BY LIZ AXELROD
Happy holidays! Everyone’s doing lists and talking of shopping and getting together with family. They brave the crowds and wait in violent sweaty lines. I myself avoid holiday shopping like the plague (and flu shots). I’m doing it all online this year while happily celebrating Yule and lighting the Mickey Menorah, like the good Pagan Jew I am.
This year I’m also going to do some paper projects to beautify the house. I’m going to make an antique book wreath, fasten up some wrapping paper stars, and recycle all my Amazon boxes into a Christmas tree kitty house.
But the most fun part of the holidays is the extra reading time. So, if like me, you long for a few days off with a good read – here are some wonderful books to help get your holidays moving and to provide relief when you need it.
These unconditionally wonderful books of poems, old and new, will ease you through the season.
1. Anne Carson - Glass Irony & God: When I question the universe and the width of my hips I re-read her passages on "God’s Women," "TV Men," and "The Fall of Rome."
2. Roxanne Gay – Bad Feminist: Because we need to see the world through Roxanne’s whip-smart sharper vision and feel the pain of knowing what needs to be changed and think about how we can change it. Essay’s like “What We Hunger For,” “The Trouble with Prince Charming, or He Who Trespassed Against Us,” and “Holding Out for a Hero” may just change your life.
3. Frank O’Hara - Lunch Poems: A staple. The good stuff; like Caviar and Crème fraîche on fine crusty whole grain bread. For lounging, sleeping late and mostly for my all-time favorite go-to lines from "Steps:"
oh god it’s wonderful
to get out of bed
and drink too much coffee
and smoke too many cigarettes
and love you so much
5. Claudia Rankine - Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: When nothing makes sense and all I want to do is watch TV but I can’t find anything on the 800 channels and staring blankly into the Christmas lights is more fun anyway, I open up this wonderful piece of poetic art-prose and flip through the pictures while living vicariously and feeling smart after leafing through the index to figure out the phenomenal references from movies like Magnolia and Boogie Nights to Emily Dickinson. Also read her latest: Citizen: An American Lyric – for the best damn take on Serena Williams and Tennis ever
7. Pablo Neruda - Love Poems: I’ve opened the second bottle of wine, the house is rich with the scent of Vanilla Ricotta Christmas cookies, I’m sitting on the couch and this pretty pink book is keeping me grounded and helping me float. Oh! the toes. Oh! the sea. Oh! the “Ode and Burgeonings!”
8. Kenneth Koch - A possible World: I need crazy sometimes. We all need crazy sometimes. And our crazy should be amplified by brilliance and fateful connections like in “Bel Canto.” I need to ponder the past and future, and drink sweet stuff while reading lines like finally you can do anything except not die, and then wake my intellect in “Mondo,”“Vox Pop,” and“Variations at Home and Abroad.” Then I can thrive vicariously in the lively and rousing wish-I-could-be-there of “A Memoir” and its tales of tasting, drinking, and invention with Ashbery, O’Hara and other dangerous friends.
In the end, during the holidays, even with our friends and family all around, we still crave time to be by ourselves. So if you happen to be alone for a bit during this hectic season open yourself up to the wonders of the page. At the very least, for a portion of your time off you’ll miss the traffic hassle, stave off the crowds of tourists, and maybe find an even more satisfying gift than you could possibly locate at a mall or under the mistletoe.
Liz Axelrod received her MFA from the New School in 2013. She writes poems, book reviews, essays, fiction and anything her pointed pen finger deems relevant. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, Publisher’s Weekly, The Brooklyn Rail, Electric Literature, Counterpunch, Nap Magazine, Yes Poetry, The Ampersand Review, and more. Her Chapbook "Go Ask Alice" was chosen as a finalist in the 2015 Finishing Line Press New Woman's Voices Competition and will be published in March, 2016. She is an Adjunct Professor at SUNY Westchester Community College, a book reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, staff writer for LunaLuna Magazine, and co-host and curator of the Cedermere Reading Series in the home of William Cullen Bryant. Find her here: www.yourmoonsmine.com