Friday, November 4, 2011

Dept. of Since You Asked

Brendan, over at Oran's Well in his exhaustive tribute post to psychologist James Hillman yesterday, well worth a read, included some photos of his bookshelves and journals, and issued a challenge to play I Showed you Mine Now You Show Me Yours--so, who can resist posting the minutiae of one's life on the internets? Not me, that's for sure.

NOTE: You can CLICK the pics for a larger size where titles are clearer, and a slideshow view.

I'll start off with the notebooks. This is a poem written unusually for me in longhand, from 1987 (I blogged it here, revised.)

This one is typed, before the advent of word processing software in my life, where my poems get written these days (it's here if you want to read it):

And here's a characteristic entry--an unmailed love letter:

Now for the real fun, the books:

Above, The Crimson and the Blue Fairy Book, Fairy Tales of Oscar Wilde, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, etc. Below, titles faint between Vanity Fair and Jude the Obscure we have Henry James' Portrait of a Lady, and Tolstoy's Anna Karenina:

No one can fault my eclecticism here--the big blue book is a Robert Louis Stevenson anthology, the small black one is H. Rider Haggard, the other black one the Dalai Lama(Art of Happiness)Mary Renault at the end with Mask of Apollo, interspersed with biographies of Neil Young and Janis Joplin:

More Poetry and Stuff (yes, Stevens is there, his name is red and illegible)also all my new myth books, Armstrong's the Great Transformation, The Master and Margarita, and Dubliners:

The dining room overflow, mostly cookbooks:

My beloved Hort books:

I have many many more shelves left which I could post, but it would be wrong, so last of all, my workroom, where I compose and decompose, and sit with my crickets while I converse with you all.The shelf to the right of the printer contains my game collection, all the way to the floor:

This was a lot of silly fun, so thanks, Brendan for provoking it. I do think that books are an integral reflection of who a person is. I'm very interested to see if anyone else takes up the gauntlet. I can think of several of my bloggy friends whose collections I'd love to lay eyes on--(Mark, Ruth, Fireblossom, Anna, I'm looking at you.) and anyone else who thinks it would be fun, feel free to link up your pride and joy in the comments should you do a similar post.

Corrected poetry shelf, with a refresh on Ansel Adams--Native American petroglyphs this time:


  1. I'm honored to be first in line for to go gaga over the peek into the notorious Hedgewitch's Infernal Cookery/Scriptorium/Bibliotheque! The view which has been most intimately your own, invisible to your audience and probably a space nuisance to your various beloveds (I have always needed more space than I had to work with), opens in panorama, from the ways in which words have gone down on paper; seeing them is akin to seeing someone in person whom you had previously only talked with on the telephone, revealing a wholly different essential dimension. Your work never needs the backup or proof of showing how they got written down, but its fascinating to see the energy and fidelity of composition (yellowing journal-pages, the technological morph from longhand to typing, the words which we only see in finessed form in their rawest first splatter) ... Ditto the books, with their shelves of interest, prioritized perhaps (the first four pix are of literature, then more general interest, and the gardening lore ... -- Arranged like a library, like halls of memory (do we arrange our books in keeping with the need to somehow remember they exist in our minds? Have you ever gone mad looking for a book that got misplaced?). Then there is the care of these books (many of them looking like they've been lugged along many miles, or found in distant remainder shelves)-- are those legal bookcases, you know, the ones with the glass fronts? Sheesh, your books will outlive you by centuries ... And I love that so many of the volumes are paperbacks, and looking quite worn; I have some first edition stuff -- gifts, mostly, from others -- but what was inside the book was always so much more important than the covers (though a beautiful old book is a thing to marvel at). And finally the workspace, the sanctum itself, computer with your "Bladedancer" poem onscreen, and telling pix on the walls (that big framed picture -- torn isn't it? - is the image from "The Fortune Teller," isn't it, with your vatic Cricket at work? And finally, back to the beginning, why the pic of the mountaintop - Everest? Is that the Work which no poem will ever quite mount, though we try, we try. Heavens I'm babbling. Sorry. It's like I'm reading porn out loud. Poet porn, now there's a new genre ... Thanks H! Hoping others will unzip and let er rip too! Our bricoleur Mark said he would ... - Brendan

  2. ooo ooo ooo i need to study your bookshelf...i love books....ha a look inside your notebook too...very cool...i dont think i have any typed poems in mine....

  3. Well now I don't feel so bad... my house is like a library, but I love it. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Oh what fun - photos for my greedy voracious book-eyes (NEVER enough books and now, sadly, not nearly enough decades left to read all I havent read yet!) And what a cool discussion. I LOVE your eclectic taste in books. Mine is the same.......loved this post!

  5. Thanks Sherry and Laurie, for enjoying the vicarious peek into my haunted cavern of books.

    @Brian: Love to see what's inside your notebook covers--I can only imagine the wildness.

