Last Week’s Poetry Best Selling Books

Top 10 from the Week of July 18. From The Poetry Foundation. To see the complete list click here.

1 Where I Live: New & Selected Poems 1990-2010 by Maxine W. Kumin (W. W. Norton & Company) 5
2 1 The Shadow of Sirius (paperback) by W. S. Merwin (Copper Canyon Press) 47
3 2 Nox by Anne Carson (New Directions) 18
4 4 Ballistics (paperback) by Billy Collins (Random House) 24
5 8 The Best of It by Kay Ryan (Grove Press) 21
6 The Trouble with Poetry and Other Poems (paperback) by Billy Collins (Random House) 170
7 6 Thirst (paperback) by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press) 150
8 17 Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty by Tony Hoagland (Graywolf Press) 25
9 11 Red Bird (paperback) by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press) 71
9 9 Versed (paperback) by Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan) 8
10 10 Evidence by Mary Oliver (Beacon Press) 71

David Lehman’s New Poetry Form, The Letter Change

This is fun. David Lehman, series editor for The Best American Poetry (which has yet to include me–damnation!) posted a sort of poetry game on his blog. Take a line from an existing poem–it’s more fun if it’s a classic poem–and change one letter in one word. Assemble a bunch of those to make a new poem. It’s just a nerdy poet’s game, something to be done in a pub with other nerdy poet friends, but it’s fun nonetheless. It’s also a good way to pass the time at work when you’re supposed to be, um, working.  Out of necessity I altered the rules a bit to allow the addition of one letter if just the changing of one letter doesn’t work. I know, that makes me a cheater. I don’t do crossword puzzles for that reason.

Here’s a go at it (thanks to Milton, Blake, Homer, Pound, Arnold and Wright ):

Sing, oh Heavenly Mouse, that on the secret top,

dost thou know who bade thee

give me fare well, and stain the hound with wine?

There can be but one bordello.

A cry like thine in mine own heart I fear:

I have wasted my lice.

Where Do You Write?

I have a very dull fiberboard desk I bought at Wal-Mart maybe eight years ago. Surrounding my laptop are piles of paper, post-notes, stray computer cables, a little  jade tree, two little buddhas, books, pens, a polished stone skull and other scraps. I painted the office a pleasing green tea color (looks like green tea ice cream). I put book shelves up last summer, but there are more books scattered on the floor. Next to the desk is the small table I use to tie flies. Under that are crates of fur, feathers, hooks and thread. I can see the trees and sunrises out my window, and if I crane my neck around I can see my little goldfish pond and the veggie garden. Why am I telling you this? Because in the Ploughshares blog Aimee Nezhukumatathil  writes about her favorite writing spot and asked all her friends to share theirs. My office isn’t nearly as cool as some she reveals, though it’s bit more functional than others. Mostly I need more shelves and should make more of an effort to pick up my socks. I’d post a picture but I can’t find any of my cameras.

I’m also jealous of Ann Townsend’s dock where she goes when the desk and computer aren’t working out

When I had a job that required me to take a 50 minute train ride twice a day I would often get poems started while commuting with my laptop. Now it’s mostly at night, here, at my desk.  So, where do you write?  At a desk? In the kitchen? Does it matter?

Update: the original post is more than a year old, and my writing and work situation has changed a bit. So that.