Bookish Poems for Our Times

I have a friend and coworker who is a member of a book club whose leader writes poems for each year. She shared a few of these poems with me and I asked for permission to post. The poet’s name is Indu Gargeya. The first one was from 2016 and the second is her latest, at the start of the new year. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did.

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My dear fellow literary-enthusiasts,
Over the last few years, I have absolutely cherished,
Every Book Club meeting, where opinions have flourished.
Many a theme we have followed through it all,
And learned so much about matters big and small.
Let’s indulge in the various genres of literature this time,
From the classics to short stories, few authors in their prime.
“Realistic fiction” will herald  the beginning of it all,
As we explore the minds of two brothers, so sure to enthrall.
Our “Thriller” in question has so many people raving,
High praise and several  awards, Hollywood came calling.
An epic of an extraordinary life fulfills our “Biography”,
The vivid, descriptive detail so beautiful, it’s iconography.
Our “Classic” is a highly acclaimed work of American literature,
Required reading by so many schools, it’s almost a scripture.
The “Historical novel” category won the Man Booker Prize,
It is so eloquently written, it’s surely no surprise.
Choosing to read our “Nonfiction” book would be our good fortune,
The author so inspirational, not to do so our misfortune.
A journalist ‘s harrowing experiences make for a dramatic “Memoir”,
Her survival tactics and skills such an amazing repertoire.
The Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to our “Short stories”,
A distinguished Canadian author, the world celebrates her glories.
Our last read is a “Love story” with subtle hints of “Science fiction”,
Matters such as relationships and existentialism written with deep conviction.
So, let’s hope our reflections further our intellectual leaning,
As we contemplate our life and times and the ultimate meaning.
My fond hope remains that we “always look on the bright side of life”,
And smell the roses and hear a melodious bird sing as if playing a fife.

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Dear Friends,
As the year drew to a melancholic end,
Frayed emotions were too stirred to mend.
Watching or reading about the Tweeter-in-Chief,
Caused Hillary supporters to be immersed in grief.
We were deprived of so much joy and pride,
Nonchalantly told to take it all in stride.
Inspiring literary characters will lessen our stress,
Hopefully save us from reading “140 characters or less.”
Realization has dawned on my fifty-five year old self,
That I am more of a feminist than I credited myself.
So, I deliberately chose books by women authors,
To celebrate grandmothers, mothers, sisters and daughters.
Michelle’s rousing appeal, “When they go low, we go high,”
Will help us have a positive attitude and we surely will try.
My fond hope remains that we “always look on the bright side of life”,
And smell the roses and hear a melodious bird sing as if playing a fife.
– Indu Gargeya

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I thank Anu for sharing and I thank her poet friend Indu Gargeya for allowing me to publish this for all my book blogging friends.

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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Grief is the Thing With Feathers

Thoughts gittwfbymp Graywolf Press 2016, 114 pages

JUST ANNOUNCED! This is on the TOB Short List!

Challenge: TOB Long List and also counting for Poetry 100
Genre: Poetry, Adult Fiction
Type/Source: Tradeback / Library
 Why I read this now: It’s short!

MOTIVATION for READING: I’ve heard good things about this moving story.

WHAT’s it ABOUT:  A man loses his wife, his two sons lose a mother. A crow moves in to help them grieve.

WHAT’s GOOD:  The style, the cadence, the imagery.

What’s NOT so good: I admit that I am not much of a Ted Hughes fan but that is probably because the only thing I know about him is that he was Sylvia Platt’s husband. But I tried to drop my bias because I’m not sure I have given him proper consideration. That said, this book is somewhat based — I’m assuming – on a Hughes’ Crow poem. (I had to google that. Could have been part of the fiction for all I know.)

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I really did enjoy this sad yet hopeful poetic work. It reads very fast. It begs to be read aloud, as I assume poetic works do.

RATING: Four slices of pie. No pie mentioned.

