Saturday, August 6, 2011

Book review: Poetry and Inventing the Rest of Our Lives

Yesterday I read:

Beautiful & Pointless: A Guide to Modern Poetry (Orr) - a funny, thoughtful and innovative introduction to poetry (modern or otherwise). The author talks about encountering poetry as you would do when visiting a new foreign country,

...amble across the landscape, taking some time to visit some of the less obvious attractions as well as the racy ones, pausing to nap in a shady spot or to sample some of the local dishes, even the ones that smell like a wet dog. Like all foreign countries, poetry has customs and rules that should be respected, but you don't need to memorize the entire catalogue of local rituals in order to make the trip worthwhile.(p.xvi)

Inventing the Rest of Our Lives: Women in Second Adulthood (Levine) - notable for its concept of the "Fertile Void" described as that long slow deep breath during which we let go of old demons and demands and "begin building new dreams, one well-lived day at a time." (p.77)

The Painted Garden (Woodin) - pretty, gorgeously executed watercolors, and yet lacking ruminative depth. Perhaps this isn't fair since, unlike Vivian Swift, Woodin is a designer/visual artist not necessarily a writer or book artist. However she did find some good quotes such as:

Without an inborn love of natural beauty, no one will ever care enough about drawing to persevere. - Mrs. C.W. Earle (1887)

To me the meanest flowers that blow can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears

- Wordsworth

The best cure for loneliness is solitude.- Marianne Moore

or (my favorite):

Beware of all enterprises that require new clothes.- Thoreau

Snapshot: Friendships that sustain us

Sex and the City has always appealed to me because, in spite of all the drawbacks, it focused on four women whose deepening friendship was the leitmotif of the show. Also, I appreciated that it challenged the Ideal Narrative (e.g., every person wants to partner up and have kids) and, even more so, that it critiqued how single people are treated as less than those who are partnered and/or with kids. Are there things I'd change/add? Absolutely. After all, that's why I write - to tell the stories I need. Meanwhile, I'll also take my tales of friendship where I can find them.