What I Do For Amusement: Part the Second

by kipress

A New Year! Time to update the world about my sporadic media consumption via one of my less-than-even-sporadic blog posts.

To sum up what I did for amusement over last spring (which is far as I’ve gotten with this tale): after my Game of Thrones marathon, I felt the need for a little palate-cleansing via contemporary poetry, so I picked up (from my own shelves) a number of books I hadn’t gotten around to reading yet. The ones I remember best from this brief spring reading period were books by Canadian poets Paul Vermeersch, Jacob McArthur Mooney, and Ken Babstock. Now these are great poets and great people, some of whom I’ve had a number beers with back in the day, and I’d recommend their poetry unconditionally. Babstock’s book won the Griffin Prize. And yet–when I read them, I did not feel the complete literary palate cleansing I had been looking for. Way, way, different from the mass market stuff I’d been reading earlier. But still.

I needed to read some books by women.

This was way, way back last year – before CWILA came on the scene. If you don’t follow literary news, and Canadian literary news in particular, CWILA is Canadian Women in the Literary Arts, which last spring published statistics on book reviewing in Canada by gender, showing evidence for what was already felt—relatively low representation of women in literary discourse. CWILA’s inaugural “critic-in-residence” is Montreal poet Sue Sinclair.

The two books I went for immediately were Aislinn Hunter’s A Peepshow with Views of the Interior: Paratexts, which I’d been meaning to read for some time, and Kristjana Gunnars’s The Rose Garden: Reading Marcel Proust, one of my favourite books.

I’ve read The Rose Garden many times—it has been an influential book for me, and I’ve written about it before. I’m not really a voracious consumer of new books, or movies, or shows—I have a tendency to re-read and re-watch what I love over and over. In the book, the narrator reads Proust by dipping in—opening to random pages and reading passages—rather than reading it in a linear fashion. This time, reading The Rose Garden, I used the same approach, and, unsurprisingly, it lent itself well to a non-linear reading.

I figuratively facepalmed myself for not having read Aislinn Hunter’s non-fiction Peepshow earlier—it covers a lot of the same ground I’ve been writing about in my languishing poetry manuscript. I’d heard her speak on the subject of “Thing Theory” before, but hadn’t quite grasped the close connection to what I was already working on until I read the book. It’s about thingsobjects, you might say—and our relationships with them. Definitely a book I will be coming back to again.

Next up: my summer of Manitoba magazines.