Sealey Challenge

When August started I was on a fantasy novel kick.  Patricia Briggs, Megan Bannen, Neil Gaiman, and Andri Snaer Magnason, Kimberly Lemming and Sangu Mandanna. Sure, I could do those and continue poetry, right? I often alternate between poetry binges and novel binges but I could do parallel binges. Push more through the head, why not.

Sometimes pushing through the slog of hard-to-understand is good for stretch goals, to push past normal comfort. Part of Sealey Challenge is to read different and to share the love of what you uncover. Stretch is the theme. (I shared some of what I read as Poem of the Day at bluesky and instagram and in past posts here.)

So it’s September and I’m still standi— er, still sitting.

Reading causes writing sometimes so I wrote more novel scenes, and a chapbook. Was it more than normal? Not sure. I’ve done 50,000 word over the last 4 months in poetry, not counting scraps of paper and convenient but not in the right folder files.

But, I digress. Sealey. My order may be mussed since I forgot to put dates in my spreadsheet.

  • Mayfly: issue 75, summer 2023 (Brooks Books, 2023) [solid chapbook]
  • Beyond the Flames by Louise Dupré, trans by Antonio D’Alfonso (Guernica Editions, 2014) [amazing]
  • The Hotdog Variations by James Hawes (above/ground, 2021) [chapbook]
  • Connected to Peace: Haiku Canada Members’ Anthology 2023 (Haiku Canada, 2023)
  • Emptying the Ocean by Kim Fahner (Frontenac, 2022)
  • A Possible Landscape by Maureen Harris (Brick, 1993/2006 2nd printing)
  • Meniscus Blister by Frances Boyle (Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 2022) [chapbook]
  • Journey Ongoing: a meander of haiku by Michael Dudley, edited by Melchior Dudley  (Independently Published, 2023)
  • The Best Canadian Poetry 2023, edited by by John Barton (Biblioasis, 2022)
  • From Turtle Island to Gaza: poems by David Groulx (AU Press, 2019)
  • A is for Acholi by Otoniya J. Okot Bitek (Buckrider/Wolsak & Wynn, 2022)

At one point it became a cleaning operation. What was misfiled, flagged to read or reread, or fallen behind a desk. Or new to me, thus trumping everything honourable working its way up the TBR pile.

  • and Crunch by Lilian Necakov (Proper Tales Press, 1982) [chapbook]
  • Jangle Straw by Hugh Thomas, mistranslations of poems by Olav H. Hauge (Turret House, 2023) [chapbook]
  • Six Swedish Poets by Hugh Thomas (above/ground, 2015) [chapbook]
  • Garden: November Unit by Monty Reid (Sidereal Press, 2013) [chapbook]
  • Where There’s Smoke by Monty Reid (above/ground, 2023) [chapbook]
  • Tutaj/Here by Wisława Szymborska (Znak, 2012)
  • Surface Area by Terese Mason Pierre (Anstruther Press, 2019)
  • Old Enemy Juice by Phil Hall (Quarry, 1988)
  • Big Sky Falling by Kelsey Andrews (Ronsdale, 2021)

You have to be in the right mood to hear a particular book. That can take luck and years sometimes.

Poetry can be overwhelming. It is disproportionally distressed, even compared against the poets. It is intense as heavy food, never meant for constant consumption. Could it be true, everything in moderation?

  • Stone Garden: world beyond stones and poets, edited by Rich Scnell/bhambū glad and Zo Schnell (Catkin & Èditions des petits nudges, 2023) [chapbook]
  • Derelict Bicycles by Dale Tracy (Anvil, 2022)
  • Half-Finished Heaven: Selected Poems by Tomas Tranströmer, trans by Robert Bly (Graywolf, 2001)
  • Touch the Donkey issue thirty-eight (above/ground, 2023) [chapbook]
  • Midland: poems by Kwame Dawes (Gooselane, 2001)
  • Noise by Jordan Davis (above/ground, 2023) [chapbook]
  • Maya Angelou: The Complete Poetry (Random House, 2015)

At one point, I had finished my partly finished books, and was looking for something short, simple and easy to read to meet quota. Once I realized the title a day had fallen to that, I was out. It misses the point of poetry if it isn’t a point of growth and challenge and delight. I cheat myself. How far did I get?

27? Did I count that right? I only took a 4 day break? Seemed like more.

And a run of 5 days of chapbooks. And other chapbooks scattered through. Huh, still that’s a thing.

It’s not length. Some short things are hard to parse and some long things are breezy. And visa versa. But measurement is something. Egad, like 2000 pages of poetry. Or not, some were half or three quarters read before the month started with a push to finish, and some were re-reads so not the same cognitive weight exactly. Still, I don’t want to do that to myself again. Reading so much is an argument for only reading the best. And moderately.

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