Tag Archives: #poemcrazy

Foolsgold…. {Great Reads}

cover of Foolsgold by Susan G. Wooldridge
credit: amazon.com

After reading poemcrazy by Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge, I couldn’t wait to read Foolsgold, another visit into Ms. Wooldridge’s wordpool and its impact on others (and herself). Ordered while still in the earliest chapters of poemcrazy, I anticipated more delicious conversation by an approachable author whose love of collecting, love of words, and love of collecting words all fit neatly into my own life perspective.

Disclosure:  I chose to ignore reviews in which readers mentioned a different tone in Foolsgold and references to the author’s personal struggles as they related to the book.

Turns out, her struggles are the heart of the book. The ‘nothing’ she refers to in the subtitle felt like the overarching feeling coming through in her words, her voice wavering between sadness, depression, melancholy, and wistfulness. I suppose it could be argued these words are all synonyms of one another, and therefore, redundant. Perhaps a reflection of what I felt as I read her chapters?

I struggled to stick with the book, often putting it down after only a page or two, not engrossed with every word, as I was in poemcrazy, which I wrote about {here}.  I often felt like I was listening to a sad friend as we talked … and talked…. and talked….. and talked…… while she said goodbye to someone. Then, as often happens when we’re going through something extraordinarily painful, there were glimpses of happiness in her writing…. brief moments of clarity, understanding, acceptance, and a look toward a future worth exploring.

Unfortunately, these fleeting glimpses could not balance out the palpable sadness in Ms. Wooldridge’s chapters. Late in the book, she talks about the comfort she found in writing as she dealt with great loss in her personal life – that the process was cathartic for her.  As someone who’s experienced both the death of a parent and a painful divorce, I understand the need for catharses, but as a reader eager to experience an author’s love of wordplay, I was disappointed in this book. It read more like a deeply sad and personal memoir, and less like a book about wordplay and exploring creativity. Perhaps more research on my part would have prepared me for this?

But I stuck with it, determined to read all that she shared. Looking ahead to figure out how much more I had to go (not a good sign!), I could see the short chapters tumbling toward 50. I decided this would be the connection to my own life – 50 chapters to share her discoveries as I turned 50 and made my own discoveries.  Instead the book promptly ended at chapter 48. What??? How could that be?? Who ends a book at chapter 48?? But with further thought, it made sense. Ms. Wooldridge wrote the book as a journal during her daily struggles. As she approached the final chapters, you could hear a more positive look toward the future. The End. No need for the completeness of a nice round number like 50. Like life, the book had stops and starts. And stops. At the end of chapter 48.

To close on a positive note, I shared in my review of poemcrazy, that the frequency with which I fold corners in a book speaks to the content – that there was something that caught my eye.  Foolsgold was no exception… plenty of turned pages, circled words and phrases, underlined quotes, and my own notes about things I read, connections I made to her words. Two chapters in particular resonated with me, 20 and 21, each for different reasons, but in both, rich language and connections that moved me, from working with kids in a juvenile facility to the language of colors. Ah, words and colors – two of my favorite topics, especially when blended! 🙂

In a book that underwhelmed me, I made note of the words with the ‘familiar Susan tone’ that pushed their way through – like tiny flowers blooming through a broken sidewalk – and caught my eye.  Thank you, Ms. Wooldridge, for those moments of wordpool you. Much appreciated by this fellow collector of words!  🙂

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poemcrazy…. {Great Reads}

book cover: PoemcrazyDear Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge,

You had me at, “I’m a collector of many things.”

Proudly stated in the opening chapter of her book, Wooldridge’s lead-in to her collection of words starts by revealing she’s a collector of a great many things. Hmmmm….. feels familiar…..

Add her thoughts on the writing style of e.e. cummings (irreverent, playing with words while breaking all the rules), and I was pretty sure I had stumbled on to a kindred spirit, one whose love of wordplay matches my own. 🙂

I don’t remember reading the classics in high school, probably because we moved a lot and I’d miss that unit of study every year – or I just completely tuned it out, chalking it up to a bunch of old writers and their dumb ideas. {teenage perspective} Hard to say.

What’s not hard to say, though, is that with Susan’s help, I learned about some of our greatest writers/poets and their contributions to American language – and perhaps, somehow, some of them had influenced my own writing. Interesting!

Her inclusion of Thoreau, Whitman, Cummings, Roethke, and Kunitz (to name a few) made reading poemcrazy feel like a cool college class that you really want to take and can’t get enough of the who, what, and why of the subject. Yes, I remember taking a few of those classes, don’t you?!

With 60 brief chapters that include stories from life (the author’s and others’), how words were created to describe those life stories, and a suggested (very do-able) writing practice activity,

poemcrazy is approachable, digestible, and palpable – allowing the reader a peek into the hearts of its author and contributors, creating a sense of intimacy that left me thinking about Wooldridge’s words (and those of her students, workshop participants, family, and friends) long after closing the book – as I fell asleep, drove to work, and even while sitting in meetings….. Once again, felt familiar….

Poemcrazy resonates with its reader, like a great conversation over coffee with a friend: warm, heartfelt, not soon forgotten.

If you enjoy wordplay even a little, or want to explore ways to write with abandon, this book is a treat. Highly recommend.

p.s. ~ Be on the lookout for the story behind the cover image…. 😉

Of All the Places….

a handwritten poem in a journal

 

of all the

places,

i remember it

best.

 

 

 

our house

on the corner –

suburban Miami

circa 1970s:

3 bedrooms.

long hallway.

“florida” room.

tall

heater

on

the

living room

wall.

a front porch

for making

mud pies.

sunday dinners

on

the

homemade table.

jumping fish.

spilled spaghetti….

slid

right

off

the

plate!

boy, was mom

mad!

nail polish

in

the

carpet.

a bunny

(and his poo!)

in.the.house.

a dog

playing

in

our

yard.

pulling weeds

every

weekend.

cleaning

the

bathroom.

my bedroom

with

corner windows.

always

rearranging

my

books.

lots of books.

writing.

lisa t

lived across

the street

and one house

over.

cute mark,

her older brother.

his lisp

made him cuter!

terriann and

her little sister

lived

across and behind.

not so cute.

indeed.

riding

our

bikes.

teaching

gran

to ride.

a dark,

rainy

night

that

brought

thieves.

lawnmower

stolen

right out

of

the

neighbor’s

shed!

a normal life

then….

a real neighborhood:

neighbors.

playing

outside

‘til dark.

friends.

a safe backyard

complete with

playhouse —

adorned with

windows and

flowers.

a mom.

a dad.

a little sister.

{before there were two}

pets.

chores.

laughing.

fighting.

celebrations.

arguments.

getting

in

trouble.

on

restriction. . . .

a

wooden

paddle!

summer

camp.

.

.

.

of all the

places,

i remember it. . . . .

best.

 

~ Robin Le Roy-Kyle

January 15, 2017