Wednesday, November 18, 2009

List Mania

*The outbreak of lists of best books of 2009 is freaking me out. The sheer number of poetry books that people are recommending is staggering, not to mention all the fiction and non-fiction out there as well. I feel like I've finally made it to a place where I can buy books of poetry fairly regularly without going into serious credit card debt, and I'm also a huge advocate of borrowing from the library. However, there's no way I could read all of the books out there. Who said poetry/literature is dead?

*Given all the back and forth about women on the PW list, I just want to clarify one of my personal positions. I am not advocating any kind of a quota system, and if the editors at PW stand by their list, then that is their right. It is my right to ignore any other recommendations they might make because I've lost faith in their judgment. What I am most interested in is addressing the institutionalized sexism that appears to exist at the upper levels of decision making about publishing and awards. Also, I'm interested in the number of women who hold positions in the upper echelons and if there is an imbalance there.

*I know there are many men out there with great books who struggle just as hard as women writers do to break into the publishing world. I salute them.

*Two books I bought recently that are now on the to-read shelf:

Holding Everything Down
William Notter
Southern Illinois University Press, 2009

Beauty Breaks In
Mary Ann Samyn
New Issues Poetry & Prose, 2009

*Last week's acceptance was rapidly followed by two rejection envelopes. I'm cool with that. On my best days rejection letters are an inspiration to revision.

* A short poem by Emily Dickinson:


To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
One clover, and a bee,
And revery.
The revery alone will do,
If bees are few.


Anonymous said...

Excellent clarification! It's not about quotas. If you truly don't think a single book by a woman belongs on your top 10 books of the year list, that's your call, but it calls into question for me your relevance to my life, if our judgments are to be so disparate.

I just ordered (when I really shd be saving my pennies for xmas) The Narcoleptic Yard from Black Lawrence--my first book purchase in a bit, and I'm so excited!

Some days I'd be fine with a rejection, if only I'd just hear something. Le sigh.

Sandy Longhorn said...

M. Love "it calls into question for me your relevance to my life"! Awesome.

Ah, the doldrums of submissions out and no responses filing dutifully in.

Karen J. Weyant said...

I know -- I have a big stack of books awaiting to be read, and I still ordered three more this past weekend! What am I doing? Helping the economy, I guess.

BTW -- I loved Holding Everything Down. I am trying to compile my own list of best poetry books of 2009. That one is near the top.

Sandy Longhorn said...

K. I am happy to help the economy this way, and I'm reminded that the end of the semester is in sight. More reading time ahead!

Kristin Berkey-Abbott said...

Thank you so much for the Emily Dickinson poem--I'd seen lines from it, but never the whole poem. I will hold it in my head during this day of meetings, which if I'm lucky will be simply boring meetings, not vicious ones.

Sandy Longhorn said...

K. It's my favorite Dickinson, being from a prairie state and all. I love how easy it is to memorize her short lyrics like this, so I too will carry it with me today. I do hope there is no viciousness at the meetings...that is the worst. That might be the best time for Revery.