Charlotte Boulay’s “Watson and the Shark” from Foxes on the Trampoline

photo (100)Charlotte Boulay is Ecco’s first addition to its roster of poets since 2008 (a roster that includes contemporary poetry heavyweights Robert Hass and Jorie Graham, among others). Having read Ms. Boulay’s debut collection, Foxes on the Trampoline*, I see why Ecco is excited to be publishing her work.

Ms. Boulay is attentive to the power of individual words; poems like “Calenture” and “Changeling” consider the experiences these words conjure up, as well as their connotations, with startling immediacy.

The collection as a whole is grounded in its speaker’s wide range experience, reflecting Ms. Boulay’s travels in France and India. In “Pallikoodam” (which means “school”) the speaker recalls, “We lived with animals: small lizards / darting up the walls, lines of tiny / imperious ants” before going on to remember the ways she found comfort after watching (on television) the towers fall on September 11, and how she and her companion “woke in the mornings / to hear someone singing, softly / as she swept the yard clean.” This combination — of otherness and familiarity, radical change and the routines of ordinary life — resonates deeply in Foxes on the Trampoline.

You can read a selection of Charlotte Boulay’s poems on the Boston Review site, including our poem of the week, “Watson and the Shark.” In this poem, the speaker remembers a childhood encounter with the famous John Singleton Copley painting of the same name (the copy he made of his original version), which is on view at Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts (we just visited the MFA this past weekend, so this poem jumped out at me. The last stanza is amazing.

*I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


The Poetry Concierge Recommends: Rumi

[The Poetry Concierge is an occasional feature here on Rosemary and Reading Glasses wherein I select a poem, poet, or book of poems for individual readers based on a short questionnaire. Come play along! Read the introductory post here, my first recommendation here, and then email me at: rosemaryandreadingglasses [at] gmail [dot] com. ]

This week, our pilgrim in search of poetry is Mark, a friend of some friends, who doesn’t blog.


1. When you read fiction, who’s your go-to author?

E.L. Doctorow, Philip Roth, Isaac Beshevis Singer, Doris Lessing. But I haven’t read much fiction in a long time. If I had the time I’d like to start again.

2. If you read nonfiction, which subjects are most likely to interest you?

I mostly read non-fiction. Buddhist Writings, Vedic Writings, exposes like The Shock Doctrine, Memoirs, Psychology, Myths, Physics/Spirituality

3. If you were stuck on a desert island for a week, which five books would you bring to keep you entertained?

Portnoy’s Complaint, The Sportswriter, Women Who Run With the Wolves, The Beatles, The Dharma Bums.

4. If you were on a five-year mission to Mars, which five books would you bring to keep you sane?

The Science of Yoga (Taimni), a recommended Walt Whitman book, Women Who Run With Wolves, BioCentrism by Robert Lanza, a collection of Isaac Bashevis Singer short stories.

5. What kinds of questions are most likely to keep you up at night?

The meaning of life and how to write my memoirs.

6. If you’ve read poetry before, what have you liked? What have you disliked?

Never really read much poetry. Though I’d like to figure it out someday.

photo (79)Given Mark’s interest in spirituality, myths, and mysticism, I’m recommending the poetry of Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī, or, as he’s know in the English-speaking world, Rumi.

Rumi was a poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic who lived in the thirteenth century; his work is immensely popular and there are many, many editions of his poems available. I’ve been happy with the one I bought in high school, Rumi: In the Arms of the Beloved, translated by Jonathan Star. The translations are clear, while retaining a sense of mystery, and the book includes a helpful glossary of unfamiliar terms.


Mark, I hope you’ll like reading poetry by Rumi. Thanks for writing in!

Would you like the Poetry Concierge to make a recommendation for you? Check out the introductory post, and send your answers to the questionnaire, along with the name and/or blog you’d like posted with the reply, to rosemaryandreadingglasses [at] gmail [dot] com.

“Joy-buzzer buzz”: Hailey Leithauser’s “‘Was You Ever Bit by a Dead Bee?'”

photo (62)Hey, remember yesterday when I wrote about how much I loved Swoop, Hailey Leithauser’s debut collection? Remember how I bet that you wanted to read the rest of “‘Was You Ever Bit by a Dead Bee?'”

Well, want no more! Here’s a link to the full text of the poem, with a special bonus: an audio recording of the poet herself reading it!

Joy-buzzer buzz!