Culture Consumption: July 2021

Hi, lovelies. Coming in a little late this month, here are all the books, movies, and podcasts that I’ve enjoyed.

Books

I am a huge fan of Charlie Jane Anders and the stories she writes. Though I haven’t quite read all of her books, I’ve come close, having read her two speculative fiction novels (All the Birds in the Sky and The City in the Middle of the Night), and have already preordered her forthcoming short story collection, Even Greater Mistakes, and her book of writing advice, Never Say You Can’t Survive: How to Get Through Hard Times By Making Up Stories. Among the many things I love about her writing is how she shifts her tone and style to best suit the story, while still making it feel entirely her own.

Victories Greater Than Death by Charilie Jane AndersVictories Greater Than Death, her most recent book, represents her first foray into writing for young adults, with a science fiction space adventure. Tina Mains has known for most of her life that she was different. As the clone of a famed alien hero, she has ben disguised as a human and hidden away on Earth. She anxiously awaits the day when the the rescue beacon with

in her chest will activate, calling her back into an interplanetary conflict.

I’m tempted to say that Victories Greater Than Death is like cotton candy, because it feels like such a vibrant creation. For all the danger and destruction faced by Tina and her companions, there’s an underlying sweetness to the way the relationships within this story are built on a foundation of respect and compassion. The crew is presented as a diverse group of humans and aliens (representing a variety of genders and cultural backgrounds), who comes together as a found family.

In addition to the wonderful portrayal of found family, the novel features fast paced and exciting action, along the truly impactful consequences. It’s an excellent read and I’m looking forward to the next book in the series.

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Escaping to the Woods: A 2021 Writing Retreat

A couple of weeks ago, I escaped from the routines of my everyday life and disappeared into the woods for four days. As the video above explains, the intention of the trip was to shape a small writing retreat for myself. I packed up some pens, notebooks, my laptop, and printouts of a poetry project (along with some books and art and mediation supplies).

The goals of the retreat were low-key:

  1. Disconnect from social media, the internet, and other distractions that fill my time with mental clutter.
  2. Rest, relax, and rejuvenate through reading, walking among the trees, and meditation.
  3. Write or create things, if I feel so inclined.

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New Books in Poetry: A Camera Obscura by Carl Marcum

Carl Marcum-A Camera Obscura

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up. I had an amazing conversation with Carl Marcum about his new book A Camera Obscura (Red Hen Press, 2021).

A Camera Obscura is a lyrical exploration of external and internal worlds. The heavens described in these poems could be the stars glittering above our heads, the pathways of faith, or the connection between human beings. Playing with scientific understandings of the world, along with the linguistic conventions of the poetic form, A Camera Obscura is a compelling journey that simultaneously drifts through the cosmos while being rooted to the ground beneath our feet.

“When the sun rose it was smaller
than in my dream. I had been asleep
for what felt a long time, and woke
confused and claustrophobic.
The texture of the sky still magnetized me,
a desert bright day. But the light is streaked
like too much everything pulled to the edges
of a window in storm.”

— from “A Science Fiction”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.

Culture Consumption: June 2021

Hi, lovelies. Here’s my month in books, movies, and podcasts.

Books

Waking the Witch by Pam GrossmanSooooo many good books this month.

Let’s kick things off with Waking the Witch: Reflections on Women, Magic, and Power by Pam Grossman. Part memoir, part historical and cultural analysis, Waking the Witch examines the concept of witches and witchcraft throughout the ages, from inquisitors hunting down supposed witching across Europe to how witches are portrayed in media, to the witchy ways in which some artists engage with their work. It’s a fascinating exploration — one that makes me want to dive deeper into some of the art, history, and cultural subjects that Grossman discusses.

I read two amazing collections of poetry this month — No Matter the Wreckage by Sarah Kay and A Camera Obscura by Carl Marcum. I spoke in detail about how much I loved Kay’s work in a previous post. So, allow me to talk briefly about A Camera Obscura. Marcum’s book is a lyrical exploration of external and internal worlds. The heavens described in these poems could be the stars glittering above our heads, the pathways of faith, or the connection between human beings. Playing with scientific understandings of the world, along with the linguistic conventions of the poetic form, A Camera Obscura is a compelling journey that simultaneously drifts through the cosmos while being rooted to the ground beneath our feet. I was fortunately to have interviewed Marcum for the New Books in Poetry podcast, the episode for which will be coming out soon.

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The Resounding Humanity of Sarah Kay’s ‘No Matter the Wreckage’

No Matter the Wreckage poetry by Sarah Kay

“You may not even crack the spine.
You may place this on the bookshelf,
or worse, under a stack of papers.
You may forget it and regift it later
to someone as a Secret Santa.
I will never know.”

— from “The First Poem in the Imaginary Book”

I’ll admit that Sarah Kay‘s No Matter the Wreckage has indeed been a resident of my bookshelf for too long — though it was never forgotten. Every time I perused the shelves, I would notice it sitting there and remember, Oh, yes, I need to read that. Then I would place it somewhere nearby with the intention cracking open and turning its pages, only to have it slip out of sight as my busy days shifted my attention.

In a way, though, the delay was a blessing, as the beautiful words on these pages feel like they have come to me at the perfect time.

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