Friday, September 1, 2023

The Sealey Challenge Stack 2023

Can you spot the errors? I don't have The Carrying here, because I listened to Ada Limón read it instead of having the book in hand. Also, I mistakenly photographed volume 1 of Plagios instead of volume 2. But otherwise, this is representative of what I have done with the last 31 days. We now return to our previously scheduled two-or-three-books-a-month program.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

The Sealey Challenge, Day 31: Human Chain by Seamus Heaney

I think of Heaney as old school. A poet who knew his classics, and could quote Latin, and whose poetry is is formal, but still completely human and accessible. My undergrad poetry professor was mentored by Heaney, and perhaps that's why I can always hear a voice when I read his (Heaney's) work. It's something of John Savant with an overlay of Irish accent, I think. 

Wednesday, August 30, 2023

The Sealey Challenge, Day 30: Plagios/Plagerisms, vol. 2 by Ulalume González de León, translated by Terry Ehret, John Johnson and Nancy J. Morales

I am so extraordinarily fortunate to have as companions in my two poetry critique groups poets who are talented, and hard working, and kind. This past week I celebrated my birthday, and I spent a lot of the day wondering what wonderful things I had done in a past life to deserve the good friends I have in this one. If one believed such a thing. I am humbled with gratitude. All that to say that the pleasure of reading this volume of González de León's poetry in translation (with the original on the verso) was doubled by knowing two of the translators fairly well. Sixteen Rivers Press is a solid publishing collective, and I've day-dreamed about applying in the past. I really enjoyed these poems, and was surprised how much of the original language I could read without the translation, and understand and appreciate. I can't imagine how difficult it was to translate these poems. They are deceptively simple in terms of the language and provocative and profound in terms of the meaning.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

The Sealey Challenge, Day 29: Now we're getting somewhere by Kim Addonizio

I first saw Addonizio read in Petaluma in the 90s, & was blown away. This is a wonderful collection; I kept laughing out loud at her humor, and I'm not someone who normally laughs out loud at books. So funny, and so painfully true at the same time. Another poet whose craft I greatly admire and from whom I think I can learn a lot.


Monday, August 28, 2023

The Sealey Challenge, Day 28: Loose Woman by Sandra Cisneros

In the early 90s, a workshop teacher of mine, the generous Guy Biederman, had song the praises of Sandra Cisneros. I believe he knew her (although I could be mistaken about that - it was some time ago). Ever since then, I have had the knowledge that she was talented, but I had not read her. I hadn't even read The House on Mango Street. But I had Loose Woman on my shelf, having come by it somehow along the way, and I read it as today's title. It was interesting how this book reminded me of Corazón by Yesika Salgado and a little bit of Addonizio's Now We're Getting Somewhere. But it was the prosier pieces in Cisnero's book that I appreciated the most. The shorter-lined poems didn't do as much for me, although she certainly can play with images. 

Sunday, August 27, 2023

The Sealey Challenge, Day 27: The Carrying by Ada Limón

Oh, to have half the talent and humanity that Ada Limón has. I listened to the audiobook of this day's read, and her voice is as lovely as her poems. Except "lovely" is a horrible word to describe the complexity and compassion and humor and hurt in her work. Sure, I'm a poet. But at the moment, words fail me. I will have to go elsewhere, alone, staring into space for some time, and write a poem about what her poetry means to me. I can't help but gush and fan-girl about it. Plus, she's from just (more or less) up the road. So I not only admire her, I feel this weird proprietary pride about it, too. [Ada Limón, I almost wish you weren't so doggone famous and didn't have such a nationally recognized role so that we could go get coffee together in Petaluma and get to know each other.] Also, boy, does her work inspire me to dedicate more time and attention to my own craft. I want to see the world, look at it, report back from my particular brain, and do so as beautifully as she does. That's all. No big ask, right? 

Saturday, August 26, 2023

The Sealey Challenge, Day 26: After the Point of No Return by David Wagoner

My friend Michele Bombardier, the Poet Laureate for Bainbridge Island and a Frustration of Poets colleague, knew Wagoner, and I now that I have read this book, I envy her that connection. As I mentioned in social media, I admire some Roethke, some Donald Justice, some Richard Wilbur. But the things I like in some of their poems appear in pretty much all of Wagoner's poems. This is an absolutely a new favorite.