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Book Report: Literary New Year’s Resolutions

Poets House book report: Staff share their literary goals and plans for 2019.


I’d like to do three literary things that I know of in 2019: 1) read all the poetry books I can find that are based on fairytales (suggestions are most welcome), 2) make my own “favorite poems” anthology and keep it for a reference and to share with friends, and 3) collect bookmarks from any bookstores I may go to and keep them in a little vintage tea tin with the old bookstore bookmarks I found among my personal library. This idea came to me because, one day while volunteering at Poets House last fall, I found that someone had left behind a bookmark from a long-extinct bookstore I frequented while in college, The Corner Bookshop in Setauket, NY. The memories this brought back flooded me with a thousand nostalgias…discovering the work of Carolyn Forché and Lucille Clifton at age eighteen, leafing through used jazz albums in the dim corners of their basement, petting the owner’s omnipresent cat…

—Gillian Cummings, library volunteer

I have a thing against ‘resolutions,’ so I guess we can call these hopes: I fell off the reading wagon a bit in 2018, so I’d like to get back on board by reading at least two books a month in the new year. Also, I’m interested in trying things outside my comfort zone, genres and styles I don’t usually read or for some reason have told myself I don’t like. Finally, as I’ve done for a number of years now—read more women!

—Reggie Harris, Director of Library and Outreach Services

I am going to tackle (be tickled by) The Collected Poems of Charles Olson, in preparation for two great Poets House programs this spring that will feature his work.

I am also looking forward to catching up on past editions of Lost and Found Chapbooks—such an ingenious project that creates access to “lost” works of prose by poets. I was recently flipping through their edition of “Life Studies,” 1966-1976 by June Jordan and found passages on the meaning of libraries, which I am going to make my first memorization project of the new year: “A library is where you keep records of involvement, the glorious and ugly tangling of the human spirit with what we meet, what we see. A library is where you keep records of human experience humanly defined: that means humanly evaluated and that means life worded into ideas living people can use.” I am going to read in the Poets House library more! And re-read the June Jordan Reader all year long!

—Lee Briccetti, Executive Director

Three book covers

Lately I’ve been reading Samuel R. Delany’s novel Nova, and it’s reminding me how much I love speculative fiction—how it can dance with conventions of literary fiction without being wedded to them, sometimes brushing the fingertips of poetry. I would love to start reading through the list of Nebula Award winners since the prize for best sci-fi or fantasy novel was established in 1966.

I also want to get reacquainted with prose. I might like to take a fiction workshop to shake things up.

—Valentine Conaty, Literary Partners and Volunteer Coordinator

For Christmas, I was generously given a subscription for a year’s worth of titles from Persephone Books, a wonderful UK press that publishes forgotten, neglected, and out-of-print books by and about women so modern readers can enjoy them. So my first resolution is to read my monthly Persephone book, instead of letting them pile up like so many subscriptions do.

My second resolution is to turn my personal research project about Brooklyn diners into a series of longform blog articles, complete with photos and ephemera.

—Amanda Glassman, Librarian and Archivist

I’d like to submit more to journals and magazines in the new year, so my literary resolution is to compose more on the computer; 99% of the time I write in a notebook, which, while it feels good, more “organic” or something, doesn’t help with the revision or submission process!

—Suzanne Lunden, Youth Program Manager

An easy resolution to check off right away: To spend the first day of the new year volunteering with friends at the Poetry Project’s Annual New Year’s Day Marathon Reading (making sure to dip out for pierogis and stuffed cabbage at Veselka at some point in the evening).

Less easy, less immediate: With my poetry and performance collective, hosting at least two more readings in 2019.

I also resolve to spend more time in the recesses of Poets House’s chapbook shelves! Such an incredible resource full of so much that’s hard to find all in one place elsewhere (and hard to find, period). And such variety—from beautiful letterpress covers to sheets of computer paper stapled at the top left.

—Gia Gonzales, Membership & Program Coordinator

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