15 books

The latest Facebook fad is listing 15 things that will “always stick with you.” One that interested me enough to participate was “15 books.”

The Nine Billion Names of God

  • Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis
  • The Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce
  • 1984 by George Orwell
  • Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis
  • When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone by Galway Kinnell
  • Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy
  • Collected Poems, 1909-1962 by T.S. Eliot
  • The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
  • Poems, 1965-1975 by Seamus Heaney
  • I and Thou by Martin Buber
  • The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo
  • Writing the Australian Crawl by William Stafford
  • Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson
  • Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Amazon, Powell’s, and eBay

Recent book purchases:

  • Matthew Arnold: The Portable Matthew Arnold
  • Wendell Berry: The Selected Poems of Wendell Berry
  • Robert Bly: Eating the Honey of Words
  • Billy Collins: The Trouble with Poetry
  • Emily Dickinson: Collected Poems
  • Kilala Kitamoto: LEGO book museum Vol. 1
  • W.S. Merwin: Selected Poems
  • William Stafford: The Way It Is
  • William Stafford: Writing the Australian Crawl
  • David Wagoner: Dry Sun, Dry Wind (First Edition)

Crashing a poetry reading at Open Books

I’ve driven by Open Books on 45th here in Seattle many times, but I’ve either been too busy or they’ve been closed. My wife and I were driving past last night after dinner when I noticed that they were open.

We parked around the corner and walked through the rain, only to see that the store was crowded with people, spilling out onto the sidewalk. I suspected that this was the tail end of a poetry reading, but hey, the cash register was open and people were still looking over the shelves (an inventory of 9,000+ books of poetry, according to their Web site), so I thought I could sneak in and grab the book I’ve been trying to find — one of Wagoner’s collections published after the Collected I have. (Fine, call me a Wagoner fanboy/groupie — he’s a great guy, and I love his poetry.)

Anyway, I pick up the book and make my way back to the front of the store, noticing for the first time that the center of attention seems to be someone other than the cashier. Crap!, I think, It’s the poet herself! (I’d been hoping the reading was an open-mic or something, I guess.) I didn’t recognize her based on any book jacket photos I’ve seen, but then I wouldn’t be able to recognize most of the poets I read (mainly in journals). I edged close enough to read the name on the cover of the books stacked next to her. I pride myself in knowing the national and local poetry scenes reasonably well, but her name still didn’t ring a bell. Now I was in the awkward position of being in line to have a book signed by someone I didn’t know, or to blow past her to buy the book I really wanted.

I opted for a strategic retreat instead. So, back to the shelves, wending my way through the chairs neatly aligned to face the back of the store, back to the front, through all the poetry aficionados looking shy as they asked to have their books signed, out into the rain and cigarette smoke.

I think there’s a poem in all that somewhere…

Not a Bad Haul

Books I got for Christmas:

  • How to Mow the Lawn by Sam Martin
  • A Man Without a Country by Kurt Vonnegut
  • Triumph and Tragedy in Mudville by Stephen Jay Gould
  • Traveling Light: Collected and New Poems by David Wagoner (hurray!)
  • Owls and Other Fantasies by Mary Oliver

Music I got for Christmas:

  • The Crane Wife from The Decemberists
  • Sam’s Town from The Killers

New bands I recently found on the Web

  • Band of Horses
  • The Black Angels
  • Los Campesinos!

I wrote one poem last week.