Emmons, Baseball nights and DDT

Baseball Nights And DDTJeanne Emmons; Pecan Grove Pr 2005WorldCatLibraryThingGoogle BooksBookFinder 

This is an excellent book of poems which consists of four sections: “Refinery,” “Cooking from Scratch,” “Possessions,” and “The Sound of One Hand.” Amongst the poems of each section is a poem of the same title, except in “Possessions” where the poem is actually “The Possession of Susan Smith.”

This is the second of Emmons’ three books of poems; the first being Rootbound and the third The Glove of the World. I have not yet read the third book.

Full disclosure time: Jeanne Emmons is a friend of mine and the professor I have taken the most classes from at Briar Cliff. Other than providing me a deeper knowledge of the poet, which helps in placing the poet in relation to some of the subject matter of the poems, I do not think it colors my judgement of the poems in the slightest. These are powerful poems whether or not I have more insight into some of them than the general reader of them does.

The poems in “Refinery” center around the author’s growing up in south Texas: Halloween, the baseball nights and DDT of the title, Southern Baptist churchgoing, segregation, living in a refinery town. “Cooking from Scratch” encompasses relationships and where they lay in time; friends, family—living and gone—make their appearance. The third section, “Possessions” contains exactly what it says, the things that possess others and ourselves: gardens, travel, names and events in the news, mythology. The last section, “The Sound of One Hand,” consists of poems about Emmons’ father and their complex relationship and the whole book is dedicated to her father, Winfred S. Emmons, who passed in 2000.

There are so many poems I’d like to share with you or comment on but I’ll keep it to a bare minimum.

On her parents’ wedding night, from “Fantasia Reissued”:

That year, someone would split the atom,
and Bald Mountain would soon be racked
with thunderbolts and deadly rain,
but they held out hope and loved each other
with pink parasols, one after the other,
opening and opening in the darkened theater.

“Contingency” is one of the most beautifully and quietly erotic poems that I have ever read, even more so since there is nothing explicit in it.

“Medusa” is a wonderful reinterpretation of the boy-meets-girl story.

Since I cannot transcribe the whole thing, go find a copy and read them. You will be rewarded.

 

Two-Thirds Book Challenge Update 6

This is update 6 in the Two-Thirds Book Challenge.

Helen

Helen has been quite busy this month … catching up on blogging things that she has read over the last few months.

Trinity by Leon Uris

She gave this one 5 stars in goodreads. “It is a dreary & beautiful slog through fictionalized history of a conquered people.” See her review for more.

The Littlest Hitler by Ryan Boudinot

This collection of short stories garnered 3 stars from her. While the “stories were all technically very well written” she “just kept thinking over and over that it was all trying too hard. The writing was effortless and a pleasure to read, but the story was always a little too hip, a little too cool, a little too ‘look how shocking.’” She hopes to try some of his more recent stuff before writing him off.

Pure Drivel by Steve Martin

“Usually I love Steve Martin’s writing, but this one was a miss for me.” 3 stars. See her review for why this one just didn’t work for her.

Scenes From An Impending Marriage by Adrian Tomine

Another 5 star book. “I hear that this comic isn’t his best work from lots of folks, but since a) I’ve read and loved all his work and b) I feel a kinship to his attitude about most things, I feel qualified to say this book was awesome.” As someone ‘recently’ married, she has convinced me to read it.

Murder Unleashed by Rita Mae Brown

“This story is a murder mystery that encompasses a wide variety of topics including but not limited to: the mortgage crisis, squatter’s rights, hunger both human and animal, coyote’s and ranch politics, cattle farming, campaign finance, school buses, and sex industry workers. I’m sure there was more, plus the everyday lives of regular characters. The story is easy and RMB has a gift for packing a lot of content into a weekend read without making it laborious.”

She thinks the series is improving but read her review to find out why she only gave it 3 stars.

 Jen!!

After a drought, two books down

Summer Knight by Jim Butcher

“This is the fourth book in the Dresden series and I loved it. It lived up to Butcher’s standards for adventure, inventiveness, and fun.”

