Reading Update: Returning to my Passions

Dear Readers,

You might have noticed that I have not posted many reviews for a while, and that they have been few and far between. I do have an explanation, and that it is all getting better.

The explanation:

For this I need to go a bit back into last year. I graduated from my M.A. program in Classical Studies in October 2020. Up until then I had had no breaks in between my schooling. I had seven years of undergrad (it lasted a while due to mental illness and finding what I really wanted to study), and then another two years of grad school. That is nine years of uni and college straight after high school with no real breaks (I’m not counting summer really). Up until this point, I never really knew what it was like to not be in school. That is what I have been trying to figure out for the last few months. And the pandemic did not make this any easier. I’ve been home almost the entire time – which is not at all a wholly bad thing; I have my partner and my pupper here and I love them both so so much – and have had no real opportunities to experience anything different than what has been going on. I was a research assistant for a while, though it was freelance and all work-from-home, so it eventually became too unstructured and unfulfilling for me. I tried then to do creative things like art, music, and, of course, reading. Eventually though, also because of the lack of structures in my days, those lost interest for me too. Suffice to say, it’s been a hell of a difficult time.

Now, though, I am looking for more rewarding work, and I am trying to create structure at home. So far this has been working, and I have been seeing reading at the end of the day as a rewarding experience. However, I still don’t have the desire to read anything on my TBR. I don’t even have the desire to reread some of the books I liked before. So I had to ask myself going forward: what do I like? I then thought about things I liked as a kid and a teen, things that brought out my passions and obsessions. I remembered what they were and it kindled a new passion and inspiration for me. These passions are Lord of the Rings, folklore, and ghosts. I never actually lost these passions, I just got distracted for a while with things I thought were more important. Now I remember their importance, and have been reading actively books in these genres for the past week or so! I’m looking mostly at Tolkien books right now, as that is my most deep passion.

Thankfully, I have a huge collection of Tolkien literature to read. This past week I’ve read The Hobbits of Tolkien by David Day (you can read my review of it here) and I am now setting out to finish Tolkien’s essays and stories Tree and Leaf and Leaf by Niggle. I am also getting so very inspired by the history, etymology, and folklore of Tolkien’s work that I am considering reading some of the Poetic Edda and Volsung Sagas next!

Now of course I am going to have doubts about these things too: shouldn’t I branch out in terms of literature? Is it stupid to stay with the same genres all the time?

First of all, I know I will branch out when I feel the time is right. Right now is not the right time for me. Second, it is NEVER stupid to stay with your favorite stories or genres. Never dismiss the things you are passionate about, for I am not going to dismiss mine. Staying with my true passions has helped my mental recovery, and may lead me to wonderful things in the future. I am excited to find out where it takes me.

As for ghosts, I am fulfilling that passion with much watchings of Buzzfeed Unsolved Supernatural, and I am slowly listening to Tunnel of Bones by Victoria Schwab on Scribd.

I won’t be doing a lot of book reviews for the Tolkien books I read, unless there is something very particular in them that I want to talk about. You can still keep up with what I read, though, here on my Goodreads page!

But yes, Dear Reader, thank you for reading this long and rambling explanation for where my life has led me. I hope you all are rediscovering passions or finding new ones in this hell of a time. Take care of yourselves, and I shall speak to you very soon!

All the love, and happy reading!

-A. Siegel

I want to talk about all this trendy poetry being published

It’s bad. Simply put, it’s bad. That’s the long story short. But I want to make the story long.

The bad:

All of these poetry collections by people like Rupi Kaur and others of the same ilk are made with zero care for the craft that is poetry. These collections are filled with one-liners that fill a whole page, sometimes a whole two pages. It is done not for beauty or poetry, but for the shock value, the trend of writing down profound statements and calling it poetry. Because of these poets, the real wordsmiths are forgotten. They aren’t popular, their works tend to be much more lengthy, and many people just don’t get poetry. They’re not taught how to get poetry, and this uneducated audience is what makes these frauds so successful.

Recently I tried to read Aphrodite Made Me Do It by Trista Mateer. I started reading this collection under the very wrong impression that it was going to be full of myth and the use of Aphrodite as a complex and interesting concept and character. This collection is full of those one-liners, full of the whines and self-pity that publishers seem to be eating up. There is no depth to the work, just the same old collection of nothings. I wish I could say this is the only time this year I have been promised a full and promising poetry collection and came away disappointed. Good news is that the art in Aphrodite Made Me Do It is rather intriguing. Perhaps Mateer should stick with the art and not the poetry.

The good:

One-line poetry isn’t bad. No indeed it can be used to great effect, setting off lengthy poems with anti-climactic ends, or even climactic ones. But those who put this type of poetry to the best uses are forgotten. The only reasons I know about better poets are the facts that I am a poet myself, that I go looking for it, that I’ve studied poetry in all its forms for some time.

Again, if only more people were exposed to poetry in well-rounded and in-depth ways. But, to all of you out there who want to have a better understanding of poetry, or want to read better poetry, here are some resources that will set you on the right track:

Medium: there are so many poets on Medium, it would take more than a lifetime to read them all. But that is good, and there is so much variety among the poems and poets themselves – plenty of niches to curl into.

Literary Magazines and Journals: There is a plethora of literary journals and magazines that focus on or include poetry, and most are easily accessible. You can just google “literary journal” or “poetry journal” and you’ll be given many options. However, if you want a comprehensive list, I would suggest looking at Poets and Writers and well as Poetry Foundation. Many colleges and universities also have their own literary journals, so look there too!

Here are some of my favorite literary and poetry journals:

Platypus Press

Fairy Tale Review

The Rialto

Short Édition’s Short Circuit

There are so many other wonderful poets to read. Let’s leave behind shock value, and embrace the beauty of wordsmithing again.