Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, the staff from Poor Richard’s Books in Colorado Springs recommends a book on the “why” of poetry, a meditation on an owl that becomes family and a Venice murder mystery.
Catching the Light
By Joy Harjo
Yale University Press
From the publisher: In this lyrical meditation about the why of writing poetry, Joy Harjo reflects on significant points of illumination, experience, and questioning from her 50 years as a poet. Composed of intimate vignettes that take us through the author’s life journey as a youth in the late 1960s, a single mother, and a champion of Native nations, this book offers a fresh understanding of how poetry functions as an expression of purpose, spirit, community, and memory — in both the private, individual journey and as a vehicle for prophetic, public witness.
From Jeffery Payne, Assistant General Manager: Ask an artist why they create and write, they will surely pause while they search for thoughts and words that can adequately describe their motive. When Joy Harjo was asked, she replied with a marvelous little book that shows her artistry and heart really don’t have the choice not to say anything. It’s like breathing, it must happen. Through grit her perceptive words speak to the many memories and challenges she has witnessed and through grace we share in the wisdom she has learned living through them. This reflective and compassionate account of essays allows us a rare glimpse into Harjo’s incredible talent.
Alfie and Me: What Owls Know, What Humans Believe
By Carl Safina
W.W. Norton & Company
From the publisher: When ecologist Carl Safina and his wife, Patricia, took in a near-death baby owl, they expected that, like other wild orphans they’d rescued, she’d be a temporary presence. But Alfie’s feathers were not growing correctly, requiring prolonged care. As Alfie grew and gained strength, she became a part of the family, joining a menagerie of dogs and chickens and making a home for herself in the backyard. Carl and Patricia began to realize that the healing was mutual; Alfie had been braided into their world, and was now pulling them into hers.
From Jeffery Payne, Assistant General Manager: Those of us who are fortunate enough to interact with undomesticated, perhaps even wild fauna, treasure, and are often surprised by, those moments when there is an unexpected connection made with an untamed creature. Through Safina’s astute and keen writing we can join in his journey of discovery, awe, and appreciation as the devotion between him and little Alfie grows. Intermingled with a schooling in world religions and philosophy, this insightful read will make one think twice before shooing away that pesky squirrel or squawking blue jay.
Death at La Fenice
By Donna Leon
From the publisher: There is little violent crime in Venice, a serenely beautiful floating city of mystery and magic, history and decay. But the evil that does occasionally rear its head is the jurisdiction of Guido Brunetti, the suave, urbane vice-commissario of police and a genius at detection. Now all of his admirable abilities must come into play in the deadly affair of Maestro Helmut Wellauer, a world-renowned conductor who died painfully from cyanide poisoning during an intermission at La Fenice.
From Jeffery Payne, Assistant General Manager: Yes, I know, Donna Leon has been writing (terrifically) for nearly two decades but only recently have I picked up her first book on a whim to read something different and I am so glad I did. What I enjoyed the most about reading “Death at La Fenice” was the gentle stepping back in time when there were no cell phones readily available, characters are succinctly developed and there isn’t a sense of “hurry” in solving the dastardly deed. Leon presents a nonchalant Venice that gives the reader a true sense of what living there must feel like. As the story and sleuthing develops, we see that fear is the basis of so much heartbreak and unkindness. If you are in need of a new reading diversion, pick up this great series.