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From Poetry Magazine

Reading List: March 2015

By Lindsay Garbutt
Float by Tauba Auerbach, 2011

“Float” by Tauba Auerbach, 2011

The Reading List is a feature of Poetry magazine’s Editors’ Blog. This month contributors to the March 2015 issue share some books that held their interest.

Rosebud Ben-Oni
Winter is a time for reading and rereading. I’ve been sucked into the mythologies of J. Michael Martinez’s In the Garden of the Bridehouse. Here unfolds a poet-tampered natural world where various creation stories converge, where the onset of memory signals the need to claim, to conquer: “Creation we corrupt / with precedence // what other story could / grow child.”

I saved PRIME, an anthology of poetry and conversation edited by Jericho Brown, for this time of year when the weather calls for more time spent indoors. It features Darrel Alejandro Holnes, Saeed Jones, Rickey Laurentiis, Phillip B. Williams, and L. Lamar Wilson, all brought together, as Brown writes in his introduction, as “poets committed to allowing the poems they write to change them.” Here’s a taste of Holnes on his poem “Stranger Queen”: “…s/he is a stripe of color revealed by the prism. Transcendence is the light and living limitlessly. That’s what my poetry is for me, a part of my illumination, a part of my being, a part of being.”

I’m revisiting the “Gender Fables” in Carmen Giménez Smith’s Milk & Filth, which is an excellent companion to the “Self-Portraits” series in In the Garden of the Bridehouse. I’m also rereading Ruben Quesada’s Next Extinct Mammal for its meditations on loss and reconnecting with those gone “in / the middle of the night somewhere taking flight.” I can’t put down I Don’t Know Do You by Roberto Montes; it’s one of the most exciting new books out there. Next on my list: Cecilia Llompart’s The Wingless and Alice Fulton’s Barely Composed.

Charlie Bondhus
Right now, I’m reading Hervé Guibert’s The Mausoleum of Lovers, Journals: 1976-1991. It’s a provocative mix of the corporeal and the introspective; performative, yet honest—“Upon waking this morning a very pronounced sense of lack; I am in the state of someone who is expecting something, and whose life will be changed by this something. But what can I possibly be expecting? (I dreamt the other night that I was a child against the body of a man.)”

Lately, I’ve been revisiting Rilke quite often. I carry his Selected Poems in my school bag, and, though I finished reading it months ago, I keep going back to The Sonnets to Orpheus.

More contemporary poetry that’s been getting under my skin includes Lenelle Moise’s Haiti Glass, with its powerful depictions of Haitian immigrant life, and David J. Daniels’s Clean, which takes a fresh look at gay male sexuality. I’ve also been enjoying Ellen Bass’s lyrically compelling Like a Beggar and Claudia Rankine’s incisive Citizen: An American Lyric. I’m looking forward to the release of my friend Dean Kostos’s This is Not a Skyscraper (winner of Red Hen Press’s 2013 Benjamin Saltman Award), and my friend Jendi Reiter’s forthcoming Bullies in Love.

Michelle Y. Burke
I had a baby in October (my first) and began a new teaching job in January, so needless to say, I feel pulled in many directions. I wish I could say I were still energetically plowing my way through volume after volume of newly published poems, but I’m not. The moments I have for self-selected reading are few. For that reason, I find myself rereading what I already know to be comforting and nutritive. Beat Not the Poor Desk by Marie Ponsot and Rosemary Deen is one such book. Every time I read this teaching handbook, I discover something new and genuinely inspiring. Ponsot and Deen emphasize regular writing in the classroom and the cultivation of a community in which all students share their work by reading it aloud instead of subjecting it first or solely to the instructor’s critical gaze. This practice may not seem strange in the creative writing classroom, but Ponsot and Deen suggest that the composition and literature classrooms can benefit equally. I find this to be true.

The other book I’ve made time for is the Selected Poems of James Schuyler. We’ve had a rough winter here in New York—lots of slush and ice—and I find sitting down to Schuyler’s gentle observations comforting in the way that sitting down to a cup of hot cocoa is comforting. Schuyler writes:

March is here
Like a granny
A child doesn’t
Like to kiss.

Yes, it is, and I’m dreaming of summer when I hope to finally read all those volumes of new poems. 

Abigail Deutsch
Leafing through Death of a Naturalist recently, I discovered a marvelous poem mysteriously absent from my collected Heaney, which felt like winning a treasure hunt I hadn’t realized I’d joined. The poem is both war metaphor and weather report—and I appreciated it all the more for how well it captures our recent tempests. “Storm on the Island” ends:

                       Space is a salvo,
We are bombarded by the empty air.
Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.

