Skip to main content

High School Poetry and My Margaret Atwood Reading List



     So, I have been a very happy camper in English class this month because we have just started the POETRY UNIT!!!! Yay!!  And what makes a sophomore English poetry unit so wonderful is that we don't even have to write poems for it.  Now, you might think that I would be upset by such a restriction, but actually I couldn't be happier with it.  After all, high school is full of kids who are full of feelings and lacking in experience. What I'm trying to say is that a poetry-WRITING unit would have resulted in a slew of terrible, TMI-inducing poems.
     (I must say that none of the above sarcasm means that I am exempt from the crummy-teenage-poetry-writing crew of America.  I just, you know, keep my poems in a file where no one will ever see them :P)
     But all of that aside, we were asked to pick a poem to memorize for this unit, and I chose "February" by Margaret Atwood.  And thus I became aware of the wonderful writing of Margaret Atwood!  She is a Canadian literary goddess who has written poetry, literary criticism, essays, and novels of many genres - basically, she's not tied down to any single type of writing, which is exactly how I hope to be as a writer someday.  Discovering her has prompted me to produce a reading list composed of Margaret masterpieces that I have read so far/intend to read, so that you all might enjoy them as well!


How cute is Margaret Atwood?
I love her hat.  And her hair. And her genius.
1. "February" - I've read this one already, durr, and I can tell you it's a great poem!  It completely encapsulates how I was feeling by February of this year - namely, GET ME OUT OF HERE AND INTO SOME SUNSHINE BEFORE I SHRIVEL.  Let it be spring. Hehe.
2. The Handmaid's Tale - I read this book a few months ago without really noticing the author, and it blew my mind. It's about a future society in which women are confined, in a religious effort to perpetuate the Aryan race, to a few very specific roles, such as that of a Handmaid, whose job it is to bear the children of high-ranking men if their actual Wives are infertile (I may not be remembering that exactly).  The most sickening and terrifying part of this book is that it sounds familiar.  The conditions for women in this society, while not an exact match, remind me of those in Taliban-controlled countries.  
3. Oryx and Crake - Well, I've heard this book is amazing, so I bought it!  It is another dystopian/speculative story set in the wake of an apocalypse caused by genetically engineered crops and animals.
4. The Edible Woman - I can't wait to read this book.  Shortly after the protagonist, Marian, gets engaged, she stops being able to eat and has the most unsettling feeling that she herself is being eaten alive.  The blurb says it best: "Marina ought to feel consumed with passion, but really she just feels...consumed."
5. Negotiating with the Dead: A Writer on Writing - Atwood wrote this book based on a series of lectures that she gave at the University of Cambridge.  She says that it is less of a writing guide and more a book on being a writer, but either way, I think my own writing would be the better for having read it.

          - Carly

Popular posts from this blog

Best Reading from my Third Semester

Once again, this semester's schoolwork took precedence over this blog.  It had to happen, but now I'm back to let you all know about the wonderful books I read in my classes.
     On an unrelated note, feel free to add me on LinkedIn!  I made an account but I only have four connections so far, it's very sad.

Novels
1. Cane by Jean Toomer - A gorgeous genre-blending novel which describes the lives of black people in rural Georgia in the early twentieth century.

2. Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston - The greatest self-love story of all time.

3. Passing by Nella Larson - A novel which examines the complex friendship between two wealthy black women, one of whom passes for white.

4. Smoke, Lilies and Jade, a Novel by Richard Bruce - A semi-autobiographical, experimental text peppered with ellipses and the names of great Harlem Renaissance artists.

Short Stories
1. "The Closing Door" by Angeline Grimke - This story demonstrates with intimate, hea…

Review: God Help the Child by Toni Morrison

I read this book courtesy of my friend Shanille, who purchased it for a class on the novels of Toni Morrison (!!!) and lent it to me when she was done.  Thank you girl!
     As usual, this book did not disappoint.  It is about a beautiful, successful, dark-skinned woman named Bride who sets out on a journey to confront an ex-lover, and by extension the many traumas she has experienced both as a child and an adult on account of other people's perceptions of her skin color.  
     My favorite aspect of the story is its characters, because they are drawn in such precise and lush detail.  Bride, for example, has constructed her outward appearance in order to thriveFor example, she goes by 'Bride' rather than her given name, Lula Ann Bridewell, and exclusively wears white clothing, in accordance with the advice of a lifestyle consultant.  At one point, she refers to herself as "The [woman] driving a Jaguar in an oyster-white cashmere dress and boots of brushed…

Book Review: The Spanish American Short Story, edited by Seymour Menton

I love the cover of this book.  Look closely - it's a little skeleton man clasping his hands over a cup of black coffee.  I don't know what it means, but it's delightful.      Anyway, I read this collection of short stories in Spanish - El cuento hispanoamericano - for a class I am taking this semester, but it is also available in English.  According to my professor, it's a unique book in that it offers the best representation of Latin American short stories throughout modern history, with details about literary movements and authors as well.  I liked some stories better than others - "The Tree" by Maria Luisa Bombal and "The Ruby" by Ruben Dario were my favorites - but even the ones I disliked, such as "Secret Love" by Manuel Payno, were included because they were representative of a certain movement or regional style that was worth acknowledging.        My only issue with this book is that a story I just mentioned, "The Tree,&…