Showing posts with label Father's Day. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Father's Day. Show all posts

Inexpensive Gift Ideas for the Literate Dad

Are you floundering over what to buy for dad this year?  I always buy books for my father (my mother too) - and this year is no exception.  Just knowing that I can pick something that fits his taste, and at the same time provides him with much needed relaxation, pleasure and intellectual stimulation is enough incentive for me to keep getting the same type of gift each year.  If you're wondering what to buy, books are great gift ideas and personalising your choice to your dad's taste is really thoughtful. 

If Dad isn't a big reader, then nonfiction is a pretty safe bet. You can buy manuals, guides or coffee-table books on almost any topic.  Biographies of people Dad admires or people from historical periods that Dad is interested in are also good.  If in doubt, go for award winners.  This year's National Book Critic winner for biography was Robert Caro's The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson.  This year's Pulitzer Prize winner The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss.  I think either of those would be a hit with most fathers - even those who don't normally hunker down with a book.   

For fathers who enjoy reading, you could do worse than picking an award winner in whatever genre they like.  for example, I got my own dad, a sci fi fan, the novel 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson.  The book won the 2012 Nebula Award for Best Novel and the plot summary sounds like it's just up his alley (normally I pre-read the books I send him, but haven't read any sci fi this year). Why not tuck in (perhaps instead of a card), a poetry chapbook as well to really stimulate Dad's literary imagination.  Imagining the Future: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions is the book of poetry I co-authored with Carolyn  Howard Johnson and can be either purchased as a super-inexpensive e-greeting card or sent as attractive paperback. To get you in the mood, here's a poem from the collection:

Horizon Scanning

Your eyes squint at glare
wavering between dreams

imaginary lines
or clear delineations

from this point
it’s not possible to judge

take a stand from your degraded platform
speaker’s corner cardboard soapbox

microwave radiation
blocking your ears

you can shout your head off
until everyone gathers

it won’t change reality
or will it?

28 billion light years
one edge to the other

there you are
explorer without a map

scratching your head
the horizon problem flakes those broad shoulders

Atlas in messy hair
and bell bottoms

every mystery you solve
invokes another.

Ruminations on Fathers

There's a poem for every occasion, and the occasion at hand is Father's DayThough the 3rd Sunday in June is the most common day for Father's Day, it's not the only one.  In Australia, for example, Father's Day is the first Sunday in September.  In Russia, it's February.  My own Father lives in the US, and so I get to celebrate the June date, usually (almost always) by sending books for gifts.  My dad likes to read sci-fi, so this year he got Mieville's Railsea and Murakami's 1Q84.  Last year I wrote him a poem, as I often do, though the following one is a poem I wrote for another father figure in my life, my grandfather, who ran a boat yard for many years during my childhood. The now defunct boatyard is also pictured on the cover - the image that inspired the poem, taken by my uncle during a nostalgic visit back. The poem provides the title for (and is featured in) the poetry book Imagining the Future: Ruminations on Fathers and Other Masculine Apparitions which I co-wrote with Carolyn Howard-Johnson.

Fathers provide such a fertile source of inspiration (mother's too!) - so if you're looking for a reason to write a bit of poetry, perhaps some ruminations on dad might work. I've been writing poetry since I was a young girl, and I'm hoping that at least a few of those early poems are kept somewhere in a box of mementos, as indeed I keep my own children's poetry and handmade gifts.   Happy Father's Day to all you wonderful fathers out there.

Boat Yard

Walking the fuzzy line
between deference and defiance
a cold wind opens the door
you slide
into frictive fictive

Holding onto your absent body
too tightly
I find something
a heart once broken
beneath my own chest.

The snarl of your lip
against kindness in your eyes
how odd to find you
still supportive
so many years after you disappeared.

Snow covers everything
not enough for fairytale glitter
just desolate dust
darkening teal on the horizon
and water
always water
together we swim
through a remembered past
imagining the future.

Magdalena Ball runs The Compulsive Reader. She is the author of a number of books including Black Cow, Repulsion Thrust, Sleep Before Evening, and, in conjunction with Carolyn Howard-Johnson, the Celebration Series of poetry book of which Imagining the Future is a part.  Find out more at

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