Wednesday, July 30, 2014

TtD supplement #5: seven questions for Pearl Pirie

Pearl Pirie has two poetry collections—been shed bore (Chaudiere Books, 2010) and thirsts (Snare Books, 2011)—with a third forthcoming with BookThug in 2015. She has a few chapbooks, most recently vertigoheel for the dilly (above/ground, 2014) and Quebec Passages (Noun Trivet Press, 2014). She runs phafours, a micro press, several blogs, has a gig as literary radio host at CKCUfm Literary Landscape, and has irregular gigs to teach poetry. www.pearlpirie.com

Her poem “fidgety as a snake” appears in the second issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: The poem “fidgety as a snake” engages with the poetic fragment. Your work is notable for its mutability, shifting forms far easier and far more often than most. What is your attraction to working such a multitude of forms?

A:  I like the push-pull of forms. in this series I have been putting in each the element of a cinquain, a bit of earworm made into misheard lyrics/homophonic translation, and some pieces of ghazals, all of which fit together into some intuitive way.

Q: Do you mean the poem “fidgety as a snake” itself as a series, or is it part of a larger construction? Or both?

A: it is one poem. there are several in the pattern. I’m seeing how long I can repeat the pattern with variations while each can feel distinct. I have somewhere around 30 pages of it.

Q: I’m curious: is this normally your process? Are you simply producing until certain works begin to group together?

A: yup.

Q: Given that, how many projects might you be working on at any given moment? And how do you cohere groupings? Are they based on subject, style or something else entirely?

A: I file poems by month. when it’s time to go to a manuscript stage again, I go thru the tags and pull out poems that I recognized as being potentially in a cluster; in the surreal manuscript, or in the Apostrophe and Semicolon sonnets, or haiku or whatnot. those are easy. I have 12 active unpublished manuscripts by theme/style/feel/method/form/simplicity vs. chaotic. these clusters may go out to book length, contract to chapbook, expand back out to book length and contract back to being a few worthwhile poems that may go in a mixed bag manuscript. those I’ll shuffle by gut into an order that links and shifts in energy to the next poem. more like the soft connects of the poem in the issue but on a larger scale.

Q: Perhaps you’re not the one to answer, but do you see any particular threads emerging through the writing you’ve done so far? I’ve seen poems of yours that engage with uncertainty and the possibilities of language as well as history, family and train travel.

A:  I like open-endedness and uncertainty. part of that is in not wanting to be told something and what to feel about it. that is a rude hierarchical relationship—to persuade the reader to feel. I want to be on equal cooperative footing with my reader or writer not part of arm-twisting. at the same time, as a reader, I exclaim, you should read this because x happens. of course, "x happens" is a useless way of conveying what was the worthwhile part. much is the how in storytelling. that said, poetry can be a respite from plot-driven, one-subject, one-mood, one-purpose, one-arc-with-no-extraneous structures.

what subject threads do I use? people seem to remark on my density and playfulness of language as distinctive more than subject threads. once, having read poems about anxiety and cherishing, I left stage to be told "thanks for those, um, laundry poems.” I realize some people aren’t in a pace and place to listen. or maybe certain information only can convey to certain people. a hot potato doesn’t work in a long lob.

I write of history? what isn’t history? there is nothing outside of history any more than there is anything outside of chemistry or physics. but yes, family history in part and larger histories in part as a political act of amending the record of the rich and warmongering. I’d rather archive poverty. I’d rather archive routes to resolution than titillating bits of conflict.

because I was not told family history I felt shut out of the family. shared stories make community. as an adult I begin to collect what I could after decades of gaps in an attempt to own or be owned I suppose. or make pieces make sense. what bias got to it all before mine? what was omitted? can any amount of sleuthing put me back in time to make the data rich again? I can speculate on how it was. but then the present is the same process of inference, partial information, forming patterns to cross-check against future.

I like to direct reader eye to things not about people—the ant as an individual with its characteristics not as a symbol. symbolism and relating with empathy creeps in. the symbolic mind is harder to shake than a private detective behind on his rent.

