Poet Tips

This website is awesome – you enter the name of a poet you like and it spits out some awesome recommendations. And just by some brief checking, the suggestions are excellent and the range of poets suggested even better (I checked for Anne Carson, Kenneth Rexroth, and Cathy Linh Che).



‘Shadowplay’ By Tad Williams

Point number one, Williams’ writing is not relentlessly grim, but his books are far too grim, at least, for the writer to go by ‘Tad.’ It’s just weird.

Second, I think I have merely transferred my bibliomaniacal tendencies to buy books towards checking them out from the library. Books on hold are being made available faster than I can read them (and certainly, fatherhood has slowed down my reading – a nearly seven year old, precocious, and active adopted child does not lend itself to quiet contemplation, though the trade off is certainly worthwhile). I had to renew this book once and I feel like the other two borrowed books in my possession will not be done before they are due. And I have more in the queue. We all have problems. This one, I suppose, is not even the worst of mine.

The level of ‘high fantasy’ – magic and monsters and the like – is higher than before. In fact, this series is actually, pretty textbook high fantasy, but it feels like it isn’t, because there is a certain grimness running through it.

I miss the realpolitik of the first volume, but it did a decent job of fleshing out the world and making the threats faced by the ‘good guys’ (two of whom are actually girls; arguably to primary protagonist is a self-possessed adolescent girl) more three dimensional than before.

But I still don’t feel one hundred percent convinced, though his writing is good enough, clearly, that I have now read five books by him (in two series).

Death By Sex Machine

I am too lazy to go into too much detail, save to say the poems are better than the titillating title. And power through the first quarter of the chapbook, which was so disappointing that I almost put it down without finishing it, because the rest is three quarters awesome (still a few stinkers, but the ratio is good).

It’s also worthwhile because in a post Trump, post Weinstein environment, her interrogations of the desiring gaze targeting women in various positions of psychic weakness feels more than usually relevant.

Poetry Aloud

I was in Chicago and decided to re-read Wordsworth’s great epic, The Prelude. Some two hundred odd pages of genius and I chose to… not exactly to read it aloud, but more to mutter the words to myself, so I could hear them (my child noticed me doing that and began doing that herself, stealing my copy of Ben Jonson’s poems and pretending to mutter the words aloud in an Old Navy; luckily, she doesn’t actually understand the lecher’s saucy and scatalogical jibes).

For Wordsworth, it wasn’t about rhyme, but meter. I needed to hear the meter.

The Ben Jonson I mentioned, was about the rhyme, because pronunciations are different.

I love Byron’s elegiac, So we’ll go no more a roving, but unless your accent is much different than mine, you don’t naturally pronounce ‘roving’ and ‘loving’ with the same ‘o,’ but Byron did. For me, only by reading it somewhat aloud, so I can hear myself tweak the sound to make the rhyme truly work, can I appreciate it.

Ben Jonson, being some two hundred years before Byron, requires it even more.

It slows my reading down, but that’s not such a bad thing.

‘Shadowmarch’ By Tad Williams

I recently finished Williams’ Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series and this book (the first of four in a new series) is both better and worse than the earlier series. Better in that Williams has a better handle on how to manage the plots and characters, making it seem less sprawling than it really is. What is, in truth, place setting for future volumes, feels more organic. It also feels more mature, in a sense. The political scenery feels more realistically entangled.

There is, however, nothing so wonderful as the lengthy opening of The Dragonbone Chair, which lets you immerse in the quotidian life of the future hero as a lazy kitchen helper, as well as get solid glimpses of the forthcoming plot through his eyes, in part.

I will definitely keep reading, though I won’t rush out and get the second volume right now.



The first of the Lensman novels by E.E. Smith, aka, E.E. ‘Doc’ Smith, Triplanetary never mentions Lensmen and you might not even know that it’s a series, except that the masterful, manly, monogamous, and magnificently named hero (Conway Costigan) is begging for more appearances.

Clearly the product of serialization, you can see where each installment began and ended. Pirates attack a space liner/cruise ship, but Costigan and Captain Bradley escape and lead a counterattack against the evil pirates. Then aliens appear and wipe out everyone but Bradley, Costigan, and a love interest. (Cliffhanger!) The escape from the aliens and send super technology info to Triplanetary, a space super spy/military agency, who finally and fully defeat the space pirates – but the aliens are back! (Cliffhanger!) Manly men in awesome space ships fight the aliens to a draw and peace is achieved.

The end.

Smith tries really hard to make his science believable by the standards of the day (he first wrote it in the thirties) and I’ll probably read more of these.

People I (Used To) Like Resigning Because Of Credible Allegations Of Sexual Harassment/Assault

The first time I saw Charlie Rose’s PBS show, it was that now famous interview with the late David Foster Wallace. While few interviews since rose (pun intended) to that level (mostly because few figures are as interesting, intelligent, and polymathematic [is that a word?] as Wallace), I still watched his show many times over the last two decades (though I never watched 60 Minutes). And now he’s gone for some truly heinous behavior. Not even run of the mill chauvinism, but some crazy creepy stuff.

Can we still rewatch that David Foster Wallace? How terrible am I for having some small part of me that wishes he could somehow continue?

Similarly, with Al Franken. He seemed less appealing in a moment that is crying out for the Democratic Party to nominate a woman and/or a person of color for president in 2020, but he once would have been among my favorites for the nomination. Progressive, pro-labor, outspoken. Also, he seemed tailor made to take it to the Party of Trump, née the Republican Party. And now? How do I feel? I don’t want him anymore. I can’t. But I still want to want him.