Are you a fan of poetry books? They are my very favorite when I need to mix things up between lengthy novels and dense nonfiction! I love how the language bounces around the page each in their own unique way and they’re so much fun to read out loud.
Here are 5 of my favorites…
Babel by Barbara Hamby
Hamby’s poems drift across histories and continents, from early writing and culture in Mesopotamia through the motion-picture heaven that seems so much like Paris, to odes on such thoroughly American subjects as hardware stores, bubblegum, barbecue, and sharp-tongued cocktail waitresses giving mandatory pre-date quizzes to lawyers and “orangutans in the guise of men.”
Favorite poems: Vex Me, The Tawdry Masks of Women, and Ode on My Mother’s Handwriting.
Skid by Dean Young
In Skid, Young’s fifth book of poems, social outrage vies with comic excess. He embraces the autobiographical urge with fury and musically lush exclamations. Whether through the dark facts of mortality or the celebratory surprises of the imagination, these poems proclaim vitality and alertness, wasting nothing. Young’s poems reveal his faith in the genius of calamity and the redemptive power of fun.
Favorite poems: Sources of the Delaware, Whale Watch, and Troy, Indiana.
Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson
Jane tells the spectral story of the life and death of Maggie Nelson’s aunt Jane, who was murdered in 1969 while a first-year law student at the University of Michigan. Though officially unsolved, Jane’s murder was apparently the third in a series of seven brutal rape-murders in the area between 1967 and 1969. Nelson was born a few years after Jane’s death, and the narrative is suffused with the long shadow her murder cast over both the family and her psyche.
Favorite poems: Phil’s Photos, Serials, and The Burn.
Head Off & Split by Nikky Finney
The poems in Nikky Finney’s Head Off & Split sustain a sensitive and intense dialogue with emblematic figures and events in African American life: from civil rights matriarch Rosa Parks to former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice, from a brazen girl strung out on lightning to a terrified woman abandoned on a rooftop during Hurricane Katrina.
Favorite poems: Red Velvet, Thunderbolt of Jove, and Segregation, Forever.
New Collected Poems by Wendell Berry
In New Collected Poems, Berry reprints the nearly two hundred pieces in Collected Poems, along with the poems from his most recent collections―Entries, Given, and Leavings―to create an expanded collection, showcasing the work of a man heralded by The Baltimore Sun as “a sophisticated, philosophical poet in the line descending from Emerson and Thoreau . . . a major poet of our time.”
Favorite poems: Planting Trees, The Dance, A Poem of Thanks and The Country of Marriage.
P.S. Bonus: Found Footage by Maggie Woodward is a newly found fave written by a dear friend. You should check it out, too!