Women in Translation Month 2017: My Reading List

August is Women in Translation month and this will be my third year participating. I really enjoy reading books by writers from other countries and highlighting their translated books. I’m also quite impressed by the translators. I only speak English and have always been in awe of those who can speak multiple languages.

WiT Month was created by Meytal Radzinski on her blog Biblibio and you can read all about it here. There’s also a Twitter feed where you can find book recommendations and keep up with all the activity during the month. Thanks to WiT Month, I found what has become one  of my favorite authors, Magda Szabo and I highly recommend her books, The Door and Iza’s Ballad. 

So, after a bit of research, I’ve decided on four books for this year. I wish I could read more but I know my limitations and so I prefer to keep my list attainable.

  1. The True Deceiver by Finnish author Tove Jansson, translated by Thomas Teal.
  2. Eve Out of Her Ruins by Mauritian author Ananda Devi, translated by Jeffrey Zuckerman.
  3. Umami by Mexican author Laia Jufresa, translated by Sophie Hughes
  4. Revenge by Japanese author Yoko Ogawa, translated by Stephen Snyder

And I hope to read Khomeini, Sade and Me by Iranian author Abnousse Shalmani , translated by Charlotte Coombe, during the month but, if not, definitely after.

I really encourage you to make a point of reading at least one translated book by a woman. I remember the first year I decided to do this how I felt completely at a loss as to how to find these books. It’s easier now with the #WiTMonth hashtag on Twitter so I recommend checking it out.

Happy reading!


Happy birthday, Lucille!

Lucille’s mother was a gifted poet with only an elementary school education. Her poetry was offered publication but Lucille’s father wouldn’t allow it and forced her to burn the poems in the fireplace. It’s said Lucille never forgot it and I’m sure it shaped much of her own poetry. About the incident, she wrote a poem called “fury”:
“her hand is crying. / her hand is clutching / a sheaf of papers. / poems. / she gives them up. / they burn / jewels into jewels.”

She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for two separate books in the same year: Good Woman: Poems and a Memoir (1987), and Next: New Poems (1987). She won the National Book Award for Blessing the Boats (2000); the 2007 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize; and the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America in 2010, just before her death.

When I discovered Lucille’s work I felt energized. Her messages of empowerment and self-love are lessons every one of us should take to heart and put into practice. How great it must have been to hear her read in person. 

Photo via The New Yorker

13 Odd Questions


There’s a column in the weekend Wall Street Journal that I enjoy reading called “20 Odd Questions”. All sorts of people are quizzed, from actors to artists, athletes to writers, designers to scientists. It’s interesting to read the answers and, often, you learn something new or glean tips you can use yourself. I like to answer the questions from my pov so I thought it’d be fun to answer this week’s list and post it here. I eliminated some of the questions that didn’t apply and came up with 13 Odd Questions. 

My dream dinner party would include guests like:
Patti Smith, Lucille Clifton, Joan Didion, Swoon, Helen Mirrin, Maria Popova, Toni Morrison, Amanda Palmer, Dianne Ackerman, James Corden, Idris Elba, Depak Chopra.

I never leave the house without:
lipstick on. Not even to walk the dog around the block. It’s because my face is so beige.

The place I’d love to return to is:
New York City. Let’s go.

The album from my childhood that I still listen to is:
Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors

The oldest piece of clothing in my closet is:
a tee shirt with Micky and Minnie on it from the early ’70’s. I slept in it for years but now it’s ripped and holey. I just can’t throw it away.

I love to collect:
I don’t collect much anymore but I save a lot of stuff on Pinterest. I do like kitschy garden art. My husband would say I collect handbags and shoes but he has no idea what a real collection looks like.

The book I love to read again and again is: 
Dorianne Laux‘s Smoke. I love her poetry. It’s so honest, human, and accessible.

My favorite cuisine is:
Anything cooked by Ree Drummond. I love her cooking show, never miss an episode. Every recipe of hers I’ve tried has turned out great. But Italian cuisine is a close second.

My day isn’t complete until:
I’ve read some poetry.

The most used app on my phone is:

The most stylish fictional character is:
Carrie Bradshaw, of course.

I unwind at the end of the day by:
I try to listen to a podcast when I go to bed. I enjoy The New Yorker’s “Modern Love” and “The Writers Voice”.

If money were no object I would buy:
it’s a tie between an apartment in Manhattan or a place in Italy, maybe near Lake Como.

A Plastic Bag

A plastic bag in the wind is trash
to some, beauty to others.
Who’s to say what’s right or wrong?
Desperate eyes see freedom in lift and airiness,
a thing not of nature riding on nature’s wings,
accepted without question, unencumbered
by expectations, allowed to be
its most spontaneous, creative self. A vessel
to hold other things, it’s true, but filled
with possibilities of what those things might be.


Poem inspired by the plastic bag scene in the film American Beauty which I find achingly sad yet hopeful.

Morning Moon

There’s that damn watery moon again –
the same one that used to look in on us
in the tired-as-crap early morning hours
tangled in each other’s wild-ass wonder,
ribs on vertebrae, clavicle on cheekbone,
arms stretched to the breaking point as feet
beat a staccato on torn sheets. She won’t look
away, that moon, watching through the window,
inching silently across my strip of sky until
she disappears and I’m left with counting
the dawns until she and you return.


Poem currently and temporarily up on Fictionaut and shared on dVerse Poets Pub’s Open Link Night. 

Image by Susan Clements. Thanks for inspiring this poem, Susan! 

Inspiration Interlude: Diane Ackerman

“There was nothing to do but wait. It is always like this for naturalists, and for poets–the long hours of travel and preparation, and then the longer hours of waiting. All for that one electric, pulse-revving vision when the universe suddenly declares itself.”

― Diane Ackerman, The Moon by Whale Light and Other Adventures Among Bats, Penguins, Crocodilians and Whales


Imagethe lagoon at Audubon Park, New Orleans / Photo by me