I’ve also been enjoying the relatively sunnier work of the contemporary poet Dan Brown (not to be confused with the other Dan Brown, though this one, too, has angels and demons). Both of Brown’s books—Taking the Occasion appeared in 2008, and What More? in January—expertly marry the vernacular and formal, the humorous and grave, the extraordinary and everyday. In “My Own Traces,” mealtime cleanup turns deliciously existential. The speaker returns to the kitchen where he’s just been, “to confront the sight / Of the light-cord aswing”:

Not the first case of my
Own traces taking me
Completely by surprise.
Moving me to mutter “So
I do exist”—much as though
I’d had it otherwise.

Brown excels at describing such moments of emotional complexity, as when, on finding love, a speaker notes that “fondness, truth to tell / Inflected my farewell / To the solitude that I / Had been companioned by.” Another favorite poem relates, with chilling honesty, an understated reaction to JFK’s assassination. To a boy terrified of nuclear holocaust, it

Wasn’t the worst thing: not
Anything that had to do
With going up in a solar hell,
But rather with the President,
A motorcade, a hospital—
With how the evident extent
Of anybody’s sudden death
Was elsewhere and over with.

Jessica Fjeld
With the cold and the infinite feet of snow where I live, these past weeks have been a time to be home, settled, tending to the winter-weather chores and cooking things like casseroles. In such times the mail gains an out-size importance, coming as it does directly to me in this nest (literally, the mailman has to duck behind a 10-foot snowbank to reach our front door).

What the mailman brought a week or so ago was Madeline ffitch’s Valparaiso, Round the Horn, just out from Publishing Genius. These are short stories, but I’m hard pressed to think of a poet or reader of poetry I wouldn’t warmly recommend them to. I’d recommend them to the whole literate public, living and dead. There’s a generosity of spirit to ffitch’s work that animates both her language—stylized and sharp but also affectingly naive—and her characters, often out of sorts or out of water in their small towns. As I read this book I have the sensation, truly a physical one, that my chest is being slowly inflated with fellow-feeling and compassion. It’s a delight. Perhaps I’m not using quite the right phrase to describe it: ffitch has another. Of two of her characters, a grandmother and grandson curled up on a beach in the evening to wait for what might be the end of the world, she writes, “Their spines filled quietly up with cream and honey.”

That happens to be the last line of the story, and as good as it is, it might not even be the best final line in this collection. The one that closes “The Fisher Cat” is another candidate for that honor, but it would be a crime not to let readers come upon it in its proper place. Which is not behind a snowbank, though it may be read there.

John Hennessy
Who isn’t reading and talking about Claudia Rankine’s new book, Citizen: An American Lyric? It sold out quickly here at Amherst Books, our extraordinary local shop, and many of my students at UMASS have had to go further afield to track it down. And they should go out of their way to read it—it’s not just a great book of poetry, it’s an important public document.

I wish it had been available to us—my neighbors and me—in the multiracial neighborhoods I grew up in along New Jersey’s industrial corridor (primarily Rahway, around the corner from the Merck plant, across the Arthur Kill from Staten Island) and then in Belmar, down the Shore, in those days a bleak, half-empty town in winter, jammed boardwalk hotspot, full of nightclubs, bars, seedy hotels, in summer. In Rahway, the neighborhood was crowded and ethnically various, full of immigrant groups—Italian, African-American, Irish, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Jewish, Korean, one family from Scotland, even—and the kids all met in school and on the playground, Shotwell Park. We knew each other, played together, made friendships that crossed ethnic lines. But our parents didn’t. They had their divided delis and bars, bodegas and luncheonettes, their Knights of Columbus, Italian-American Club, P.A.C. halls. The grown ups did parallel play, at best, ignored each other mostly, were occasionally hostile.

Down the Shore it was more of the same in the winter, but in the summer the racist hostilities made national news. On Sundays the police started showing up along the beachfront with clubs drawn, shields propped, K9-unit dogs anxious, stretching their leashes: that was how they greeted members of African-American fraternities who were coming to town—and these were college-educated people, unlike many of the town’s winter residents. Way to school your children.

Rankine’s book in the hands of the younger people would at least have helped us better articulate what we objected to, what threatened our friendships. It would have told us we were right to protest, even when so many of our parents were divided, advocates of separation at best. In Citizen, Rankine explores the various ways we talk about race in this country—as well as the ways we avoid talking about it, and the way racist words and actions will suddenly rupture friendships, professional relationships, everyday errands, even professional sporting events. Perhaps most impressive to me is Rankine’s writing on tennis in general, and Serena Williams in particular. I have never set foot on a tennis court, never had the slightest interest in watching (March arrives, baseball is the game), yet in documenting Williams’s matches, the undermining attacks by umpires and officials she is subjected to, Rankine has her reader riveted—it’s bottom of the ninth, tie game stuff, in Rankine’s hands. She makes us care about everything she covers in her poems—even tennis. Because, as she shows us, in the end, it’s not just tennis, is it?

