It’s Monday, What are You Reading is a meme hosted by Jen from Teach Mentor Texts and Kellee and Ricki from Unleashing Readers (new host of Monday reading: Kathryn T at Book Date). Since two of our friends, Linda from Teacher Dance and Tara from A Teaching Life have been joining this meme for quite awhile now, we thought of joining this warm and inviting community.
These two nonfiction titles are not technically about witches – but both authors have enchanted me and cast a spell on me. So that being said, will share them for our current reading theme.
Poetry Will Save Your Life [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Jill Bialosky
Published by Atria Books (2017)
ISBN: 1451693206 (ISBN13: 9781451693201). Bought a copy of the book.
I came in to this book with too-high expectations, I suppose. From the title itself, I expected something that was redemptive and .. well, life-saving. I guess it just found me at the wrong time; when I was too distracted by the many things I had to adjust to, having just moved here in Al Ain while I was reading this, for me to really appreciate its truth and its beauty.
Each of the short chapters revolve around a theme, for example Mothers, Faith, Legacy, or Terror. Subsumed under that are the featured poem or poems that the author feels correspond to that particular theme. More than anything, I enjoyed knowing more about poets that were previously unknown to me, such as Li-Young Lee and the poem Have You Prayed? and Adam Zagajewski’s Try To Praise The Mutilated World. Each chapter felt episodic, and subsequently, it felt fragmented for me – rather than me truly getting a glimpse of the person behind the memoir.
The whole book felt more like a poetry lecture, which felt somewhat prescriptive for me, as the author interpreted each poem’s meaning or truth, and it seemed like the only possible truth that can be discerned from the poem. Perhaps that was not the author’s intention, but as a reader I felt like I was being lectured at, rather than being invited in to a reading experience. However, as I said, the book may have found me at an inopportune time. Perhaps if I read it again sometime in the future, I will have a different “interpretation” of it.
When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations On Voice [Amazon | Book Depository]
Written by Terry Tempest Williams
Published by Sarah Crichton Books / Farrar, Straus and Giroux (2012)
ISBN: 0374288976 (ISBN13: 9780374288976). Bought a copy of the book. Book quote layout via Typorama.
This book was not originally on my TBR stack to be read for our current reading theme. I chanced upon it while I was arranging my bookshelves, after having unpacked it from one of our over 300 boxes from Singapore. Flipping through the first few pages moved me, as it seemed like an ode to one’s mother, a celebration of women’s voices, and the many fragile bonds shared by womanity in general. I had to bump it up my stack, and I was not disappointed.
Here is a direct quote from the book that I feel best embodies our current reading theme on goddesses, spirit mothers, priestesses:
There were moments somewhere in the beginning when I felt that the prose was overdone, that it seemed repetitive, and too flowery even by my standards (I usually appreciate verbosity as much as the distilled, clean prose). And then gradually, the repetition seemed like a chant, a prayer, an incantation of sorts – as Terry Tempest Williams tried to make sense of the blank journals that her mother bequeathed her when she died. What does a daughter make of a mother’s set of journals, beautifully bound, thick and brimming with promise – only to find its pages empty, devoid of notes, messages, sought-for-wisdom?
There is a build-up of power in this narrative written by a Mormon woman. While I thought, initially, that we had very little in common – her persistence in inviting me over to drink her words has loosened me up, and made me extend my hand in solidarity, in shared womanity, in friendship. This is a memoir that will stay with me for a long time to come.
#WomenReadWomen2019: United States of America