What We're Reading – December 2016
In Issue #5's podcast, our guest Rebecca Parfitt recommended a poet who shines a light on human ecstasy and sadness with blinding precision; Richard pointed our listeners towards a book of poetry that is straightforward, honest and bold; Adam enjoyed returning to a seminal work by one of the most influential writers of the 19th century; and Rhys spoke about a collection that offers a timely reminder of the plight of those who seek asylum.
The Sand Garden – Humberto Gatica
Hafan Books, 2008
The Sand Garden / El Jardin de Arena is the debut poetry collection from Humberto Gatica, a Chilean exile who arrived in Wales shortly after the 1973 military coup. The poems, included in both Spanish and English, deal with the enforced exile of Gatica and his family and the subsequent struggle to adapt to life in a foreign country. Fittingly, whereas Hafan's other marriages of literature and visual art are often collaborative, The Sand Garden is instead the sole work of Gatica, with the poems accompanied on the page by the poet's black and white photographs of exile in Swansea.
The Sand Garden is available to buy from lulu.com/hafan
Rhys wrote a longer introduction to Humberto Gatica's poetry for Everything But A Mis-Print back in 2010. You can read it here: rhysowainwilliams.com/blog/an-introduction-to-humberto-gatica
My Feelings – Nick Flynn
Graywolf Press, 2015
In My Feelings, Nick Flynn makes no claims on anyone else’s. The poems in this, his fourth collection of poetry, inhabit a continually shifting sense of selfhood in the attempt to contain quicksilver realms of emotional energy – from grief and panic to gratitude and understanding.
Poet and memoirist Nick Flynn was born in Scituate, Massachusetts. Like My Feelings, his other poetry collections Some Ether (2000), Blind Huber (2002) and The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands (2011) were also published by Graywolf Press. He teaches creative writing at the University of Houston, and splits his time between Houston and New York.
My Feelings is available to buy from graywolfpress.org
Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
James and Andrew Rome, 1855
Leaves of Grass is a collection of quintessentially American poems, the seminal work of one of the most influential writers of the 19th century. Though the first edition was published in 1855, Whitman spent most of his professional life writing and re-writing Leaves of Grass, revising it multiple times until his death. This resulted in vastly different editions over four decades – the first edition was a small book of just 12 poems, and the last was a compilation of over 400.
With that many poems to choose from, it's difficult to know where to start. As Adam mentioned in the podcast, the poem in the collection he returns to most often is 'Song of the Broad-Axe'. Read it for free on poemhunter.com
As a work in the public domain, Leaves of Grass is widely available.
Sunshine – Melissa Lee-Houghton
Penned in the Margins, 2016
Sunshine is the new collection from Melissa Lee-Houghton. A writer of startling confession, her poems inhabit the lonely hotel rooms, psych wards and deserted lanes of austerity Britain.
The collection combines acute social observation with a dark, surreal humour born of first-hand experience. Abuse, addiction and mental health are all subject to Lee-Houghton’s poetic eye. But these are also poems of extravagance, hope and desire, that stake new ground for the Romantic lyric in an age of social media and internet porn. In this new book of poems, Melissa Lee-Houghton shines a light on human ecstasy and sadness with blinding precision.
Sunshine is available to buy from pennedinthemargins.co.uk
To hear what we said about these books in the 'What We're Reading' segment of the Issue #5 podcast, go here: crunchpoetry.com/issue-5.html
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