"What I'm doing when I'm writing poetry is I'm making a little side salad. Just the right amount of sprouts on the top, maybe a chickpea or two. No bacon. Maybe a slice of egg. It doesn't feel like writing at all."
The Anthologist: A Novel by Nicholson Baker is a book I found by happy chance at the bookstore, just at the time I began to make an occasional side salad, bits of poetry. People who write and read poetry on the web are hugely supportive, never nasty, and find good things to say, no matter what you write. I am enjoying this book in small bites.
Goodreads book description: "The Anthologist is narrated by Paul Chowder -- a once-in-a-while-published kind of poet who is writing the introduction to a new anthology of poetry. He's having a hard time getting started because his career is floundering, his girlfriend Roz has recently left him, and he is thinking about the great poets throughout history who have suffered far worse and deserve to feel sorry for themselves. He has also promised to reveal many wonderful secrets and tips and tricks about poetry, and it looks like the introduction will be a little longer than he'd thought.
What unfolds is a wholly entertaining and beguiling love story about poetry: from Tennyson, Swinburne, and Yeats to the moderns (Roethke, Bogan, Merwin) to the staff of The New Yorker, what Paul reveals is astonishing and makes one realize how incredibly important poetry is to our lives. At the same time, Paul barely manages to realize all of this himself, and the result is a tenderly romantic, hilarious, and inspired novel."