A sample:

Crow

Look at that, look, did I or did I not, oi, look, stab it.
Good book, funny bodies, open door, slam door, spit this, lick that, lift, oi, look, stop it.

Tender opportunity. Never mind, every evening, crack of dawn, all change, all meat this, all meat that, separate the reek. Did I or did I not, ooh, tarmac, macadam. Edible, sticky, bad camouflage.

Strap me to the  mast or I’ll bang her until my mathematics poke out her sorry, sorry, sorry, look! A severed hand, bramble, box of swans, box of stories, piss-arc, better off, must stop shaking, must stay still, mast stay still.

I also wrote down more poets to investigate:  Ibn ‘Arabi, Shostakovich, Osip Mandelstam, R.S.Thomas.
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Copyright © 2007-2017. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

All About the Months

Thoughts aatmbymrk by Maymie R Krythe, Harper and Row 1966, 222 pages

Challenge:  What’s in a Name Challenge : Month Category
Genre:  Reference/Nonfiction
Type/Source:  Hardback / from a discarded book bin
 Why I read this now: Had to finish up the Challenge!

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MOTIVATION for READING:   Again, for the Challenge.

Here’s what goodreads.com has to say (and it is noted that it is from the book jacket which has been lost with my edition.)

After exploring every possible source of information–fact and fable–on the months, Mrs. Krythe writes as authoritatively about this subject as she did about Christmas and American holidays in two earlier books. In her own pithy prose, and with borrowed lines from early and contemporary poets, the author gives the special characteristics of each month, such as how it was named, the number of days it originally contained, and when and how changes came about.
Much of the book is devoted to the months’ symbolic jewels, from precious stones to the fabulous 44.5 carat “Hope” diamond; and flowers, from the common little field daisy to the most resplendent rose. Their origins and their often bewitching roles in history are all here.
Important events that have taken place in each century and in every country are related here. Famous statesmen, royalty, dignitaries, actors, sports figures, and other personalities whose birthdays fall in a given month are mentioned. All about the Months is a storehouse of information that makes fascinating reading for everyone, and will surely prove a boon to those who plan programs built around the months of the year.

WHAT’s GOOD:  I think it fun to read books from earlier times (pub’d in 1966, mind you) to reflect on what has changed. And what hasn’t. She actually mentions what we would now call climate change!

Even though for centuries December has been regarded as a time of hard frosts and heavy snowstorms, in recent years conditions have changed in some localities, and milder weather has prevailed.

What’s NOT so good: It was a slog to sit and attempt to read as a straight-through text, but enjoyable enough to dip in a little at a time and check out month by month as the mood hit. It was interesting to see who she considered ‘famous people’ in the listings for each month’s birthdays and notable happenings:

… and in February 1962, the orbital flight of Lt. Col. John H. Glenn made news.  (RIP John Glenn, American Hero of the Space Age)

The only U.S. President born in June was George HW Bush… Whatever that might mean, but I had to look. When Mrs. Krythe wrote this book, she states, “June is the only month of the twelve in which no President was born.” And we will soon get to add Donald Trump (born June 14). Of which I am still in utter disbelief.

FINAL THOUGHTS:  I admit to being fascinated by this “Mrs. Krythe” and was inspired to search for more author information; only to find… nothing. Absolutely nothing. I suppose I need the skills of a librarian and more than just Google. Maymie R. written other books that explore holidays, specific holidays and songs (probably holiday songs!) and I even found a reference to an article she wrote for the Historical Society of Southern California. She had to have been a hit at parties. But where is she now? Who was she married to? Did she have any children? Why do I care?

Recommended as a reference text, for quips and historical notes, especially any information about flowers and jewels relative to their calendar importance and then some. (Though, I got confused reading about the Hope Diamond.)

RATING:  Three slices of pie (I didn’t find any mention of pie but that’s because I am grossly over-exaggerating my claim to have COMPLETED this…  oh well. Sue me.)

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Mini Mini Reviews and Not Much More

My friends, my friends.

