Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Robert Miltner shares his Desert Island Books

If you missed the latest OPA Writers' Retreat at Malabar Farm, then you missed the dynamic and engaging presence of poet Robert Miltner. Many thanks to Dr. Miltner for leading a fantastic workshop that focused on prose poetry, a form that (it's pretty safe to say) he knows something about. His prompts during sessions this past weekend led to the attendees drafting some amazing poems, some of which we hope to see in print soon--there were some really powerful pieces.

As a follow-up to the retreat, we asked Miltner to share a list of the ten books--poetry or otherwise--that he would want with him if ever stranded on a desert island. Below is the eclectic list of books, a collection as diverse as Miltner's own abilities as a writer.

"One: The Complete Plays of William Shakespeare. No single author has ever had an impact on the English language like Shakespeare did.    

"Two: The Collected Stories of Raymond Carver. Carver was a master storyteller, and his characters feel like real people who struggle with contemporary problems: paying the bills, responding to disappointments, and chasing impossible dreams in ways that define their lives.

"Three: Road Atlas: Prose and Other Poems by Campbell McGrath. A hodge-podge of poems and prose poems by a poet with just about the finest ear for the American vernacular; smart and witty poems by a vastly talented writer.

"Four: In Watermelon Sugar by Richard Brautigan. The quintessential post-apocalyptic hippy novel of the 1960s. A visionary, playful, clever, joyous and heartbreaking novel written in flash chapters.

"Five: Brutal Imagination. Cornelius Eady’s story of Susan Smith’s drowning of her children becomes more horrifying and heartbreaking as Eady explores the effects of scapegoating an imagined black perpetrator; a profound study of racism.

"Six: Holidays on Ice by David Sedaris. A stunningly funny collection of nonfiction essays by one of America’s finest humorists and cultural commentators; it’s hard to see holidays the same way after reading this book.

"Seven: Franny and Zooey by J. D. Salinger. The finest post-coming-of-age book written. Franny quits college because nobody discusses wisdom, and Zooey explores how everyone plays to an imaginary audience. 

"Eight: Dancer by Colum McCann. The author’s prose dances across the pages the ways it’s protagonist, Rudolf Nureyev, danced across the stage; an exhilarating historical novel by a master writer.

"Nine: Immortality by Milan Kundera.  Franco-Czech writer Kundera’s humorous and thought-provoking novel takes up the question of how we live to be remembered, questioning what we lose from our lives by living for the afterlife.

"Ten: Watership Down by Richard Adams. Written in the tradition of the Old World beast fable, Adams writes an inspiring story of a band of rabbits seeking to establish a utopian society; the interweaving of rabbit myth with the struggle to survive makes for a timeless story."

1 comment: