Tuesday, October 31, 2006

On Reading

I usually have eight or ten books going at once. This is easy enough with poetry; over the course of a month or-so, I simply dive in and out of the books piled next to my big red reading chair. It's more difficult with novels and short stories. Because I am primarily a poet, I don't read a great deal of contemporary fiction-- at least, not compared to the reading lists of those who write serious literary fiction. I tend to read fiction from authors I've previously read. My favorites include Jim Harrison, Tom McGuane, Annie Proulx, Joy Williams and Rick Bass. I'll read anything new from them and will be curious about the work of anyone who writes out of that lineage.

By contrast, I read everything I can find in contemporary poetry, whether the poet is someone whose work I "know" or not. I'm curious about what poetry is being written without regard to school, press, style or content. I do like certain poetries (and poets) better than others, but my curiosity (in poetry, at least) is larger than my preconceptions and prejudices. Like a dutiful jazz musician, I want to hear it all.

Over the next several posts, I'll be talking about what I'm reading. I would love to hear your comments and recommendations.


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