Cathy Park Hong
I haven’t had the luxury to dip into as many new books due to my packed teaching schedule but I’ve been doing quite a bit of rereading—I’ve been picking through the new imprint of John Berryman’s Dream Songs for a talk I’m doing. In thinking about my talk on Dream Songs, I’m rereading Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkin Reader, edited by Eve Sedgwick, and Sianne Ngai’s Ugly Feelings.

Poetrywise, I’m reading CA Conrad’s compulsive and fabulous Book of Frank, Joyelle McSweeney’s great new critical essays on the Necropastoral, Srikanth Reddy’s Facts for Visitors which I teach again and again, and Lyn Hejinian’s The Language of Inquiry. I just read Ronaldo Wilson’s brilliant Farther Traveler which will rip your head off and I’m about to excitedly dive into Ed Pavlic’s—not yet published—Let’s Let That Are Not Yet: Inferno.

Michael Derrick Hudson
A few years back I bought a 300-year-old copy of The Works of Mr. Abraham Cowley. Consisting of Those which were formerly Printed: And Those which he Design’d for the Press. Now Published out of the Author’s Original Copies (London: 1684). An English poet’s folio from the seventeenth century never seemed like something I could afford, but I picked this one up for $49 on eBay, much less than the price of the Library of America’s two-decker W. S. Merwin.

Why so cheap? Because Abraham Cowley folios are common. They are so common because Cowley was an incredibly popular poet. For a time Cowley was possibly bigger than Shakespeare (who had only four folio editions; my Cowley is an eighth edition), not to mention Donne, Herbert, and Milton. So what happened? Here is Edmund Gosse on Cowley (from Seventeenth-century Studies: A Contribution to the History of English Poetry):

The period of English poetry which lies between the decline of Ben Jonson and the rise of Dryden was ruled with undisputed sway by a man whose works are now as little read as those of any fifth-rate Elizabethan dramatist. During the whole lifetime of Milton, the fame of that glorious poet was obscured and dwarfed by the exaggerated reputation of this writer. . . . Yet in a very short space this work of destruction was most thoroughly done. The generation of Dryden admired his genius passionately, but not without criticism. The generation of Pope praised him coldly, but without reading him, and within fifty years of his own decease this nonpareil of the Restoration fell into total disfavour and oblivion. . .

There has been no Abraham Cowley revival since Gosse’s assessment in 1883. But I rather like Cowley in places. “The Chronicle” is a ballad of loves won and lost:

Gentle Henriette than
And a third Mary next began,
Then Jone, and Jane, and Audria.
And then a pretty Thomasine,
And then another Katharine,
And then a long Et cætera.

No Miltonian profundity here, but something about the spelling of “Jone” and that mordant long Et cætera makes me smile. Perhaps these are pleasures more antiquarian than poetical, but Cowley was no mere poetaster. This is from “Destinie”:

With Fate, what boots it to contend?
Such I began, such am, and so must end.
The Star that did my Being frame,
Was but a Lambent Flame,
And some small Light it did dispence,
But neither Heat nor Influence.
No matter, Cowley, let proud Fortune see
That thou canst her despise no less than she does Thee.

Cowley dodges bathos here with a robust sense of self; perhaps he wouldn’t have been surprised by his vanished fame and Gosse’s dour assessment. I carry this passage around like an amulet, words not to ward off impending oblivion but to at least try to be brave and good humored about it.

John Kinsella
My poetry reading at present is very much determined by two big editing projects I am involved in—one is with Tracy Ryan and is an historical anthology of Western Australia poetry, and the other is a retrospective edition of the poetry of Aboriginal poet and playwright, Jack Davis (1917-2000).

The overlap between the two is Jack Davis himself, and his four major books—First Born (1970), Jagardoo: Poems from Aboriginal Australia (1978), John Pat and Other Poems (1988), and Black Life: Poems (1992)—are standouts as poetry collections and as passionate activist works. As Davis asserts indigenous claims to land stolen from them by “settlers,” he rejects the rapacity of mining and logging companies, while speaking with deep affection for the land’s beauty and agency. As Davis himself says on the back of Black Life, “I write of life as I see it.”

Further reading over the last week or so has included Donna Krolik Hollenberg’s well-researched A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov (2013), which left me more convinced about the effectiveness of the dialogue between “lyric” and activism in Levertov’s poetry in the sixties and seventies than in the latter stages of her life, when she was reconciling religious practice (ritual as well as spiritual) with activism, though it did take me back to a closer reading of the “late poems” in Sands of the Well (1996).

