Ah, Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays! No gift giving anxiety--just a day set aside to eat good food and to remember that we have lots for which to feel grateful.
I decided to do a different take on the old gratitude exercise. I looked back through my blogs and bookshelves and thought about all the great poems I've read in the last year. The following list is not exhaustive. It's a list of the books of poems which have made me particularly happy in the past year.
Coming over the next few days will be recommendations for all the gift recipients on your list. Poetry makes a great present. Why not support our cottage economies with your holiday purchases?
But for now, a list of the great books of poems I have read in the past year (arranged alphabetically by author's last name):
The Doors of the Body by Mary Alexandra Agner: a chapbook of poems that revisit primarily female characters from classic Greek mythology and fairy tales (Mayapple 2009).
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)
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 Stand Here Shredding Documents by Kristin Berkey-Abbott: My chapbook brought me lots of joy this year. These poems show both the absurdities and joys of modern life, particularly as experienced by office workers and by women. (Finishing Line Press 2011)
Saint Monica by Mary Biddinger: Poems that explore a Catholic childhood, poems the explore what it means to be a woman, poems that explore the intersections between religion, gender, and class. (Black Lawrence 2011)
Odes to Tools by Dave Bonta: Bonta writes a poem for every almost every tool in the shed (unless you've got a really well-stocked shed). Even those on your list who don’t like tools will find the poems in this chapbook delightful and accessible. (Phoenicia 2010)
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 experimeints 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)
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)
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)
Lighthead by Terrance Hayes: Poems rooted in African-American experience and history (Penguin 2010)
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)
Broken Sonnets by Kathleen Kirk: Kirk experiments with the sonnet form, including the first prose sonnet that I’ve ever read. She shows that even in brokenness, life holds sweetness, whether it’s in the perfection of the sonnet form or the imperfections of love. (Finishing Line 2009)
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)
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)
Dark And Like A Web: Brief Notes On and To the Divine by Nic Sebastian: In April, thinking she would write a poem a day, Sebastian started writing prayers and charms. She posted them to her blog for about a week before she realized she was creating something deep and special. Months later, lucky readers receive this collection of 15 poems in a chapbook. (Broiled Fish and Honeycomb 2011)
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)
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)
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)
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