March Haul Pt. 2:
- “The Market Wonders” — Susan Briante
- “Staying Alive” — Laura Sims
- “Beastlife” — J’Lyn Chapman
(press copies for upcoming reviews)
- “The TV Sutras” — Dodie Bellamy
- “Utopia Minus” — Susan Briante
- “would with and” — Cathy Eisenhower
(all scrounged from Small Press Distribution’s damaged books shelf March 8 on a class field trip)
Friends, please forgive me for this deceptively long haul — these are the books I’ve added to my collection in the past two weeks and not the books I’ve read. I haven’t gotten to two of these books yet, and the rest I feel I haven’t read carefully enough to talk about them quite yet; I will say, though, that “Staying Alive” has really grabbed me. Anyway, as I’m writing this, I’m wracking my brain trying to think of what I’ve been reading recently, and the answer is: not much, besides for class and for work.
Because of the pre-spring break academic flurry — papers due left and right, midterms pouncing on their prey — everyone I know, including myself, has been under fire by their schedules. So I haven’t been doing much reading outside of class — not even on the Internet! Not even text messages! When I wake up in the morning I’m usually too groggy and miserable to even read the back of the cereal box, a beloved habit that I’ve kept up since I was a toddler.
Because so much of my energy for reading has been taken up by class assignments, which are out-of-bounds for this blog, I’ve found that I’ve been absorbing most of my extracurricular literature mostly through alternative activities to reading — such as the class visit to Small Press Distribution mentioned in the hau, and my first house reading.
All of the readings I’ve gone to in the past have been either in the Maude Fife Room, scattered bookstores around the Bay Area or other communal spaces such as the Omni and Qilombo, both in Oakland. Then, this weekend, a friend and I went to see our professor Anna Moschovakis read her poems. We found the event on Facebook and just assumed that the address given would be for some sort of public venue, especially because the “Interested” list was in the hundreds — so I was left reeling when the Lyft driver dropped us off in a residential neighborhood, an hour before the reading was supposed to start. Who shows up to someone’s house an hour early? Me.
Anyway, there was nothing but houses in sight and it was raining hard, so we bit the bullet and rang the doorbell, and thankfully, either we had just imagined the awkwardness or everyone was just too gracious to make it weird. In the end, too, the reading turned out to be so lovely — the best reading I can remember ever going to.
I think the poems I’ve been trying to memorize are jostling my other memories right out of my skull, so I can’t recall many coherent details from the reading — but I remember drinking wine out of a mug, petting a truly dashing tuxedo cat, feeling warm in a living room crowded with friends and familiar faces from other readings. Sometimes I leave readings feeling as if I could have enjoyed the poem just as much by reading it silently on the couch, but the best readings can be incredibly immersive. This one was.
Though I often feel queasy caught in a slaw of bodies, drawn close, while Anna was reading her poems, the closeness made me notice that, during a good reading, the room begins to breathe with the poem; that, at this reading, because of how tightly the space was packed, you could feel the people around you breathing, too — that by extension, you feel a growing synchronization of breath within the confines of the room and between yourself and strangers, and it all manages to feel both very intimate and completely noninvasive.
On another note — friends, what have you been reading recently? Please let me know — I’d love to pick up some of your recommendations. I feel like recently, I’ve been caught in one little nook of literature. And I’m starting to think that this relationship is getting a little one-sided! Feel free to find me on Facebook — just let me know where you’re coming from, and I’ll add you in a jiff.
Lindsay Choi covers literature. Contact them at [email protected].