In the no-mans land of the christmas-to-new-year period, time begins to lose all meaning. So much so that if you were to plan to write a newsletter on a Friday, rounding up your year of reading, that you might misplace that Friday and double-park it with a Saturday.
This is the second year of Etch To Their Own. It’s still making me slightly more sane than if I hadn’t begun, which is generally a good thing for everyone except those people I ignore while writing this.
Last year I spent some time recalling lines of poetry that I had read throughout the year from memory — and then using that as a guide to run through the work again. This year has been much more to focused on novels, short stories and some other longer-form pieces.
Instead, this year I am just going to round up those stand out works for me. I think most of them were published this year, but some might be older. One of them is an ancient text, so that one might be a few years out of date.
This year ended with a few crackers, Baby I Don’t Care by Chelsey Minnis — an exciting exploration of what happens when you subsist on a diet of old fashioned movies and let that language flow into your poetry. I love the propositioning nature of it, especially in poems like Romance that I featured here. It’s hard to be this effortlessly in-tone throughout. It doesn’t get boring, despite the consistency, because the next line promises to move things along, and usually not quite in the direction you would like.
We also had two very good short stories at the end of the year in the form of The Great Awake and The Freshening. Both have a really good stab at the lack of satisfaction you receive from getting something you want, or something you think you want.
This thing by Rosebud on the idea of a conscious poem tickled me — the idea of poem as some universal matter that we are all made of. In that way that people say that everyone is made of stars, despite the fact that we are all very much made of meat. If we’re not talking about comic resonance we are of course talking about horses. This is probably my second favourite Rosebud poem.
It all began here. In July. Or not. This frankly bonkers creation myth was a treat. Enjoy a game of football with the devil(ish) and attempts from gods to create humans from various materials with hilarious results.
Jos Charles gave us Feeld this year. It’s a combination of medieval sounding English and internet speak to explore the way trans identity exists as a field and a feeling, a space to move about in that is also a contained area.
Paige Lewis gave us many lovely things this year, including a meditation on godlike distance and most importantly from the start of the year, the fold out in the centre of Poetry: You Can Take Off Your Sweater I’ve Made Today Warm. The latter explores a disintegrating authority, and the reading that comes with it is magic.
Two wonderful anthologies came along this year, a liberated canon and on violence.
Sometimes I forget that I read this book. When I remember I feel dirty. Amygdalatropolis is a book about the worst the internet can do to someone, and what they can do to others with this kind of insidious culture of so-what.
Max Ritvo came to me twice this year, once in his collection and once in his letters. The latter is a particularly moving set of exchanges between Max and Sarah Ruhl, long term teacher and friend. You can see their relationship develop throughout the book, coming from the early distance of their introduction into the deep love built through the shared text they build between one another.
And probably my favourite thing from the year, the known fact that we are two future corpses about to fall in love.
Thanks for reading Etch To Their Own, especially those of you who have been along for the whole two years. It’s still helping 🙂