Howl, and other poems by Allen Ginsberg. My friend G recommended this to me and I really enjoyed it! Reading “I’m with You in Rockland, Carl” or however that poem is called, got me to finally write some poetry about my own experience in hospitals. If reading poetry inspires me to go write, that is the mark of successful poetry.
Moon woke me up nine times : selected Haiku of Basho Fuck, man, Basho makes me want to go to Japan, wander around, and write poetry. But, thanks to the coronavirus, that may not be happening. However, I feel it is in the spirit of Basho to wander one’s own country and write [anii-colonial] poetry about the landscapes*. So, I’ll honour the ghost of Basho in a different way.
I went through a short sprint of writing haibun poems. That was entertaining. I’d like to go back to that form sometime.
From here to eternity : traveling the world to find the good death by Caitlin Doughty. Damn, this book was good. SO GOOD. So funny, articulate, and wonderful. I will definitely reread this one day. I would love to read her other books. I learned a lot and pondered some more about what I want in my will. This prompted me to take a look at ritual practice, and using ritual for transformation. It really sparked my thinking towards what the fuck do I do ritual for? in my own life.
(Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcaster Casper ter Kuile’s upcoming book, The Power of Ritual, is coming out in June and I am so tempted to preorder it so I can keep thinking about ritual!)(I think I’ve geeked out to all my friends about this podcast already so I will spare you here.)
If you are intrigued by other cultures, or think that death is cool and weird and sad, then you will like this book.
The warrior who carried life by Geoff Ryman. This was a great look at an older fantasy novel. If I remember correctly, Ursula LeGuin gave the forward for the first edition of this book which is what sold me on reading it. I was really doubtful, because experimenting with gender in fantasy or scifi can often go badly, but this one turned out alright! It was heavily influenced by Christian myth and what happens when myths repeat themselves, but… I think it was the first book I’d seen interacting with the myth and in a fantasy setting no less! Angels, the devil, everybody was there. Yeah, this was good.
Now that I think of it, this book probably helped me conceive of putting myself into myth to understand my religion better, which is what I’ve been doing lately in heathenry to great success.
Annnnyway, if you want to read a story about a woman disguised as a man to go fight her enemies, you might enjoy this.
Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall Kimmerer. This book. Oh my gosh. There is so much wisdom in this book that I can’t finish it. I have to come back to this later. I can’t absorb it all at once! Kimmerer teaches and talks about how to use Indigenous knowledge, especially the practice of the Honorable Harvest, to interact with plants and animals around us. Everyone is raving about this book. Me too.
(I also really want to read her book about moss, because moss is cool af, called Gathering Moss.)
If you enjoy ecology, gardening, and the environment, read this book.
A Conspiracy of Truths by Alexandra Rowland. This was SO FUN. I’m glad I finally read this. I can’t wait to pick up the next one. If you like snarky storytellers and unravelling governments, you should read this.
The Banished Immortal: A Life of Li Bai by Ha Jin. This book was the biography of a Chinese poet unknown to me, Li Bai. He’s so well known that if I had asked my Chinese students about him, they would know who he is. It was a fun read, although his parenting and husband skills were awful which was rather frustrating.
Other than that though, I enjoyed reading a poet’s biography. I went looking to see if any had yet been released about Mary Oliver or Ursula Leguin, my perennial favourites, but not yet. It’s too soon.
Embrace Your Weird by Felicia Day. I am of two minds about this. One the one hand, I’m enjoying exploring creativity in a very low-stress, low-stakes way. On the other hand, Day’s tone in this book is… hmm… too nonchalant? Too conversational? Too… hmm… I feel like she’s trying REALLY hard to befriend the reader and talk to me as she would any of her friends, but… that’s not what I want from a book on creativity, really. I do like the book though and find the exercises quite useful.
I’m familiar with Day’s work on The Guild even if I didn’t watch every episode. If you like her work and are creative in some way yourself, you’ll like this book!
Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett. This is another book of women disguising themselves as men to go fight their enemies BUT this one is hilarious because it’s Pratchett. It’s hard to put down. It’s also a great critique of the military complex. Spot on, as usual. If you’re familiar with Discworld, Vimes is in this one, and dear old Death makes an appearance.
The Poetry Foundation’s April 2020 issue of their magazine. Ocean Vuong and Nelly Sachs really blew me away. Two very different poets, of course… I bought a subscription to this because I wanted to learn more about different poets out there in the world and, so far, I am victorious. This is a delight to read through slowly. I am so glad I have ten more issues to go. And I get to wait for them in the mail, and the magazines will just arrive randomly. I won’t know when they arrive, and no matter what, they’re gonna cheer me up! Yeah!
If you’re into poetry, I definitely recommend subscribing to a poetry magazine, but it doesn’t have to be this one. Any one will do!
A Blessing of Fire and Ice by Connla Freyjason. This is a book of poetry for the heathen liturgical year. I like his poems well enough, but… there’s a lot of “I” statements in these poems. Actually, in every poem. I’m not 100% sure he had an editor with a background in poetry for this. He might’ve had a pagan editor, or a heathen editor, but probably not a poetry editor.
Maybe I am being judgey. I dunno. This work could be a lot stronger with better editing. Still, it’s nice to read heathen poetry and think about the deities I worship, rather than read Christian poetry and try to distantly sorta kinda relate it to the deities I worship.
If you are a heathen who likes poetry, you might enjoy this!
The Red Book by Carl Jung. So I am rereading this. I couldn’t finish it the first time. Now, on second reading, I am much more wholeheartedly scribbling in the margins. It’s a great spiritual read, but absolutely must be read slowly. I find I start to feel really ungrounded, as if I am about to drift off, so I took a long break from reading this. I’d like to try and continue at some point… but… it might take awhile.
I’m actually very hesitant to pick this book up again. I’m out of work right now, and so am at home in lockdown. And if I read this again and get ungrounded, I am concerned that I won’t have as much distractions, friends, or work to bring me back to the present moment. I dunno. I’ll have to be strategic about this book.
To Be Read
The Faceless Old Woman Who Lives in Your Home by Jeffery Cranor and Joseph Fink. I’ve listened to the audio excerpts of this book on the WTNV podcast and it’s spooky! I’m a little scared to read it. I’m alone all day now so if I scare myself reading this, there’s no one around to give me a reality check!
Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire. This book looks so text-heavy and academic. I don’t think I have the energy to read this, despite its revolutionary possibilities. I find it very very difficult and stressful to try to read, listen, or consume any media to improve my teaching skills. It’s draining to do on my own personal time. It’s hard to think that I have this obligation as a social justice-loving person to change the world through my teaching. I think that’s actually the biggest obstacle or “teacher’s block” I have.
Maybe I should talk to some fellow teachers about this. I have tweeted about it. Maybe I will ask Facebook too.
The Tale of Heike translated by–? I have to go to my local indie bookstore and pick this up tomorrow. I’m in a Japanese literature book club and this is what we are reading. I am not sure if will interest me though. The book club hasn’t been all that thrilling so far, but that’s also because I don’t have a copy of the book yet. I love the Icelandic Sagas but I am unsure if Japanese sagas will grab me in the same way…
I also have about five or six books on pre order right now. They’re mostly arriving in summer and autumn though. @ me if you wanna know what I have on preorder and what my Opinions are.