Sunday, March 27, 2011

Eating Snails at McDonald's

I'm reading an amazing book.
(Good. I see you streaming in.
Lots of you.
You want to know what I'm reading
that is so amazing, right?)

It's a book of poetry.
(Well, that did it.
 Cleared the room with one word.)

Wait. Stop. Give me one more minute of your time.
(Thank you for stopping,
even if you are standing at the open door.)

The book is called Crossing State Lines: An American Renga.
A renga is an old Japanese poetic form.
You know haiku?
A renga is similar to a haiku,
only it is done collaboratively.
(Are you still there? One more minute.)

This book is a collaborative effort of fifty-four of
America's greatest living poets.
Everybody is here...Robert Pinsky...Billy Collins...
Adrienne Rich...Edward Hirsch...David Lehman...Rita Dove...
(If you've waited this long, let me reward you with a taste.)

"We're not them,"
the man at Verizon
Help Desk says.

"Okay," I say, "who is 'them'?"
"There is no 'them,'" he says.

Epiphany. A sign
outside Prince Realty:
Need Help? Inquire Within.

All the dry stiff Christmas trees
tip to trunk along the curb.

(So what do you think? she asks, a little too eagerly.
Like it?
If you are rubbing your head in confusion,
read it one more time.

Remember: Poetry isn't a McDonald's hamburger.

If you liked this little part,
just imagine a whole book of it.
And all of it linked together.
And written by some brilliant poets.

If you've left the room
or if you've stayed, but you are still rubbing your head,
that's okay, too.
Just promise me you'll try a bite or two of poetry
on another day.

Think of poetry like snails.
You've got to take it in small nibbles.
And you ain't gonna hear anyone say it tastes like chicken.
Stop thinking that you are eating snails;
just enjoy the incredible taste.)

Thank you to publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux for sharing this advanced reader copy with me.

Other books read and reviewed this week, all fabulous reads as well:

If you'd like to learn more about Sunday Salon, click here.


  1. Ooh, I love the cover on your "Heidi" book! And your cover of A Widow's Story reminds me that I have it sitting there, waiting patiently, on my stacks. Soon!

    And I Shall Have Some Peace There is on my wish list! Love that cover and the synopses that I've read.

    Thanks for sharing the poetic moments. Intriguing....


  2. Thanks for stopping by my Sunday Salon....I will have to check out some of your books. They look really good.

    Molly from Reviews By Molly

  3. I'd love to read this renga. I dabble in haiku and haibun and writing my own verse novel, on and off. Thanks for letting us know about this renga.

  4. Crossing State Lines seems like a lot of fun!

  5. Well your post title drew me in :)
    I admit I don't read a lot of poetry but now and then something strikes me as especially beautiful. As a vegetarian, I need a different food analogy, but I take your point! Have a great day.

  6. Bear with me. I'm a reader, not a writer. Must come up with a different analogy for you, Laura. I suppose snails would be considered animals. They do seem quite close to plants.

  7. I enjoyed your post and example of this poetry. Although I write some poetry it is never haiku or anything formulized. I don't think I'm clever enough for that! The other books as well, Joyce Carol Oates, I have been waiting to read at a time that it is okay to get that sad. Coach's book intrigues me as well. Great ideas here. I'm glad you found me and I am following you now.

  8. What an interesting haiku! Alas, I'm not much for poetry myself. I made an exception when I read Dante's Divine Comedy. Thanks for dropping by my site earlier today! Here's my post:

  9. Ummmm....still scratching my head! I just do not get much poetry. Maybe I am too literal??? :) You asked about my read-a-thon template I posted about in my Sunday Salon...Here is a link that will take you to post from the last read-a-thon event. You can certainly customize it anyway you want to--I have a son reading wit me so there are lines in my template pertaining to his reading. I just save a bunch of these (blank) individual "draft" posts. I also have inserted the button I am using that is linked to the read-a-thon home page. Easy Peasy!

    *smiles and happy Sunday*

  10. You are very welcome! Have fun getting ready. :)

  11. This sounds like a book I would absolutely love! Thanks for the creative review. :)

  12. Look like you've found yourself a good publisher too! Thanks for coming by my blog. Snails always get my approval. Bon apetit.

  13. Thanks for the fascinating review DebNance and for stopping by at my blog

  14. Not a big poetry fan, but your presentation could be persuasive!

  15. Oh, I want Crossing State Lines. Thanks for the introduction!

  16. You certainly have piqued my interest now! I've never heard of Renga, but at least I've heard of poetry! :-) Thanks for sharing! Now I'm going to have to check it out!

  17. Actually you said "poetry" and I was like "Ooooh." I wasn't disappointed either. Love all those poets you mentioned.

  18. Glad to hear it, unfinishedperson. Glad there is something we agree on. ;->

  19. I think I'd love this book! Thanks for letting us know about it. And LOVE the eye-catching title!

  20. Your post title caught my attention earlier today in GReader, but then I skimmed and didn't get it at first. Then, I came back! And aha! It makes sense! :-)

  21. I guess the analogy is apt. I have no desire to eat snails, and most poetry is unappealing to me. I have found some that I like but it is hit and miss. I like the idea of the collaborative poetry but am still scratching my head at the one you posted. I don't know if it's for me.

  22. It's not all snails, Alyce. Some of it is creme brulee. You like that, right?

    And I'm scratching my head, too, at that poem. That's okay. That's the fun of it.

  23. crossing State lines looks like would be an interesting read.

  24. hmmm, and so near to next month being poetry month. post another or a few next month also. anyways, i got a quick and easy book giveaway going on right now, come on by, its ends tomorrow.

  25. You're so right--I have to read poetry in little bites. It all blurs together for me otherwise and I can't just sit back and appreciate what I've just read.

  26. I LOOOOVE poetry and I adored the one you shared here (this is where I show my true nerd colours!!) What a cool concept. I will keep my eye out for that book, anything that has Adrienne Rich involved has my vote. I loved reading her poetry or a postgrad Fem Lit class. Thanks for sharing.

  27. Your selection of books looks enticing. I will definitely check into a few of them. Impressive list.

  28. Thanks for visiting my Sunday Salon ( I've left an answer to your comment there.

    I do like poetry, but I've never been able to get haiku's, and the sample of renga you gave is the same. I think I'll stick to Poe, Wordsworth, and Dickens.


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