In an age where instant gratification is all the rage and accountability is a lost art, Christopher Mahan rises above the current social climate in his poetry collection, Private Poems Mostly.

I found Mahan and his poetry through Twitter and discovered even more of it through his Patreon account. This is a man who lives his life for, by, and within poetry, never hesitating and never faltering in his dedication. I’ve also discovered he often takes the trouble to response to his mutuals with carefully crafted, poetic answers and comments. At other times, he shares slivers of his process, which is always strong-willed, extensive, passionate, and tremendously thorough. (more…)

I read Nathalie Léger‘s Suite for Barbara Loden, and now I’m going to rant about it.

I’m not going to lie —  I didn’t even plan on reading it in the beginning.

It was assigned for class, but I missed the screening of Wanda, the movie this reading is based on. I learned about the death of a former teammate just a few minutes before we were supposed to start the film, and unfortunately had to excuse myself. It also just so happens I was scheduled to take a quick weekend trip on the day of the book discussion a week later.

Basically, I didn’t have to read it, but I did.

You see, my friend sold me on it. She loved Suite for Barbara Loden so much she posted the book on her Instagram story, and did her class presentation on it through a Twitter rant I adored even before cracking open the book myself.

book blog

Let’s just say I’m so grateful I packed my copy of Suite for Barbara Loden in my suitcase that weekend. On the return journey, after polishing off my previous read, I finally got around to starting it, and my goodness…

It was extraordinary.


For starters, I’ll admit the following:

1. I still haven’t seen Wanda, and

2. It took me ages to finish Suite for Barbara Loden since my ADHD makes it tricky for me to concentrate on one book for long. This, however, has improved significantly during the quarantine.

Still, even though it took me a while to buckle down and finish Suite for Barbara Loden after returning from the airport that afternoon, I finally did and, just as I expected from the start, it was intriguing, insightful, informative, well-observed, and profoundly well-written. This is the kind of book that probably shouldn’t have been interesting, but somehow it was.

It captured me from the get-go, and didn’t release me until the very end.

I didn’t regret a moment of it.


Now, believe me when I say my preceding rodeo with a movie/bibliomemoir combination did not go nearly as well as reading Suite for Barbara Loden did. It involved a renowned Andrei Tarkovsky film, Stalker, and a corresponding bibliomemoir by Geoff Dyer, titled Zona.

Watching Stalker was the kind of grueling experience that makes you want to call your mom and tell her you love her, even if you already did earlier that day. I remember I did exactly this, and then went on a three hour jog just to remind myself what sunlight and warmth felt like.

This film seriously had to be one of the most excruciating artistic experiences in my life; I actually believe Andrei Tarkovsky knew this when he made Stalker and did it anyway, just to see what would happen when people watched it.

Clearly, the sadists walk among us.

Okay, okay. I’m just kidding, but…

Film is, without a doubt, one of those artistic areas I definitely don’t gel with, so I am not a fancy enough film critic to enjoy a cinematic experience like Stalker. Maybe you have to be to enjoy it and understand why it’s so celebrated when all it does is create misery.

I honestly don’t know.

Regardless, I’d say the best thing about Dyer’s Zona is the simple fact that it isn’t the actual film itself. This made it ever-so-slightly less painful than the movie, but still made me want to call my mother and go for a barely shorter jog than the one I required after seeing Stalker for the first (and hopefully last) time.

As I said before, I am not a film person in the slightest, but even my peers who are seem to have struggled with the horrible experience that is being made to sit through Stalker.

Things really felt like they couldn’t get any worse at that point, but then we had to read Zona, which essentially reiterated the film with the author’s own, equally drawn-out, nearly identical, and painfully mundane perspective.

Yikes.

0/10 would recommend Stalker or Zona.


With this knowledge, imagine my relief when I discovered Suite for Barbara Loden is absolutely nothing like Zona.

Rather, it was wonderful.

It was one-of-a-kind in the general sense, and unique in that it drew from the film without becoming it. It was supplemental, and felt less like an “after” than a “beside,” therefore embodying one of the primary aspects of bibliomemoir.

Léger did an eloquent job of discussing the intersection of the beautiful, seemingly happy woman and the ugliness and darkness of one’s own psyche. Suite for Barbara Loden, much like Wanda (or so I hear), did a phenomenal job of describing how women are expected to exist in this world —  body first, mind second (if even) —  and how that leaves so many of us feeling empty, wandering to the ends of the Earth in search of a sense of meaning we may never actually find. Some of us even find that we are these sad, smiling creatures, controlled by the wiles of misogyny. Moreover, we are all in desperate need of a break, if not an eternity, from living in a man’s world.

You see, unlike Zona, Suite for Barbara Loden was not simply another book written by another man writing about the work of yet another man; it was a woman using the work of another woman to empathize with her and her character. Léger saw Barbara Loden in a way no one really cared to when she was still alive. She shone a light over the experiences, mind, and heart of this remarkable human being who deserved better than she got.

