Books: A Batch of Mini-Reviews

Posted 10 April, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 1 Comment

a.k.a the poetry edition! In retrospect I realised I could’ve strung a few of my poetry book reviews in a mini-review post, but anyway…The following are a whole slew of poetry books I read towards the end of 2016 (and just in time for National Poetry Month 😛 ). Included in this batch are:

If There Is Something to Desire
By: Vera Pavlova
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

I broke your heart. / Now barefoot I tread / on shards.

Such is the elegant simplicity—a whole poem in ten words, vibrating with image and emotion—of the best-selling Russian poet Vera Pavlova. The one hundred poems in this book, her first full-length volume in English, all have the same salty immediacy, as if spoken by a woman who feels that, as the title poem concludes, “If there was nothing to regret, / there was nothing to desire.”

Pavlova’s economy and directness make her delightfully accessible to us in all of the widely ranging topics she covers here: love, both sexual and the love that reaches beyond sex; motherhood; the memories of childhood that continue to feed us; our lives as passionate souls abroad in the world and the fullness of experience that entails. Expertly translated by her husband, Steven Seymour, Pavlova’s poems are highly disciplined miniatures, exhorting us without hesitation: “Enough painkilling, heal. / Enough cajoling, command.”

It is a great pleasure to discover a new Russian poet—one who storms our hearts with pure talent and a seemingly effortless gift for shaping poems.

I had been eyeing this collection of poems for some time, partly because of the book cover; it’s a great choice of title for the collection as well as poem featured as it is one of my favourites *thumbs up* Anyway, this is her first collection translated into English, which is pretty cool, and I enjoyed this collection from start to finish. Her poems are pretty short in general but the topics her poems cover are quite the range: love, sex, family, memory, motherhood, life. There’s nothing else I can really say about this collection except that I highly recommend it if you’re into poetry and/or are looking to read poems in translation 🙂

Rating: ★★★★★

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Review: Samarkand

Posted 7 April, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

By: Kate Clanchy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Few first collections in recent years have made the impact of Kate Clanchy’s award-winning Slattern, which gained her a reputation as a poet of great immediacy and wit. In this new book her range is extended dramatically. Samarkand is both a darker and a more sunlit collection than its predecessor. Inside, the reader will find surreal elegies; love poems of every humour; grim episodes from colonial history and meditations on home and distance as well as some practical advice on having sex with angels – all delivered with the effortless musicality of phrase and formal panache that are fast becoming Clanchy’s trademarks.

I purchased this book the same time I had picked up her Selected Poems (review) as I had read a few poems from here and found them interesting enough to just pick up the whole book. It arrived a little later than Selected Poems in the post so by the time I read this book I had already read a few of the poems it contained but I was nonetheless excited.

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Review: Selected Poems

Posted 6 April, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Selected Poems
By: Kate Clanchy
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Kate Clanchy’s poems are much broadcast, translated and anthologised. This Selected Poems draws together her three prize-winning collections, Slattern, Samarkand, and Newborn, published between 1996 and 2004. These are poems about men and boys, school and home, the foreign and the familiar, and the grand adventure of parenthood, but above all about love in all its forms, gathered together in a single volume. This volume is a perfect introduction to a witty, lyrical and truly accessible poet; and for long-term fans, an integrated and satisfying assembly of Clanchy’s very best work.

I first encountered Kate Clanchy’s poetry in an anthology collection of love poems (“Patagonia”). It took a second read for me to really notice the poem, actually, and it left me wondering why I didn’t notice it in the first place, it lingered in a longing and beautiful way. Since then I had been meaning to check out her collected works and just more of her poetry. I’ve been on a poetry sort of mood over the summer that I decided to check out a few of her books 🙂

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Review: Cat Town

Posted 5 April, 2017 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Cat Town
By: Sakutaro Hagiwara, Hiroaki Sato (Translation)
Format/Source: Paperback; my purchase

