Thursday, October 06, 2016

Karin Gottshall | Almanac for the Sleepless

Almanac for the Sleepless: poems by Karin Gottshall (dancing girl press, 2012). Saddle-stapled chapbook, unpaginated (21 pages).

[I was at Vermont College with Karin a thousand thousand years ago, though she may count the time in mere decades. That said, we haven't really kept up and I consider this to be an objective reading of her chapbook.]

Karin's earlier chapbook, Flood Letters (Argos Books, 2011), is so gorgeous that I eagerly bought this one when I saw it in Kristy Bowen's catalog. (I'm a big fan of both presses.) I didn't really get into this one at first, but I kept it around, thinking, maybe it's me. The poems just felt too prosey and seemed to lack the surprising images, turns of language, and intensity that make Flood Letters so, so good. So I set this one down, started it again, set it aside again, and just the other day picked it up to finish.

And what a finish: the last two poems, "The Victorian Age" and "The Lake of the Valley," just vibrate with energy. The first buzzes with surprise in its accretion of like and unlike images and feels relentless and inevitable, yet completely original. "The Lake of the Valley" has a relentless quality, as well, but it's of the can't-look-away variety (a girl is drawing water from a well as a dam is opened to flood the valley) and concludes with a gorgeous, haunting image of girl suspended over well: gravity itself reversed, dreamlike and terrible/beautiful.

The other poems are interesting enough--I don't want to suggest less--but they lack, for me, the energy and intensity of these two, which absolutely make the chapbook worth reading (and I hope you do read it). I'm looking forward to finding more of Karin's work.

[rebound with orange cord]

Wednesday, October 05, 2016

Nature break


White Oak estimated to be 550 years old, one of the "Three Sisters" at Sugarcreek Metropark near Bellbrook, Ohio. We had a nice long trail walk there today.


Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Quick check-in

Coffee and chapbooking and work, work, work. I found a typo at the last possible moment in JS's chapbook, so naturally I took apart the copies I'd already made and replaced the pages with corrected sheets. Which has delayed sending out orders because I'm always at my day job. Who was it that said No good deed goes unpunished? (My dad said it a few times.)

Two nights ago I chopped up the tomato plant, unthreaded it from the balcony, and tossed the branches into the brush below and behind our apartment building. Infested with mealybugs, it had pretty much stopped producing, and I know from experience that no matter how thoroughly I clean any plants or cuttings as I bring them inside this month, they'll likely end up with the same critter infestation.

I wanted to start new arugula seeds and maybe some other greens, see what kind of fall crop I can grow on the balcony. Some of the plantings did well; others languished. It comes down to light: there's just not enough on this side of the building, especially with the treeline so close. That the tomato bore at all was a surprise. But the peppermint cascading from its planter, and the bushy rosemary, hung from a bucket on the outside of the railing, both did quite well, as did the jalapenos. Not much room for any other sun-loving plants, though. I'm going to scale back next spring.

Ack. Time to get ready for the day job--