WHOA. Was that a hiatus, or what? As my penance for being gone for so long, I’ve compiled a (linked) list of poems that should not be missed!
1. “Anniversary,” Louise Glück
Louise Glück is one of those poets I somehow miraculously discovered in high school, when I was first starting to stumble upon contemporary poetry. There’s something about this poem that remains in the back of my mind—especially because it’s SO different from Glück’s usual style. I read something she said (in an interview maybe? Or something. Something a dumb-but-curious-and-nerdy high school student could find on the internet) about always attempting to transcend her habits by identifying them and not allowing herself to rest in them. I still think about that.
2. “Boonies,” D.A. Powell
I’m probably one of D.A. Powell’s biggest fans. When some friends and I went to see him read in Ann Arbor last year, I was so overwhelmed with excitement I think it was actually detrimental to my health. This is, by far, my favorite from his new book.
3. “Look,” Laura Kasischke
Guys, I love Laura Kasischke. I knew I wanted to include one of her poems, but it was nearly impossible to choose. This one is an amazing example of her unusual instincts regarding layout. The em dashes at the end make my heart stop a little bit.
4. “Aubade with a Broken Neck,” Traci Brimhall
Of all the Traci Brimhall poems I’ve known and loved, this one remains my favorite. It’s everything I want an aubade (a poem written upon waking) to be. Coincidentally, it’s also the first poem of Traci’s I ever read!
5. “Romanticism (The Blue Keats),” Roger Reeves
Roger Reeves, man. Roger is the kind of poet who leaves an indelible impression no matter which poem of his you encounter first. What’s miraculous about his poems, to me, is that it’s extremely obvious how well read and conscious of the canon he is, yet he somehow manages to maintain a personal style that is unmistakably his own. A defining characteristic of that style is the persistent, simultaneous existence of tenderness and violence.
6. “Waiting,” Allison Benis White
I met Allison Benis White through the Poets in Print Reading Series at the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center this past April. Talking to her afforded me one of my first experiences of truly connecting with another poet. We talked about craft, process, influences…everything. I’m pretty sure I followed her around like an imprinted duckling. Every once in a blue moon, you find writers you just want to be able to write like someday.
7. “I’m Over the Moon,” Brenda Shaughnessy
Once again, a first…the first poem of Brenda Shaughnessy’s I ever read. Brenda Shaughnessy’s Human Dark with Sugar was one of the first books Di ever suggested I read based on my own poetry…that was a huge landmark to me. I felt like I was finally honing my voice enough to have a reached a point where she could do that. And, of course, she was SO right.
8. “The Hotel Devotion,” Sandra Beasley
This. Poem. I feel like all I need to say is that this is one of the first poems I’ve ever read that compelled me to read it out loud to ANYONE who would listen.
9. “Other Lives and Dimensions and Finally a Love Poem,” Bob Hicock
A friend of mine sent me this poem the other day, and I swear my jaw dropped during the second half. It’s a fantastic example of expert titling—the poem itself takes an interesting turn, but then there’s Bob guiding us with the title. I’m especially interested in love poems lately because well, let’s face it, I’ve both fallen in love and fallen in love with love. Maybe I’m insufferable on the matter, hey, who cares. I’ve never been able to write a decent love poem, but I want to. LOOK. They do exist!
10. “My pants are disintegrating. Yes,” Diane Seuss
I struggled with choosing which poem by Diane Seuss I wanted to add to this list. Of course, I’m a HUGE fan of “Either everything is sexual or nothing is,” which is included in the 2013 Pushcart Anthology, but I wanted to think outside the box a little more. Di has written so many incredible poems, it’d be a shame to overlook others. I interned for a local literary magazine last year, and had the pleasure of putting together this page of Di’s poems. They’re all unforgettable, but I urge you, especially, to read “My pants are disintegrating. Yes,” …the pants mentioned in the poem were, I’m assuming, the same Di was wearing when I first officially met her. I’m sure all of the other students from my first year seminar at Kalamazoo College also remember the ensemble Di wore to greet us and our still-over-protective parents: notably, the hot-pink zebra striped leggings. What’s most incredible about this poem, in my opinion, is the way Di can take any seemingly mundane moment of life and make it into a vivid, expansive, masterpiece of a poem. I mean, what did you do last time a piece of clothing you loved fell apart?
Stay tuned, guys!!! I hope to update my “about me” page and post again soon. I’ve noticed other blogs ask questions at the end of posts, so um, here’s a question: have you ever read a love poem that wasn’t completely insufferable? You can easily leave comments via facebook (through this page, even!), or through a g-mail account. I’ll be back soon!