Sakutaro Hagiwara remains a singular figure in modern Japanese poetry. His experimentation with traditional forms led to his becoming the most significant pioneer of free-style verse in Japan. Hagiwara’s first book of poetry, Howling at the Moon, astonished readers and was an immediate success—two poems were deleted on order of the Ministry of the Interior for “disturbing social customs.” Hagiwara blends everyday colloquialisms with literary language to remarkable and unsettling effect. Through meditations on mundane images of nature like dogs, bamboo, grass, turtles, eggs, seedlings, frogs, and clams, his poetry palpably conveyed the “modern malaise.” Hagiwara expanded on “an invalid’s” perception of the world in his second book of poems, The Blue Cat. Both of his major published books are included here in full, along with a substantial selection of poems and prose poems from his other collections and a complete translation of Cat Town, a prose-poem roman. These works wholly transformed the poetic landscape in Japan for all future generations. Award-winning translator Hiroaki Sato, called by Gary Snyder “the finest translator of contemporary Japanese poetry into American English,” has also written an insightful introduction to this edition.

In an effort to expand my in translation reads and reading poetry from other countries, I picked up this title from the bookstore a few months back. The cover, of course, was quite welcoming (kudos btw to the NYRB for releasing this series of poets from various countries; Osip Mandelstam’s Voronezh Notebooks (review) was another from the series that I picked up), and the few poems I read whilst in the bookstore was intriguing, different.

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Top Ten Tuesdays

Posted 4 April, 2017 by Lianne in Meme / 9 Comments

Top Ten Tuesday is an original feature/weekly meme created here at The Broke and the Bookish. This meme was created because we are particularly fond of lists here at The Broke and the Bookish. We’d love to share our lists with other bookish folks and would LOVE to see your top ten lists!

This week’s topic: Fandom Freebie

Decided to approach this week’s topic as a general freebie 😛 Seeing as it’s National Poetry Month, I figured I’d go with the topic of my 10 Favourite Poets 😀 especially as I’ve become such a reader in poetry in the last year or so (see poetry tag of all the poetry I’ve read and reviewed to date) *hearts*

In no particular order:

  1. Federico Garcia Lorca (see author tag) — I’ve loved his poetry for so long now that I can no longer recall how I first encountered his works. His poetry is haunting and beautiful and his use of imagery is so curious. I always recommend his stuff first whenever someone asks me about poetry because it’s just gorgeous.
  2. Rainer Maria Rilke (see author tag) — I got around to reading his poetry last year and really just appreciated the imagery he uses, that oneness with nature and with God. His Duino Elegies were especially sublime to read.
  3. Anna Ahkmatova (review) — I mentioned the story in my review but I actually did a bit of research around her works when I was writing my MA thesis but I actually didn’t sit down and read her poetry until more recently. And yeah, I was blown away, her poetry is wonderful.
  4. Osip Mandelstam (review) — Similar story to Akhmatova, I didn’t get around to reading his poetry until more recently and I immediately fell in love with his work, you could feel the toil and the struggle in his words, you can almost smell the air and feel the Russian soil that he speaks of.
  5. Christina Rossetti (review) — It actually took a second read of her works for me to fully appreciate her writing and her poetry. I mentioned it on Instagram (see post) but I especially love her poem “A Chill Blank World.” That last line, you guys
  6. Vera Pavlova — My review of her poetry book If There Is Something to Desire won’t be going live until next week but suffice to say I really enjoyed her poetry, the themes range from love to motherhood to womanhood. Can’t wait to read her next poetry collection translated into English!
  7. Rupi Kaur (review) — I read her poetry book, milk and honey, last year after seeing it everywhere and understood the buzz around her works: her poetry is raw, open, and empowering.
  8. Lauren Eden — My review of her poetry collection, Of Yesteryear, won’t be going live on my blog until next year but her minimalist-style of poetry coupled with her themes of love was definitely up my alley and came to my fingertips at the right time.
  9. William Shakespeare (see author tag) — His sonnets are wonderful, but his writing all around is sheer poetry. How could I not add him on my list? 😛
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien (see author tag) — Okay, he’s known for his novels, but his poetry and attempts at writing familiar tales like Beowulf and the story of King Arthur with his own words and interpretation are just glorious to read. It’s a pity we only have drafts and fragments and that he didn’t complete a final draft from amongst those works.

And that’s my list for this week! Do you read poetry? If so, who are your favourite poets/poetry books? What did you feature in this week’s TTT? I’d love to read your list (slow as I am getting around to them–apologies in advance)! 🙂