Sunday, January 23, 2022

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (January 23, 2022)


Poems read:

  • The Cracked Bell by Baudelaire
  • Black Coat by Ted Hughes
  • XV. by Wendell Berry (Sabbath poems)
  • Ritual by Jon Pineda
  • Even Though I Love You More Than Anything, That Won’t Stop Them from Killing You by William Evans
  • I Am Offering This Poem by Jimmy Santiago Baca

🠊 Catch the live show on Sunday mornings at some time-ish: 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (January 16, 2022)


Poems read:

  • The Old Elm Tree by the River by Wendell Berry
  • The Heart of a Woman by Lateef Helmet (translated by Soheil Najm) 
  • Bags of Bones by Dunya Mikhail (translated by Sadek Mohammed) 
  • Personal History by Kareem Tayyar 
  • Dream Journal by Kareem Tayyar 
  • The Lamppost Glows Orange in the Daytime by Hannah Srajer

  • 🕮

    🠊 Catch the live show on Sunday mornings at some time-ish: 

    Sunday, January 9, 2022

    Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (January 9, 2022)

    Poems read:

    • About the Bees by Justin Phillip Reed
    • Debris of Life and Mind by Wallace Stevens
    • Cattails by Melissa Kwansy
    • Tradition by Lorine Niedecker
    • Sea-Ports by Baudelaire
    • An As-Though Prayer by Christopher Howell
    🠊 Catch the live show on Sunday mornings at some time-ish:

    Friday, January 7, 2022

    People Along the Sand by Rachel King: Yes, you should read it

    People Along the Sand by Rachel King
    Last night, I finished the novel People Along the Sand by Rachel King. It’s a quiet, calm, and deep exploration of several people who live in the 1960s in a small, coastal town in Oregon. 

    It’s difficult to say what the novel is about.

    It’s not about The Vietnam War, though that is happening and there are those who turn away from the daily news of it, those who enlist whole-heartedly, and those who try to figure out what they’ll do if they’re drafted. Later, a childhood summer friend will be killed in the war and, as with any sudden and unexpected death, the parents of the living child are faced with how to share the bad news and watch their child grieve.

    It’s not about the Beach Bill that ensures public access to the Oregon beaches, although several characters door-knock in support of it and others worry how it will affect their businesses or homes. An estranged father and adult son are tossed back together because of the issue but the rift between them is too vast to keep them together.  

    It’s not about the changing role of lighthouses, their automation, and the many storm-wrecked deaths that have happened and will now be prevented. But a retired lighthouse keeper’s whole life has been his knowledge and experience, and even after the death of his wife and the estrangement of his son, he still has no idea how to puzzle his personal history with his professional history. But he keeps trying.

    It’s not about the swelling of women’s rights and equality or equal pay for equal work, but several women own businesses in the town and are unique in that. Another woman who has worked full-time as an accountant for her husband’s hotel as part of the marriage begins to want a decision-making role in the hotel, too, and starts to wonder why she both isn’t allowed that and isn’t paid for what is clearly beyond the role of wife and partner. She is starting to shift in her awareness of self and while others want a clear articulation of what that means or how they should act in response to that, she herself is in the midst of it and is trying to articulate and understand it herself.

    It’s not about living beside the tumultuous ocean and under so many gray skies, but everyone gravitates to the ocean and everyone knows each other through the ocean—whether they grew up in the town or married into it. Each of them walk the beaches, know the hiding places of starfish, understand the precision and patience required to find agates, and are bound to each other in the shared but individual experience of coastal life. 

    It’s not about baking or running a bakery but there is a character who runs her own bakery and does all the baking, ordering, and serving. She thrives in each aspect and enjoys the quiet, dark mornings and the care and focus of kneading, creating. And while she lives a life of solitude, it is her steadiness that others seek out.

    The novel is exactly about what great novels are about: the shifting, beautiful lives of people and how our lives press against each other in unexpected, pivotal, quiet, or hardly detectable ways. It is about the pull of grief and the changing lives of mothers and children. It’s about leaving signs that you have lived and the dust left on aspects of the lived parts of our lives. The novel understands nostalgia and reality, broken legs and confused husbands. It understands the confusion of youth and the intimacy of two people talking about music. 

