Reflection: Singing School by Robert Pinsky

(photo: amazon.com)

This is a short reflection of Singing School by Robert Pinsky  which was one of the poetry books on My Summer Poetry Reading List. It has taken me a while to finish it since I’ve been neck deep in reading the Harry Potter books among many others.

I admit I had some assumptions about what this book would be when I picked it up. I thought it would be thorough and detailed writing advice from Pinsky. What I really found was a miniature anthology of poems picked out by Pinsky that are presented as examples and inspiration to poets. This was a slight disappointment to me since I have more than enough anthologies of poems and I was looking for more of a detailed guide books/manual with great advice. Still, the infectious reader in me had to finish what she started, so I read on. By the end I realized that these specific poems that Pinsky chose were more than just good examples but living, breathing pieces that were solid in form, approach, style and technique (they are of course written by ‘the masters‘). Quite a few of the poems I recognized from taking previous Poetry courses up at the University of Utah but there were a few that I did read for the first time. I realized that these pieces picked out by Pinsky showed his extraordinary talent and abilities when it comes to poetry. Simply stated: He knows what he’s talking about! Of Course!

The poems are sectioned off into different chapters that have specific themes such as, ‘Freedom‘, and ‘Listening‘. At the beginning of each chapter Pinsky introduces his selected poems by explaining a certain element of poetry. His detailed analysis paired with tying in examples from the poems to be read, create a vivid but short lesson. I found the ‘Listening‘ chapter and ‘Dreaming Things Up‘ to be my favorites.

Overall I wish there was more to this book. I feel that it is a brief introduction to Poetry and Poetry’s key elements for beginners. Since I’ve been reading, studying and writing Poetry for a few years now, I crave something more complex and challenging to learn from. I would recommend this book to any Pinsky readers or newbies to Poetry since it is nevertheless a fantastic book!

 

Thank you for taking time out of your day to read my writing!

I hope that you will return in the future!

 

-Alina

Reflection: Complete Poems of Ernest Hemingway

(image: amazon.com)

The Complete Poems of Ernest Hemingway

I found this book at my beloved Sam Weller’s here in Salt Lake City. Their poetry section is large and impressive. Needless to say thanks to them I find amazing poetry books regularly. Thank you Wellers! 

This collection of poems brings amazing insight into how Hemingway developed into the extraordinary writer he was. Among the prolific writers, artists and musicians of the Jazz Age, Hemingway brings his own attitude and style to the era. This collection spans from 1912-1956, from Hemingway as a young man to an older experienced one, the poetry that he wrote explored technique, style, form and subject matter. It is amazing to see and read the poetry of Hemingway evolve as he honed his skills.

The introduction mentions that because of Hemingway’s use of expletives and frank raunchy subject matter, many readers seek out the collection on purpose. I had no idea that because of these elements readers (maybe specifically Hemingway readers) would purposefully seek out this book since the reason I got it was because I love Hemingway and love poetry (simple enough). But I was not surprised that his poems contained this questionable material, since Hemingway’s style emphasizes on ‘telling it the way it is’, he did not seek to leave out the private details of intimate life nor the language that people use in any of his writing.

These are few of the poems that I loved the most from this complete collection,

(italicized years are not part of the poem title)

[Blank Verse] 1916

Killed Piave-July 8-1918

[“Blood is thicker than water…”] 1922

To Good Guys Dead 1922

The Lady Poets with Foot Notes 1924

[Little drops of grain alcohol] 1926

Poem, 1928

Defense of Luxembourg 1945

(bracketed titles are taken from the first line of the poem)

In many of these poems Hemingway critiques his critics, he also explores his experiences in war and his attitude towards politics and government. Of course, there is also a lot of references to drinking and women but there is also critique from Hemingway on maybe a certain female poet (or general types of female poets, I am not sure) in ‘The Lady Poets with Foot Notes’, which I found to be both amusing and fascinating. Many of his early poems have a rhyme scheme, or appear to mimic various traditional forms, as he gets older it appears that Hemingway chisels his words more effectively and dabbles in writing his poetry in freer forms (maybe the influence of key modernist poets such as T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound?) I believe the introduction mentions these poets among others that were involved in the writers community of the Jazz Age in Europe. Overall, I would recommend this book to any poet that loves the works of Hemingway since I find it instructive and inspirational. If anything reading this complete collections of poems has made me appreciate more the daily hard work that goes into writing whenever and wherever you can (on vacation or the battlefront). I admire Hemingway among thousands of other writers for his attitude and style of writing. There is something bare and true about his words that echoes with readers souls still.

What I love about this collection: It contains pictures of Hemingway throughout his life as well as pictures of the original poems and drafts. I love it when poetry/fiction books add these items because it brings the writer so much closer to the reader; to see his handwriting right next to the final printed word on the next page is incredible.

