Part of the Quarternote Chapbook Series from Sarabande BooksContents of a Minute gives us a look into the poetry of Josephine Jacobsen, celebrated poet. This 29-page collection is filled with recently discovered and previously unpublished poetry and is a great collection whether you’re just discovering Jacobsen’s work or you’re already a fan.

Jacobsen’s poetry is filled with depth and rhythm. If you’re new to poetry, I would suggest someone like Jacobsen for her ability to pull the reader into a scene without being confusing. This is not to say her poetry is simple–it is anything but. In fact, the subject matter often has dark undertones, speaking of death or longing. But it is not so heavy as to drag the reader down and leave them wallowing. There is something redeeming about the beautifully swaying beat and the unusual rhyming schemes in many of the works, such as in the poem Natural, one of the recently discovered. It is almost sung, and even if you’re not the poetry-spouting type, you may just find yourself trying to commit a fragment or two to memory for later.

Whether you’re a poetry buff or not, I encourage you to check out Jacobsen’s work. She won many awards in her lifetime, including the Robert Frost Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry, the highest award a poet can hope for. If you’d like a copy for yourself, I have an extra one just for giving away.  Enter to win by midnight on Friday, June 20, 2008.

3 Ways to Win

1.) Leave a comment telling me something about your poetry reading habits. Do you ever read poetry, or is it something you’re hoping to try? (Something more than “I want this book” is kindly suggested.) If the randomly chosen winner doesn’t reply to my email telling them they’ve won, I often choose the #2 winner based on their comment.

2.) or Subscribers are automatically entered into this and all future giveaways. Just enter your email address in the little white box on the upper part of the right hand column. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail.)

3.) or Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back.

If you do all three, you have three entries to win.

10. June 2008 · Comments Off on Walking on Air by Muriel Spark – Book Review · Categories: Book Reviews, Chapbooks, Poetry, Short Stories · Tags: , , , ,


Muriel Spark’s work can be found in every corner of the literary world: Novels, short stories, poetry, reviews, and many other written forms, best known for her novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. Walking on Air, Cahier 2 of The Cahier Series published by Sylph Editions, was brought into being shortly after Spark’s death. These collected works of both poetry and prose were organized by Dan Gunn, some of them being published for the first time. Gunn’s process of pulling the pieces together for a cahier is what he hopes is its own sort of translation, and I must agree.

Walking on Air
features a few images of the author’s handwritten pages, complete with scribblings and rewrites, which was of particular interest to me. Most of my reviews and other writings are first handwritten (as is this one) with many such scratched out and reworded phrases. To see the written notes of someone of Spark’s caliber is certainly fascinating to any writerly mind.

The reader will also enjoy a few journal entries in which Spark discusses ideas for short stories and tidbits about her daily writing life. These entries are followed by a wonderful short story called The Ormolu Clock, which was discussed in the preceding journal entries.

Walking on Air wraps up with a few more pieces by Spark, including a short work on artist Piero della Francesca. Overall, this collection gives a unique look into the life of a great writer, leaving the reader with a sense of having had a personal encounter with Muriel Spark herself.


What holds people back from reading these days? I hear it all the time: “I love books, but I’m too busy” or, “I used to read, but now with the kids I can’t get much further than the first page.” Whenever I review and give away a book of short stories, I see many similar comments from readers who love shorts because they’re able to get something artistic back into their lives in the small amount of time they’re able to eke out. If you hang out on carp(e) libris reviews, chances are you wish as I do that you had hours of every day to devote to artistic pursuits, whether it be reading or slapping paint on a canvas. But if all you’ve got is a minute or two, all is not lost to you.

A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness: Four Chapbooks of Short Short Fiction by Four Women is just what the muse doctor ordered. These stories are truly short short; all under 1,000 words each, some no more than a paragraph or two, and each one brilliantly written by one of four highly creative women. This book is divided into four sections or “chapbooks” highlighting the work of one of the writers: Amy L. Clark, Elizabeth Ellen, Kathy Fish, and Claudia Smith. All four were nominated for Rose Metal Press’s first annual short short chapbook contest, Claudia Smith being the winner.

If you like the unusual, if you like to see the mostly unspoken fragments of life brought forth in an uneasy yet entertaining manner, if the art part of your mind is starving for attention, A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness will bring you brain food in small but fulfilling pieces. These are not wishy-washy shorts, oh no! They cover all the uncomfortable ramblings, the hidden and forbidden fragments that have rammed through most of our lives, either wanted or unwanted but there nonetheless. As a whole, this book pulls us together into a secret sisterhood of “I’ve been there and darned if I didn’t like it either.” If I had to pick one word that describes all these stories, it would be “powerful.” I was fascinated and inspired by how much all four authors were able to fit into each story, as I am sure you will be too.

Now that you’re properly aching for this book, I’ve got one extra copy of A Peculiar Feeling of Restlessness to give away. Enter to win by midnight EST, June 6, 2008.

1.) Leave a comment telling me something about the level of art you’re able to fit into your day, if any. Are you able to read a lot? Do you search for ways to feed your creative brain? (Something more than “I want this book” is kindly suggested.) Here’s your shot at creativity for today; if the randomly chosen winner doesn’t reply to my email telling them they’ve won, I often choose the #2 winner based on their comment.

2.) or Subscribers are automatically entered into this and all future giveaways. Just enter your email address in the little white box on the upper part of the right hand column. (Please make sure to verify your Feedburner subscription by responding to the email they send you. If you don’t receive it, check your junk mail.)

3.) or Blog about this giveaway on your blog with a link back.

Do all three, and you’ve got three entries to win!