Inspiration and Entertainment
by Christina M. Rau
Poetry became my prime go-to for reading this year—for escape, for inspiration, for enjoyment. Also, a book on Buddhism changed my life, made me realize I can replace my desire to become the best Buddhist with the simple practices of being Buddhist. Here are all those things I read plus some watching and listening pleasures.
In the category of speculative poetry, I began Spill by Alexis Pauline Gumbs (https://www.alexispauline.com/). It’s slow-going because I mark up almost everything Gumbs writes. It’s all golden.
More specpo includes
Soft Science by Franny Choi (https://www.frannychoi.com)
Twelve: Poems Inspired by the Brothers Grim Fairy Tale by Andrea Blythe (https://www.andreablythe.com)
Maps of A Hollowed World by T. D. Walker (https://www.tdwalker.net)
Cyborg Detective by Jillian Weise (jillianweise.com).
Non-speculative collections I enjoyed were Matthea Harvey’s weirdly wonderful Pity the Bathtub Its Forced Embrace of Human Form (http://mattheaharvey.info/) and Maureen N. McLane’s also wonderfully weird This Blue. I like poems that I don’t really understand at first.
Other collections I enjoyed were
There’s a Box in the Garage You Can Beat with a Stick by Michael Teig
Sagittarius Agitprop by Matthew Gavin Frank (https://www.matthewgfrank.com)
Dropping Death by Duane Esposito
Gimme Back My Radio by Russ Green
Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora (www.javierzamora.net)
When The Only Light Is Fire by Saeed Jones
In the category of It Has Pictures! I took a crack at Where’s Bowie? by Kev Gahan (https://www.kevgahanillustration.com). It’s like the Waldo books, only with David Bowie and friends. I also read the graphic novel of The Handmaid’s Tale by Renee Nault (https://www.reneenault.com/#!).
In nonfiction, Tea and Cake with Demons: A Buddhist Guide to Feeling Worthy by Adreanna Limbach (www.adreannalimbach.com) was that aforementioned life-affirming gem. It’s the kind of book I want to read every day, and sometimes I do go back and re-read a few pages at random.
Another incredibly moving and difficult book was Two or Three Things I Know for Sure by Dorothy Allison (https://www.dorothyallison.com). Then I also read America (The Book) by Jon Stewart, which was funny but also disturbing because it still holds true.
I dove into some fiction, too. I loved An Object of Beauty by Steve Martin for the most part. There was a certain point I got to when I wasn’t sure if I liked it anymore, but I persevered and did enjoy it. It also has pictures! In young adult fiction, I enjoyed The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert (https://www.brandycolbert.com).
Let’s not forget literary journals! My favorites are
The Disappointed Housewife (https://thedisappointedhousewife.com/)
Zingara Poetry Review (https://zingarapoet.net/)
For watching, I binged the 90s show Dharma and Greg. Everything else was mostly in the game show category: The Misery Index, Jeopardy!, The Weakest Link, Match Game, and the new version of Supermarket Sweep. Speaking of super and shopping, I also watched Superstore, which is one of the smartest and funniest written sitcoms on television right now, and how Lauren Ash doesn’t win an Emmy every year is beyond me.
The movie I saw in a movie theatre this year was The Way Back. I mention it only because I was in a theatre this year at least once, and I’m grateful for that.
I usually listen to podcasts and talk radio on my commute. This year, my commute was walking from one room of my house to another, so my podcast listening lessened. Still, here are the ones that have kept me entertained. On the airwaves (and then online later) are Truth To Power Show on Radio Free Brooklyn (https://radiofreebrooklyn.com/show/the-truth-to-power-show/) and Destinies: The Voice of Science Fiction (http://www.captphilonline.com/Destinies.html) out of Stonybrook, NY.
Grateful for all these sources of inspiration and entertainment.
Christina M. Rau is the author of the Elgin Award-winning sci-fi fem poetry collection, Liberating The Astronauts (Aqueduct Press) and the chapbooks WakeBreatheMove (Finishing Line Press) and For The Girls, I (dancing girl press). She was named 2020 Poet of the Year by Walt Whitman Birthplace Association and Poet In Residence for Oceanside Library NY 2020 and 2021. She also won the 2020 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Creative Endeavors. In her non-writing life, when she’s not teaching yoga, she’s watching the Game Show Network. Find her links on http://www.christinamrau.com.