I like what falls under the etc and like the open box that poetry can be. important stuff will never come up in the structures that exist. the most important things may never be segued into any conversation or poem form, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have a place in poetry.

pointing to different things and the same things differently matters. poems are to expand self and alertness, not reinforce dim old selves. the shape of ideas and the relationship between ideas.  like “laundry” and “launwet”. this false etymology of “laundry” and backformation is immensely amusing. I think the useful isn't just the subjects but the angle of engagement. does the collective utterance make a mandala of a world that is inclusive, playful, thoughtful, compassionate, questioning, curious and about flourishing and resilience? is that my aboutness? if so, I often fail. joy is the hardest thing to write and convey. can a joyful mind access a sorrowful one or the reverse? or do they look like satire to one another?

in some streams of poems I resist aboutness. in some I use the constraints of picking a piece of context to juxtapose or explore one particular line of thought to overturn it and overturn it. I trust a poetry that is willing to upend itself. one sustained thought seems smug. maybe that’s a matter of vestigial class informing permitted emotional attitudes.

Q: Some of this feels reminiscent of the way Dennis Cooley appears to construct poetry manuscripts—out of a collage of pieces that write entirely around, through and from every angle a particular subject, and yet, your process feels far more organic than deliberate. Are there any particular authors or works that stick in your head as you write? If literature is a conversation, who or what do you feel yours is in conversation with?

A: danger, danger, this answer might be long. but also, thanks, this has been helpful in the harried time of assembling chapbooks. good to consider why I’m in this enterprise.

composing isn’t about the manuscript making but an extension of my senses and of processing—that’s probably not uncommon. I can’t say I have a comprehensive plan, strategy and consistent gaze towards examining a few things in particular like Cooley. I have issues I return to like a comedic relationship with hypochondria, but they’re a small part of the bandwidth. and it would cease to be funny if the joke were “run 10 miles underground” as you once put it.

I don’t do serial projects but parallel. rarely have a preoccupation with one project. I seek life balance and cut off obsessive spirals. flow state is something different tho. that may be is what all the poetry seeking is about. that timeless wordless yes.

conversation with who? I prioritize taking a lot in. I go to a lot of readings, from a few a month to a few dozen a month in festival seasons. I consume a books of poetry every 2-4 days, and a lot of articles, blogs, and conversations. a lot of it I don’t understand or know how to appreciate but with a lot of data, the lesser patterns rise. and it’s nice to be in a room where some people are getting blissed out at having their itches scratched even if it doesn’t reach me. I think I like sound poetry more than any other kind of poetry. I don’t compose it or perform it but it seems to move me like I see page or stage poetry moving other people. poetry is more a means to an end—the artifact is gratifying but the end is further out—in being a catalyst for what next for self or for someone else.

I am not usually responding to one work in particular, but the seeds of Vertigoheel for the Dilly started with my version of Lyn Hejinian’s My Life. that was a case of book length boiled down to chapbook length. and there’s Apostrophe and Semicolon of course. there I am responding line by line with a typographical modern humanist world of Astrophel and Stella. but the majority of time and the majority of poems are coming from various reactions, resistances and etc.

Q: Who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

A: I understand some people re-read certain books annually. there are poets I look forward to hearing what they will say next or who have cadences, angles, densities and dancitites, that I enjoy. and I’m not going to say who all. I don’t have much for touchstones. for years, up until a couple decades ago, I read one translation of the the bible or another, 1-3 times per year which gave me a cultural literacy to a dead culture I suppose since the majority of people don’t have any reference points to biblical allusions or rhythms I use. I bet I'm a hit with a subset of the afterlife set tho. (assuming they aren’'t reincarnated and too busy getting a crash course on how to be the best horsetail they can be in the whole Equisetum genus. ;))

what books do I read to reenergize? something I don’t know enough about. birdwatching. snails. something that makes me slow down such a broadsheet in French by Tadeusz Kantor: la leçon d'anatomie d'après Rembrandt (from les éditions derrière la salle de bains). I tend to read a dozen or more poetry books in parallel as palate cleansers to each other so I can taste each of them freshly. some more dense, some light. some stories, some essays. I like to read things from contemporary and have at least one in the mix from at least last century ago. I’m currently reading DH Laurence’s The Daughter-in-Law. ah, and that is why people would write a play. in novels and poems people sometimes pretend there are more than one pov reflected but it feels puppeteered. this seems more like a snapshot of intersections of actual lives with their separate motivations and we listen in. I don’t need to understand every word. it underscores how much we can understand when even all we have to go on is contrast between page squiggle shapes. no body language, no common culture and point of reference with coal miners, no shared lived experience, no shared dialect or expression and yet staying in it, personalities emerge. isn’t language magic?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Touch the Donkey : second issue,

The second issue is now available, with new poems by Julie Carr, Catherine Wagner, Susanne Dyckman, Pearl Pirie, David Peter Clark, Susan Holbrook, Phil Hall and Robert Swereda.