    It’s a very good book. 

    You should probably read it.


    Sunday, January 2, 2022

    Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (January 2, 2022)

    Cheers to a new year of Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee , a weekly Sunday series in which I read good poems by other people while we all drink coffee (or orange juice or hot chocolate, etc.). Here's the first session of 2022.


    Poems read:

    • The Decision by Jane Hirshfield
    • Tree by Jane Hirshfield
    • Inventions Toward Pleasure by Cameron McGill
    • 44.6336• N, 86.2345• W by Cameron Read McGill
    • Early March, 2015 by Ann Tweedy
    • Air Time by Ann Tweedy
    • Poem for My Neighbor Whose Good Intentions Are Wolf Pelt by Jacqueline Allen Trimble
    • The Language of Joy by Jacqueline Allen Trimble
    • The Heron by Wendell Berry
    🠊 Catch the live show on Sunday mornings at some time-ish:

    Saturday, January 1, 2022

    Sunday, December 26, 2021

    Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee (12/26/21)

    Welcome to this week's edition of Wake to Words and Brew Some Coffee, wherein I read good poems by other people while we all drink coffee (or tea).  

    Poems read:

    • 15. by Wendell Berry (from the longer poem VIII. A Small Porch in the Woods)
    • Training by Diannely Antigua
    • Space, in Chains by Laura Kasischke
    • Stranger by Night by Edward Hirsch
    • “I Am the Size of What I See” by Paul Hoover
    • Lilies by Mary Oliver
    • Awake at Night by Wendell Berry

    🠊 Listen to more poetry sessions here:
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    A Still Life by Josie George: Yes, read it (a short recommendation)

    Here is the first long book I’ve read in too long. Thank goodness for holiday break and the time it provides to remember how to read again—the steady focus, the pause and return, the belief that each page might bring more than the last and to wait while going.

    I bought it after my first publisher, Sharon Blackie, recommended it in her newsletter. And I’m glad that she did (and that she takes time to write updates that are so varied and wise). 

    I, too, recommend this book. A Still Life, a memoir by Josie George. She provides a quiet and intense examination of her world in the world, and her body inside her body—a body that has been behaving erratically (pain, blackouts, infections, weakness interrupted by months or more of consistent wellness) since childhood—a body that will not fall into a perfect diagnosis or cure—and, thus, the tired reactions of others and how this affects her way of being. She brings the reader into her interior world deftly and, because of everyone’s exhaustion with not knowing how to “fix” her, she gently welcomes us in and carefully shows her life as she’s known it and how differently others have viewed her life and how she’s known that, too.

    It’s a good book. Those with similar experiences will likely find companionship in shared experiences of disability (and ableism), and able-bodied readers will find companionship in her deep commitment to understanding life, behavior, and inner/outer selves as well as her flung-open acceptance (and patient patience with family, strangers, friends, past loves, her son, and herself).

    It’s a book to read in more than one sitting, which I appreciated.


    • Publisher’s website:
    • And if you’d like to subscribe to Sharon Blackie’s newsletter (mentioned above), that’s all here:

    Friday, December 24, 2021

    A Visit from St. Nicholas, read aloud by Erin Pringle

    In which I read Night Before Christmas for no particular reason except that I enjoy the poem, it's Christmas Eve, and I like to read aloud. 

    Happy Christmas!

    Thursday, December 23, 2021

    Book Your Stocking with Tom Noyes

    Book Your Stocking 2021
    Book Your Stocking: Day 23

    So glad to have you back! We are nearly finished with this year's edition of Book Your Stocking, and hopefully, you're nearly finished with making, buying, and wrapping gifts to your favorite people. Each day avid readers recommend books that you or your favorite person would be delighted to find in their stocking or sock drawer. 

    Please welcome Tom Noyes back to the series.


    Why: Wang doesn't write just one kind of story in this collection, and he doesn't create just one kind of character or employ just one perspective or pursue just one theme. His vision is as vast and varied as the settings, time periods, and personalities he brings to life in this buzz-worthy debut. (Winner of the 2021 Pen America Robert W. Bingham Prize)

    About today's reader: Tom Noyes is a writer and professor; his newest book is the novel The Substance of Things Hoped For (Slant Books 2021).

    Tom Noyes