Last Week’s Reading: May 7-13

Each Leaf Shines Separate, by Rosanna Warren: This is Rosanna Warren’s first collection, and it’s lovely. Quite a few ekphrastic poems here, and they’re excellent. I also particularly liked the poems about snow (“I had not yet / entered that white.”), and those about motherhood, near the end of the book. If you like lyric poetry, there’s much to enjoy here.

The Ink Dark Moon, by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, translated by Jane Hirshfeld with Mariko Aratani : These are beautiful, spare poems by poets who lived a thousand years ago in the Heian court of imperial Japan. The poems, infused with the sense of life’s ephemeral nature, are both private and public; some intimate, some focused on deeply personal spirituality. Grief and love are amply represented. I appreciated the introduction and notes to the poems, and I’m so grateful for translators like Ms. Hirshfeld and Ms. Aratani! This is a compelling collection, and highly recommended.

The Writing Life, by Annie Dillard: My uncle and aunt visited us last week, which was delightful, and my uncle brought three books on writing with him, which was very kind. Of course, reading Annie Dillard–the fiery prose, the crisp, surprising sentences, the assured pronouncements–made me feel that my own writing is a hopeless mess, but it gives me something to strive for. Ms. Dillard’s writing life is (alas? fortunately?) not my own writing life, but I’m so glad to have been immersed in it for a little while.

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