French-ness onto it because I didn't quite like/"get" where it was going most of the time."--so, I didn't NOT enjoy this book, but I don't know who I'd recommend it to or why. It was outside of the realm of what I normally would want a novel to consist of, but not in any avant-garde or interesting way.

Backup Singers by Sommer Browning
I reviewed this book, though the review has not yet been placed. I really absolutely 100% think that you should read this Birds LLC title. It's excellent. I hope my review gets picked up by someone so that you can read all about why I loved it so much.

Sister Bernadette's Barking Dog by Kitty Burns Florey
I am thinking of assigning this book alongside the regular textbook I have my American English Grammar class read next semester because it's a more light-hearted approach to the ideas of diagramming and its importance or unimportance and talks more about descriptive language from a grammarians point of view than the Vitto text I assign does. The more descriptive parts of the Vitto text somehow get a bit lost because of the highly prescriptive nature of the book's aims and content. I disagreed with some of the sentence diagrams in the book, but she knew better/whoever diagrammed for her knows better certain grammatical concepts than I-- elliptical clauses and correlative conjunctions are my diagramming kryptonite. I am glad I read this book, though, and recommend it for anyone who enjoys diagramming a sentence every now and again.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Books I Will Read This Summer

I saw a bunch of posts over at HTML Giant where bloggers named their summer reads. Summer is fast upon us, less than a month away if we are to believe calendars. Most people there named five books, and though I plan on reading more than five books this summer, it makes sense to only commit now to five, I suppose. Who knows what might strike my fancy as the hot months unfold. Here are five books I will definitely be reading this summer:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
I read Crime &Punishment this winter and was surprisingly enthralled. I've always avoided the Russian giants for the most part, but I think I'm ready. I needed a longer classic to knock out this summer, and so this one it is. I will most likely crowd-source what the best translation is, and I may or may not read it on my Kindle. A friend of mine and past GS contrib, Olivia Kate Cerrone, will also be reading it, so I am eager to swap reflections on it with her.

Someone Else's Wedding Vows by Bianca Stone
I picked this up at AWP and have been holding it hostage ever since. I am really looking forward to it, so I am doing that thing where I feel like I need to "save" it because I know it's going to be good. I do this. Anyway, to avoid putting it off for any longer, it's definitely something I am reading this summer. In fact, it will most definitely be the very next book of poetry I pick up.

An Untamed State by Roxane Gay
I had the pleasure to hear Roxane read at the Tirefire Reading series here in Philly earlier this month, and she killed it. I know her through twitter and PANK and from her always being very nice at AWP and even recognizing me in person by my twitter presence. (Alice Notley is a genius like that too, despite having many fans, always remembering something about people--). Anyway, she read from this, and it seemed like she was going to read more, and when she stopped, I wanted her to keep going. So I bought the book, which I most likely would have read anyway. I'd also like to get my hands on her book of essays, Bad Feminist, when it comes out in August!

Little Known Facts by Christine Sneed
I actually know very little about this book except that it's a novel-in-stories. The best novel-in-stories I've read thus far might be the only other novel-in-stories I've read thus far and that's Jennifer Egan's A Visit from the Goon Squad, which I love to the point of minor insanity-- though my paperback of it is nowhere to be found, to my horror. This book comes recommended specifically for me by Kathleen Rooney, and I have therefore added it to my list of books to consume this summer.

Bluets by Maggie Nelson
I believe this book first came to my attention because GS Poetry Editor Sophie Klahr mentioned it for one reason or another-- either to recommend it to someone or just reference it generally. Perhaps I read about this book in a blog or facebook status of hers? I don't know. I associate the fact that my first memory of this Wave Poetry title comes through her. Anyway, it then has popped up in various other places in my life on the internet that intrigued me, so I used one of the giftcards I got for my birthday to purchase it recently. While I own scores of books that I've book for myself and have never read, something I like to do these days is read books when I buy them because they are new and fresh and obviously I want to read them because I've bought them. So I will read this book. It calls. When I was at Emerson, there was a class I really very much wanted to take all about the color blue. Everyone who took it said it was a great wonderful fantastic class. It never fit into my schedule or was always full by the time I tried to register for it. Reading this book won't make up for missing my chance to take that class, but I will feel better for having missed it by reading this title.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Gigantic Sequins 5.2 Contributors!

We've already announced on the GS Editors Blog the list of contributors for our 5.2 issue, but I'd like to re-announce them here and encourage you to donate some of your cashmoney to help this great issue go to print. This winter, we had one of our more selective if not most selective open submissions period. It seemed like a lot of the writing being sent to us was "close" but not quite THERE. For fiction, stories seemed either well written and the story fell flat or with a great story but not as solid writing. As for poetry, when the rest of the poem seemed to be working towards something whole, a single line or a word or an ending would break our hearts and not in the good way. We rejected a lot of very good-- very "close"-- pieces of work, it seemed. As for non-fiction, we never never never get enough and the two pieces we chose really spoke to us. We held onto some others up until days before our announcement of the contributors, but they didn't work in the long run with the rest of what we chose.

That being said, despite our extensive selectivity, we still managed to "fill out" the issue and in it we have our very first lyric essay (hooray!) as well as two great artists whose work we couldn't turn down. We also have a comic-- we LOVE printing comics so any issue with a comic or two (or seven or twelve!) is always a great issue.

Without further ado, here are the Gigantic Sequins 5.2 contributors!

Justin Brouckaert
Michelle E. Crouch
Kayla Haas

Caitlyn Luce Christensen
Caleb Curtiss
Nick Flynn
Patrick Clement James
Tanya Muzumdar

Alex McElroy
Rachel Richardson

Dmitry Borshch
Julie Drallos
Aaron Morgan

Speaking of great writers, Gigantic Sequins opened its doors TODAY for submissions and we are also open for contest entries in flash fiction and poetry. Send us your best work.