What are you reading: Mary Morgan recommends 'Magnetic North' by Linda Gregerson
Mary Morgan's transformation into an entrepreneur probably shouldn't surprise anyone, since she started her journalism career as a business reporter. In August, after 16 years as a newspaper journalist, Morgan gave up editorship of the opinion pages at the Ann Arbor News and became the publisher of an online newspaper. The Ann Arbor Chronicle was born Sept. 2, 2008. It features articles written by Morgan, by her husband Dave Askins (host of another well-known site, Teeter Talk), and by other local writers. The site is supported by local advertising.
We convinced Morgan to take a break from writing, editing and managing the business side of the site, just long enough to recommend a book for library patrons. Here it is.
"I'm reading "Magnetic North," a book of poems by Linda Gregerson. I bought the book about a year ago from Shaman Drum, and have come back to it recently.
"Linda teaches Renaissance lit and creative writing at the University of Michigan, and she's an example of some of the remarkable people who live in this town. She was a Guggenheim Fellow, and has won a ton of awards for her work - "Magnetic North" was nominated for the National Book Award last year.
"This isn't a book that I read from cover-to-cover. I'm not really sure how most people read poetry, but I'm a scanner. I page through the book until something strikes me, a word or phrase - like her description of "all-but-impenetrable bracken" near Maple Road (in "Bright Shadow") or of a troubled teen, her "lashes sticky with sunlight" (in "Prodigal") - and then I'll settle in and read that poem. I think images like that help shift your worldview just a bit, allowing you to look at common, taken-for-granted things in a slightly new way, which is a gift.
"Some of her poetry is inaccessible to me - meaning that I have to work at it, digging to uncover allusions and references to Juan Munoz or the siege of Lucera, or words like "homiletic" and "pellucid." That erudite back-in-school tone is a counterpoint to her seemingly casual, offhand observations:
"'Cloud cover like a lid on.
Thwarted trees. And three more hours
of highway to be rid of. My darlings don't want
a book on tape. They want
a little indie rock, they want to melt
the tweeters, they want
mama in the trunk so they can have some un-
"My life is fairly hectic right now, and reading one of Linda Gregerson's poems, letting the words tumble around in my head and slow me down, is a great antidote."