Saturday, December 4, 2010

Favorite Poetry Books of 2010: Add These Books to Your Shopping List

So, it's 3 weeks until Christmas, and you can't face one more crowded store. Why not order books to finish out your Christmas shopping? They'll be shipped to your door. You'll be supporting poetry from the ease of your armchair.

You say that the people on your list don't like poetry? I bet they'll like these books. And if they don't? Well, it won't be the first time that they've gotten a gift they didn't like--and maybe they'll grow into it.

I chose the books I've most enjoyed this year, most of them published this year. For last year's list, which is more comprehensive, go here. For a list of chapbooks, go here. For other ways to support poetry with your gift dollars, go here.

And as I chose this list, I couldn't help but notice how every book but the one by Kamiko Hahn came to my attention because of blogs. With several books, I already knew about the poet (again, usually because of stumbling across their blog), and I had the pleasure of watching the book publishing process of the book on the list below (author photos, blurbs, promotional videos, book covers--a wealth of information on various blogs). So if you ever wonder if your time spent writing a blog is worthwhile, I would say yes!

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)

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)

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)

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

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)

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)

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

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)

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)

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

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)

And for something slightly different: Poetry in Person edited by Alexander Neubauer. A wonderful teacher, Pearl London, invited some of the best poets of the late twentieth century to her classroom, where they talked about poems in process. This book is a wonderful book of interviews and poems, full of gems of insight, like this one from June Jordan: "Accessibility is a preeminent characteristic of work that lasts, work that therefore has the possibility of a world-changing impact" (p. 68).

Happy Reading!


Sandy Longhorn said...

Wow! I'm awed to be included in such an impressive list. Thanks for the boost, Kristin!

Diane Lockward said...

I'm honored to find my title listed here and keeping such good company. I suspect that I'll be over at Amazon before the day is over! Thanks so much!

Kathleen said...

Great list! I have some of these and have yet to get hold of some, and was given Poetry in Person as a gift earlier this year! Am reading it in snippets.

Dave said...

Thanks for this list. I was at least vaguely aware of all these books, but now I think I'll actually add some of them to my wishlist. I Was the Jukebox sounds especially tempting.

Unknown said...

Thank you, thank you! Now I'm off to buy four of these....

Susan Rich said...

Thanks for including The Alchemist's Kitchen on the list. And I love your description -- especially of the abandoned buildings -- an obsession of mine.

drew said...

I share your enthusiasm for these great books. Like you, I discovered Kelli and January and Susan and Sandy . . . through the network of their blogs.

Thanks for introducing me to even more great poets.