Saturday, November 26, 2011

Poetry Makes a Great Present: The Annotated List of Books with Spines

Yesterday I wrote a post with recommendations of books for everyone on your gift-giving list.  I arranged it by subject matter.

Here's the master list of books with spines, along with brief descriptions so that you can get a sense of the book.

Here is the list in alphabetical order by author:

Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room by Kelli Russell Agodon: An original voice, poems that change the way I see the world, poems that plagiarize moonlight and confuse macrame and macabre and firmly situate themselves in the pantheon of American literature. (White Pine Press, 2010)

Small Knots by Kelli Russell Agodon: A great series of poems about breast cancer makes up the last third of this book. The profound poems in the first part of the book explore other aspects modern life. (WordTech, Cherry Grove imprint 2004)

The Boatloads by Dan Albergotti: I have wanted to read this book since I read the poem “Things to Do in the Belly of a Whale”—it did not disappoint. Poems that explore modern existence—and many of them use Biblical and classical imagery in new and delightful ways. (BOA 2008)

A New Red: a fairly tale for grown ups by Lana Hechtman Ayers: This book modernizes the tale of Little Red Riding Hood, while not turning all the characters into humans. Interspecies relationships, the possibility of sex with a real wolf—a treat! (Pecan Grove Press 2010)

I Was the Jukebox by Sandra Beasley: poems that animate the inanimate, from sand to eggplants to jukeboxes, poems that took my breath away, so unique was the approach of this volume. (W.W. Norton, 2010)

Theories of Falling by Sandra Beasley: The Allergy Girl series of poems changed the way I see the world and reminded me to be grateful of the smallest thing, like the ability to take a breath. (Western Michigan University Press 2008)

Prairie Fever by Mary Biddinger: Stunning Images and zinging language. (Steel Toe Press 2007)

Frontier Literature by Shefali Choksi: Choksi accomplishes amazing feats with her use of fairy tales. The last section of the book uses the mythology of her native India. (Cyberwit 2010)

Corinna A-Maying the Apocalypse by Darcie Dennigan: Poems that juxtapose the odd, the normal, the surrealistic in ways that leave me stunned. (Fordham University Press, 2008)

Framed in Silence by Lynn Domina: The first section imagines a Creator God in the act of creation, but these poems are informed by scientific knowledge. The middle section has lyrical poems that explore regular life often by using theological imagery. The third section "Peaceable Obsession" offers inspired by the paintings by Edward Hicks, who painted many versions of "The Peaceable Kingdom," images which are probably familiar to most of us. (Main Street Rag 2011)

The Cloud Corporation by Timothy Donnelly: Interesting experiments in composing poems comprised from other documents into new and startling creations. (Wave 2010)

From the Fever-World by Jehanne Dubrow: Dubrow creates a convincing voice in these poems that explore the fictional life of a Jewish woman in pre-WWII Eastern Europe. (Washington Writers' Publishing House 2009)

Ka-Ching! by Denise Duhamel: Poems about money and economics—just the right note (often a funny note) for these hard times. (University of Pittsburgh Press 2009)

Kinky by Denise Duhamel: For every reader who has ever loved a Barbie doll. (Orchises 1997)

Harlot by Jill Alexander Essbaum: For the reader who likes the sacred and the profane mixed in one poem. (No Tell Books 2007)

Town for Trees by Justin Evans: Poems set in Springville, Utah, where the landscape becomes as important, if not more so, than any of the characters in the book. (Foothills 2011)

Unmentionables by Beth Ann Fennelly: how could you not like a book of poems that includes a sequence of poems inspired by kudzu? (W.W. Norton, 2008)

Becoming the Villainess by Jeannine Hall Gailey: Gailey explores all sorts of female icons in all sorts of pop culture: fairy tales, mythology, comic books, video games, and film. What a treat! (Steel Toe Books 2006)

She Returns to the Floating World by Jeannine Hall Gailey: poems that look at codes of all sorts: scientific, fairy tales, and folklore. Her love of Japan weaves through the book, as does her fascination with nuclear imagery. (Kitsune 2011)

The Insomniac’s Weather Report by Jessica Goodfellow: Some of these poems are stunning experiments (successful!) with language, while some are more traditional—all give us interesting insight into the essential elements of our world, both the scientific elements and the social elements. (Three Candles 2011)

The Narrow Road to the Interior by Kimiko Hahn: A book for the reader who loves all things Asian. Also great for those who want to explore the zuihitsu form. Or for those of us who deal with the juxtaposition of being a daughter and a mother. (W. W. Norton 2006)

Toxic Flora by Kamiko Hahn: nature poems, red in tooth and claw. (W. W. Norton, 2010)

Saving Daylight by Jim Harrison: Strong, savage poems full of wilderness. (Copper Canyon 2007)

Modern Life by Matthea Harvey: For those who love wordplay. These 2 series will change the way you view the abecedarian: The Future of Terror/Terror of the Future. (Graywolf 2007)

Why the House Is Made of Gingerbread by Ava Leavell Haymon: poems that use the fairy tale "Hansel and Gretel" to illuminate modern life. (Louisiana State University Press, 2010)