Six dollars (includes shipping). Welcome to the Knowledgeum.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

TtD supplement #4: seven questions for Eric Baus

Eric Baus is the author of four books of poetry, most recently The Tranquilized Tongue (City Lights, 2014), as well as the chapbook THE RAIN OF THE ICE (above/ground press, 2014). He lives in Denver, Colorado, where he teaches writing and literature.

His poem “THE UNCONSCIOUS COMPASS” appears in the first issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Given that you almost exclusively work within the structure of the prose poem, I’m curious about your attraction to it. What do you think it provides that more open forms might not?

A: One reason for my attraction to prose poems is that the actions and images in my poems tend to wander, modulate, and mutate so by using the sentence and various versions of the paragraph I hope to pressurize or contain the disparate contents. There are so many rhythmic and structural options available within the broad category of prose that I don’t feel like I’ve exhausted the form for myself yet. For some reason I’m able to write and edit with a greater awareness of pace and density in prose than I would be in other forms. For me, prose has a certain built-in velocity to it that I find very appealing.

Q: Some have considered the prose poem a form of near-endless potential. Who have your models been over the years when writing? Who are the writers and works that you can’t help but return to?

A: I read and return to Francis Ponge for his mixture of precise observation and imaginative projection. More recently I’ve been reading Harmony Holiday’s work and learning from the ways that she often moves between sentences, phrases set off with spaces, and lines. I think something that’s often overlooked in discussions of the prose poem is the use of space between sentences and the grouping of shorter or longer paragraphs. I have spent a lot of time thinking about Renee Gladman’s use of the sentence in relation to narrative. I think about the ways that Amina Cain generates immersive atmospheres in her sentences and paragraphs.

Q: How do you go about constructing poetry manuscripts? Are you aware of the book as your compositional unit, or do you focus more on the individual poem, or even the individual sentence? Are your books constructed as complete units or more as a collection of disparate parts that eventually cohere into larger projects?

A: I tend to work by assembling very small pieces together until I start to see patterns emerge. At a certain point I’m able to recognize a handful of formal variants within the larger form of prose poetry. I would say that I do use the book as a compositional unit and that the book emerges out of a collection of individual parts, at various scales, that vibrate against one another. I think of a book as a constellation rather than as a long, continuous scroll. I’ve come to think of my recent poems as prose dioramas or as very short films of a few gestures that eventually accumulate into a language habitat.

Q: What is it about the constellation that appeals? Does that suggest that the poems can be read outside of the fixed order a published collection demands? Can one simply dip into the collection wherever and begin?

A: I definitely consider a certain degree of forward momentum when I’m putting together a manuscript, and there is a preferred arrangement that I hope comes through clearly, but there are subtler echoes and associations that are emphasized by clustering them together in different ways. When I read work aloud from the published books I tend to skip around and pick out themes, sounds, and gestures that might have been dormant if you read the poems in the order in which they were printed. I’m not a very dynamic performer in terms of volume, large shifts in intonation, etc. but one of the ways that performance helps me to think about the poems is by giving me another opportunity to re-sequence them and make new cross-sections of the books.

Q: What is your relationship to the poetic fragment?

A: All of my books have at least a few one and two sentence long poems. I think of these poems less as deliberately unfinished or somehow partial residues from a more complete text than as self-contained, extremely compressed experiences.

My newest book, The Tranquilized Tongue, does contain a handful of true fragments in that they are not fully developed sentences. Some of that has to do with constraints that I used to write that book (I tried to write one poem every day, I generally limited myself to the vocabulary of poems that I’ve already written, and I often used cut-ups as a way to enliven the raw materials.) Sometimes during the course of writing my poem for the day, the raw materials I was drawing upon felt nearly exhausted, so I shifted the scale of the poem to become very, very small to avoid repeating myself or to change the pace of the book to give the reader space to rest before being launched into another dense paragraph. For example, this is one of the fragmentary poems in its entirety:
The Flicker’s Skin

The somnolent.
The transparent.
The corporeal.
Q: If daily practice isn’t a normal part of your composition, what is? And what do you think your series of constraints brought out that hadn’t been in your work prior? Was “THE UNCONSCIOUS COMPASS” composed through a similar series of constraints?

