Friday, August 6, 2010

From the Blue - What Our Contributors Read & Recommend #1

It's balmy and beautiful here in Bloomington, IN and the Indiana Review staff is excited about the recent arrival of our Blue issue (32.1). For me, summer is a time for reading (well, when isn't?) and looking forward to new works coming out in the fall. In fact, I've always got my eyes peeled for book recommendations, which I also love to give! So, to celebrate the new issue and the wonderful writers it lovingly contains (as well as satisfy our literary nosiness), we thought it would be fun to ask our contributors a few questions about what they are reading, what they've loved, and what they are looking forward to in the next few months.

Our first contributor "interview" is with Elizabeth Wilcox, whose piece "Holding up traffic as if to say" appears in our latest issue. Elizabeth lives in Los Angeles, where she is an assistant lecturer at the University of Southern California. She is working towards a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing.

What are you reading right now?
The White Album, by Joan Didion. I can't get enough of Didion, especially her essays. I think it must be extremely annoying for my friends, because I'm forever interrupting stories and conversations with, "Oh, that reminds me of this great Didion essay ..."

"Classic" you've been meaning to read?
Believe it or not, I still haven't ever read Keats. I mean, I know the Grecian urn one, and the one where he pops the grapes on the roof of his mouth and it tastes like joy (is that right?), but that's the best I can do. It's shameful, really. Luckily, I've invented a project for myself this fall that's going to require me to be familiar with his works, so I should be able to wipe this blot off my poetic conscience soon.

What book started it all for you?
This is a tough question because it presupposes that I know when "it" all started. I didn't admit to myself that I was/wanted to be a "poet" (a title I'm still not sure of) until about five years ago. So the book of poetry that really made me sit up and say "Yes, I want to do this," would probably be Moy Sand and Gravel, by Paul Muldoon. My copy of it is full of underlines, of arrows and circles and exclamation marks. I am in love with the way that Muldoon is in love with words, the way he can be playful and silly and deadly serious all in one line. The way he's not afraid of rhyme, or of long lines, or of a moment in a poem that someone in a workshop would likely cross out.

But if you want to go back to the beginning, WAY back, you'd find yourself next to my crib where my grandfather was giving my parents a Complete Works of Shakespeare as my 1st birthday present. My parents thought he was crazy. They put it in a closet. Other people gave me stuffed clown toys, which seemed much more appropriate. But that Complete Works stayed with me, and I finally got it out and started thumbing through it in 5th grade, and I haven't been able to break the spell since. The clown toys, though, are long gone (thank god).

Next week we will have interviews with Oliver de la Paz and Curtis Bauer. Stay tuned!


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