Years of Grace by Margaret Ayer Barnes

“[I]nspired by a reference in The Violets of March” she was led into the Stacks at UIUC and was “glad that I followed through on reading it. … Indeed, I found it a thoughtful telling of a life, the choices made, and the results that come from those choices.”

Sounds like a good read. And Brava, Jen, for daring the Stacks! I miss them so very, very much!

The Marriage Artist by Andrew Winer

Past, present, Vienna, World War II, art, death and lovers. Wow. “The book drew me in almost instantly, making want to know more about the characters–their past, their future, how they would deal with the present. … This book is a wonderful get-a-way from the day to day and I especially like the time shifting of it and getting to witness the impact that the choices made in one’s youth had on the future.”

Sara

Quiet Renaissance Power

Sara reviewed two books “that were very different but struck similar chords” for her, which she read during the same time period as part of her Creativity theme for the 2/3rds Book Challenge: Quiet: the power of introverts in a world that can’t stop talking by Susan Cain, and The Renaissance Soul: life design for people with too many passions to pick just one by Margaret Lobenstine.

“In the end, I benefited from reading both of these books and I think reading them at the same time worked out really well. From Renaissance Soul, I have a list of specific goals and a timeline which actually feels realistic. From Quiet, I have several other book recommendations (I think I’ll finally get around to reading Flow now) and better ways of articulating what I need to myself and others.”

She does caution readers about an “us and them” premise which is present in both books, though.

E

The Wild Palms (If I Forget Thee, Jerusalem) by William Faulkner

This was a tough one for E but it will be with her for a long time. Life often puts these complex and difficult texts in front of us during times of stress, whether we need them or not, and they change us; often for the better, more often not appreciated until much later.

Read her powerful review.

“Do I even need to tell you that there can’t possibly be a happy ending? “That story ends very badly for all involved, you know.” “Don’t all the good ones?” And then there’s this, where I am right now, drinking bourbon in the back room of my new apartment in Pilsen, listening to the whistle of trains in the distance, scanning for the moon against the night sky.”

Keep scanning for the moon, my friend. She’ll always be there for you. Day or night, day and night, she has always been there for me.

Mark

In Defence of the Enlightenment by Tzvetan Todorov

I really wanted to like this book but it let me down. Sure, my review is far more nuanced than that, and I am glad I read it, but that is the gist of my reaction to it.

See you next month.

Blog redesign and other putterings

I know most of you never see this site anymore and if/when you do see my posts you are probably seeing them in a feed reader. That’s OK. I probably read about 50% of the blogs I follow in Google Reader and 50% at the blog itself (by clicking through). To get a feel for a new blog or to read one I know is well-designed (say, Walt at Random or via negativa), I’ll click through for the better aesthetic experience.

All that said, I am redesigning my blog. I have scrapped the old Cutline theme that I have used since November 2006. Wow! Really‽

I am using the Twenty Eleven theme from WordPress but along with the Twenty Eleven with Sidebar in Posts child theme. I have been doing some tweaking to it—kind of the point of a child theme—but still want to do more.

I have made some headers, which rotate, from some of my photos and plan on doing more. I am hoping to use a Google Web Font (still need to choose which one) for my blog title. If that works, I may consider finding one for the main text of the blog but I am concerned with loading overhead. I am currently using Georgia for body text, which I like a lot better than the sans serif font the theme uses by default, but Georgia really isn’t that great of a serif font.

I still need to restyle some H3 elements I have used as heading within posts previously as they are kind of small and light, add post counts to the Archives page, take the “!” off the Contact Me! page, do a bit more adjusting of the header area, along with changing the font to something nicer up there, and a few other things. I have added the citation for the inspiration of the title to the tagline area but I’d prefer it to be part of the title properly. We’ll see.

If you are so inclined, please feel free to actually visit the blog and provide any thoughts on aesthetics, location of elements/widgets, etc., missing/preferred elements/widgets, etc. Keep in mind, though, that this is a fairly responsive design and will look different depending on screen resolution, size, etc. For instance, the sidebar items all shift to the bottom on our iPads to leave plenty of room for the body.