Vanessa Daou’s new album, Joe Sent Me, is exactly what I want to listen to now. I’ve been keeping the CD in my car while I drive around town, and I even played it for my yoga class the other day. They melted.

Daou’s vocals are pure silk, and the jazz riffs underneath are the wind that rustles the lyrics. It’s heaven. Her work shows the heights that can be reached when the artist takes risks – it’s contemporary, fresh, original. Go listen. And go read too. Collin Kelley’s interview with Vanessa Daou is on page 28 of the current issue of ouroboros review. A huge thank you to both artists for being a part of our fledgling magazine.


I just finished reading Marie Howe’s book, What the Living Do (WW Norton, 1997) a collection of poems that explores Howe’s relationship with her brother, her father, her lover, and the loss of these men.

Since I have been immersed in all things Spanish for the last twenty-five years, I’ve been playing catch up on a lot of contemporary poetry in English. I have Jillypoet to thank for turning me on to Marie Howe. Each poem in this collection cracked my heart open. A deep bow of thanks to Howe for knowing the best way to share the core of her emotional life, her loves, her losses, her joy, and intimate moments.


A friend has lent me Red April (Pantheon, 2009, translated into English by Edith Grossman), a murder mystery and political thriller by Santiago Roncagliolo. In case the genre puts you off, you should know that Roncagliolo is a gifted satirist and minute observer of culture.

The novel is set in contemporary Peru, in the provincial city of Ayacucho, where restaurants serve cuy (guinea pig)and farm workers punch each other until they draw blood in certain country festivals. The protagonist is a perfect anti-hero for the post modern era – a district attorney who has created a shrine to his diseased mother in his childhood home.

I’m reading it in Spanish (Abril Rojo, Punto de Lectura, 2007) and loving every minute of it. Since I left my teaching job I haven’t been speaking as much Spanish, so this is a fun foray back into South American literature, a surreal world even at it’s most mundane.

7 thoughts on “Coolness

  1. Michelle says:

    The Joe Sent Me site is v. cool.

    I’ve read a few of Marie Howe’s poems from that collection – either on the internet or in an anthology, I can’t remember – and they are beautifully crafted and searing.

    Oh, those little grinipigs.


  2. Michelle says:

    I’m back.

    I’ve been riffling through the books in my bookcases. There are four Marie Howe poems: ‘The Attic’, ‘How Some of It Happened’, ‘The Kiss’ and ‘What the Living Do’ in a great anthology, The extraordinary tide: new poetry by American women, edited by Susan Aizenberg and Erin Belieu. (The publisher is Columbia University Press.) I often read anthologies to get a taste of individual writers before I go out and buy entire collections.


  3. jo says:

    Thanks for the nudge re Howe, I keep meaning to order it. I love how you describe Vanessa’s music, can’t wait to hear it. Hello hello, it’s far too early here!


  4. Collin Kelley says:

    Vanessa’s music is perfection. I highly recommend the “Zipless” album, where she turned some of Erica Jong’s best poems into songs, and “Slow To Burn.” You can download the albums on iTunes. Both are worth every penny.


  5. ybonesy says:

    What a great compendium of worthwhile artistic pursuits, all new to me.

    I’m always so impressed when I hear that you’re reading something in Spanish, especially literature. I’m not a mystery reader, so I’m glad you made the notation about the style.


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