A tenet of slam poetry is that a winning poem needs a strong hook
- the line / image / idea that yanks the audience in.
When I pick up a book, I look for a hook. Serious readers, like my brilliant friend Claire Light
, would be appalled. But I open books I'm considering at a random page. Within 30 seconds of skimming, at least one line has to grab me, or back they land on the shelf. I'm a poet - I go for beauty, musicality, of language; shape and elegance of sentences.
When I want to live dangerously, I read the opening and closing passages of books. Yes, I know - to read the end of a book before you begin it trashes every article of faith between writer and reader. But it works for me. If an ending has the power to pull me in, before I even know the story, then I'm willing to go back to page one and commit.Michael Ondaatje
gets me every time, with his openings and closings. I picked up his latest novel this morning: Divisadero
, from a bag of books left out on the pavement for gleaners in El Cerrito. Free book abundance
: another reason to love the Bay Area.
When I come to lie in your arms, you sometimes ask me in which historical moment do I wish to exist. Whoa.
Knocked the breath right out of my body. I had to sit down.
And it conjured, with dazzling clarity, New Year's Eve 2005/6
. That borderline where I always wonder in which historical moment I exist
You've got me, Michael. I'm on board for the ride.