Sunday, March 12, 2006

Good Reads

Reading is both a learning process and a means of escape for me. Three excellent books have brought me pleasure lately, two of them poetry and one a novel that includes poetry.

Carol Goodman’s THE GHOST ORCHID (Ballentine Books, 2006) weaves myth, history, poetry, mysticism and mystery into a tale that takes the reader on a journey of self-revelation with the main character Ellis Brooks. The Bosco estate, a retreat for artists and writers, also functions as a character by undergoing change and by impacting on the actions of those in residence. Adding a layer of luxury to the novel are the sonnets written by Goodman’s husband Lee Slonimsky whose collection will soon be released by Ochises Press. The sonnet is one of my favorite forms to read and to write. Slonimsky’s sonnets are among the very best I have seen in contemporary American letters. He brings the form to an exceptional level, and integrating his poems into the novel was a masterful stroke on the part of Goodman. I’d highly recommend this book to any reader, and it can be appreciated with a variety of perspectives. Goodman is an accomplished novelist who always spins a riveting and memorable tale.

Claudia Grinnell’s CONDITIONS HORIZONTAL (Missing Consonant Press, 2001) is a collection of poems that illustrate why free verse is a complicated form. No one is more gifted than Grinnell when it comes to poetry, and reading this book has been sheer pleasure. I’ll do a full review of it soon at Creative Writer US.

My publisher sent me a copy of THE POWOW RIVER ANTHOLOGY(Ocean Publishing, 2006), edited by Alfred Nicol. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed thumbing through this book—poems by Rhina Espaillat always ring well to the ear and the heart. I hadn’t read Bill Coyle until now, and discovering his work was a special treat. I look forward to reading all the poems. The anthology is a collaboration by the Powow poets, a New England group spurred to action by Ms. Espaillat.

These books certainly brought some calming moments to a schedule that for me has been too hectic of late. This is my busiest year ever, with newspaper work, magazine work, online work, and my latest book about 40% complete. So time with a rewarding read is a great way for me to forget my own work. If you’re looking for a good book that will soothe you like a friend, I highly recommend each of these.

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