A: I think of reading and listening to poetry and fiction as part of a daily practice. Any conscious, intense, highly directed act of attention feels like writing to me. I try to write something small most days, even if I don’t have time to turn it into a finished poem. I like to have lots of little pieces to forget about and return to later. The difference with the poems in The Tranquilized Tongue was that I wouldn’t stop until I had written one poem that I was happy with each day. It had an interesting effect on my body. Some days I would feel like I could write more than one poem but I held back so that I wrote exactly one. The poems felt like they sometimes dragged me out of bed or out of the shower or away from some other daily activity more than they usually do. I felt both charged and exhausted by that process. Maybe it’s because I systematically avoided pronouns in those poems, but many of them felt like they arrived more from “outside” than other poems that I’ve written. They still feel like an expression of my attention in an intimate way, but the writing often turned into a kind of magnetized listening and paring down.

“The Unconscious Compass” was a poem that I made an initial long sketch for and then I went back and completed it over a few weeks. It began with a line that I wanted to use but that eventually didn’t make it into the poem (“Now what the sky is like is like a hospital for the sky.”). Since I am drawn to certain kinds of vocabulary over and over again and I have some deeply ingrained habits about phrasing and syntax, one of the things that I tried to do with the next manuscript was to extend beyond the boundaries of the shorter poems I had been working on up to that point. I wanted to try to make a longer poem or sequence, but it ended up as a relatively dense one page poem broken into paragraphs.

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

A: Aimé Césaire, Gertrude Stein, Virginia Woolf, César Vallejo.

Barbara Guest, “The Blue Stairs”; Nathaniel Mackey, “Bedouin Hornbook”; John Wieners, “The Hotel Wentley Poems”; John Yau, “Corpse and Mirror”; Alice Notley, “At Night the States”; Bernadette Mayer, “The Golden Book of Words”; Eileen Myles, “Not Me”; Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, “The Heat Bird”; Rosmarie Waldrop, “Lawn of Excluded Middle”; Kamau Brathwaite, “Trench Town Rock.”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

TtD supplement #3: eight questions for Pattie McCarthy

Pattie McCarthy is the author of six books of poems, including the very recent nulls (horse less press) and the forthcoming Quiet Book (Apogee Press, spring 2015). She teaches at Temple University.

A small selections poems from “wifthing” appears in the first issue of Touch the Donkey.

Q: Your poetry seems to favour the longer project, from chapbook-length to book-length works. What are the poems in the work-in-progress “wifthing” working with and towards, and how far do you think you are through?

A: I will try not to start this interview with a frustrating answer, but I find it frustrating & difficult to talk about works-in-progress. It’s a big failure on my part. It’s not superstition, or anything like that—it’s just my difficulty seeing the whole from inside something new. "wifthing" is working with the history of the wife. & it’s working through some historical texts that are relevant to the history of the wife—right now I am writing a sonnet sequence while reading The Book of Margery Kempe. The last time I read it, I was an undergraduate & I was certain that Margery Kempe’s mystical insistence on celibacy was simply an excuse for her desire not to have any more children (she had fourteen). But now that I am old (& a mother too), I read her Book quite differently. It’s so fun to revisit the important texts from one’s youth.

"wifthing" came from seeing the word in the OED. I can't recall what I was looking up—but I ended up at the definition of 'wifthing' & knew I wanted to write about it. I just wrote WIFTHING on an otherwise blank page in my notebook. This is how I started to write Marybones, too. I loved the word 'marybones' in Chaucer & made a note : write something called 'marybones' soon.

How far do I think I am through? The poem is a mess, & I am trying not to worry too much about that at the moment. I'd guess I have about one-quarter of it, at most.

Q: Is this a normal part of your process, working from a scattering of notes, research and pieces that eventually begin to cohere into a manuscript?

A: No, not at all. My projects are usually planned out in detail (maybe planned to a fault). The process might not be methodical, but the overall plan is clear. Not this time, though.

Q: Why is this project different? What about it makes it feels more, as you say, “a mess”?

