Coming soon: What begins Michael Odom's book of poetry "Strutting Attracting Snapping" isn't a poem... it's a picture. A sheet of grid paper with a maze written in pencil. The maze has a "Start" and a "Finish" and a lot of twists and meaningful detours in between... and it's much like the experience of reading Odom's powerful chapbook. Look for a Q & A with the author to appear here, at Call of the Siren, very soon. Young readers: How do we improve our children's reading ability? I think of that all the time, especially as mine grow older and I realize that I can share more of my book interests with them. There's a great comments thread that you might unspool at Games4Learning and gain some helpful ideas to try at home.
Harper Lee: Won't she live forever? It's been impossible to think of the real Scout as susceptible to time and declining health, but then I learned about her unfortunate situation with her agent and the copyright of "To Kill a Mockingbird." Rather than brood on that, though, I have a question for Ms. Lee: Why won't you say something about your novel's creation before it's too late? If it's a one-off and you never found the right material to make another, then why not say so? (Plenty of "one and done" authors would find deep consolation in what she has to say.) On the other hand, if Truman Capote helped her to write it, why not admit it and give credit where it's due? It might be a sore spot, especially for so many years' recognition as the book's sole author, but if someone's going to have a co-author, they could do far worse than Capote, don't you think?
Holy angels, Batman: The Red Serpent takes a pithy, sardonic look at angels as the first comic book superheroes in a new post. What line did I especially like? This one, on something that angels and superheroes have in common: "Items of clothing that closely resemble lingerie or underwear." Check it out. Definitely worth your time.
Deathproof: Pablo Neruda was unearthed to decide whether or not he died from a lethal injection given by Augusto Pinochet's regime. So far, the early tests reveal that he had advanced cancer. If anyone deserves to be called a superhero besides an angel -- see item above -- it's Neruda. He was a superhero for Chile. Whatever the results of the exhumation -- whether death by cancer or poison -- the same's not true of his poetry. His poetry's immortal. Bullet-proof. That's what Ilan Stavans points out in a lovely item in the New York Times, and that's what Neruda also says, about poetry's power even in the darkest moments, in "A Song of Despair":
Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost, I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.