I have read much, listened to much while not blogging of late. I have much to recap. I have read and enjoyed much. Much is the word.

I purchased this wisbyriWomen in Science by Rachel Ignotofsky for the children of a friend who required birthday presents. (the presents were for the kids’ – 4 of them – birthdays not the friend’s) Don’t worry! I also sent candy and confetti and garland and more books. But this was the one I purchased in hopes to influence young minds. Personally, I thought the tone a bit ‘piled-on’. OK, already; women are great. “Thou dost protest too much.” Sigh… Yea, I own my bad feminism. I also took off a point for the dark font on dark background. Guess I’m old. Which is why I’m hoping these youngin’s will read, appreciate and larn sumthin’. That women can and have done way far more than they get credit for and will continue to do so and people should pay attention and give credit and respect. Three slices of pie.

Citizen citbycr by Cynthia Rankin. I want to read more poetry. I know I need to read more poetry. I feel like I should read more poetry. I realize this book is not quite poetry as I expect – is that the best kind? This book is powerful and heavy. Felt it in my bones and heart but still realize that there is much I cannot ‘get’ and that’s ok. I’m willing to keep attempting to reach and learn and respect and lean in and lean out and lean humble, probably lean strong. I purchased this book at my local Indie bookstore.

Then I jumped into an audiobook with comedienne extraordinaire, Phoebe Robinson’s You Can’t Touch My Hair. yctmhbypr I am not sure I have laughed this hard in a long time (I read it before the election and already feels like eons ago). Ms Robinson explained a few things (ok, lots of things) to me. I probably could/should re-listen. Very enjoyable and extremely informative to my demographic, (ahem.) She mentions the movie Michael with Travolta which has one of the best pie songs ever recorded in film. (I wrote Ms Robinson a fan letter. I wrote Lindy West of Shrill, too. I like to write letters…)

Remember to laugh. 

I listened to an audiobook by John Scalzi that was being offered free by Audible.com. tdbyjs It was wonderful!  It was 2+ hours. Enjoyed it very much. I follow Mr. Scalzi on Twitter and should read something longer by him. Someday.  (I already had him on the authors-I-must-get-to list, I think, but a sample is nice.)

I quickly moved on to another audiobook that was utterly delightful. Realizing it is Nonfiction November and I had failed to plan for this AND having just read TriniCapini’s lovely Litsy post of how good it is, I used an Audible credit to get As You Wishaywbyce written and narrated by Cary Elwes. SO GOOD. I also watched the movie again. SO GOOD!

Overlapping with As You Wish, I read Barbara Claypole White’s debut novel tugbybcw The Unfinished Garden. I really REALLY enjoyed it. I think it is one of my favorites of hers. Maybe Perfect Son is my favorite, and this was lovely, too. I am now in a state of fandom where I have to wait for an author to publish again – I’ve read everything else by her. This is a rare thing. I usually don’t ‘follow’ an author. One more fun fact: I read all of her books in this calendar year. Another no-small-feat accomplishment for me. It would be remiss of me to fail to mention some of the BEST pie references are in this book!!!! I hope to capture in another post.

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I just yesterday finished Commonwealth by Ann Patchett. I will write another post just for this book soon…

Also, FYI – I just today started The World According to Garp. O.M.G. Oh, Mr Irving, you are a rascal. Yowza. I’m already to Garp’s birth scene. The whole Garp conception scene was … memorable. Let’s go with ‘memorable’, shall we?

Keep reading, friends. Keep on, keepin’ on. Be vigilant.

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2016. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club. It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Cheers of a Reading Saturday

And there is always this:  My entire tweet-cheer history!

Read-A-Thon

Every BOOK you take
Every PAGE TURN you make
Every cookie you break
Every COFFEE you take
I’ll be CHEERing you.

<— 48 RTs, 68 LIKES

We’re READing together But still it’s almost farewell And maybe we’ll come back To , who can tell? +

I guess there is no one left to CHEER We’re leaving ground (gonna get some sleep) Will things ever be the same again? +

[Hook] It’s the final countdown The final countdown Ohh! *\0/*

 

They say you got a bookshelf You’re with it every weekend They’re talkin’ about you and it’s bringin’ me UP!

