Finally re-doing them–just waiting for some paint…

Here is what I wrote a year ago:

Periodically I get the Marie Kondo fit and attempt to sort the bookshelves. I’ve been doing this for several decades. When my first husband Robert died he left many–many–books. About a hundred needed to be returned to the library! A few years ago I discovered some shelves were still double rowed. Obviously despite the passage of time and so much more I’m having trouble getting rid of his books.
However, I think it is finally sorted. There was one book, though, a fat book with a handmade cover of a Buddhist mandala. I was just keeping it because Robert made the cover. But what was inside? No doubt a mystifying tome of Indian philosophy. I opened it–for the first time ever–and found…THE ILIAD.
Which I’ll keep.

Cholla Needles

I love the small press world–it’s my people. Bright on my radar at the moment is Cholla Needles, doing so much for poetry in the Joshua Tree area. Check them out at I know editor R. Soos is always looking for new work, and I said I’d send my network his way! It’s a very prolific press, with numerous beautiful issues a year and a thriving publishing arm that does individual books. I was excited that two books by the widely published poet Simon Perchik, now in his nineties, are forthcoming.
I particularly like the recently released haiku collection by Peter Jastermsky, “Steel Cut Moon.” They emphasis the aesthetic of loneliness found in classical haiku.

recess time…
the shy boy picks a shadow
to play with


fallen tree
one last storm
in its rings

there are also moments of awareness and opening perception:

as if
no other answer-
mountain trail

This is lovely work, squarely in the stream of contemporary American haiku yet also full of individual sensibility.

Also of interest is Lisa Mednik Powll’s “Finding the Azimuth.” These are diary entries, poems, drawings and poetic prose–all arranged on an alphabetical grid. They are full of little gems from a wandering troubadour-esque life. “One night in Auckland, I went out alone to hear Toots and the Maytals.” A unique approach–and the effect is that the ephemeral is captured and shared.

What Gary Lawless Is Reading

way up here in Maine (at Gulf of Main Books) I am reading:

poetry –

“Sisters’ Entrance” by Emtithal Mahmoud – originally from Darfur, she is
now an international slam poetry champion and spokesperson for the UNHCR

“Milk Black Carbon” by Inupiaq poet Joan Naviyuk Kane

Non-fiction –

Terry Tempest Williams’ new book of essays “Erosion”

Fiction –

Overstory by Richard Powers

Olive Again by Elizabeth Strout (Oprah’s film crew just filmed Elizabeth
reading in our bookstore for a piece on Oprah’s new TV show)

and the incredible about to be published novel “Apeirogon” by Colum
McCann, centering on two fathers, one Palestinian and one Israeli, who
have both lost daughters to random, senseless acts of violence.

What Alma Gottlieb Is Reading

What a great series!  I’m really enjoying seeing other folks’ reading lists.

Here’s my contribution . . .

Despite being a lifelong non-coffee-drinker, I’ve somehow found myself reading two fantastic books about coffee the past month.
The first: our own Miriam Sagan’s 100 Cups of Coffee, which hijacked me from reading the OTHER coffee book I’d just started.  This series of short meditations inspired by drinking coffee here, there, and everywhere got me thinking profound thoughts as only Miriam can, about life, death, and everything in-between.
The second: David Liss’ The Coffee Trader–another compelling read about coffee, but in a totally different register.  It’s a historically based novel set in 17th-century Amsterdam and has way more fascinating character development than a book with this good/fast a plot should have.  I won’t say more about the gripping story other than to predict that if you love/are intrigued by one or more of the following, you’ll probably love this novel: coffee / Sephardic Jewish history / Jewish-Protestant relations / 17th-century Europe / the development of global commodity capitalism / an exciting mystery.

Alma Gottlieb

What Philip Graham is Reading!

1.  A Place to Stand, by Jimmy Santiago Baca.
The poet’s autobiography, gritty and spiritual both.  Especially moving to me was his account of his years in solitary confinement in a high security prison—in that  confining space he found a much larger space within, and saved himself by learning the art and craft of writing poetry.

2.  Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert: My Life among the Navaho People, by Erica M. Elliott.  
Elliott’s memoir of her time among the Navaho, first as a school teacher and then later as a doctor, employs a spare and direct prose that allows the complexity of her cultural encounters to shine through.

3.  The Walk, by William deBuys.
Another memoir!  I’m still reading this. The author recounts the stages of his daily walk through his small farm nestled among hills in northern New Mexico.  The gorgeous prose inspires reflection, and after a week I’ve just barely cracked page 30.  No need to rush, when the writing is this good.

4. The Memory Police, by Yoko Ogawa.
In the haunting future Ogawa imagines, a cruel authoritarian State, without giving a reason, periodically censors things—calendars, photographs, flowers, even birds. Even something as trivial as toast. All examples must either be destroyed or turned in to the Memory Police. Once this is done, people forget they ever existed. Slowly, the world trudges toward extinction.

5.  Poems New and Collected, by Wistawa Szymborska. 
I keep coming back to this book by the Nobel laureate, for a kind of mental rejuvenation.  She finds a way in her accessible and exacting poetry to burrow into subjects such as miracles, the sky, hatred, and love at first sight in such a way that you see the world anew.

Philip Graham
Editor-at-Large, Ninth Letter:

More Readers Suggest Books!

Baro Shalizi: I just read Overstory and am now reading Destiny Disrupted.

Cheryl Marita: Finished listening to “where the crawdads sing” wonderful, lush story. Now reading memoir “Just Kids” by Patti Smith.

Sarah Sarai : Just finished Martha Collins’ new collection Because What Else Could I Do: Poems; and Sonia Sanchez’s Does Your House Have Lions? Both amazing. Both on loss.