Léger did Barbara Loden justice.


bibliomemoir books

So yes, it’s true that I haven’t seen Wanda yet.

I’ll definitely take the time to track it down and watch it eventually (as I should), but the point here is that I don’t actually have to.

The reason Suite for Barbara Loden felt complete on its own is because it is complete on its own. The only part of the Wanda experience it didn’t feed for me was the satisfaction of seeing the film with my own two eyes, which is a craving far beyond its responsibility as a bibliomemoir anyway.

Léger didn’t just do her job when she wrote Suite for Barbara Loden; she went above and beyond by fusing her glorious grasp of language, art, womanhood, history, and patriarchal dynamics with her passion for discovery and justice.

Suite for Barbara Loden stands alone and, in that, it establishes itself as an exquisite work of literature that I believe is absolutely worth exploring.

10/10 would recommend.


I’ve been following Momus Najmi on Twitter and Instagram for some time now, and I’ve found his unique and insightful posts deeply refreshing in a sea of social media sameness. Najmi’s voice on social media is identical to his voice in Mumblings of a Fool: honest, fearless, wise, and unrelenting. He’s that person who speaks those thoughts many of us have but are too afraid to release out into the world.

Even before picking up this collection, I found myself wishing time and again that I could be more like Najmi, or at the very least stop hesitating before liking those painfully honest tweets of his I know people are likely to misunderstand. He has a very special skill for being simultaneously unapologetic and compassionate, and this truly comes through in Mumblings of a Fool.

As a result, this poetry collection only reaffirmed my thoughts about him.


I’ll start by saying that Najmi‘s full-length poetry collection, Mumblings of a Fool, is an exquisite read. I’m grateful to have found it at all.

For one, it strives to embody more than just basic beauty and truth, therefore achieving a certain rugged combination of aesthetic and candor. Each poem announces an alarming truth, sometimes surrounded by more subtle ones, and leaves the reader just shaken enough that they momentarily pause before turning the page to continue reading.

Furthermore, and although the author has a brilliant hold of language, nothing in his book feels like cheap glitter; Najmi consistently cuts to the chase without sacrificing the material essence of poetic language.

This is the type of book I usually refuse to read in just one sitting. I didn’t want to risk growing tired along the way, as I often do. I realize now I probably wouldn’t have had this issue with Najmi’s collection since he had me absorbed enough that even my faulty vision and ADHD were no match for his work.

Regardless, I’m glad I read this book over the course of a few days. This way, I got to enjoy it to its fullest.

Something else I admired about the book was the assortment of symbols at the beginning of each poem. This simple addition made a difference by creating a certain peace and hospitality in a book otherwise brimming with uncomfortable [though very necessary] truths.

Najmi’s is the poetry you can touch – the poetry that will grab ahold of you and refuse to release you until you’ve heard everything it has to say.

It simply insists on being read.

In turn, it’s safe, although silly to say, that this book somewhat deterred me from reading Najmi’s published novel, The Silent Betrayal [although I already own it for Kindle]. I enjoyed this poetry collection so much that I almost don’t want to move on to his other book. I want to stay here for a little while first.

Regardless, I absolutely do plan on reading The Silent Betrayal someday. If it carries even a margin of the wisdom I discovered in Mumblings of a Fool, then it already has me captivated.


ami j. sanghvi official site
Taken from Najmi’s official site. Other images in this article also taken from Najmi’s site, in addition to his Amazon Author Page.

I don’t usually write book reviews; as a matter of fact, this is only the second one I’ve ever posted on this blog.

My [unintentional] “celibacy” in regards to not blogging about other authors’ books persisted for a long while without any glitches.  It’s not exactly like I was going out of my way to resist reviewing other authors’ work either; blogging about books just wasn’t my thing, and there were other things I preferred to rant about back in former days.

But then came the Indie books…

Then came Nefelibata. (more…)

Naught I…

 

 

Flesh I…

 

 

Face I…

 

 

Bleeding I…

 

 

 

 

I…

 

 

I ripped my face from my skull today,

 

Even savored it slightly

As it melted,

Fallen flesh seeping into the crevice between

My lips…

The severing didn’t hurt so much as remind me of

Wrestling a slice of pizza,

An ooey, gooey slice of pizza,

From the remainder of its

Molten pie,

Some cheesy carcass,

Striving to estrange itself

(myself)

In stringy blobs and globs of marinara

(blood)…

This is what I offer you today:

My facial flesh,

Ripped fresh,

Still lukewarm,

Gathered in a tangled mass,

Like seaweed,

          Only softer…

 

A slice of my soul

          (skin/silk/satin)

For supper:

My gift to you.

Happy birthday.