 

You’re ready and set Take that BOOK over the line, You bet! First and ten First and ten Do it again! *\0/*

 

STRAIGHT UP NOW TELL ME are ya really gonna read for 24 hours? OR are you just havin’ FUN?

 

Ten pages, ten more pages, For our team, it’s not hard! Give me a P-A-G-E T-U-R-N!!

We Twitter back together To say “SO LONG” It is almost over Another tremendous

 

All you need is , all you need is love, All you need is books, love. BOOKS are all you need. Love, CHEER, love, , love,

*\0/*

I’ve never seen an author in the flesh I cut my teeth on classics or the movies And I’m not proud of my reading choices +

in the genre that I’ve found No Dewey decimal envy +

But every BOOK’s like gold teeth, READin’ in bathroom Scary stories, trashin’ hotel room We don’t care, we’re READing ATWOOD in our dreams +

But everybody’s like Franzen, Sparks on your mantle Jet planes, islands, tigers on gold leash We don’t care, not caught up in love affair +

And we’ll ALWAYS be READERS (readers) It time for That kind of stuff just ain’t for us We crave a different kind of buzz +

Let me be your CHEERer (Cheerer) can call me Queen Bee And baby I’ll rule (I’ll rule I’ll rule I’ll rule) Let me live fantasy +

*\0/*

I got the eye of the tiger, a fighter Dancing through the fire ‘Cause I am a -er, and you’re gonna hear me roar Louder, louder!

TWO FOUR SIX EIGHT Who do we appreciate?! CANDY CORN and Heather BOO-yah!!!! and

We’re in the final hour Let’s rally to the end You read, I’ll cheer – we’ll sing and dance and all be friend/s. ! *\0/*

came in like a pile of books I never hit the so hard All I wanted was to read the stories All you ever did was CHEER me! *\0/*

You once thought of me As a boring book on a shelf. Now you know how happy I can be. Oh, and our good times start and end with !!

Jump up and down, stand on your head, just a quick break, THEN get that book READ. Happy !!

We read for fun, we read to learn, up all night, hours to burn.

I love books I love to cheer – it’s fun! So grab a book and Join this awesome ! *\o/*. ()

 

 

 

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Copyright © 2007-2015. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Literary Road Trip

I had the pleasure of attending a poetry reading in a lovely setting last week:  IMG_3199 The Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington CT. The Sunken Garden Poetry Festival is held Wednesday evenings throughout the summer. We enjoyed headliner IMG_3210 Frank Bidart, opening poet Benjamin Grossberg and music entertainment IMG_3192 Alien Folk Music.

“then the voice in my head said

WHETHER YOU LOVE WHAT YOU LOVE

OR LIVE IN DIVIDED CEASELESS
REVOLT AGAINST IT

WHAT YOU LOVE IS YOUR FATE ”
― Frank BidartIn the Western Night: Collected Poems, 1965-1990

Unfortunately, I didn’t take the opportunity to purchase Bidart’s book but it is on my wishlist and I encourage anyone to seek out and attend such an event with this poet. Mr. Bidart was fabulous at reading his poems and was a delight to experience in this beautiful setting. We had a lovely lovely time.

The next day, I visited the Mark Twain House in Hartford. IMG_3216 IMG_3217 IMG_3218 Now I’m inspired to read a Mark Twain. I *think* I have read Tom Sawyer but I really am not sure about that and probably should attempt Huck Finn but does anyone have a suggestion? He is one of those great American authors whose works are so familiar that it is difficult to decide what to read. I’m thinking that an audio experience might be the way to go.

“Go to heaven for the climate and hell for the company.”  (so many great quotes from Sam, yes?!)

