Sunday, November 30, 2014

Compulsive Reader Dec Newsletter is out

Hello everyone.  The December Compulsive Reader Newsletter has just been released.  As always we have ten fresh reviews featuring the likes of Simon Armitage, Gabriel Contains, Deborah Rodruigez, an interview with Allen Wyler, and many others.  We also have two great new giveaways, lots of literary news, and enough links to keep your meta-reading going all holiday long.  Drop by the public archive to grab a copy immediately, or watch for it in your in-box:

If you’re not a subscriber, and want to be (it’s free, like all the best things in life...), you can visit: and sign up.  I don’t send more than one newsletter a month and there are always giveaways.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Poetry Monday: Poems of New York

I'm becoming partial to small hardbacks these days.  I'm not sure exactly why, but I know that at least part of it is the simple utility of them - they fit neatly in my handbag, don't overly clutter up the bedside table, and are light and easy to take around.  They're also lovely - all solid and jacketed, with thick creamy pages and a lovely feel in the hand.  Kathryn Fry, herself a fine poet, loaned me this copy of Poems of New York, edited by Elizabeth Schmidt.  Putting aside my great stacks of review copies waiting for attention, I decided to delve in immediately.  I like to read poetry slowly, over a period of time, reading one poem and carrying it around with me, thinking about it and living it for a bit - seeing how it colours my perception, and Poems of New York has been perfect for that.  It has also made me nostalgic, taking me down streets I used to walk, through conversations I probably had, to meals and parties and sensations that are uniquely linked to the city I grew up in, but am now a long way from.  Though small, the book is dense and contains work from writers as diverse as Whitman, Melville, Amy Lowell, Wallace Stevens, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, Edna St Vincent Millay, Dorothy Parker, EE Cummings, Langston Hughes, Auden, Bishop, O'Hara, Ginsberg, Ashbery, and the list goes on, including some modern poets too like David Berman, Melanie Rahak, and Nathaniel Bellows.  There are old favourites in here - poems I've memorised even, and new ones that touch on very modern subject matters.  I could write a little essay on each poem, I think,
or write a lengthy review which teased out styles, moods, linguistic tricks, moments of beauty, and so on, but I think I'll just single out one poem by Nikki Giovanni titled "Just a New York Poem".  I've chosen this one partly because it captured my mood at the time I read it (and I've only just read it), partly because it's in the public domain and appears safe to reprint, and partly, and above all, because it is somehow indicative of New York as it sits in my memory - simultaneously dynamic and full of life, and a place that exists only in time rather than in space.

i wanted to take
your hand and run with you
together toward
ourselves down the street to your street
i wanted to laugh aloud
and skip the notes past
the marquee advertising “women
in love” past the record
shop with “The Spirit
In The Dark” past the smoke shop
past the park and no
parking today signs
past the people watching me in
my blue velvet and i don’t remember
what you wore but only that i didn’t want
anything to be wearing you
i wanted to give
myself to the cyclone that is
your arms
and let you in the eye of my hurricane and know
the calm before

and some fall evening
after the cocktails
and the very expensive and very bad
steak served with day-old baked potatoes
after the second cup of coffee taken
while listening to the rejected
violin player
maybe some fall evening
when the taxis have passed you by
and that light sort of rain
that occasionally falls
in new york begins
you’ll take a thought
and laugh aloud
the notes carrying all the way over
to me and we’ll run again
toward each other

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Compulsive Reader News is out

Hi readers, just a quickie to let you know that the new Compulsive Reader Newsletter for November is now out, making its way to an inbox near you.  The newsletter features 9 brand new reviews (including a film), a new interview, lots of literary news including the Man Booker Prize, the Hilary Weston Writers' Trust Prize, the National Book Prize, Toronto Book Award, Australian Prime Minister's Award, the TS Eliot prize and more, as well as two new book giveaways.  If you haven't gotten yours yet and can't wait, just head over to: The Compulsive Reader News Archive
and grab yourself a copy now.  If you aren't a subscriber, just drop by and sign up.  It's free and we've got a lovely worldwide community of readers (10,000 or so!).  I only sent out one newsletter a month.  Enjoy!