Lighthead by Terrance Hayes: Poems rooted in African-American experience and history (Penguin 2010)

Quarantine by Brian Henry: Poems that explore apocalypses of all types from illness to death to something dreadful which cannot be named. (Ahsahta 2006)

The Animals Beyond Us by Michael Hettich: Poems of modern life and love, particularly modern life as experienced in Miami, modern love as experienced by people at midlife (New Rivers 2011)

Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty by Tony Hoagland: a devastating critique of modern life. (Graywolf 2010)

Trill and Mordent by Luisa Igloria: These poems ask us to think about the lives we’re living, the trellises that undergird our lives, the armor that we try to construct to protect our lives. (WordTech 2005)

Our Post-Soviet History Unfolds by Eleanor Lerman: Great poems about surviving the cold war, as well as surviving the horrors of mid-life and old age. (Sarabande 2005)

Temptation by Water by Diane Lockward: poems of ordinary life, from filberts to lychees to observing the neighbors to watering the lawn--along the way, the succulent poignancy of midlife. (Wind Publications, 2010)

What Feeds Us by Diane Lockward: Luscious poems about food and all the other things which nourish us. I devoured this volume in one big gulp, and came back for seconds. (Wind 2006)

Blood Almanac by Sandy Longhorn: powerful poems that pulse with life with glimpses of a scary, violent undercurrent (Anhinga Press, 2006)

Cadaver Dogs by Rebecca Loudon: Poems of strange surrealness and beauty. (No Tell Books 2008)

The Freedom Business by Marilyn Nelson (poems) and Deborah Dancy (art): What an interesting artifact! This book contains the slave narrative written by Venture Smith in 1795, poems by Marilyn Nelson that were inspired by the narrative, and Deborah Dancy’s art that responds to the poems. (Wordsong 2008)

Lucky Fish by Aimee Nezhukumatathil: Poems of modern life, particularly modern life as seen through the eyes of immigrants , children, and other outsiders. Lots of wordplay and experiments with language too. ( Tupelo 2011)

Geometry of Dreams by Barbra Nightingale: This is the book for the mathematicians and physicists on your list. The sonnet cycle that concerns the death of the ex-husband should have wide appeal for all of us who have lost loved ones. (WordTech 2009)

Underlife by January Gill O'Neil: poems that explore being a parent, being a child, all the roles we navigate as adults. (CavanKerry Press, 2010)

No Sweeter Fat by Nancy Pagh: For every woman who struggles with body image issues (that would be almost all of us, right?), especially those of us who tend towards heaviness. (Autumn House 2007)

The Meager Life and Modest Times of Pop Thorndale by W. T. Pfefferle: Men hit midlife too. An interesting experiment in telling a longer narrative in linked poem format. (NFSPS Press 2006)

Mercy Island by Ren Powell: Poems that drip and bleed with fecundity—and loss. These poems remind us that even though life leads us to bloody/gory places, we can survive and perhaps even find redemption in the suffering. (Phoenicia 2011)

National Anthem by Kevin Prufer: This apocalyptic collection is full of haunting images, dark and strange. I returned to this volume again and again this past year. (Four Way Books 2008)

The Alchemist's Kitchen by Susan Rich: poems that explore contemporary life (midlife romance, food, walks, abandoned buildings, structures we claim) and poems that explore the life of early-20th-century artist Myra Albert Wiggins (White Pine Press, 2010)

Torched Verse Ends by Steven D. Schroeder: Another book for readers who like an acerbic look at modern existence: robots and personality tests and life in the office. Also the book for those who love wordplay. (BlazeVOX 2009)

Blue Positive by Martha Silano: A wonderful look at modern motherhood and what it means to be female now. (Steel Toe Books 2006)

The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception by Martha Silano: Poems that explore what it means to be a woman and a mother in our modern world, poems informed by a vast scientific knowledge (Saturnalia 2011)

Cyborgia, by Susan Slaviero: Slaviero mixes fairy tales, sci fi, and technology and comes up with unique mashes. (Mayapple Press 2010)

Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith: poems that explore Hurricane Katrina from every possible angle. (Coffee House Press, 2008)

Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith: pop culture (especially the songs of David Bowie) mixed with cosmology mixed with other scientific strains and missing a dead father. (Graywolf 2011)

The Wave-Maker by Elizabeth Spires: poems rooted in the natural world, poems that shimmer and shiver with a numinous quality. (W.W. Norton, 2008)

Punching Through the Egg of Space by Richard Allen Taylor: Poems rooted in Southern places, poems with pop culture references, poems that discuss the writer’s life. (Main Street Rag, 2010)

Tropicalia by Emma Trelles: Trelles captures the complexity of life in South Florida, from various exile communities to weird crimes to the scary majesty of the Everglades. (University of Notre Dame Press, 2011)

Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey: For the reader who loves Civil War history. Or for those of us who miss our moms. (Mariner 2006)

Keeping My Name by Catherine Tufariello: For your readers who like formalist poetry. Tufariello covers all sorts of interesting topics, from student leaders of the White Rose movement to women in the Bible to in vitro fertilization. (Texas Tech University Press. 2004)

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