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Copyright © 2007-2014. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Possession: A Spoileriffic #ReadByatt Post

Thoughts possbyasb Possession by A.S. Byatt, Vintage Books 1991 (orig 1990) – Movie Tie In (which seems odd that this is 1991 since the movie came out in 2002), 555 pages

I’m warning you that this is a convo for people who have read the book. If you ever think you want to read it and hate spoilers, please do not read on. You’ll hate me and yourself. Probably in that order.

First Sentence: “The book was thick and black and covered with dust.”

OK, let’s start with a bang. Not until Ellen’s grand confession of the most delicate and private truths as to what kind of marriage she had with Poet Ash, did I even question or wonder who knocked up the maid in Chapter _?_. (I couldn’t find it.) Can you say FORESHADOWING that went WAY over my head I didn’t even notice anything went by? So, we have a pregnant girl who disappears soon before the birth and we never know what happens. And Poet Ash did it!  He had to. Makes sense to me, anyway. He was both admirable and despiscable.

Ellen was passive-aggressive. Did she or didn’t she want everyone to know? Yes to both. Poor thing. Couldn’t decide… And really POOR THING that she got what she wanted (or didn’t) and never knew what she was missing. AND THEN, her understanding somewhat faithful husband!!!  whoa.

Ellen – truly the most tragic figure in the book. And her husband gallivants around the countryside to study biology. It’s rather humorous.

I loved that the child was anti-poetry. HA!

I was tripped up how many great-greats Christabel was to Maud. Didn’t there seem to be an excessive amount?  Just looked – there were 3.  So if Maud was in her thirties in 1986, she could have been born in, let’s say 1953. If I subtract 22 for her mother’s birth year, we get 1931. Then for her mother, which would be Maud’s GRANDMOTHER, another 22 years back would be 1909. That puts Maud’s FIRST great-grandma born in 1887 and then 2nd great in 1965. SO, they were REALLY young mothers to pop in another layer of generation to get to 1861 for May’s birthday!  I know, I’m strange, but the too many great things really took me out of the story…

Not that I didn’t love the twist that Maud was a relation! So cool. Really should have seen it coming with all the white-blonde and pale skin reference to BOTH of them. What a fun circle back that Maud studies her great-to-the-third-or-second-gma’s work unbeknownst.

And the last chapter was lovely. How sad that Ash and Christabel failed to get their last messages of love to their lover.

Rating:  Four slices of pie. I would have to say the pie that best goes with this work is a decadent rich dark chocolate torte with real cream garnish and a few raspberries. (I either was careless and failed to note any pie references or there just weren’t any.)

I can’t give you a five star rating on this because I just didn’t fall in love with the poetry. So the rating is for me because on an academic literary impressive scale, this is a five star book and I do think it deserves all the love and awards it has won.

I don’t have the energy to record all the vocabulary but be assured, this has many words I did not know. But honestly, I was not as intimidated by this like I was for her Matisse stories.

And I’m out of steam. Please visit Kim and Lu for more insight…

Finally a BIG thank you to Kim of Sophisticated Dorkiness and Lu of Regular Rumination for hosting a readalong/tweetalong #ReadByatt. I appreciate the nudge to finally get this read.

If you loved this book, I highly recommend you read Byatt’s lovely novella collection Angels and Insects. Especially the Angels one.

.

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Copyright © 2007-2013. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations

Thoughts  Peculiar Rhymes and Intimate Observations: A Book of Light Verse by Moonbeam McQueen, 2012, 95 pages, eBook

FUN! sometimes sad, sometimes silly, often snarky – always witty and charming.

I have admired this author as a blogger from the days before I started yapping mostly about books. She is authentic and loving, insightful and tremendously talented as a writer of the nitty grittiness of life. I know no other blogger that can so easily make you laugh AND cry at the same time. So when I saw that she had a purchasable work of her words available, I instantly  downloaded this to my Kindle app and read it. I was not disappointed.

I’m hoping that next on the horizon, she will soon announce a novel! Please follow her on Twitter, click here –> @MoonbeamMcQueen

SHE IS HAVING A GIVEAWAY!!!   Click here & comment to have a chance to win an eBook or Audio of this!

