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About Paul

Unique selections of books from our book buyer Paul Ingram. He compiles great lists of books on varying topics.

If you have any requests for recommendations, send Paul an email at paul@prairielights.com

  • Paul's Poetry Month: Filling Station by Elizabeth Bishop

    The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 Elizabeth Bishop

    Filling Station
    By Elizabeth Bishop

    Oh, but it is dirty!
    —this little filling station,
    oil-soaked, oil-permeated
    to a disturbing, over-all
    black translucency.
    Be careful with that match!

    Father wears a dirty,
    oil-soaked monkey suit
    that cuts him under the arms,
    and several quick and saucy
    and greasy sons assist him
    (it’s a family filling station),
    all quite thoroughly dirty.

    Do they live in the station?
    It has a cement porch
    behind the pumps, and on it
    a set of crushed and grease-
    impregnated wickerwork;
    on the wicker sofa
    a dirty dog, quite comfy.

    Some comic books provide
    the only note of color—
    of certain color. They lie
    upon a big dim doily
    draping a taboret
    (part of the set), beside
    a big hirsute begonia.

    Why the extraneous plant?
    Why the taboret?
    Why, oh why, the doily?
    (Embroidered in daisy stitch
    with marguerites, I think,
    and heavy with gray crochet.)

    Somebody embroidered the doily.
    Somebody waters the plant,
    or oils it, maybe. Somebody
    arranges the rows of cans
    so that they softly say:
    esso—so—so—so
    to high-strung automobiles.
    Somebody loves us all.

     

    "Filling Station" is found in The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop

  • Paul's Corner: National Poetry Month

    Blacks Gwendolyn Brooks

    In honor of National Poetry Month, Paul will be sharing some of his favorite poems over the next few days.

    Here's the first poem: "Boy Breaking Glass" by Gwendolyn Brooks from Blacks (1994). 

    Boy Breaking Glass
    BY GWENDOLYN BROOKS

    To Marc Crawford 
    from whom the commission

    Whose broken window is a cry of art   
    (success, that winks aware
    as elegance, as a treasonable faith)
    is raw: is sonic: is old-eyed première.
    Our beautiful flaw and terrible ornament.   
    Our barbarous and metal little man.

    “I shall create! If not a note, a hole.   
    If not an overture, a desecration.”

    Full of pepper and light
    and Salt and night and cargoes.

    “Don’t go down the plank
    if you see there’s no extension.   
    Each to his grief, each to
    his loneliness and fidgety revenge.
    Nobody knew where I was and now I am no longer there.”

    The only sanity is a cup of tea.   
    The music is in minors.

    Each one other
    is having different weather.

    “It was you, it was you who threw away my name!   
    And this is everything I have for me.”

    Who has not Congress, lobster, love, luau,   
    the Regency Room, the Statue of Liberty,   
    runs. A sloppy amalgamation.
    A mistake.
    A cliff.
    A hymn, a snare, and an exceeding sun.

  • Paul's Corner: Maud and Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks

    Maud and Martha Gwendolyn Brooks

    In 1953 Gwendolyn Brooks wrote her only novel, a minimalist collection of vignettes, character sketches, and brief narratives. Third World Press has kept it in print. It can be read and loved in a day. Chicago in the 1940s, African-American lives, racism, light-skinned vs dark-skinned African Americans. A beautiful, nearly perfect novel. Laughs and tears.