Watching the Spring Festival: Poems, by Frank Bidart
Okay, so I know Bidart is an important name in contemporary poetry, and I first read his work last summer on my journey through the Norton Anothology of Contemporary Poetry.
I’ve been halfway through this book for several weeks now. (Disclosure: there are only twenty-something poems.) It has been difficult to get some traction. I feel as though I’m missing something because I read a poem, reread it, and then scratch my head. Perhaps I’m not the best audience. I’m not sure.
I plan to finish the book, perhaps starting over (again). We’ll see what happens.
One of Ours, by Willa Cather
This marks my sixth novel by Cather, and it’s of special interest to me for two other reasons: 1) It’s set during World War I & 2) It won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1923.
As for the former reason, I have a keen interest in World War I, specifically literature set during and writing during that pivotal time. I also teach a literature class in which the first unit is literature from that era. And as for the latter reason, I am slowly making my way through the list of Pulitzer-Prize winners of fiction.
I’m trying to read all of Cather’s novels (and then the short fiction and poetry), and when I finish this compelling novel, I’ll be at the halfway point with her novels.
Leapings: Revelations and Epiphanies, by Brian Doyle
This is a great collection of essays and creative nonfiction pieces by a contemporary author, editor of Portland Magazine. (Yea, Portland!) He writes about faith, about family, about storytelling, doing so with a precision and a humor that is keeping me engaged. Of special note is his longer essay about writing itself.
I heard him give an amazing reading at the Festival of Faith and Writing at Calvin College back in 2012. Moreover, he’s going to be the keynote at the writers’ festival I direct, so I’ll have the opportunity to meet him in February. I can’t wait.
Welcome to the Monkey House, by Kurt Vonnegut
As I’ve noted multiple times before in this pace, I’m a short-story afficiando. I’ve also wanted to read more of Vonnegut’s work. His story “Harrison Bergeron” was one of the first stories I taught as a first-year TA, and I’ve taught it multiple times since then.
That story is in this collection, but so are a host of other good stories. (I’m about halfway through.) They have that characteristic dark humor he’s know for. There’s much absurdity and creativity (in terms of plot, character, and setting), and I’m continually impressed by how in each world, regardless of the length, he manages to create believability and depth.