Every year, members of Jamestown Community College compile a summer reading list. Here is a list of my contributions:
Cinderland by Amy Jo Burns
The year that Amy Jo Burns turns ten, she finds herself in a scandal that shakes her tiny town of Mercury, Pennsylvania. Howard Lotte, the town's respected piano teacher, has been accused of sexually assaulting several of his female students. Out of Lotte's many students who were questioned, seven came forward to tell the truth, while others lied. Burns was one of the students who lied. Those who told the truth were ostracized by the town; those who lied were safe from the repercussions. Or were they? Burns' memoir traces this incident through her teenage years, reminding us that being silent is not always as easy as it seems, and that there are always consequences to our actions.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
I have yet to see the movie, but thought Lisa Genova’s novel, about a woman who suffers from early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, was a compelling read and one of the best books I have completed this year.
Invisible Sisters by Jessica Handler
Jessica Handler's memoir exploring the loss of two sisters is a beautiful read. Without falling into melodrama, she explores grief, guilt, and anger of loss.
Dead Wake by Erik Larson
I am a big fan of Erik Larson's work, and I finished Dead Wake in record time. Larson's latest book thoughtfully investigates the last trip of the Lusitania before it was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat. Featuring an interesting cast of characters, Dead Wake is a must read for history buffs everywhere!
H is For Hawk by Helen Macdonald
When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly, Helen, in her grief, turns her attention to raising a goshawk, one of nature's most fierce and determined predators. What she learns is not only how we survive grief, but how we navigate life. A wonderful mediation on nature and sorrow.
Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
Readers may have to brush up on their Bloomsbury history a bit to enjoy this fictional retelling of the relationship between Virginia Woolf and her sister, Vanessa Bell. Still, I found Parmar’s lyrical writing compelling and beautiful as she dives into the literary and art world of the early 1900s.
Finding Abbey by Sean Prentiss
Prentiss looks for the nature writer Edward Abbey’s hidden desert grave in a book that could be described as part memoir, part travelogue, part biography. Finding Abbey is a work that not only explores the life of an elusive literary figure, but also catalogs a young writer's own self-discovery.
The Black Earth Institute's journal, About Place, is now live and my essay, "Accompanying Dragonflies" can be found within its pages. This issue is subtitled, The Primal Paradox, and in the general foreword, editor John Briggs explains, "The phrase the primal paradox refers to the diametrically opposed experiences that pull constantly at our consciousness." In other words, the Primal Paradox explores the questions of our boundaries with the natural world and in many ways, with each other.
My essay explores my relationship with dragonflies, but more importantly, our relationship with the insect world -- a world that both dominates the earth (there are more species of insects in the world than any other species) and is fast disappearing. (Note: I do have some of my own pictures of dragonflies, but the one posted above is from Wikipedia Creative Commons).
You can read my essay here. More importantly, however, you should take a look at the entire issue. The next call for submissions is under the theme, The Future Imagined Differently, and will open on June 1.
It's a beautiful day here in rural Pennsylvania, and I really want to believe that spring is here to stay. I have picked the two winners of this year's Big Poetry Giveaway:
Serena Saint-Marceaux has won a copy of Stefanie Wortman's In the Permanent Collection.
Marianne Mersereau has won a copy of my chapbook, Wearing Heels in the Rust Belt.
I have contacted both winners through email. Besides their chosen books, both winners will also receive a small collection of back issues of some of my favorite literary journals.
Happy reading to all!
I am a poet and professor from rural Pennsylvania. This page is dedicated to my publishing news and events; for book reviews published online go to the Reviews tab above. For my own personal reviews, explore the Book Picks tab.