Monday, 4 July 2022

Books Read in 2021

 

  • 1) The Actual - Inua Ellams (poetry)
  • 2) The Air Year - Caroline Bird (poetry, re read)
  • 3) Antiemetic for Homesickness - Romalyn Ante (poetry, re read)
  • 4) How to Wash a Heart - Bhanu Kapil (poetry, Re read)
  • 5) The Coming-Down Time - Robert Selby (poetry)
  • 6) Love and Other Thought Experiments - Sophie Ward (fiction)
  • 7) Little Fires Everywhere - Celeste Ng (fiction)
  • 8) Floating, Brilliant, Gone - Franny Choi (poetry)
  • 9) The Book of Jobs: Poems - Kathryn Maris (poetry)
  • 10) I Want! I Want! - Vicki Feaver (poetry)
  • 11) My Year of Rest and Relaxation - Ottessa Moshfegh (fiction)
  • 12) How to Change Your Life in 7 Steps - John Bird (non fiction)
  • 13) A Song For Dark Times - Ian Rankin (fiction)
  • 14) Pepper Seed - Malika Booker (poetry)
  • 15) Widowish - Melissa Gould (non fiction)
  • 16) Pocket Bowie Wisdom (non fiction)
  • 17) Lifted - Bill Manhire (poetry)
  • 18) Another Planet - Tracey Thorn (non fiction)
  • 19) Self Portrait in Green - Marie NDiaye (non fiction/fiction)
  • 20) Juul Kraijer - Ina Fuchs (non Fiction, art)
  • 21) The Night Watchman - Louise Erdrich (fiction)
  • 22) The School on Heart's Content Road - Carolyn Chute (fiction)
  • 23) Lumen - Tiffany Atkinson (poetry)
  • 24) Lifted - Bill Manhire (poetry, re read)
  • 25) The Windows of Graceland - Martina Evans (poetry)
  • 26) Cut the Black Rabbit - Benjamin Cusden (poetry)
  • 27) We Swim to the Shark - Georgie Codd (non fiction)
  • 28) Eat or We Both Starve - Victoria Kennefick (poetry)
  • 29) Beautiful Nowhere - Louisa Campbell (poetry)
  • 30) When I Think of My Body as a Horse - Wendy Pratt (poetry)
  • 31) Back When We Were Grownups - Anne Tyler (fiction)
  • 32) The Atlas of Lost Beliefs - Ranjit Hoskote (poetry)
  • 33) Inmates - Sean Borodale (poetry)
  • 34) Wasted Rainbow - Caleb Parkin (poetry)
  • 35) The Impossible Dead - Ian Rankin (fiction)
  • 36) The Secrets of Us - Lucinda Berry (fiction)
  • 37) These Queer Merboys - Serge Neptune (poetry)
  • 38) The Attitudes - Katie Griffiths (poetry)
  • 39) Pandemonium - Andrew McMillan (poetry)
  • 40) The Neighbourhood - Hannah Lowe (poetry)
  • 41) Say Cucumber - Lucia Dove (poetry)
  • 42) Negative Space - Lilly Dancyger (non fiction)
  • 43) Yield - Claire Dyer (poetry)
  • 44) The Chronology of Water - Lidia Yuknavitch (non fiction)
  • 45) Beautiful Nowhere - Louisa Campbell (poetry, re read)
  • 46) Her Lost Language - Jenny Mitchell (poetry)
  • 47) A Bright Ray of Darkness - Ethan Hawke (fiction)
  • 48) Wishful Drinking - Carrie Fisher (non fiction)
  • 49) Poor - Caleb Femi (poetry)
  • 50) Boy in Various Poses - Lewis Buxton (poetry)
  • 51) My Mother Was an Upright Piano - Tania Hershman (fiction)
  • 52) Museum of Ice Cream - Jenna Clake (poetry)
  • 53) Honorifics - Cynthia Miller (poetry)
  • 54) How to Carry a Fire - Christina Thatcher (poetry)
  • 55) A - Sophie Robinson (poetry)
  • 56) The Wolf Road - Richard Lambert (YA fiction)
  • 57) Comic Timing - Holly Pester (poetry)
  • 58) The Burgess Boys - Elizabeth Strout (fiction)
  • 59) There's a Hole in My Bucket - Royd Tolkien (non fiction)
  • 60) Tennis Lessons - Susannah Dickey (fiction)
  • 61) Ponti - Sharlene Teo (fiction)
  • 62) Play Lists - Jessica Mookherjee (poetry)
  • 63) Max Porter - The Death of Francis Bacon
  • 64) Fathom - Rebecca Gethin (poetry)
  • 65) Hydra - Molly Ellen Pearson (poetry)
  • 66) ┼átupartsk├í’s Daughter - Elizabeth Jane Timms (poetry)
  • 67) The Beauty of Living Twice - Sharon Stone (non fiction)
  • 68) Soft Science - Franny Choi (poetry)
  • 69) NR30 - Doug Jones (poetry)
  • 70) Knowing This Has Changed My Ending - Alex MacDonald (poetry)
  • 71) Where I'd Watch Plastic Trees Not Grow - Hannah Hodgson (poetry)
  • 72) One Hundred Lockdown Sonnets - Jacqueline Saphra (poetry)
  • 73) Terminarchy - Angela France (poetry0
  • 74) Volcano - Elosham Vog (poetry)
  • 75) Rotten days in Late Summer - Ralf Webb (poetry)
  • 76) A God at the Door - Tishani Doshi (poetry)
  • 77) Materials for Building a City - Elliot C. Mason (poetry)
  • 78) Anchorage - Lorraine Marriner (poetry)
  • 79) Gaps - Jenny Danes (poetry)
  • 80) Spacecraft - John McCullough (poetry)
  • 81) Meanwhile, Trees - Mark Waldron (poetry)
  • 82) On Narrowness - Claire Crowther (poetry)
  • 83) The Frost Fairs - John McCullough (poetry)
  • 84) Ephybos - Kostya Tsloakis (poetry)
  • 85) Lung Iron - Daniel Fraser (poetry)
  • 86) and they are covered in gold light - Amy Acre (poetry)
  • 87) C+nto and Othered Poems - Joelle Taylor (poetry)
  • 88) Songs My Enemy Taught Me - Joelle Taylor (poetry)
  • 89) Ripe - Isabelle Baafi (poetry)
  • 90) Feverfew - Anna Saunders (poetry)
  • 91) Fleet - Jane Burn (poetry)
  • 92) The Story of No - Emma Hammond (poetry)
  • 93) A Gathering of Matter/A Matter of Gathering - Dawn Lundy Martin (poetry)
  • 94) The Family Upstairs - Lisa Jewell (fiction)
  • 95) My Tin Watermelon - Peter Daniels (poetry)
  • 96) physis - Nicolas Pesques (poetry)
  • 97) A Year in the New Life - Jack Underwood (poetry)
  • 98) The Book of Orgasms - Nin Andrews (poetry)
  • 99) Olive Again - Elizabeth Strout (poetry)
  • 100) Distance Writing - Margaret Seymour (poetry)
  • 101) I Think I Might be Autistic - Cynthia Kim (non fiction)
  • 102) All the Names Given - Raymond Antrobus (poetry)
  • 103) Strangers - Rebecca Tamas (non fiction)
  • 104) The Continued Clsure of the Blue Door - Vik Shirley (poetry)
  • 105) Glass - Emily Cooper (poetry)
  • 106) The Oscillations - Kate Fox (poetry)
  • 107) Single Window - Daniel Sluman (poetry)
  • 108) The Gold Rush - Craig Martin Getz (poetry)
  • 109) Wow - Bill Manhire (poetry)
  • 110) Cosmonaut - A.E. De Vaul (poetry)
  • 111) The Sun is Open - Gail McConnell (poetry)
  • 112) All the Men I Never Married - Kim Moore (poetry)
  • 113) The Kids - Hannah Lowe (poetry)
  • 114) Atlantis - Mark Doty (poetry)
  • 115) How to Think Like David Bowie - Jonathan Tindale (non fiction)
  • 116) Hera Lindsay Bird - Hera Lindsay Bird (poetry)