    @B: Thanks for checking it all out so closely. Oh yes, I've gone crazy looking for that book that should be somewhere, or that poem in a notebook that I just can't exhume from its lost grave. There's not much rhyme or reason anymore to my bookshelf arrangements--when I first unpacked the old relics, I had them sorted out--the shelf I photographed--by category, literature, Victoriana, poetry--but now I just try to find places somewhere for them where I can later find them. We periodically haul boxes off to the used bookstore and get a miserly credit ratio of 1-5 for them, and then haul more back in a great example of the perils of venture capitalism. The glass fronts belong to a built in cabinet in the dining room, straight out of the seventies, meant to display the housewife's proud collection of cookware, dishes, or Hummel figurines. There's also a built-in bookcase next to the fireplace where I have my family rogues gallery of framed photos, but they may soon be forced to make room for real books as my husband refuses to assemble any more thirty dollar Wal Mart bookcases. Re: the pics--the mountain is from an Ansel Adams B&W photo calender from 2006 that I can't stand to throw out--I flip the pages every so often and look at a different one--this one says it's 'Maroon Bells, near Aspen Colorado, 1942' The crickets (yes, those crickets) aren't torn, that's part of the way they were drawn, hard to tell from the pic. Glad you enjoyed the pole-dance of literary pulchritude my friend, ;-) I hope others will jump into the party. Also, I'd love to see more of your favorites, including first editions--most of my books have been acquired on a shoestring, but I do love the look and feel of a beautiful old book.

  6. Wow, this was very inspiring and made me realize the paucity of my collection (I am trying to move to e-book for reasons that will become obvious! It's so wonderful to see some interior shots of Castle Hedgewitch, where the writing magic is monumental. I'll be returning to this post many times to make lists and gain inspiration. You're amazing! Here's mine - you'll just have to click on pictures to read titles

  7. Thank you, Anna--your post is wonderful! I loved looking at that feast of books. You have many I used to have but have disappeared, many I've heard of or not heard of but would love to read, and I also envision going back and making lists. Lots of books on the feminine perspective, and we both have Emily Dickinson's collected poems, albeit in different editions--what a coincidence. ;-) (I'm willing to bet a certain Fireblossom person has those as well.)

    You've created that sense of your own private world to work in. The sanctum where the muse is courted, and plays with us in her annoying but endearing way should be always a place of harmony, somewhere where we're intrinsically comfortable and most truly ourselves. Thanks so much for sharing the outer trappings of a rich world with us.

  8. Thank you for this peek into your library. I expected to see Stevens, and it doesn't surprise me to see a few English authors on display. I see we are both fond of Dickinson. In my insecurity I'm afraid people will see it as self-indulgent to post pics of my books/notebooks. But the fact is I'm fascinated by other peoples' bookshelves, notebooks and workspaces. When I visit someone's house I automatically gravitate to the bookshelves - just can't help it. Writers especially. Don't you love to see a photo of the humble typewriter that a certain author wrote all his books on? I sure do. Two of my favorite living American writers don't even use computers. Imagine that! I don't think ebooks will ever cause real books to go out of fashion. I use both, and always will.

  9. Well, I'm sorry you're too modest to show us your collection Mark, because I was planning on making a list to fill in my own gaps. And I would be fascinated to see what Art books you've acquired over the years as well. If you'd feel more comfortable, you're welcome to send me a few pics and I'll post them here in my seldom traveled area of the blogosphere where you'll be less exposed--and which might serve to deflect the appearance of excess book-hubris. It *is* a bit daunting, inviting the whole internet into your library.

    I'm a bit disappointed in my poetry shelf pic--it cut off my old Bible, Whitman and Milton and Cleough's Victorian Poetry anthology (yes, I have a hang-up on the Victorians)I'm not a huge Dickens' fan but I like him on cold winter nights, along with the Brontes, Frankenstein, Stoker and all the old boy's adventure books, Stevenson and Robinson Crusoe and so forth.

    Yes, I always go first to the bookcases in a person's home also and start scanning spines(I hear some do the same thing with medicine cabinets, but that would be boring in the extreme, imo) and I do love seeing the prototypical typewriter, or handwritten page of any writer, doubly so the ones I admire. I agree that while e-books are very handy for reasons of space, there's nothing like the feel of a real book, with real, turning pages in your hand for comfort. Thanks for reading, Mark, and you're always welcome to pull down a book from the shelves and pull up a chair by the fire at Castle Hedgewitch.

  10. Oh no no nooo, I'm not too modest. I'll be posting sometime early next week, and I hope you'll visit. Please tell me that's a King James version.

  11. @MZ: I'd tell you, but then I'd have kill you.

    @Mark--Most excellent news. I will certainly visit, and yes, it's a King James version--it's in the poetry section. ;-)

  12. Thanks for showing you collection - a voyeuristic thrill!

  13. What I really love about these show-and-tells is how there aren’t really any big surprises, and yet the specificities of the titles, the shelves themselves, even the organization of them, offers a privilege of intimacy and excitement. So thank you very much. I love your titles in the literary novel lineup. I see my favorites, the melancholy stories of Hardy and Tolstoy, and my dear Henry James. I have only gotten thorough The Ambassadors, but it was worth every painstaking paragraph.

    And it's fun to see Octavio Paz snuggling with Frost!

    My internet is slow at home this morning, so I couldn’t load the slideshow for a closer look, bummer. I like seeing O’Keeffe’s poppy, but I want to better see the other print on the facing wall.

    I told Brendan I would follow this prompt too, sometime soon.

  14. Glad you enjoyed, Ruth. I look forward to seeing your own treasures very much.

  15. I see many of my own favourites on your shelves. Thanks for inviting me to take a look... I really like this idea... cogs turning...

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Kerry--and I love it when your cogs turn.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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