Welcome to Issue # 37 of Plume.
In which we continue the theme of the Editor’s Note — or merely take another opportunity to present a poem from that imaginary B & B’s “library,” whose narrowed selection turns us to work we might not have read under other circumstances. Here, then, as you settle in that musty room off the kitchen with its crumbling mantelpiece, its sea-themed bric-a brac or whittled squirrels, the piece upon which your falls again after so many yearsâ€¦ or — and you blush just a bit to say it — for the first time, from the untouchable Elizabeth Bishop:
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
–Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
— Elizabeth Bishop, “One Art” from The Complete Poems 1926-1979. ( FSG)
Not many were or are her equal: go, then, and read her again, yes? Or — lucky you — discover the wonders that have awaited you all these years.
But, to business: and briefly, as I’m sure you have more interesting (even doing absolutely nothing might qualify) summer things to attend to than tussle with this this newsletter.
We now have a confirmed date for the L.A. Plume reading: 19 September, at Beyond Baroque. Arthur Vogelsang, Mark Irwin, and Marci Vogel are on the docket — with others tentative as of this writing. More information next issue, I expect.
Also and again: several poets who teach creative writing have taken to using the Plume Anthology of Poetry 2014 in their classes — and more will do so in the fall. If this interests you in the slightest, you can purchase a copy at our STORE on the PLUME Website or through our publishers at http://madhat-press.com/ or online at Amazon (where there is an extensive Look Inside feature, and many other sites, as well.
Next up, after this issue’s Featured Selection from James Richardson look for extended work from Linda Pastan; Glenn Mott; Chris Kennedy; Andre du Bouchet (translated by Hoyt Rogers and Paul Auster); and newly aboard, Jim Daniels in collaboration with Charlee Brodsky; Tess Gallagher and Lawrence Matsuda; and Nin Andrews, among others. (Here, too, again, let me add as always: those with projects that might be suitable for the Featured Selection, please do contact us with your proposal at firstname.lastname@example.org )
For a list of new work received this month, please see our Editor’s Note.
We conclude with recommendations for your reading pleasure from David Cudar:
The Biographical Dictionary of Failure by C.D. Rose
An amazing and pain-stakingly researched account of writers who either never put pen to paper (for a myriad of reasons) or those who did and are known solely (if at all) by the attempt. Humorous when it needs to be and serious at the correct moments: literary curio at its best.
Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle
A poet and teacher, Ruefle presents us with many of her “standing lectures to graduate students.” The book opens to the reader like the secret audit of a college class too popular to attend. Ruefle’s prose is lucid and compelling. She claims she is more a writer than a teacher. Upon reading her I would say she is exquisitely both.
Carsick by John Waters
Another piece of curio, but this time of the American road. Waters’ is at his best when he discovers (or uncovers) the beating heart of the American weird. Oddly, the stories he tells about those who helped him hitchhike across the country only endear us to ‘middle America’. The “Blue Highways” of the 21st century.
- The Geography of the Imagination: Forty Essays (Nonpareil Book, 78): Guy Davenport: 9781567920802: Amazon.com: Books
The Geography of the Imagination by Guy Davenport
The polymath’s pantomath, “from swerve of shore to bend of bay” there is an all-encompassing circle to Davenport’s erudition. This book is an excellent cross section of Davenport’s nonfiction, from table manners to Ezra Pound, written with delicacy and reverence. All of these essays are dense because of the writer’s vast intelligence, but very readable. Davenport is a force that evolves a form. His fiction is even more original.
Heartland by Wilson Harris
A novel that is a poem that is also a rethinking of “Heart of Darkness”, Harris is little known in the Western hemisphere, which says more about our reading culture than Wilson’s abilities. There are few advocates of Wilson’s writings — I am one of them.
- Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves: Laurel Braitman: 9781451627008: Amazon.com: Books
Animal Madness by Laurel Braitman
Part treatise, part memoir, “Animal Madness” makes the claim that animals, like humans, suffer emotional trauma. Her position is a poignant one for those who feel that animals are more than food or chattel. If you are not an animal lover, perhaps you might like to see how we think; if you are one already, then you should read this because it maps the non-human heart.
- Think Like a Freak: The Authors of Freakonomics Offer to Retrain Your Brain: Steven D. Levitt, Stephen J. Dubner: 9780062218339: Amazon.com: Books
Think Like a Freak By Levitt and Dubner
A book written with the same verve and panache of “Freakonmics”, but with a dolly-back to reveal the mechanical operation at work behind the scenes of the production of scenes: this time it is more about the relation, attitude, and ideology of the consumer to the economic milieu. There is no further remove from this position, but their book makes the most of its final perspective.
The Snow Queen by Michael Cunningham
Cunningham is a master of parallel narrative, and “The Snow Queen” is no exception, following the lives of two brothers who have rich and separate narrative arcs which finally intertwine with a certain genius as the story closes. Cunningham evokes literature, theology, and desire to remind us that our lives are inelegant but powerful.
Why I Read by Wendy Lesser
Like Blooms’s “How to Read and Why”, Lesser’s book is a map, perhaps at once more contemporary and specific, of the pleasures and benefit of reading. If you are reading this you will enjoy Lesser’s book — not because there are similarities between Lesser and me, but between her readers and mine.
Bartleby & Co. by Enrique Vila-Matas
If Rose’s book was about the ‘almost were’, Vila-Matas’ book is about the one-offs. A compelling novel hidden inside a faux-memoir, “Bartleby & Co.” is a struggle to understand those many writers that produced only one text. It is funny, erudite, and entertaining. Imagine Borges as a comedian. His other books are just as delectable.
As always, I do hope you enjoy the issue!