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December 27, 2017

Readings Week 52

by N@ncy

….Time to slowly leave the kitchen and get back into my reading chair.


Update: 25 December 2017

Read:  The Dublin Review: 4 issues per year containing first-rate writitng from Ireland and elsewhere. Essay: The Tourist and the Journalist by D. Ralph (Ass. Prof Sociology Trinity College, Dublin).

Read: Path to Power (R. Caro) I’ve been listening to the 1st vol of Caro’s award winning biography series about Pres Lyndon Baines Johnson. Started on 06 Dec and hope to finish this week.  I am surprised how little I know about this man.

Finish date: 25 December 2017              On Elizabeth Bishop by C. Tóibin

Genre: non-fiction
Rating: A
Review: Biography, analysis of Bishop’s poems, and her world (trauma losing her parents, childhood in homes of family, friendships male (R. Lowell) and female (Lotte, Marianne Moore).
The fact that the world was there was enough for Bischop and she describes all that is around her. This was her defense…. so she can avoid descriptions of herself. #MustRead if you are interested in Elizabeth Bishop’s poems.

Read: On Elizabeth Bishop (C. Toibin) – biography, analysis of some of her poems, and descriptions of Bishop’s world so she can avoid descriptions of herself.  #MustRead before I try to read Bishop’s poems.

Read: Bishop’s poem “North Haven,” her elegy to Robert Lowell. In six, five-line stanzas the poet composed a masterpiece of remembrance that stands among the finest evocations of a Maine island ever written.

Read: The Sun December 2017  (ad-free independent magazine, stories, poems, interviews, essays) – Read short story Believers by Kate Osterloh. I found this short story…a bit too long! Not especially interesting to me. 15 ch each alternating  about ‘HE’ and SHE’. Narrator is flat, detached and not one line of dialogue. in comparison to Dave Ralph’s essay which I loved…this was a boring read.

Read: short story by Poe Ballantine. He  is a fiction and nonfiction writer (1955)  known for his novels and especially his essays, many of which appear in The Sun. This short story that was very entertaining….a bit more polished than Believers. Poe Ballantine wrote Mining the Lost Years. I liked this quote: “ Mining the lost years….or how to take the dirty coal of your life (breakups, breakdowns, shattered dreams, sickness, death, misdeeds, indiscretions and other ringing failures….and compress it into diamonds!

Read: Poem by M. Cochrane    Stage Four  in The Sun.  The form is 37 lines with no paragraph breaks. I see that Cochrane uses ‘ I believe…”  repeated 6 x . I will read the poem with these words as a ‘mental break’ (lines then divided 4-15-4-4-10). Cochrane lists so many things he believes in (therapy , mindfullness, holy water and the saints….etc) but the powerful ending made the poem worth reading! It is what the poet makes us as readers think of ourselves. I remembered my own ‘lemonade small business on a summer street curb’!

“….Always stop at a lemonade stand.
Doesn’t matter where you’re going, who’s
waiting for you, or how late you are.
You pull over, get out of the car,
take it all in, savor the sun on your face,
the sweetness on your tongue,
this little kid watching
you drop a twenty in her jar.”

( good feeling!)

Mick Cochrane is professor of English and Lowery Writer-in-Residence at Canisius College, where he has three times been named Peter Canisius Distinguished Teaching Professor.


Update: 26 December 2017 –  reading The New Yorker 18-25 December


Update: 27 December 2017

Read: poem  Emotional Astronomer by Bronwyn Lovell  in Australian Literary Magazin Meanjin and the poem spoke to me instantly. She has been shortlisted for the Fair Australia Prize 2017  . There is something unique, something hidden in the images….something  but have not been able to put my finger on it yet!  This one needs more reading and thinking. Bronwyn Lovell’s website.

  • Wordsworth believed that the poem is the record of a great emotion,
  • …later ‘recollected in tranquility’.


Emotional Astronomer

cares for telescopes like mechanical pets

camps out with cameras and an aching neck

tints torchlight, dims his van brothel-red

waits for the Earth to move, the moon to set

props a director’s chair for the fade to black

can’t factor his children’s resentment

accepts the conditions, won’t ask the sky why

will not love a nebula less the tenth time

gets teary at a clear viewing of Alpha Centauri

feels things to which his wife won’t relate

needs no chart to plot the now fragile arc

of a retired accountant’s amateur star

knows meteors will rain down consolation:

Jupiter a river pebble, Saturn a silky stone















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