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    bookcover: 
    The Best American Poetry 2013 cover
    Author: 
    David Lehman
    Series: 
    Best American Poetry
    Publisher: 
    Scribner
    Genre: 
    Rating: 
    10
    ISBN/ASIN: 

    9781476708133

    Description of Sales Url: 
    Purchase from Amazon
    Review: 

    Best American Poetry 2013 is part of that "best of" series I follow with great interest, and usually do not review. I usually read the Best American Short Stories, carefully, slowly, over a great length of time. Each one deserves a long, and slow analysis, multiple re-readings, and some kind of written response as fruit from the inspiration. The same thing is true for "best of" volumes of poetry. Poetry differs because rather than a story, each poem usually provides a puzzle on many levels. I once had a language professor who said that poetry is full of inside jokes, and you only understand a poem when you've gotten past that secret gate and are "in" the poem.

    The problem with reviewing an anthology is obvious. Do you pick one or two poems? Do you try to take a long view and sum up the entire table of contents? I have never come to a satisfactory decision where anthologies are concerned. But this volume has two features that I really enjoy. One is seeing which journals and magazines published the year's poetry; the other is getting familiar with the guest editor's taste and choices. This year's editor is poet Denise Duhamel. Her work is witty and polished and aches with emotion, so that is what I expected in this year's collection. (cont...)

    bookcover: 
    Still Writing: The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life cover
    Author: 
    Dani Shapiro
    Publisher: 
    Atlantic Monthly Press
    Genre: 
    Rating: 
    9
    ISBN/ASIN: 

    9780802121400

    Description of Sales Url: 
    Purchase from Amazon
    Review: 

    Dani Shapiro's Still Writing-The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life is a book of short memoirs and essays that speak to the heart of the writing life. For writers, writing is not an act, but a vehicle that takes us to another place. If you will pardon the clumsy comparison, I would say that you could think of each of the essays in this book as being a separate vehicle that makes up the writer's train that is Dani Shapiro.

    I found the book not unlike other author's essays, like Natalie Goldberg's Writing Down the Bones, another book that gets you to that writing mindset. Shapiro considers things that are the at the center of writing like escape, obsession, fear, scars, spying, our inner censor. Each of the essays is presented personally, without condescension, from the perspective inside that deep well within.

    This is the kind of book I never read at one sitting, but instead nibble each essay one at a time, for inspiration. It's like the "each one teach one" philosophy. Read one, write one. Shapiro's creative life is a wrestling melee of career, craft, practice, and life, flavored by doubt and demand and is as seasoned with pragmatic suggestions as it is a lilting voice. I enjoyed her insights, but even more than that, I recognize them. I fully expect to approach this book again at different times, and think that I will continue to find new insights and echoes that speak to me.

    Pages