Eileen R. Tabios is a poet working in multiple genres and in-between. She also loves books by writing, reading, publishing, critiquing, romancing and advocating for them. This blog will feature her bibliophilic activities with posts on current book engagements and links to her books and projects related to books.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
BIRTHDAY BOOKSTORE HOUR
Today is the day I've long known as my birthday (the hidden story a different story). So, today, I gave my beleaguered, multi-tasking self the gift of time, in this case, one hour. I went to one of my favorite bookstores, Main Street Books in St. Helena. It's a mostly-used bookstore in the space of a closet. Poetry takes up two shelves. But since poetry takes up 1-2 shelves in bookstores ten times or more the size of Main Street Books, that's a commitment. My gift to moiself was to peruse every book on the two poetry shelves (shown above) and acquire those whose poems clamored for my poetry library.
It's a good constraint--a way to look at poets whose names I might have glossed over in the past because I didn't know their work or, ahem, because I'd heard of their work.
As I hoped, I surprised myself. I ended up with five books. I'd heard of Jane Kenyon and David Ignatow, of course, but wouldn't have gone out of my way to explore their works -- or at least the two books carried by the bookstore -- were it not for my directive to myself. The other three poets were not known previously to me. So, here are the five books:
AGAINST THE EVIDENCE: SELECTED POEMS 1934-1994 by David Ignatow
A FORM OF OPTIMISM by Roy Jacobstein
CONSTANCE: POEMS by Jane Kenyon
THE COUNTRY I REMEMBER by David Mason
SOMETHING PERMANENT, photographs by Walker Evans and poetry by Cynthia Rylant
A very satisfying conclusion to my birthday hour. Plus it helped me support an indie bookstore, always a good apple to bite.
While there (and often at bookstores), though, I couldn't help but tsk-tsk over the commercial state of poetry. Today, I discovered this anthology, POEMS THAT MAKE MEN CRY, Editors Anthony and Ben Holden. The inner flap cover refers first to that statement, "Real men don't cry" and takes off from there for its conceptual premise. Interesting that the color of the text is in gold -- as in, these poems are valuable for being able to make men cry?
The shot of the back cover below reveals some of the participants--John Ashbery to Stanley Tucci...:
I want to react along the lines of, Hey, it's benign and if it's another way to grab a reader into poetry, why not? But my initial reaction was actually more like: At least it's not based on the poet's age being under 30 or whatever age threshold (with the variation of thustly being "new") -- oh so many anthologies from such a lazy-ass premise, that one...