Whether you’re spending the day with people or books–or both–we hope it’s full of loving.
Last week I did an exercise in the poetry class I teach: we came up with ten lists of ten words that could fall under the category of love. In the first column, we started with some familiar images, like “heart-shaped boxes of chocolates” and “roses,” but by the tenth column we had images like “garlic” and “spider webs.” In the wake of Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be useful for my students to remember that love can be “butterflies” or “light,” but it can also extend into stranger, more complex notions, ranging from “cold potato soup” to “stretch marks” (their suggestions, not mine).
When I think of uniquely expressed love, I think of Robert Olen Butler’s short story, “At The Cultural Ephemera Association National Conference.” The story explores the familiar concept of love, but does so in an unfamiliar way. Butler details the meeting of the two main characters, Bill and Cleo, alternating between their voices to create a complete narrative. Each character is at the conference referred to in the title to present on a piece of paper ephemera—Bill’s is an advertising card featuring a caricature of nineteenth-century actress Anna Elizabeth Dickinson, Cleo’s is a Bourneville cocoa trading card depicting the Titanic. Upon my first reading, I was immediately struck by how the story made the delicate moment of connecting with another person so personal, yet accessible. The language, characters, and emotional impact are spot-on, and while it’s technically fiction, this four-and-a-half-page piece has the linguistic punch of a finely tuned poem.Continue Reading
No one writes love poems like the incomparable poet John Rybicki, author of When All the World Is Old. Today only, we’re offering John’s collection for $10. Just enter LOVE as the promotional code on the payment methods screen.
Why Everything Is a Poem
There’s my ashen girl in the stands
with a scarf over her soft to steel-wool head.
She’s there like some buoy next to a friend
she calls sister, who has been riding
a separate current now for years.
It has been too much for too long and we know it
is time to take hold of the lightning and let it kill her,
or fill her—doctor or angel or nurse—
like some new balloon and set her glancing
across the rooftops with her dancing slippers.
Write them a beautiful line, like John Rybicki. (Hey, it won’t cost you anything!)
(Type treatment by Lookout intern Eric Tran)
In the second part of our literary Valentine’s Day series, we’re suggesting taking your loved ones out on a literary date. The North Castle Public Library’s Olde Firehouse book club is meeting tonight in Upstate New York to talk about “the dilemmas of Jewish love stories.”
But in case you can’t get there by tonight, find a local reading. You can find a calendar at Poets & Writers, your library, community centers, colleges, and city listings.
We at Lookout Books get it. We’re writers, readers, students, and teachers in addition to being boyfriends, girlfriends, spouses, lovers, ‘just friends.’ Finding time for finding Valentine’s Day gifts is hard. So we’re here to help with a multi-part guide to literary gifts of love.
First up, introducing ‘Writs of Passion,’ a collection of stories by Lookout author Steve Almond. The stories unabashedly feature sex (Why I Write Smut: A Manifesto) and, for a limited time, are available in a six-book series. The covers line up to form a larger risque image, below.
In their recommendation of the series, About.com says, “I can’t think of anyone who writes about mostly heterosexual people having sex better than he does. It’s funny, weird, unexpected, with just enough four letter words ending in hard consonants to create tingly feelings from the inside out.”
To order Writs of Passion, follow instructions here.
(And while you’re at it, check out Almond’s book of short stories, God Bless America.)
image courtesy The Rumpus