Right I'm now reading Mary Ruefle's collection of way-more-than
essays, "Madness, Rack, and Honey", which I would recommend to
anyone who either writes or reads poetry, or doesn't.
Poetry: Adrienne Rich, Naomi Shihab Nye, Li Young-Lee, Claudia
Rankine (you need to read "Citizen"), Maggie Nelson ("Bluets",
ditto), Plath yes of course, Philip Levine, Marie Howe, Galway
Kinnell, Williams, Oppen, Levertov. And mine—at least, some of
Some prose: Annie Dillard, Ursula Le Guin (The Dispossessed and
Left Hand of Darkness), Clarice Lispector, Keri Hulme, Marilynne
Robinson, Austen. Christopher Alexander’s writings on architecture
(A Pattern Language, The Nature of Order, etc…). John McPhee. Naomi
Klein (waiting for her forthcoming book on how the climate crisis
is inherently a repudiation of neoliberal capitalism).
I will read the back of the cereal box if nothing else is
Art and architecture: The painter Charles Burchfield. The Hungarian
Organic architects–Imre Makovecz, etc... Earlier Frank Lloyd
Wright--before he got old and let his head get in the way. Andy
Goldsworthy (see "Rivers and Tides" if you haven't). Charles Rennie
Admittedly, here more songs than you probably care to read
—Wilco, "On and On and On
". I could include probably a
third of their catalog in this list. But this may be the most
beautiful song I know. "We can't deny/even the gentlest
—Son Volt, "Live Free
". "Looking for/ the right kind/ of
live free or die..."
". My favorite fluttery-feeling falling-in-love
—The Decemberists, "Song
for Myla Goldberg
" This one just plain makes me happy. I will
admit to having a soft spot for Myla—partly because I liked Bee
Season, and partly because she went, as I did, to Oberlin. Which I
mention here because the place still means something to me.
—Terre and Maggie Roche, "Down
". A song almost no one knows from an album almost no
one knows. But oh, they should. "We drank his pint of freedom/ down
the dream". And: it's in three!
—Beth Orton, "Concrete Sky
—REM, "You Are the Everything
—Woody Guthrie/Wilco, "Airline to Heaven
" I love the ecstatic energy of this.
Here introduced by the former Junior Senator from Illinois.
—Joni Mitchell, "Lesson
". Joni doesn't get any better than this. OK, except
maybe on "A Case of You."
—Richard Buckner, "Blue
". I think this is hot.
—Bruce Springsteen, "Born
in the USA
". A solo version, all irony and bitterness and
bristling bottleneck guitar. Whatever you do or don't think about
Bruce, you need to listen to this.
—Townes Van Zandt, "Flyin'
" Especially the opening line, "Days full of rain...",
which feels like it's beginning in the middle of a phrase, bursting
out from nowhere into instant poignancy.
—Tom Waits, "Downtown Train
—Nina Simone, "Four Women
" A live version that needs to be
watched, not just listened to.
More music : The National, Hawksley Workman, The Raincoats, Patty
Griffin, Avengers, Gillian Welch, The National, Peter Mulvey, Ryan
Adams, Chrissie Hynde, Sandy Denny, Lucinda Williams, Talking
Heads, Kathleen Edwards, Martha Wainwright (but not her brother.
Are all those people who love Rufus hearing something in his voice
that I'm not?) The Carpenters (I had a seventh-grade crush on
Karen), late Johnny Cash, Neil Young, Velvet Underground,
Film: mostly documentaries. Online: Stewart and Colbert clips, and
Democracy Now!. I don't know what we'd do without Amy
Oh, and about that Five Guys burger in the first paragraph: I'm as
aware of food politics as anyone, but one has to pick one's