Monday, May 17, 2010

Mrs. Dumpty

I do not read as much poetry as I should. Sometimes I feel inept at judging its quality. In critique groups, I am concerned about the kind of feedback I give poets because I think their writing comes from a different realm of creativity than mine. Reading clunky poems can feel like running a 3-legged race with a very uncoordinated person, but reading a beautiful poem can be like teaching my brain to dance ballet. In Mrs. Dumpty, Chana Bloch's slim book of poetry, she reveals herself with elegance. Readers have the pleasure of watching her fall in slow motion. Her vulnerability is angelically orchestrated in this melancholy collection of poems.

Chicken With Plums

Chicken With Plums made me ponder my existence, and what complex passions and simple pleasures give my life meaning. Marjane Satrapi is a genius. In this book, she chronicles the highlights of Iranian musician Nasser Ali's life, paying special attention to the eight days before he died. I am taken by how Satrapi's simple drawings can conjure up so much emotion, from hilarity to heartbreak. After Ali's wife breaks his tar (a musical instrument) during a feud, he resolves to die. Toward the end of the book, we learn what memories that instrument represented and how his wife breaking it was to him akin to murder. It was Nasser Ali's lifeline, his only joy.