Newsletter Issue #42 December, 2014

Newsletter Issue #42 December, 2014
December 18, 2014 Plume


December: Issue # 42:

Happy Holidays!

First, this just in: Plume at AWP:  Friday, April 10, 6:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. in the Minneapolis Convention Center, Conference Room 209 A & B, Level 2, there will be a joint reading with Plume & Fulcrum (with a full bar). I am looking for readers! Those of you who might be interested, and have appeared (or will be appearing) in our pages, please contact me at  If more than we can accommodate express a desire to read, we’ll operate on a first come, first served basis.

Now, then:

December:  And how busy you are! Is it possible you have even a moment to peruse this little letter? If so, you will find, perhaps, just what you were looking for: book recommendations from some of our contributors, to begin, followed by David Cudar’s offerings of ten others.

As to the former:

The premise was simple. In fact, I quote its entirety here, from the email I sent out a  couple of weeks ago:

Name the book that you would like to receive for Christmas this year


Name the book that — supposing you had lots of money lying about — you would press on your most cherished friends

Below (with a few “extras” that arrived too late for layout in the Editor’s Note), then, their replies, some short and sweet, others with a bit of (interesting, illuminating) explanation, amended where needed to fit this forum. In order of their arrival in my Inbox:

Marc Vincenz
1.The book I would like to receive for Christmas this year:

G.C. Jung, The Red Book (Philemon)

2. The book I would press on my friends if I had lots of money lying about:

The Collected Poems of John Crowe Ransom, ed. Ben Mazer, Un-Gyve Press

Idra Novey
A book I would press upon my friends: Laura Sims’ My God is This a Man (Fence Books).

Rosanna Warren
The books I’d like to receive for Christmas (assuming a Santa with deep pockets): the five volume Bollingen edition of The Notebooks of Samuel Taylor Coleridge.

The book I’d press on friends (and in fact have pressed on at least one person): Vasily Grossman’s novel Life and Fate, translated by Robert Chandler, published by The New York Review of Books Classics Series. This novel has changed my life.

Daisy Fried
I already have “Marvelous Things Overheard” by Ange Mlinko (FSG), but it should have gotten lots more attention than it did, so I’m endorsing it! It’s just over a year old, and recently out in paperback.

Ron Slate
If I could have but one book as a gift for the holiday this year…

Paul Strand: Master of Modern Photography
Yale University Press (published 11/11/14)

John Skoyles
The book I would like to give as a gift is: Federico Fellini’s The Book of Dreams, which my friend Pamela Painter gave to me before it was $645 as it lists now on Amazon.

The book I would like to receive is the newly published
New York School Painters & Poets: Neon in Daylight Hardcover — by Jenni Quilter

David Huddle
Mark Wunderlich’s The Earth Avails (Graywolf)

Billy Collins
I would give any one in the series of about 40 volumes in the animal series put out by Reaktion Books in the UK.  Might start with SWAN, PIG, DOG–it makes little difference as the series is as addictive as salted peanuts.

I would love to receive the new reissue of the classic THE POETICS OF SPACE by Gaston Bachelard from Penguin Classics.  My copy of the original is frayed.

David Baker
I’d love to receive the new novels by Toni Morrison and Kent Haruf, though I think neither novel is yet available.  So: I’d like to give (if I had bottomless pockets) “The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson” to my friends.  This is the two-volume oversized hardback boxed collection of all her poems, in her handwriting.  That is, these are copies of all the fascicles, in her arrangement.  Harvard University Press.  This changes how you see and understand the poems.

Phillis Levin
The one I’d like to receive would be Pieter Bruegel by Larry Silver. To give, I’d “press” (gently, since it’s a boxed set of 7 volumes) August Sander: People of the 20th Century, edited by Susanne Lange and Gabriele Conrath-Scholl.

Troy Jollimore
Which book would I want to get for Christmas? I’ll go with “The Banquet: The Complete Films, Plays, and Librettos” by Kenneth Koch. Which I will probably just end up buying for myself at some point.

And which book would I give to all my friends? I’m sure you’d get a thousand different answers depending on when you asked me, but right now I’m in love with Brenda Hillman’s latest book, “Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire.”

