Best Books Read in 2022
The Luminous Novel by Mario Levrero (Trans. Annie McDermott)
Nora by Nuala O’Connor
M: Son of the Century by Antonio Scurati (Trans. Anne Appel)
Bewilderment by Richard Powers
When We Cease to Understand the World by Benjamin Labatut
The Sea of Tranquility by Emily St. John Mandel
The Anomaly by Herve Le Tellier (Trans. Adriana Hunter)
The Passenger by Cormac McCarthy
The Twilight World by Werner Herzog (Trans. Michael Hofmann)
Flights by Olga Tokarczuk (Trans. Jennifer Croft)
The Day of the Oprichnik by Vladimir Sorokin (Trans. James Gambrell)
The North Water by Ian McGuire
Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham
Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino (Trans. William Weaver)
A Shout in the Ruins by Kevin Powers
The Blizzard by Vladimir Sorokin (Trans. James Gambrell)
Red Dog by Willem Acker (Trans. Michael Heyns)
Motorman by David Ohle
Songs For the Unravelling of the World by Brian Evenson
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari
The Price of Peace: Money, Democracy & the Life of John Maynard Keynes by Zachary Carter
Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler & Stalin by Timothy Snyder
The Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party by John Nichols
A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
The Trouble With Being Born by E.M. Cioran (Trans. Richard Howard)
Paul Celan: Collected Prose by Paul Celan (Trans. Rosemarie Waldrop)
Orson Welles Portfolio: Sketches & Drawings From the Welles Estate by Orson Welles (edited by Simon Braund)
I Wanna Be Yours (memoir) by John Cooper Clarke
Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan
Meander, Spiral, Explode: Design & Pattern in Narrative by Jane Allison
Heretics and Heroes by Thomas Cahill
Sing Backwards and Weep (memoir) by Mark Lanegan
Stag’s Leap by Sharon Olds
Strike Sparks: Selected Poems by Sharon Olds
Why I Wake Early by Mary Oliver
Here by Wislawa Symborska (Trans. Clare Cavanagh & Stanislaw Baranezak)
The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin
Winter Recipes From the Collective by Louise Gluck
Lightduress by Paul Celan (Trans. Pierre Joris)
Transformations by Anne Sexton
A new poem…
You & I
we navigate a
landscape of thorns
you & I
knowing full well
no matter how lightly we tread
the sharpness will find us
almost as if it were seeking
our pliant flesh
so eager to inflict hurt
for the sheer pleasure
of watching us squirm
* * * *
I wrote this piece as a response against the kind of world we presently live in, where a small minority seek to limit the terms of discourse, control language and dole out heaping portions of shame and abuse (while claiming to defend some kind of moral high ground).
Their demeanor and attitude have poisoned conversations, cut off debate and reduced us to a population that is divided, paranoid and desperately afraid of causing offense.
“All silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.” (Norman Finkelstein).
You said it, Norm.
Memory poem: for Clara
The older I get the less I waste remember how Grandma used to save envelopes in a certain drawer to reuse for grocery lists loaf of white bread (not McGavin’s) cream McCormick’s social tea biscuits Tums 7Up From Wylie’s Store downtown where they used to let us buy on credit if our Family Allowance check was late or Dad had been fired again
“Saskatchewan Weekend”: The Interview
I had the pleasure of being interviewed by Shauna Powers, host of “Saskatchewan Weekend”.
I usually shy away from interviews but chatting with Shauna about my poetry collection The Definition of Melancholy was like sitting down for coffee with a friend or colleague.
You’ll find the interview in its entirety here–not sure how long it will be up, so enjoy it while you can.
Strata Festival of New Music
Yours truly will be making an appearance at the Strata Festival of New Music at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon.
Along with visual and performing artists, I’ll be offering my response—through poetry—to the three musical compositions making their debut that evening. I’ve never done anything like this before, so it should make for an entertaining and nerve-wracking evening.
Details below and here’s a link to Strata’s official page.
THE DEFINITION OF MELANCHOLY: The Proof
Cover reveal: “The Definition of Melancholy”
Mutant Thoughts (iii)
Another long hiatus and, what can I tell you, I might’ve been AWOL from this blog, but I’ve been up to my naughty bits in new writing.
I’m talking about over one hundred and twenty (120) pages of prose since June and my next poetry collection, The Definition of Melancholy (publication date May, 2022), now boasts over ninety (90) poems, and still going strong.
Not only has my blogging suffered during this creative binge, but I’ve also been doing damn little reading (no way I’ll reach my goal of 100 books this year).
Had to go ahead and reorder additional copies of my Notebooks 2010 – 2020 from my printer; many, many thanks to the folks who’ve picked up a copy and seem to love that odd, wee tome. It has done surprisingly well and I couldn’t be happier with its reception.
So on the professional front I guess you can say that all is well.
On the personal front, well, the recent surge in COVID cases in the province pushed back elective surgeries for months so I’m probably not looking at the second hip replacement until Spring, 2022. Just gonna have to tough it out ’til then. I’m doing all right, managed to keep up with the yard work this summer and can still limp around on my errands. A lot of folks are in worse shape than me and I can only empathize with what they’re going through as we wait for the surgical wards to come back on line.
I intend to spend the Fall & Winter getting down as many words on paper as I possibly can. Once they carve into my hip I’ll have to focus on pain management and rehab, which can tend to play hell with your creativity. Must try to read more, as well, my to-be-read pile has attained almost K2-like dimensions. New Colson Whitehead and Jim Shepard books out…and that fat history of the Ottoman Empire has been staring me down for the past week.
Have also been feeling the urge to descend to my basement lab and slap some paint on canvases, see how much more damage I can do to the legacy of visual art. And maybe it’s time I hauled my MIDI keyboard upstairs, produced an hour or so of noise and mayhem to unleash on unsuspecting listeners on BandCamp.
Watched Rose Glass’s “St. Maud” with Sherron last week and (shudder), boy, that finale is just…well…it’s…it’s…
You have to see if for yourself.
But, be warned: it’ll take an awful big bite out of you.
Looking forward to seeing “Dune” at our local theater as a birthday treat, but going in with pretty low expectations. I’m usually underwhelmed by Denis Villeneuve’s films. Nice to look at but they don’t move me emotionally. But “Dune”…shit…that’s half art, half spectacle. Gotta see it BIG.
Enough for now. I close with an image of an oak leaf from our back yard.
This. This is how I’m feeling these days.