Book Thoughts: By The Numbers

From the American Heritage Online Dictionary: aphorism – A tersely phrased statement of a truth or opinion; an adage. 

A daily dose of poetry  is a fine thing and James Richardson’s By the Numbers: Poems and Aphorisms is a great way to get your fix. The subject matter is commonplace enough for everyone to relate to, yet there are lots of smart references to mythology and science. The form of the poems didn’t grab me, although I rushed a bit in reading through them all, but the language and word play is terrific.

My favorite section is  called Vectors 3.0: Even More Aphorisms and Ten-Second Essays. Here Richardson has compiled 170 “tersely phrased statements of truth and opinion.” Honestly, when I started this blog I envisioned filling it with pithy observations like these. Maybe Richardson will become my muse, or maybe I’ll just have to quote his aphorisms. Hard to pick out my favorites, but here is a sampling:

The one thing in Life I’m meant to do? — well, I have to finish this first.

If we were really sure of our freedom we wouldn’t be so discomfited by those who make passion a habit, or habit a passion.

If you think you might be lost, you are. If you know you’re lost, you’re at least free to look for the way.

The odds against today were insurmountable, until it happened.

Thoughts are discussed, opinions displayed.

Bought this book for daughter #2 as a Christmas present, after we both enjoyed a couple of Richardson’s poems on Poetry Daily. Stole it from under her stash and read it greedily. Realize that it is too fine to keep to myself and will place it in her stuff-to-take-back-to-school pile. It can definitely be savored slowly over the course of a semester.

My personal poetry collection is quite small, but if I keep discovering poets like James Richardson,  it will be growing.

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