on The Two Kinds of Decay, a memoir by Sarah Manguso (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

As a Harvard undergraduate in 1995, Sarah Manguso contracted a neurological disease called chronic idiopathic demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy or CDIF, though her illness was initially misdiagnosed. “My disease has two steps,” she writes. “The immune system secretes antibodies into the blood. Then the blood delivers the antibodies to the peripheral neurons.

on The Importance of Music to Girls, a memoir by Lavinia Greenlaw (Farrar, Straus & Giroux)

I enrolled in ROTC in September, 1968, but I don’t remember why, or what it felt like to make that decision. All I can dredge up are scattered images. But the story is notorious among my family and friends who retell it, adding nuances and imputations along the way. Their narrative constitutes my memory.

on Creatures of a Day, poems by Reginald Gibbons (LSU Press)

The eleven-part poem “Fern-Texts” that completes Reginald Gibbon’s eighth book of poems, Creatures of a Day, begins with a passage from the notebooks of Coleridge. This entry from 1804 describes “two sorts of talkative fellows”:

on Another World Instead, early poems of William Stafford, edited by Fred Marchant (Graywolf Press)

As an editor of a little magazine in the mid-1970s, I wrote to Bill Stafford asking if he would send some work. He responded with a batch of a dozen poems. Soon he became a regular contributor. The bulky packets would arrive a few times a year, and I would publish a poem or two. In 1977 I invited Stafford to Madison to read in the university’s poetry series.

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