Friday, April 10, 2009

Introduction to Poetry

In honor of National Poetry Month, and because Leah asked me to write her up a mini-course on poetry, I'm putting together one sentence reviews of some of my favorite books poetry. The first three are my absolute favorites, and the rest are just good ones that you ought to pick up, weigh in your hands, and read with relish.

Crow: From the Life and Songs of Crow
(Ted Hughes): One of my all time favorites, Crow takes the mythology that is imprinted on all of our hearts and tears it out into the open, creating a fleshy, gritty masterwork.

Morning in the Burned House
(Margaret Atwood): This, the first book that made me love poetry, is filled with the stark images and language that make Atwood's fiction and poetry simple and gorgeous.

Facts for Visitors
(Srikanth Reddy): Reddy's poems are academic and profound, but still utterly readable; if you can see or hear him read his work outloud, do it at once.

100 Selected Poems (e.e. cummings): e.e. cummings is the Shel Silverstein for adults and his poems are fantastic; read aloud and pay close attention to the parentheses.

The Wasteland and Other Writings (T.S. Eliot): Eliot's work is at once overwhelming and deeply beautiful; read it once through without stopping and then go back and use the annotations.

Collected Poems (Wallace Stevens): A man who knows how to use form and make it invisible, the highest objective of a poet.

The World According to Itzik (Itzik Manger): This collection of moving pieces which draw from biblical sources and experience with the Holocaust is far too little read.

The Complete Poems (Andrew Marvell): Marvell knows what is good in life and how to put it down on the page.

The Pleasures of the Damned (Charles Bukowski): I'm letting you go ahead and skip Ginsberg to read Bukowski, who seems like the next generation of William Carlos Williams, simple and deep.

Dancing in Odessa (Ilya Kaminsky): This is great poetry by a poet who will be around longer than we are.

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