Wednesday, August 11, 2010

From the Blue - Contributors Read & Recommend #2

Round 2 of our contributor interview series finds us talking with Oliver de la Paz, whose poem "My Truant Words Have Got Me All Messed Up—A Blues" is part of the Blue Feature in our latest (32.1) issue! Oliver is the author of three books of poetry: Names Above Houses, Furious Lullaby, and, most recently, Requiem for the Orchard. He is the co-chair of the advisory board and teaches literature and creative writing at Western Washington University.

I'm really jazzed to see the short story collections he mentions below, because these are all works I've read in the past year, loved, and would absolutely recommend. Now, without further ado!

What are you reading right now?
Right now I'm juggling several short story collections: Anthony Doerr's Memory Wall and The Shell Collector, Kelly Link's Magic for Beginners, Annie Proulx's Close Range. Summer's the only time I have prolonged stretches where I can read an involved narrative, only these days now that I've got two kids, I can only devote enough time to read a short story.

What is the best thing you've read all summer?
It has to be a tie between Anthony Doerr's "Memory Wall," and "The Hunter's Wife." These are longer stories out of two different collections and they both have strong elements of speculation. "Memory Wall" takes place in the future while "The Hunter's Wife" has to do with an empath.

What book started it all for you?
For poetry it was, strangely, Robert Penn Warren's Collected Poems. When my parents first moved to the United States, they purchased a subscription to Readers' Digest, thinking such reading would assist them in their transition to a new country. Part of the deal for the Readers' Digest membership was they could select books from the Readers' Digest library. The Collected Poems was one of the selections, so they chose it. I "discovered" poetry by stumbling upon this book in my parents disheveled library. I, of course, didn't understand Penn Warren's work at the time (I was really young), but I experimented with writing poetic lines.

Anything else you would recommend for our readers?
I'll give you a list of "hybrid" books--ignore the numbers, they're in really no order. I've been teaching a prose poem class as a mixed genre class over here at Western Washington, so I like to recommend my students books that have trouble fitting into genre categories:
1. Carol Guess's Tinderbox Lawn
2. James Galvin's The Meadow
3. Jenny Boully's The Body: An Essay
4. Kazim Ali's Bright Felon

Stay tuned for Curtis Bauer on Friday!

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