Nicole Cooley
Book I would like for Christmas: The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson’s Envelope Poems.  Even the outside is so gorgeous I can hardly stand to look at it!

Book I would give to friends: Andrew Solomon, Far from the Tree: Parents, Children and the Search for Identity. Best book ever about what it is like to be a parent and a human being in the world.

David Rivard
The History of Rock n’ Roll in Ten Songs–Greil Marcus

Lisa R. Spaar
The book I’d most like to receive and press on my beloveds is a catalogue published in conjunction with an art exhibit I’d very much like to view at Christie’s Mayfair in London (you see, the necessity of airfare &c!):

The exhibition opened on 10 October 2014 and runs, I believe, into January 2015.  In addition to bringing the astonishing work of the Breughels into visual dialogue with contemporary artists, the catalogue contains glosses by the exhibition curators (Darren Leak, Jacob Uecker, and Alexis Ashot) but also texts by poets such as William Carlos Williams, for whom the quotidian, luminous work of the Breughels has been a touchstone.

Hank Lazer
To receive:

O! Tricky Cad & Other Jessoterica (Siglio Press)

to give:

David Hinton, Hunger Mountain: A Field Guide to Mind and Landscape (Shambhala)

Clare Rossini
I spend so much time with books of words that I often take refuge in books of pictures, where my eyes may feast on reproductions of paintings I love.  Of these, the one I would wish for every friend is Giorgio Morandi 1890-1964: Nothing Is More Abstract Than Reality.  The catalog of a 2008-09 exhibition organized by the Met in New York and  the Museo d’Arte Moderna in Bologna, this volume contains a rich selection of Morandi’s work, including a series of vase paintings that always and ever calm me with their intimate scale and pale, tender palette.  Morandi often has been called a painter-poet; his cloistered life and impassioned, eccentric sensibility make me think of Emily Dickinson.  Never easy or sentimental, Morandi’s paintings nonetheless provide a respite from our noisy, often heart-breaking world.

Karen Volkman
For Christmas:

Endocrinology, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge’s collaboration with Kiki Smith (a very limited edition artist’s book, so unlikely to come my way)

For gifting to others:

Recent book: Farnoosh Fathi’s Great Guns. Book by a dead person: Henri Michaux’s Tent Posts, weirdly heartening advice you never knew you needed from the strange Belgian uncle you never had.

Grace Schulman
Two books I’d like most to give: The Poems of Octavio Paz, edited by Eliot Weinberger, New Directions;

Edward Hirsch: A Poet’s Glossary, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The books I’d most like to receive: I like to buy books whenever I can.  But if you really want to give me one, I’d like anything by Harold Bloom, to replace my tattered copies. Ditto, my tattered copy of Charles Simic’s New and Selected Poems(Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Page Hill Stargazer
The book I’d most like to receive:  The Wallcreeper by Nell Zink                                      

The book I’d most like to give if I had lots of money lying around: Online Oxford Dictionary $295 or full printed set $989 (on sale)

N.B.  This list will reappear in our Editor’s Note this issue — there, with a gift of my own: respite from my serial recitations of adolescent shenanigans, introducing each issue’s “secret” poem. Alas, however, these are not likely to make a permanent departure, as I have found I enjoy the opportunity to hold again, for the few moments it takes to scribble them down, those shards of waywardness, wiped clean, and still capable of drawing blood.

The print Plume Anthology of Poetry 2014 is almost complete — we have our Featured Poet — and I think you will be pleased. Not naming just yet — I want to keep something up my sleeve.

(Again: on the off chance that you, poets, are interested in reading for PLUME or might want to organize a reading in your own neighborhood, please, email me at — we’ll make every effort to accommodate you, I promise.)

Our cover art this month is from Margo Berdeshevsky, currently living in Paris. Her newest collection of poetry is “BETWEEN SOUL & STONE” (Sheep Meadow Press/2011.) Her book of illustrated stories, “BEAUTIFUL SOON ENOUGH” (University of Alabama Press/ 2009) received the American Book Review/Ronald Sukenick Award for Innovative Fiction. Her poetry collection, “BUT A PASSAGE IN WILDERNESS,” was published by Sheep Meadow Press in 2007. She writes the “Letters From Paris” column in Poetry International.

