Top 10 Poetry Picks
It's National Poetry Month. How could I pass up the chance to share my Top 10 Poetry Picks? Or (harder question), how can I narrow it to just 10? I think I can, I think I can, I think I can... :)
1. The Making of a Poem: A Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms. This one turned my older daughter's poetic life around. She discovered she's a better poet when she writes in form, and has tried sonnets, sestinas, villanelles and pantoums. I'm still trying to play catch-up to this 12 year old. :)
2. Love Poems from God: Twelve Sacred Voices from the East and West I can always trust Maureen Doallas for the best poetry recommendations. This one offered poets I'd never read before. Some of the background stories and poems brought tears; others made me laugh out loud. Includes some Rumi poems that supposedly have never been published in any other collection.
3. The Essential Neruda: Selected Poems (English and Spanish Edition) Dramatic poetry, and often very moving. I'm trying to memorize the Spanish versions after reading the English versions on the facing pages. Being a newbie to Neruda I wasn't sure which volume to choose and was pleasantly surprised when someone in-the-know told me he thinks this is the best set of translations he's seen. Also, Kathleen Overby reminded me I must watch Il Postino again, since it's framed around the exile of Neruda.
4. Valentines is a delightful volume of love poems, some of which will make you laugh, sigh, or gasp. (I remember being surprised by the one where the owl loved the mouse and... ate him! :) Kooser wrote poems for women all over the nation, each Valentine's day, until his list exceeded 2000 and the postage got too costly. I'm glad he finally put them in a book.
5. Nine Horses: Poems is whimsical (and sometimes unexpectedly poignant). Again, I loved a mouse poem (this time the mouse wins, so to speak, when it runs through the house with a lighted match). One Sunday afternoon I read this entire volume to my kids. They loved it.
6. Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words is technically a book on writing poetry (and therefore includes fewer poems than others on this list). But it's one of my favorite poetry books, because it really can help a person write better poetry (whether a seasoned poet or newcomer).
7. The Song of the Horse: Selected Poems 1958-2008. Sam Hazo won me over when I went to hear him read. Such a lively and thoughtful man! His poems are like little conversations or stories, which makes sense, since Hazo often pulls his poetry from life-overheard.
8. Tabloid News: Poems. Leax takes a simple element — the tabloid news headlines — and turns them into surprisingly haunting poems. We find ourselves empathizing with fantastic and monstrous figures like the Louisiana Bayou creature. Also, his opening essay about our fascination with such creatures is thought provoking.
9. George Seferis: Collected Poems. Seferis pretty much made me swoon with his talk of marble and light, almonds and blossoms. (He inspired the almond poem in InsideOut: poems (I remember the scent/and how you crushed them;/brown skins/turned to dust,/scattered like spilled cinnamon).
10. The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets. Again, this is a book on writing (and reading) poetry. But it HAS to go on my Top 10 List. Kooser permits us to love poetry by debunking the myth of if-it-confuses-you-it's-probably-good-poetry. Good poetry, he argues, is accessible. Then he shows us wonderful examples and invites us to a life of poetry. I'm in. :)
(Want to make your own list of favorite poetry books? If you do, I'll link to you.)
Bird photo by L.L. Barkat.
nAncY's 5 Poetry Book Recommendations
Heather's 10 Volumes
Laura's Poetry on the Move