Bibliohio: Recommended Reading from the Heart-Shaped State

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Like a Song,” Michelle Herman (Outpost19, 2015)

Why youll love it:

Michelle Herman’s newest collection of essays invites you in for coffee, cake and a little karaoke. The six essays in the book explore Herman’s memories of music and what it means to sing (or to write). Along the way, Herman looks at femaleness, family, friendship, the malleability of home and living in Columbus, the Harmony Project, show tunes and “American Idol.” Convivial, honest and inquisitive, “Like a Song” prompts us to reflect on the meaning of our personal soundtracks.

See for yourself:

“Reading a poem out loud comes closer to the experience of singing — but still, a poem you read … cannot quite become yours the way a song can when you are singing it, because of the way we experience music inside our bones: because of the physicality of singing — the breaths we take and hold and slowly expel, the inescapable fact that the instrument we are playing is within us.”

—from “Where You Start,” pg. 191

“Yearling,” Lo Kwa Mei-en (Alice James Books, 2015)

Why youll love it:

Lo Kwa Mei-en’s poem, “Arrow,” begins with this line: “Drawn, uninvited, I’m an animal with a price on her head…” Indeed, her debut collection of poems, “Yearling,” is not a safe place. There are threats of extinction and endangerment, hunters, cages, frightened birds and powerful oceans. Although Mei-en’s poems do draw on fairy tale and myth (for example, there are a few poems about the invented character of Pinocchia), the danger and loss in her poems feels painfully real. “Yearling” is full of beauty and magic, but it leaves behind splinters and bruises.

See for yourself:

“Once, I saw the alarming & cooled heart of myself,/ the swallower & expert of damage but not of repair// in myself, & found new ways to give it all// away. Made a gun of two fingers & a thumb, jerked/ to the throat, hunting & hunting & turning in the dark.”

—from “Through a Glass Through Which We Cannot See”