Next up, after this issue’s Featured Selection of Five South African poets (introduced by Harry Owen),  in  no particular order, Luljeta Lleshanaku, translated and with an introduction/ interview with Ani Gjika conducted by our Nancy Mitchell; Emmanuel Moses, translated and with an introduction by Marilyn Hacker;  Daniel Bourne and Tadeusz Dziewanowski in collaboration; Gennady Aygi and the great Russian Tatar painter Igor Vulokh, also in collaboration; Nin AndrewsLinda PastanChris KennedyTess Gallagher and Lawrence Matsuda; with others just appearing on the horizon. (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 ).

Finally, for a list of New Work Received this month, as we continue gathering material for the print anthology as well as the online issues, please see the Editor’s Note.

And here are David Cudar’s takes on recent literature — get out that Visa or Amex —

  1. The Snow Queen: A Novel: Michael Cunningham

Michael Cunningham is best known for his novel The Hours, a book that allowed his readers to experience the elegance and facility with which he can construct a narrative. The Snow Queen is a Jamesian meditation on other-worldliness, while at the same time a celebration of the quotidian.  Gently connecting two brothers’ lives in an almost impressionistic New York, Cunningham’s latest novel is arguably his best.

  1. The Children Act: Ian McEwan

McEwan is at his best when deconstructing relationships, in this case a marriage of 30 years. His language is at times spare but always infused with emotional resonance. McEwan is a consummate professional, so wherever this author takes you the ride is simply enjoyable.

  1. The Zone of Interest: A novel

Marin Amis is a brave and inventive writer, sometimes these qualities can work against him as in Times Arrow, but in his new novel they succeed.  Writing about the holocaust is a terribly dangerous thing to do, especially at this late date, but Amis rises to the challenge. The Zone of Interest uses the concentration camp as a lens to more clearly view the psyche and the soul.  It is dark and formidable terrain, but well worth the exploration.

  1. Lila: A Novel: Marilynne Robinson

With Lila, Robinson returns to Gilead, which is a mythical everywhere. Her examination of alienation is performed via a love story, which makes perfect sense for Robinson whose talent shines brightest when commingling contraries like the pain in pleasure and the ancient with the contemporary.

  1. The Bone Clocks: A Novel: David Mitchell

Like Mitchell’s break-through novel, Cloud AtlasThe Bones Clocks is an Escher-like narrative that moves forward and backward depending upon the perspective. This is masterful story-telling and wonderful fun. Someone must tell Mitchell that the novel is dead, for he seems to have forgotten again.

  1. Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage: A novel

The long-awaited new novel by Murikami is strangely familiar and oddly unique. The reader will certainly remember the signature style of Kafka on the Shore and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicles, but there is a sadness and a restiveness about the story which seems unlike the earlier works. A dream book for our time.

  1. The Lives of Others: Neel Mukherjee

The family as nation.  Mukerjee takes an unsentimental and penetrating look at the Caste system in India. The political novel as family saga hasn’t been this good since Mann’s Buddenbrooks.

  1. Orfeo: A Novel: Richard Powers

Richard Powers has forgotten more about science than most of us learn.  With the exception of Pynchon, no fiction writer can approach his knowledge.  He writes about causality, A.I, the Genome Project, Fugues and in Orfeo about bio-terrorism and the internet. There is music within his novels that is certainly of the Spheres.

  1. How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World: Steven Johnson

Johnson’s book is a magpie’s treasure of wonders. His illustration of what events altered the course of history is upstaged by his amazing linkages between them. For example, did you know air conditioning got Reagan the presidency?  The explanation is as interesting as the question.  Well, where do we go from now?

  1. The Secret History of Wonder Woman: Jill Lepore

All you wanted to know about Wonder Woman, but didn’t know to ask — S&M, birth-control, suffrage.  Lepore’s book is fine scholarship and excellent fun.  It is part biography, part history, part cultural critique and completely engaging.

As always, I do hope you enjoy the issue!

Daniel Lawless
Editor, PLUME