How I didn’t become a short story writer

First I was a novel writer (aged five).
Then I was a poet.
Then I was a short story writer.
Then I was a poet again.
Then I was a short story writer.
Now I am a poet.

I think I was probably a bad short story writer. 

The first time I was a short story writer I wrote in an experimental style. At that time U.K. publishers did not publish many books of short stories, and certainly not ones by unknown writers. They were definitely not interested in publishing experimental short stories by a young unknown writer who hadn't even been to university. At that time I read a lot of American short story collections which were a huge influence on my work - Jayne Ann Philips, Ellen Gilchrist, Raymond Carver, Tobias Wolff., Louise Erdrich. I think now that what I wrote back then sits somewhere between flash fiction and prose poetry. It rarely had a narrative arc. It was often just sniffing around the edges of something.

I was a kid from a council estate who left school at sixteen and went to live in a hippy commune. But as a kid I virtually lived in the local library, and while I lived in the commune I continued hitchhiking into town to use the library. 

You could say the library saved me. 
You could say the library made me. 

I wasn't educated back then. I didn't know about literary journals. I didn't know much at all really. I loved to read and I loved to write. I wrote in those small reporter's notebooks with the metal spiral at the top and I typed my work up on an electronic typewriter. When I look at those old short stories now, I think that maybe I was ahead of my time. They might have been ahead of their time but they're still not very good. But there's something about them that stops me throwing them out. Repeated words and phrases, poetic rhythms, the kind of surrealism that still appeals to me in writing.

When I have tried to write short stories in recent years they have felt stilted and unimaginative in comparison to those early works. I have become a slave to plot but somehow the plots are never good ones. Either the stories are boring and unoriginal or they don't make sense. It seems I have given over my original thinking to the poet in me and I don't know how to become a short story writer again.