Stop! Look! Listen! is your one-stop destination for The Fiddlehead's cultural engagement.
My obsession with persona, especially in the lyric, and with writing the self brought me to Eileen Myles' I Must Be Living Twice. The poems are resplendent with sex, humour, and reflection — a kind of inquiry that is dramatized further by the fact it's a selected works, and she employs herself as a kind of third person. On writing poetry, she writes about the discovery of "something deeply anonymous about the self."
Eric Hobsbawm's The Age of Revolution is a classic study of the French and Industrial revolutions, and their subsequent impact. I've also been rereading Nietzsche's earlier works and Walter Kaufmann's study on his thought. I'm going through the Greek Tragedies, especially Euripides, as well as David Ferry's translation of Horace's Odes. I'm also finishing Stephen Spender's memoir, World Within World, which I picked up for a dollar and which gives us a vivid sense of the preoccupations and experiences of those British poets who came of age in the 1930s.
We're pleased to announce that Charlie Fiset's story "If I Ever See the Sun" has been longlisted for the 2016 Journey Prize! Her story appeared in last summer's Fiction issue (no. 264). Not only is this the second year in a row for Charlie, but along with Paige Cooper's "The Roar," this marks three consecutive years The Fiddlehead has two stories longlisted for the Journey Prize!
Lately I have been listening to John Cage's strangely delightful and thoughtful sonatas as performed by Boris Berman. They are very short, running between two to four minutes. There are sixteen sonatas and four interludes, so even after some twenty-five listens I still don’t feel like I can encompass the scope of the music.
I've had a great run of poetry reading this summer; having just begun a long-anticipated sabbatical, I'm finally getting to books that have been on my list for a long time: Claudia Rankine's Citizen, Renee Sarojini Saklikar's Children of Air India, Soraya Peerbaye's Tell. These books have heightened my growing feeling that the best contemporary poetry engages with larger issues, generally difficult ones. (That is, larger than the issue of how to write a good poem.
Wislawa Szymborksa’s poems in translation — both ones I first read about 20 years ago and ones recently new to me — have been satisfying me at deep levels with their mixes of the everyday and the surreally fanciful, the grieving and the humorous, the raw and the powerfully shaped. Last month I read a few of the poems to my brother-in-law in a hospital during his final week of life.
This past month I’ve been obsessing over video recordings of Van Morrison concerts, especially early performances from the 70s and 80s. This is partly because I’ve been thinking a lot about poetic pacing and what I guess I’ll call ‘rawness’ in poetry — moments of risk-taking and truth-telling, registers of feeling that create something almost textural in a poem.