A: In part the messiness is planned (ha! which makes it a foreseen mess). My two most recent books (nulls & Quiet Book) were both planned out in great detail ahead of time—in nulls, I sketched out the shape of the book during research, & in Quiet Book, the structure of the book was balanced very deliberately beforehand. Both of these books had surprises in them for me, of course, but the basic plan stood. I wrote those books simultaneously as well, which is unusual for me. They are twin sisters in many ways. So when I started “wifthing” I was ready for something different. The other part of the messiness is unplanned & not particularly generative—& that is simply that I don’t have much time.

I’m a worrier—but I’m trying not to worry about where the project is going. Marybones was originally supposed to be a ten-page section of Table Alphabetical of Hard Words, but I didn’t stop writing at ten pages. Marybones had no plan, no preordained structure, & it was a blast to write. I keep reminding myself that having no plan can work too.

When I started having children I was anxious over whether to write about them, about becoming a mommy-poet, etc. I soon realized that it was natural for them to be in the work—after all, I spend most of my time talking with them, reading to them, listening to them, playing with them. It would have been very difficult to keep them out of the work. I am attempting to think about this ‘messiness’ in the same way—every once in a while, the way one works changes, often to enormous effect. “wifthing,” if it is going to get written at all, is going to be written differently.

Q: You seem to have already answered my next question: you mentioned once that you started three different projects each with one hand, with an infant in the other. I’ve always admired the way you’ve always included your children in the conversation of your writing, and like that you are working to include the ‘messiness’ of domestic patter as well. Do you think this might change as your children age, and begin to gain awareness of how they are being depicted?

A. I think about this question all the time—how will the children feel about it? I don't think they will care much about a theoretical explanation : the child in the work isn’t “you” exactly, lovebug! That’s a literary construction.

I have a chapbook called ‘x y z &&’ coming out in the fall (Ahsahta Press)—it’s a sonnet sequence I wrote after my third child was born (I wrote a sonnet sequence after each child was born). One of the epigraphs is from Anselm Berrigan’s poem “Looking through a slant of light” : “Sending his mother to the typewriter / To type a poem that would embarrass him / Years later.” That's my preemptive action on this front.

There are things related to the children that I do not write about because they are invasions of privacy, sure. It was harder when they were infants/toddlers because it doesn’t seem as though they have privacy when they are so little – it doesn’t feel like I have privacy during that phase either.

Allison Cobb wrote a review of nulls in which she noted : “This work generates its own codes to shelter the world of the child, thrust under the gaze of medical authority. It is the parent who submits the child to this gaze—and to the gaze of the reader—but with a sense of profound ambiguity.” When I read Allison’s review I was so grateful— because this ambiguity (& ambivalence) is at the center of that book (for me, anyway). Nulls mostly came out of my process of learning about autism— it is most definitely not about the experience of being autistic, because I don't know what that is like— it's about learning a new language, a new history, a new culture. I thought there was a sliver of space in which I could write that book, & I hope I successfully maintained that position throughout. Do I think there are ethical & empathetic ways to include the words & experiences & worlds of our children in our work? Yes. Do I always succeed in being ethical & empathetic about it? No. I know I do not. But I hope I treat them as worthy collaborators always.

Obviously, I think they are brilliant & funny & clever—it would be impossible to resist them getting in the text.

Q: Your books are thick with medieval research, references, images and information. What originally prompted your interest in medieval subjects, and the possibilities of engaging with such in poetry?

A. I’ve been in love with the medieval for most of my life. This definitely has something to do with attending Catholic school—the art! The syntax of Catholicism, too, led me to studying the medieval. I think that most people are irrationally attracted to certain historical periods. The way medieval literature & art employ narrative—fragmented or episodic narrative, specifically—also the sense of simultaneity, layers of time in the work—it makes sense to me. On a more personal note, the lives of the saints were like fairytales for me. I mean, when I was a little Catholic schoolgirl we learned about all the girl-saints, about Mary—& those stories stuck to me. My school taught us a great deal about medieval women mystics, about Joan of Arc, about anchoresses in their cells, & it was very ‘cult of the virgin’ when it came to Mary (at least as far as I remember). Even as a child I think I understood that those stories all had to do with power, with women’s bodies, with literacy. I think the nuns taught us about the mystics to counteract “woman is a temple built over a sewer” & “woman is defective & misbegotten” & the rest of the church fathers (which I also remember well, clearly). When I walk into The Cloisters or the Musée de Cluny or the medieval galleries at any art museum, I want to sit down & think & be quiet. I feel that way in medieval churches as well—it’s what left of religion for me.

