I just love Harvey Hix's "20 questions" idea for guest bloggery this week. It's so interesting to see the diversity of responses--and I'm looking forward to more of HLH's musings on his findings.
Meantime, I have a question to put out there as well. What do you read in bed?
I've noticed an odd and ever-more-dependable trend in my bedtime reading: it's prose, not poetry. I read poetry during the day, when I'm writing or thinking about writing. Reading poetry feels more like work. I don't mean that in a bad way--I certainly don't make much money at my "job" of being a poet (who does?!), but I do love the work. The working.
But for "fun," I settle in with a novel, or a memoir, or something else that comes in paragraphs, not stanzas. I'm reminded of things that Mark Strand was saying to a wonderful group of students at a high school (a liceo classico, to be precise) in L'Aquila. He was talking about the differences between poetry and prose, and said among other things that one of the beauties of poetry is that each word makes you stop--or should make you stop; each word that the poet has chosen holds a great deal of weight. The idea of prose is that it picks you up and takes you along for the ride. Zim zoom. That makes sense for bedtime reading, doesn't it?
So what are you reading, for work, for play, for some combination thereof? During the day, I'm reading Bishop (so what else is new), and, thanks in part to BAP's posting of some of these, Meredith's "Modern Love" (ouch, novelistic as it is, this is NOT good bedtime reading!); some Hacker, some Lowell, some Dante. And of course Hecht, but reading-for-translating is yet another topic of conversation. At night, I'm skipping back and forth between two memoirish books: smart, quirky, and engrossing. One is Lynn Freed's Reading, Writing, and Leaving Home. The other is In My Father's House by Miranda Seymour (who, full disclosure-wise, is a fellow here with us). In each, though: themes of family, voice, becoming.
And isn't it funny about full circles. The other day Damiano and I walked along the passeggiata toward Genova, watched the sun go down, and then watched a big ol' ship make its way out of the harbor. I suddenly realized that this was where I had my first glimpse of Italy; this was the very harbor into which we sailed, forty years ago, when my father brought us over here to try to find a good writing life. Well, that didn't last for long, but here I am again, reading [sometimes writing!] poetry by day, and delving into Other People's Lives (real, imagined, and both) by night.