! Books !

Welcome, Dear Reader! How happy I am to have your fine company here, where I share information about my books and the books of others.

Recently, I’ve been posting on what I’m referring to as “the constellation of pluses” around my during-the-pandemic-published poetry collection, The Minuses. Pluses take the form of reviews, interviews, and readings I and my poems have been lucky to receive. In this post, I will also take account of books with which I’ve engaged this year, my third annual personal Big Read: #mypersonalBigRead2020.

First, the possessive—my book, The Minuses, 2020 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award Poetry Arizona winner. When I knew a winner’s certificate would be arriving, I felt a tinge of—what?—embarrassment, silliness, or some other mysterious flavor of self-consciousness. Then, wouldn’t you know, the certificate arrived—along with a wash of pride and joy. Funny that.

Above: The certificate, framed with pride and joy!

Second, books written by others. Just as in 2018 and 2019, this year I intended to read a book/volume a day. With the advent of having a book published and the work associated with wanting to be its best ambassador to the world, with the pandemic, and with the vicissitudes of life, that intention became read when I can—even, if I can.

Above: Three terrific anthologies I read in January—before there was a pandemic.

Reading was more of a challenge than intention could manage this year. The global worry made for mega preoccupation, and plainly, and inability to focus and concentrate on the page from March onward. What eventually tethered me to the page again was writing a poem-a-day in July. This daily bringing-to-words practice was more grounding and joy-inducing than I knew possible under the circumstances. I was in need of both in this time of great loss. I have known my reading practice to lead to writing. Now, I know my writing practice leads to reading. The practice is a marvelous two-way! Now, three years into it, I have the sense of my reading practice sending its tap root deeper.

Above: Three terrific books from Barrow Street Press.

At the close of 2017, after becoming aware of the anxiety and overwhelm from the book towers I was erecting around my desk, I resolved to start a reading practice in order to bring into some balance the acquiring, coveting, reading, and give-away of books. To answer the anxiety’s call: Just start reading, I soothed myself, see what you can do. Et voila!

From this reading practice, I have been gifted much. Much. For instance, I’ have learning things about:

  • Attention–what keeps mine
  • Comprehension–it’s dependent on attention
  • Taste–how not to judge myself for what I like or don’t
  • Company–what I read for
  • Inspiration–O, to read what hurries me to the page

Above: One of my favorite favorites from the year.

Regarding numbers, even when I knew I was not going to surpass my personal big read of 2019, I still kept count—and kept reading. I’m heartened by that—by that not giving up I witnessed in myself.

Here, I present

[ the Results! ] #mypersonalBigRead2020       

96: Full-length collections of poetry
35: Chapbooks (poetry & nonfiction)
56: Journals, Magazines (literary, etc.)
21: Fiction, Nonfiction, Memoir
Total = 208 individual volumes in 2020!

To the right: Another favorite favorites of the year.

The total is 95 volumes fewer than last year. That is a fact, not a beating up of myself. The big difference is in how many poetry chapbooks (29 fewer than in 2019 ) and full-length poetry collections (70 fewer than in 2019) I read. Notably, I read about the same number of journals and magazines (51 in 2019, 56 in 2020)There is a one volume difference between 2019 and 2020 in the fiction, nonfiction, memoir category.

I hasten to add that included in what I read in 2020: Terrific writing by the 60 writers with whom I had the pleasure of working, teaching, and editing; plus 500 poetry submissions sent for consideration to The Maynard Spring and Fall 2020 issues.

The results for the previous two years follow.

[ the Results! ] #mypersonalBigRead2019       

166: Full-length collections of poetry
64: Chapbooks (poetry & nonfiction)
51: Journals
22: Fiction, Nonfiction, Memoir
Total = 303 individual volumes in 2019!

[ last year’s Results! ] #mypersonalBigRead2018       

205: Full-length collections of poetry
67: Chapbooks (poetry & nonfiction)
21: Journals
7: Fiction, Nonfiction, Memoir
Total = 300 individual volumes in 2018!

The expansion of my reading experience continues and the stacks in all categories continue to melt along with the overwhelm and anxiety. Now, there is more confidence in myself as a reader, and there is the all-sorts-of knowledge gained from the experience of this deep reading practice. Plus, I’m filled with gratitude at the privilege that allows me time and books to read.

There are still some hours left in 2020. To books!


: : : :

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention! If you have any questions or comments, write me!

+ Thank you bows to the writers and publishers who brought their grand accomplishments of books into the world.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to publisher Stephanie G’Schwind, and Mountain West Poetry Series editors Donald Revell and Kazim Ali, et al interns at the Center for Literary Publishing (CLP) for making The Minuses with me.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Beth Svinarich et al at Unversity Press of Colorado for their beautiful support to me and The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to monsoon storm chaser and marvelous professional photographer, Liz Kemp whose monsoon photograph storms the cover of The Minuses.

+ Thank you bows (continuous!) to Vincent K. Wong for his friendship, creative collaboration, and for taking my author photos.

+ This bears repeating: Thank you bows (continuous!) to you, dear reader, for the gift of your attention! If you have any questions or comments, write me!

3 thoughts on “! Books !

  1. Hi Jami,

    I have been meaning to write to you for so many months, but alas, time slips away. Even in a pandemic, it appears.

    Yet still. Your remote dispatches are always a welcome moment in space, a gasp of happiness, a glimpse of creativity, a slice of humanity, a breath.

    So with that all said, I thank you for including me in your creative community. I wish you and your beloved family a safe and steady voyage into 2021.

    Yours always,

    Anna Kalfa

    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 2 people

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