Vicki Holmsten: Margaret Atwood’s The Testaments. I am maybe even more terrified by it than when I first read Handmaid’s Tale 30+ years ago, because it now seems we are even closer to becoming her fictional Gilead. Atwood is a master storyteller. Hard to put this one down once you’ve entered into the narrative.

Paul Bustamante: “The Fiends in the Furrows: an Anthology of Folk Horror” and “Writing Fantasy Heroes.” Oh, and rereading David Gemmell’s “Drenai Series” for inspiration.

Karla Linn Merrifield: I’m reading Jim Ray Daniels ‘ book of short stories, The Perp Walk. I’m a great fan of both his poetry and prose.

Susan Nalder: couple of non-fiction wowsers: David Treuer’s THE HEARTBEAT OF WOUNDED KNEE; and Tamim Ansary’s THE INVENTION OF YESTERDAY (the latter, how stories & narrative are the true engine of history).

Susannah Page: Just finished 9th Street Women, about Lee Krasner, Grace Harriman, Elaine de Kooning, Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler

AJ Schuman: I’m reading “What Language Do I Dream In?”, by Elena Lappin. It’s a memoir of her life’s interactions with Russian, Czech, German, French, Hebrew, and English. A meditation on language and how it shapes thought.

Rod Scott: “On Trails” by Robert Moor. It’s an exploration of how trails affect everyone from the ant, to the Appalachian Trail thru hiker. It’s a fascinating read.

L.j. Mulry: Next up is Hampton Sides’ Blood & Thunder; just finished Momaday’s House Made of Dawn.

Lucy Moore: There, There — amazing fiction about urban Indians in Bay Area

Some Suggested Reading

Suggestions about what to read are coming in to the blog! Here is a sampling to start:

NIna Bjornsson: I’m reading SAPIENS right now. Bought at Collected Works, where it was being kept behind the counter because so many people were stealing copies.

Chris: I am reading haiku mind, 108 Poems to Cultivate Awareness & Open Your Heart by Patricia Donegan

Michael G. Smith: I’m on a writing residency in Iceland, and am reading Independent People by Iceland’s Nobel Laureate Halldór Laxness, Volcanoes: Whats Hot & What’s Not on Earth and in Our Solar System by Ian M. Lange, and an issue of the lit journal Prairie Schooner.

Isabel Winson-Sagan: Just finished Carmilla, taking a horror break with “Killed At the Whim of a Hat,” and then on to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein!

Jane Taylor:
House of Broken Angels. Urrea.
The Overstory. Powers.
Women of Copper Country. Russell.
The Blue Fox. Sjon. ❄️

Victor Ialeggio:
1. Ivo Andric: Bosnian Chronicle, The Bridge Over the Drina
(translations by Josef Hitrec, if possible)
2. Vassily Grossman: Life and Fate. (Life & Fate is to Stalingrad and
the Shoah as War and Peace is to Austerlitz. translation, Robert Chandler)
3. Yataro Kobayashi aka A cup of tea: The Year of My Life (translation,
Nobuyuki Yuasa.)

More Children’s Books

I’ve gotten so many responses on favorite children’s books! I’m posting some here, along with a bit of list too. And there are more to come!

More Children’s Books:

From artist Gail Rieke:

When The Sky Is Like Lace
by Elinor Lander Horowitz
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney

The Journal of an Understanding Heart
Opal Whitely

The Big Orange Splot
Daniel Manus Pinkwater

Amos and Boris
William Steig


Glass artist Elodie Holmes Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, The Chronicles of Narnia…

Taos writer Kate Oneill Stuart Little, E.B.White; Winnie the Pooh, AA Milne; The Owl and the Pussycat.

Pat Crow of Santa Fe: Wynken, Blynken & Nod, and The Velveteen Rabbit are tied. The magical wonder and child-like element kept me on the edge of my seat.

Poet Nate Maxson “My Father’s Dragon” by Ruth Stiles Gannet

Anne Pedersen One Morning in Maine, The Little Island and the E. Nesbit books. Also George MacDonald

Arjuna Ranatunga Watership Down

Alice Monroney Eloise. Madeleine. Winnie the Pooh.

Anne MacNaughton Volume I of the Book House Book of History, kid you not.

Richard Vargas 3rd-4th grade. Martian Chronicles and War of the Worlds. read them several times

Isabel Winson-Sagan I just re-read the Little White Horse. It made me realize that those are still my favorite kind of books.

Digger Dan
Nancy Drew
Paddington Bear
Make Way for Ducklings
The Secret Garden
The Boxcar Children
Up A Road Slowly
The Princess and Curdie

What Are You Reading And Where?

I was having a cup of coffee with a friend who was telling me about his travel plans, and also about what he was reading. This led me to muse on where we read as well as what. Putting the question up for crowd sourcing led to great answers! I’m going to share them in a set of ongoing posts.


Janet Brennan: Anne Hillerman, Song of the Lion. Read several chapters each night.

Isabel Winson-Sagan: 2nd sex on the couch with a tiny dog

Michelle Holland: The Museum of Extraordinary Things, Alice Hoffman. Listening to the audio tape on my commute from Chimayo to teaching every weekday at Los Alamos High School. I’ve been listening to novels rather than the news for the past four months or so.

Judith Sherman Russell: Space operas sitting in the car waiting.

Hannah Duggan: Saga Vol. 2, in my bedroom.

JenMarie Macdonald: The Neapolitan Quartet next to my napping babe

Wednesday Nelena Sorokin: Half a Yellow Sun, in my bedroom.

Nate Maxson: Disgrace by Coatzee. On the bus.