What I wish it had more of: The introduction gives sufficient background into the early writings of Hemingway (specifically his poetry). I am one of those book nuts that loves lengthy Introductions that delve deep into the subject matter of the book, if this one was just a little longer (it is only 15 pages) or double the size I feel that I could have learned more.


 

If you are reading this Thank You for taking time out of your day to read my writing!

I hope that you return in the future!

-Alina

 

p.s. I have decided to wait until I finish the last Harry Potter book to write a reflection on the entire series. Many people have written about Harry Potter and J.K. Rowling I know, but I want to specifically focus on the evolving writing in the series and character development. As a cornerstone series that every child should read, I think it is crucial to analyze Rowling’s technique and approach to her controversial subject matter, to better understand how such influential writers write. 

Currently Reading: After the Quake by Haruki Murakami

WARNING: SPOILERS

photo source: amazon.com

I thought I would begin posting short reflections on what I am currently reading since I have extra time this summer to focus on my blog. I am thinking that I will do one of these posts once a week, since I have an ever shuffling stack of books that I am always reading.

This week I began reading Haruki Murakami’s ‘After the Quake‘ after a suggestion from my boyfriend who is currently reading multiple Murakami works. After reading a couple of the stories I found myself pulled into Murakami’s world, intrigued by his unique style of writing and the subject matter.

The stories revolve around an earthquake that took place in Kobe, Japan in 1995. Each story has some connection to the Kobe earthquake but is flexible and malleable in the way that it explores the characters personal responses to the earthquake. The stories also emphasize on loneliness and death which strengthen further the connection between the earthquake and people. How do people cope with loss and fear amidst a natural disaster that affects an entire nation? I think a more important question is, How does a writer cope with the loss and fear that surrounds such an event?

I love the way in which Murakami uses detail and emotions to build his stories. The essence that is built up as the stories progress portray the feelings of loneliness, loss, and death in multiple ways.

My favorite stories in the collection:

Landscape with Flatiron

Thailand

Super-Frog Saves Tokyo

Landscape with Flatiron, explores friendship and a connection with nature through bonfires and alcohol. The end result a suicide pact that has unknown results.

Thailand, emphasizes on loneliness and aging while dealing with personal conflicts and moving on with ones life.

Super-Frog saves Tokyo, a hallucination? or a dream? A giant frog implores help from a lonely middle-aged man to help save Tokyo from a possible earthquake caused by an angry subterranean worm.

 

Overall I enjoyed reading each short story and plan on reading more of Murakami’s work. I would recommend his work highly to readers that enjoy modern short fiction.


If you are reading this Thank You for taking time out of your day to read my writing! I hope you return in the future!

-Alina

Book Lists: Sample My Favorite Fiction

Here are some of my favorite fiction books…just a taste.


 

Ulysses by James Joyce

Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

Orlando by Virginia Woolf

Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

This Side of Paradise by F.Scott Fitzgerald

Their Eyes were watching God by Zora Neale Hurston

Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky

Dracula by Bram Stoker

The Fall by Albert Camus

Drive by James Sallis

Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

Interview with a Vampire by Anne Rice

American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

 


I will be posting more lists soon. Expect a Summer 2017 Book List which will include books I want to read this summer with a follow up at the end of the summer on which books I read and my reflection on them.

If you are reading this Thank You for taking time out of your day to read my writing! I hope you return in the future!

-Alina

Books I Love: Beautiful City of the Dead

‘Books I love’ is a sub part of my ‘Book Lists’ posts. It is a post that contains a review/reflection of one specific book that I have read.


 

Beautiful City of the Dead by [Watts, Leander]

(picture source: amazon.com)

Beautiful City of the Dead by Leander Watts (a.k.a. Th. Metzger) is a young adult novel about a girl named Zee in a band who battles supernatural forces (not entirely sure how to define it, supernatural or sci-fi?). Yes, sounds cheesy I know. But actually this story is written in a style that I recognize now to be closer to prose and poetry. Initially I remember being captivated by the very first chapter which discusses Zee’s obsession with fire (almost a pyromaniac frenzy but not quite) which always led me into binge reading half the book in one sitting (the entire book is only 254 pages). The sentences are often jagged but so clear cut that I can recall certain lines even today.

I think about this book often because of its ability to sear certain images and events (that take place in the story) in my mind. It is a strange synthesis of music appreciation and teen problems meets the unknown (other dimensions? fame? or a bunch of old geezer’s with super powers?). I can never quite put my finger on exactly how to categorize this book and because of this I also love it dearly. I have always wanted a sequel but I know that the book stands alone as a unique piece that needs no continuation, it is only out of my adoration that I’d love to read more about these characters and their extremely weird heavy metal life.

I’d recommend this book to anyone, teen or adult, and especially persons that read poetry on a regular basis. It also has wonderful references to the first ‘Heavy Metal’ bands in RocknRoll. Since I love both poetry, heavy metal music and bands, this book is one in a million for me.


 

If you are reading this, Thank You, for taking time out of your day to read my writing! I hope you return in the future!

-Alina