Yet Another Year in Review


Well, everyone else is doing it, so I feel like I must too. As always at this time of year, it feels like staying up-to-date is the hardest thing to do. As I look back over what I read over 2013, I find all these readings and rereadings from other centuries that make me feel the vaguest twinges of guilt that while I vaguely manage to read contemporarily in Anglo poetry, I try and fail with other literatures and genres. The list of books to read gets longer and the print dates get older.

It’s been a year of going back a decade to the German and Italian I studied at university (Boccaccio, Calvino, and Benjamin, Bachmann, Celan and Frisch) or the other books I was reading at the time (Hemingway). It’s been a year of reading into Luso and Brazilian literature (Pessoa, Lispector and Domeneck, others on other lists). There are wonderful poets like Nasser and Madzirov (from Jordan and Macedonia) who barely fit anywhere. And of course, there are the English-language writers, who make up most of the rest of the list—foremost among them Michael Symmons Roberts and Anne Carson, who wrote complex and engrossing poetry in 2013.

Here are the books I’ve most enjoyed reading or rereading over 2013:

  • Ingeborg Bachmann, Die gestundete Zeit / Mortgaged Time
  • Walter Benjamin, Einbahnstraße / One-Way Street
  • Emily Berry, Dear Boy
  • Elizabeth Bishop, Poems
  • Giovanni Boccaccio, The Decameron
  • Italo Calvino, Le cosmicomiche / Cosmicomics
  • Anne Carson, Red Doc>
  • Paul Celan, Ausgewählte Gedichte / Selected Poems
  • Julio Cortázar, Bestiario
  • Ricardo Domeneck, Sons: Arranjos: Garganta
  • Diego Doncel, Porno ficción
  • Max Frisch, Der Mensch erscheint im Holozän / Man in the Holocene
  • Federico García Lorca, Romance gitano / Gypsy Ballads
  • Jorie Graham, P L A C E
  • Ernest Hemingway, Fiesta: The Sun Also Rises
  • James Joyce, Ulysses
  • Clarice Lispector, A Paixão segundo G. H. / The Passion According to G. H.
  • Nikola Madzirov, Remants of Another Age
  • Helen Mort, Division Street
  • Paul Muldoon, Poems 1968-1998
  • Amjad Nasser, Shepherd of Solitude
  • Sharon Olds, Stag’s Leap
  • Fernando Pessoa, Poesia completa de Alberto Caeiro / Complete Poems of Alberto Caeiro
  • Sam Riviere, 81 Austerities
  • Michael Symmons Roberts, Drysalter
  • Wislawa Szymborska, Poems
  • William Wordsworth, The Prelude

4 Responses to Yet Another Year in Review

  1. johnfield1 says:

    Without your blog, names like Diego Doncel’s would have soared over my head, Rob. There’s a lot on your list that I’m looking forward to reading soon (Division Street’s probably next up for me) – looking forward to exchanging a few opinions in 2014. With my very best, John

  2. Jotting down the title names now. I’m digging the list, Rob. Thanks! T. (More book reviews, please!)

    • Rob Packer says:

      Happy New Year, Theodora!
      Glad you liked it and hope you enjoy some of those books! One of my other realisations of last year was what a fantastic poet Paul Eluard is: the way surreal has developed since the Surrealists invented it has really given them a bad name…
      And yes, there should be more book reviews too. R

      • AH. Paul Éluard! His words still snap, crackle, and pop. You might enjoy Billy Kluver and Julie Martin’s “Kiki’s Paris: Artists and Lovers 1900-1930.” Gossip and photography sit pretty on every page in the book. Fabulous studio, café and party shots. Perhaps it’s time to create a little nod to Éluard. I’d love to read his “Letters to Gala.” As always, thanks for the inspiration, Rob! T. (And Happy New Year!)

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