Friday, October 26, 2007

A Few Favorite Books of Poetry

Here's some recommended reading, ten books of contemporary (meaning later 20th century or even after 2000) poetry, listed in no particular order, that one might consider buying or borrowing. And in the case of poetry-books, I almost always recommend plunging into the book randomly, rummaging about until you find a poem you like, and going from there. I'm listing the publishers from memory, so in some cases I may be wrong.

1. Gary Snyder, The Back Country--New Directions. Turtle Island won the Pulitzer, but I've always preferred this earlier book.

2. Randall Jarrell, either The Complete Poems or Selected Poems. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux.

3. Wendy Bishop, My Last Door (just published--2007, from Anhinga Press in Florida, really a splendid collection by the late Wendy Bishop.)

4. Richard Hugo, 31 Letters and 13 Dreams (they are letter-poems, not merely letters); or his collected poems, titled Making Certain It Goes On. W. W. Norton.

5. Rita Dove, Selected Poems. Vintage.

6. Langston Hughes, either The Collected Poems (edited by Rampersad and Roessel) or Selected Poems. Vintage.

7. Natasha Tretheway, Native Guard. This one won the most recent Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and the paperback came out in April, from Mariner Books. A wonderful combination of personal and historical poems.

8. Pablo Neruda, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair. (Dual Language Edition). Penguin--I think.

9. Kevin Clark, In The Evening of No Warning, Western Michigan Univ. Press. (Clark is a contemporary master of narrative poetry.)

10. William Stafford, Selected Poems [I think the full title is The Darkness is Deep All Around Us], Harper? Stafford consistently wrote very good poetry, and then every so often there's a perfect poem with astonishing, orginal insight combined with superb phrasing--but in an unpretentious voice.
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