Q: I’m curious about your development into utilizing the book as your unit of composition (as opposed to the poem). How did this evolve? Who are your models?

A. I think the last time I wrote single, short poems (or ‘loosies,’ as I call them in my head) was in graduate school. bk of (h)rs was my first longpoem project, & since I was working from the form of medieval books of hours I had the overall structure of the book from very early on. It was such a pleasurable experience that I have (mostly) written book-length poems or series since. The booklength project is more accomodating of research—& when I wrote lots of prose poems, I was very happy with how many words could potentially fit in these long, wall-of-text poems. Probably the first ‘model’ for me, when I was a graduate student, was Rachel Blau DuPlessis’ Drafts—or really just Rachel, in general, as a poet with an intense work ethic. Long poems were in the air at Temple University then (seems like they still are now, in fact). I was reading Susan Howe for the first time—& her work is profoundly important to me, always—also Lyn Hejinian’s My Life, Cole Swensen’s Noon & Oh, Anne Waldman’s Iovis—& then I worked backwards in time—Loy, Williams, H.D., Stein, etc.—because even though I was familiar with shorter work by these poets, I had not read many (if any) long poems before that time. The work I was reading raised important questions about the whole & the part, the role of the fragment, hybridity, research poetics, etc. The book is a manner of working, not just an object or product. The booklength poem is also time, a long time—you get to know a longpoem very well, whether you are reading or writing it.

Q: Given this engagement with the long and book-length poem, what is your relationship to the poetic fragment? Do your lyric fragments accumulate, or do they come together as a more sustained idea of book-length structure?

Once upon a time, I spent hours doing research, chain-smoking, coffee-drinking, working. Even then the poems were pretty fragmented on the sentence level. Writing now requires that I allow for interruptions— even when I am not actually writing in the presence of my children (which happens a lot), part of my brain is always occupied by them. So I learned a new way of writing. I imagine everyone must learn new work habits at different stages of their writing careers— this just happens to be mine. The hope is that the interruptions, the fragmentation, the abrupt on & off of it will be generative. I certainly have a greater appreciation for urgency in writing practice. Going back to your question about writing the children into poems, at first I wanted to resist this because (in part) I was thinking : who wants to read another mommy-poet? But honestly, I ask that question about a lot of my work— reading over pages of notes about the iconography of hair in medieval art, I wonder who else could possibly be interested in a poem made from this? I just finished reading Sasha Steensen's House of Deer, & in "Personal Poem Including Opium's History" she writes : "Or, instead, remember something Claudie once said: / Risk sentimentality or who will care about your damn poem?" Notions of risk shift. Back to fragments— if a poem shows us a mind at work, if a poem includes its process, then we must start at the fragment. To 'include' is to contain as part of the whole. The beauty of the fragment is that it is the whole & a part.

Q: Finally, who do you read to reenergize your own work? What particular works can’t you help but return to?

Some of the poets mentioned above—Susan Howe, Rachel Blau DuPlessis, etc. Lorine Niedecker has become more important to me in recent years—in part from teaching her work, & from reading it as a whole, as a long project written over the course of an entire writing life. I am fortunate to live in Philadelphia, & so I turn to my fellow Philly poets to reenergize my own work—Jenn McCreary & I have a collaboration coming out this year from the Little Red Leave Textile Series, which I am super excited about. Kevin Varrone & I talk about writing all the time, & I am astonished by his work every time I read it. I just finished Frank Sherlock's new book & got a real charge from it. Also Ryan Eckes has a new one coming out this summer, which I've read in manuscript, that is so good I almost missed my train stop twice because I couldn't stop reading it. The community of poets in Philadelphia is an embarrassment of riches.

I am currently away on vacation & brought the following books : Julie Carr's RAG, Sasha Steensen's House of Deer, W.G. Sebald's The Rings of Saturn (I read it every summer), Susan Howe's The Europe of Trusts (which I also read about once a year), & Caroline Bergvall's Drift (which I haven't started yet—I think I'll wait until we reach the sea to begin). For wifthing I am reading several histories of domesticity, of goodwives, & of childhood in the middle ages.

Thank you so much for this, rob!