Monday, January 19, 2009

Wendy Mnookin

Wendy Mnookin's most recent book of poems, The Moon Makes Its Own Plea, was published in October 2008 by BOA Editions.

She teaches poetry at Emerson College and at Grub Street, a non-profit writing program in Boston.

Last week I asked her what she was reading. Her reply:
I'm usually reading a book about poetry, a book of poetry, a mystery, and something else that caught my attention. Here are my current reads:

I recently went back to David Wojahn's Strange Good Fortune: Essays on Contemporary Poetry. I find I read more carefully the second time through, or maybe it's that different aspects of the discussion interest me, but in any case it feels like a new read. This time around I was especially fascinated with the essay on W.D. Snodgrass--I hadn't remembered that at the beginning of his career Snodgrass wrote under as the pseudonym "Gardons" as well as under his own name. Which sent me to Not for Specialists: New and Selected Poems, where I could compare the two bodies of work. I recommend reading the selection from Heart's Needle, written as Snodgrass, and the selection from Remains, where Gardons speaks--and speaks more freely.

Kate Atkinson's When Will There Be Good News? was a real page-turner. I read it in the car on a trip between Boston and Portland when I begged out of my share of the driving--I couldn't put the book down. I still like Case Histories best--the first in the Jackson Brodie trilogy, more psychologically astute--but this one had her appealing combination of character and action.

And then I read a review of Alison Bechdel's The Essential Dykes to Watch Out For and immediately bought it. The book isn't a graphic novel--it's a collection of cartoon strips--but it reads like one. I turn to it eagerly each night to see what's happening to this group of friends. I'm slowing down now that I'm near the end because I look forward to my nightly fix.

I've just started The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz. I'm only in the first 50 pages, but so far I'm loving it.
Mnookin's poetry collections include What He Took and To Get Here, from BOA, and Guenever Speaks, a collection of persona poems. She has recent poems in the Harvard Review, Prairie Schooner and Salamander, and has won a Book Award from the New England Poetry Club and a Poetry Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Visit Wendy Mnookin's website and check out Garrison Keillor reading one of her poems.

--Marshal Zeringue