Water and stone are soothing to me, so it’s no surprise that I love Venice with its jade green canals and its stone pathways. As soon as I stepped onto those narrow streets last week, I felt calmed. I wore my hard heeled boots, so that each step clacked and resonated with the marble and Istrian stone of the buildings towering over me.
My friend and I didn’t do much traditional touring — no tours, no following long lines of crowds into well trodden iconic buildings. Mostly we just wandered, getting comfortably lost among the twisting, narrow streets. We let each turn lead us where it may, whether to some small, empty square or dead ending at a canal. We found our way into churches and observed their historic beauty in the dim light. Sometimes we were brought us to the door of some hidden-away restaurant, a quiet spot away from the bustle of San Marco Square.
Our second main focus of the trip — eating copious amounts of delicious pasta, pizza, fresh seafood, gelato. I was introduced to the Aperol Spritz, a bright red, lightly sweet and bitter drink that I included with almost every lunch or afternoon appetizer.
Walking by a real estate office, I was surprised to learn that the cost of purchasing or renting a home in the city is quite reasonable (particularly in comparison to my current rental prices in California). Of course, there are downsides to the city — massive crowds of tourists so thick you wan barely walk down certain streets, flooding that seems to be getting worse year by year. But a part of me still took a moment to daydream about living in Venice among all its stone and water and carving out an artists life of being perpetually lost in these labyrinthine streets, drinking coffee in the morning, Spritz in the afternoon, and writing to my heart’s content.
Both of these poems are part of The Poeming project, in which over 50 poets were assigned one of Stephen King’s books and tasked with writing 31 found poems pulled from its pages. I was assigned The Plant, which I’ve continued working with of and on ever since. A number of the poems from this project have since been published and I’m starting to see the shape of a manuscript coming together.
A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which I get to speak with Sara Tantlinger about her poetry collection, The Devil’s Dreamland.
In The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes (StrangeHouse Books, November 2018), Sara Tantlinger intertwines fact and speculation to examine inner workings of H.H. Holmes, a man who committed ghastly crimes in the late 19th century and who is often credited with being America’s first serial killer. Narratively arranged, these poems offer up an evocative and chilling imagining of life and times of Holmes along with his wives, victims, and accomplices. A profound and fascinating collection for anyone interested in the riveting realm of true crime.
“The building shivers
beneath each curve of my footstep,
my home, my castle
fit for Bluebeard himself,
entwining murder and luxury
like salt and sugar
placed gently on the tongue
where each tiny grain dissolves
in a way blood never will.”
— from “Shades of Wild Plum”
You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.
NonBinary Review, a quarterly digital literary journal, has an open call for submissions of poetry poetry, fiction, essays, and art relating to Homer’s The Odyssey. All submissions must relate to the books (movies or television shows will not be accepted).
NonBinary Review pays 1 cent per word for fiction and nonfiction, and a flat fee of $10 for poetry (singular poems or a suite) and $25 per piece of visual art.
Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, games, and podcasts.
It’s been another amazing reading month. I adored Gwendolyn Kiste’s The Rust Maidens, a stunning work of body horror in which young women begin to bodily reflect the decaying undertones of the city in which they live. Their bodies reflect the rust, marred concrete, and broken glass that surrounds them. Check out my full review for a more thorough description and the reasons I love this book.
Speaking of horror, The Devil’s Dreamland: Poetry Inspired by H.H. Holmes by Sara Tantlinger is a profound and chilling collection, which blend fact and supposition to relate the life and times of the man thought to be America’s first serial killer. The poems are visceral with a fascinating narrative arc. I was excited to have been able to recently interview Sara for the New Books in Poetry podcast, which should be available soon.
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi is a stunning book of YA fantasy. Magic in Orïsha is gone, the maji long dead. Only their children remain, marked as outcasts by their silver hair. After a chance encounter with a rogue princess, Zélie learns that magic might have a chance to come back — if Zélie, her brother, and the princess can survive long enough to conduct an ancient ritual. The world building and setting is rich and fascinating, the characters are multi-layered, complex, and strong, and the story presents a compelling epic quest. I can’t wait to read the second book.
Old Man’s War by John Sclazi is the story of John Perry, who joins the Colonial Defense Force at the age of 75. He signs up, like many people his age, for a chance at a second youth and at seeing the universe beyond Earth. I’m not generally a fan of military SF, but I love the way this story is told. I dig how we as readers get to experience Perry’s growing astonishment as the weirdness he encounters out in the universe just keeps getting weirder — and more deadly. It’s a rollicking good story.