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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

Where been? Have I

Poetry, for me, is a playing with words. Is playing with words. Word play.

“… the apprehension of a poem is a sensuous mental activity.”  

– Molly Peacock, pg 3 of How to Read a Poem

I had big plans for today, heavy laden with tasks, with ‘must-dos’. But all along, I’ve been reminiscent* that I have a poetry post due. While I mowed the lawn, I toyed with a rhyming ditty. While writing my daily letter(s), I jotted little rhyming ditties. I even attempted weighty thoughts, hoping the words would align into something worthy of sharing. (I don’t think I quite got the spark, unfortunately.)

Here’s that dittying of which I mentioned:

Lilacs are purple, tulips are pink.
Poems are astounding, designed to make one think.

If tulips are pink, what flowers are teal?
Poems jolt emotions, to make one feel.

I have been aware that April is Poetry Month and I have seen its mention many places. Every time I encounter a poem, I gave a little high-five to the universe, “Yay, a poem for poetry month!”, and yet, here it is, THE day to post for Read More Blog More and I’m finally sitting down to write my post.

Confession Time. I borrowed Peacock’s Poetry book from the library about 4 weeks ago and today is the first time I’ve even opened it. For shame. It might even be due (overdue) and I owe late fees. I’m really not sure.

Molly opens her book by describing how much joy she found in the fact that the word joy has an O in the middle. And how astonishing it is that the word ‘circle’ does not have an O. I could be friends with this woman. I should probably just buy the darn book.

“if you have form’d a circle to go into,
Go into it yourself, and see how you would do.”

– William Blake from “Gnomic Verses ii: To God”

I’ve been reading a lot lately. I listened to Jon Krakauer’s Into the Wild (on CD, in my car**) and finished 1Q84 by Murakami. Just so you know, in case you don’t make it back for my reviews; I was most conflicted about Into the Wild and I thought 1Q84 was only OK. Yep, that means two stars. I don’t think I will go out of my way to read any thing else by this author.  You know the ol’ argument “Too many books, too little time” and I can’t waste time trying to figure him out and whether or not I *should* like his stuff.

And READ-A-THON! I felt guilty not participating. And yet, I probably read more pages of books this past weekend than any other prior read-a-thon ever. That’s guilt for ya.

What else?  I have book club this Thursday. I’m the CHOOSER or presentor-of-the-choices this month and here’s what I think I am proposing: Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh, Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell, and A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean. I keep toying with the idea of adding Fifty Shades of Grey***  to the list but I’m afraid that is what they will choose. And we will all read it anyway, I think. Thus, it shouldn’t be a book club choice. My opinion.

What does any of this have to do with poetry? Not a damn thing.

“Our sense inarticulacy in the face of the most articulate art, a helplessness in its presence – coupled with a sureness of our attachment to it even though we don’t know why – can bewitch us.”

– Molly Peacock, pg 4 of How to Read a Poem


Not a damn thing. How do we make poetry out of every day have-to-dos?
Lu asks, in her post from the weekend telling us to get ready for today:
#3) Where do you get your poetry? Do you read poetry in books, primarily online, in magazines?
I won the free gift from the Read-More-Blog-More committee last month, The Day the World Ends by Ethan Coen. I have yet to open it. Haven’t even cracked the cover. But THANKS!  I just haven’t gotten to it yet!!!   🙂
I find my poetry here there and anywhere. I mentioned that one of my latest reads was FULL of poetry: The Invention of Clouds and it was a most unexpected pleasure. But I don’t seek it out. Or maybe, I do. Just by participating in this event, I’m recognizing the possibility — the opportunity of poetry.
Yep, I think I will buy Molly’s book.
Finally, pink tulips:  

Can we conceive what humanity would be if it did not know the flowers?  ~Maurice Maeterlinck

* Can I be ‘reminiscent’? or was the DAY reminiscent? All this thinking hurts my brain.

