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Sunday, July 1, 2012

The Remissness, Neandertals, Sontag Memoir, APR, Joe Brainard, Summer Winds Poem-a-Day Edition

Yes, yes, dear reader, I have been remiss. I will say no more, but instead provide you with a taste of what I've been up to this past month (when I have not been grading papers, which is now, great glory, a task of the distant past);

I so enjoyed a book by the name of How to Think Like a Neandertal by Thomas Wynn and Frederick L. Coolidge. The going was initially rather tough (a bit too heavy on spear making), but once the chapters headed into subjects such as symbol making, humor, and language, I was afoot, enjoying every word. A truly revelatory book. Why? Because while you go in thinking you're gonna learn how to think like a Neandertal, you come out knowing a whole lot more about what it means to think like a human.

I also, because it came up in this interview which I raved about incessantly in my previous post, read Sigrid Nunez's Sempre Susan: A Memoir of Susan Sontag, which is sort of like reading a literary People (though how would I know as I do not keep up with the lives of non-literary celebrities). I wish I could share specific passages from this book, but sorry I already returned it to the library. Just read it, is all I have to say, especially if you are sorta not sure what you think about Ms. Sontag. She is a bit of a neurotic nutcase, in a word, no offense or anything, but I mean that in the most endearing way. Example: I think she was in love with her son, or at least she had some serious, serious issues with letting him grow up and leave her home. biZARRE. I am trying to read her journals but mostly they are boring lists of things like childhood memories ("Chemistry sets. Daddy telling me to eat the parsley, it's good, in the fun club.  The table Christmas tree in Florida: silver with blue lights."). Kinda cool (definitely mine-able for poetry!), but after Nunez's can't-put-it-down driving narrative, it's hard to read this stuff for more than a few pages.

Okay, and then my new issue of APR arrived the other day, and I am going absolutely apes-on-bananas with it. They haven't put up the new issue yet online, but soon enough they will, and you will love it dandily, for sure. I am reading the poems very slowly from front to back, and I have enjoyed them all so far (Dickman, Equi, Weisburd, Mai, Patrick Phillips, and Alexie). Wow, wow, wow.

So then last night I was doing some research on anaphora and stumbled upon  I Remember by Joe Brainard, an entire book of poems with all the lines beginning "I remember ..." I mean, what instructor of poetry wouldn't want to assign this book on the first day of class? It would actually be a nice way to start off the semester, but by the end of the course you'd be reading the surrealists and Ashbery and Graham -- it would be fun to go from one extreme to the other, though not saying Brainard's memories are necessarily autobiographical. Oh, and also! Ron Padgett wrote a memoir about Brainard, Joe, which I (lucky, lucky) found a 1st edition hard cover on Amazon for $10 plus shipping, but there are some that are $6 used (paperback).

Which brings us to, ahh and ooh,  The Summer Winds. Here they are, and with them the urge to write a poem a day in July! (Yes, we are a bit stoned thanks to the 70% dark chocolate, courtesy Theo Chocolate).

Hope your July is off to an umbrella-sky start!


Kathleen said...

Thanks for catching us up on your doings & readings. By chance, my mom just wrote a poem about the Neandertals!

Martha Silano said...

You're welcome, Kathleen. I am now researching mummification and space chimps--never a dull moment--but last week I, too, wrote a Neandertal poem.