** My attempt to “Go Audio” and I completely screw it up. I was SUPPOSED TO download something to my iPhone. Sigh…

*** Everyone I know in “REAL LIFE” has asked me if I’ve read Fifty Shades of Grey. I have not. Funny, I have yet to see a review of it here in my book-blogosphere. But that only proves that I never open my Google Reader.
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Copyright © 2007-2012. Care’s Online Book Club. All rights reserved. This post was originally posted by Care from Care’s Online Book Club.  It should not be reproduced without express written permission.

The Invention of Clouds

Thoughts  The Invention of Clouds by Richard Hamblyn, Farrar Straus and Giroux 2001, 403 pages

subtitle:  How An Amateur Meteorologist Forged The Language Of The Skies

Defin’d the doubtful, fix’d its limit-line,
And named it fitly – Be the honour thine!

LOVED THIS and yet I didn’t finish it before it had to go back to the library.  *sadface* However! I’m considering buying this as a gift though I am really not sure if the intended recipient will enjoy it. I think he might? But I also have no clue what his reading tastes are. I always seem to buy him books, though and I never remember to ask if he liked ’em. We don’t talk often. Sometimes that’s the way it is with family… Or maybe just my family. We’re not of the demonstrative types.

Anywhoosie.

This book was sweet, in a way. It had poetry! It really showed a sensitive side to the author, methinks. You could suppose a history book — a biography book, to be cut and dried and just-the-facts, but we must consider this guy – the subject, not the author – was  ‘discovered’ around the end of the Age of Enlightenment and kicking off the Romantic era. [Not that I’m an expert – I had to go look that up.]

So, in 1802, Luke Howard presented his nomenclature for identifying clouds. And it was GROUNDBREAKING!  WHY had no one ever figured this out before?!  astonishing! I loved this part and learning about Luke’s early years and then his being thrust into fame.

I was not so keen as to the actual cloud details and who else had done some findings or tried to piggy-back on Howard’s labels and ideas. I just had too many other books shouting at me to read and this one was too quiet.

I did attempt to flip through and skim to the end. I’m a horrible skimmer. Impatient readers cannot skim. Thus the need for skimming and then the frustration and then guilt and then the downhill fall to just giving up.

I found it fascinating that these public lectures on the wonders of science put these guys into rock star acclaim.

I loved that his grandchildren were fond of him.

I was delighted at the bit about how Mr. Howard surely must have met Miss Jane Austen – his carriage is documented as traveling the road on which her house was set. Being of similar class and stature, it would not be at all unheard of that he would stop and pay a call. But not record exists of such.

I loved loved LOVED the poetry!

Science, illuminating ray!
Fair mental beam, extend thy sway,
And shine from pole to pole!
From thy accumulated store,
O’er every mind thy riches pour,
Exacted from low desires to soar,
And dignify the soul.
                              -Sarah Hoare, 1831

and how about this, written by Goethe and based on one of Howard’s essays?

Stratus
When o’er the silent bosom of the sea
The cold mist hangs like a stretch’d canopy;
And the moon, mingling there her shadowy beams,
A spirit, fashioning other spirits seems;
We feel, in moments pure and bright as this,
The joy of innocence, the thrill of bliss.
Then towering up in the darkinging mountain’s side,
And spreading as it rolls its curtains wide,
It mantles round the mid-way height, and there
It sinks in water-drops, or soars in air.

There’s more to that – he has three more stanzas…

So. If you love science or the weather, or dreamily gaze up at the clouds, or love odd little biographies of interesting dudes from the early 1800’s, and certainly if you like poetry that was written during those times, I suggest this wonderful book.

And a big thank you to Vasilly for recommending a book that helps identify clouds: The Cloud Collector’s Handbook. I’m thinking of buying that for my nieces and nephews. Here’s another one that looks enticing:  The Cloudspotter’s Guide.

Do you not love white fluffy clouds in a bright blue spring sky?

HIdeinWhitetoSkipLine

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