I am also rereading William Radice’s fascinating translations of Rabindranath Tagore (Selected Poems, 1985), whose dedication includes “to the Peace Movement”; Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s and Francesca Valente’s translations of Pasolini, Roman Poems (1986), to which I return intermittently, admiring their political and social immediacy; and the Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel, which I am just now discovering in their entirety.

Miller Oberman
I’m reading for my PhD exams, which are in a week, and reading this much can sometimes cook texts into a mush, but I find Pierre Joris’s translation of Paul Celan’s Breathturn cuts through fog. Joris’s introduction is useful to anyone interested in either Celan or poetry translation, and I love his insistence that translation should not force a poem into false accessibility, and that “all books of translation should be palimpsests,” with layers of shifting “other-languaged versions.” His efforts at translating Celan’s word compounds are breath-turning:

LANDSCAPE with urnbeings
from smokemouth to smokemouth.

Thomas Meyer’s Beowulf, written while Meyer was at Bard in 1969, but first published in 2012 by punctum books, also works magic with word compounds, as well as being (as far as I know) the only visually experimental Beowulf translation. Meyer explodes the packed text blocks our eyes have grown accustomed to, and the varied visuals on the page seems to unlock the poem, make it move in a new way. Meyer’s translation of a piece of the Beowulf/Grendel fight scene offers this compound to end all compounds:


Finally, Alice Oswald’s Memorial: An Excavation of the Iliad. Oswald, a poet-classicist, creates a kind of Homeric river, removing all narrative from The Iliad, leaving us with a series of similes streaming around the names of the dead. This is a river of “likes.” Here Oswald describes the death of Phaestus:

Like snow falling like snow
When the living winds shake the clouds into pieces
Like flutters of silence hurrying down
To put a stop to the earth at her leafwork

Possibly more astonishing than the book of poems is the recording of Oswald reading the entire long poem, which she considers an “oral cemetary.”

Kevin Prufer
Some time ago over dinner, my friend Martha Collins told me about a poet I’d never heard of, Catherine Breese Davis, whom Martha described as a wild talent, a fierce intellect, an enormously skilled formalist. Championed by Donald Justice, Davis saw her early work published in Poetry, The New Yorker, and Hall, Pack & Simpson’s seminal anthology New Poets of England and America. The trouble was that she left no book in print. While Martha knew there were manuscripts, we had no idea what we would find when we got to them.

This conversation led to a year of work, which began with calling many Roger Mitchells—Davis, who died in 2002, hadn’t had contact with her family for decades, and Mitchell, a nephew, was her closest living relative. More important was our exploration of the manuscripts, which turned out to be quite plural, with many variations to choose from. We also found a box of notebooks, versions of poems, and ephemera, which both complicated and helped our process.

I’ve been rereading Catherine Davis’s manuscripts since then with care and admiration, trading them back and forth with Martha and my student Martin Rock, preparing for their eventual publication later this year: Catherine Breese Davis: On the Life & Work of an American Master (Unsung Masters Series, 2015). Here’s a sample of what I’ve been reading (you can read the full poem here):


nothing unscathed.  Desires,
once tender stalks, grow brittle;
the first and clear-eyed dew
that clung thereto

Aram Saroyan
I came across Furious Cool: Richard Pryor and the World That Made Him in a recent Daedalus Books catalogue. It’s hard to imagine a better biography of Pryor, interspersed with excerpts from his stand-up from the start. I remember in the 1970s driving one evening from Bolinas to the repertory movie-house in Petaluma to see “Richard Pryor: Live in Concert,” the first concert movie by a comedian. It was Sonoma County and the packed audience seemed 100% white, not a few of them California cowboys who had driven over in pick-ups. How would Pryor do with this crowd? He came out on stage on the big screen and imitated his dog looking quizzically up at him and—in a voice that he also used for white people—inquiring, “How’s it going, Rich?” It was maybe 45 seconds before we were all submerged in convulsive waves of laughter. The book charts the life up to this zenith and then the descent into deepening drug abuse and early onset MS—with nuanced social, political, and entertainment history along the way.

Widow Basquiat: A Love Story by Jennifer Clement was first published in the UK in 2000 and only last year in America. Its structure is similar to Furious Cool with chapters that include recorded passages from Suzanne Mallouk, Jean-Michel Basquiat’s girlfriend through most of the 1980s. The sexual anarchy and drug taking eclipse even Pryor’s with the painter’s death at 27 from a heroin overdose. It renders the art and club scene of that period in New York like nothing else I’ve come across, a verbal equivalent of Basquiat’s art. A young African American without portfolio who began as a graffiti artist, among other things he was a colorist on a par with his eventual mentor, Andy Warhol.

Current poetry reading: Oh, Salt/Oh, Desiring Hand by Holly Prado and Where Bodies Again Recline by Harry E. Northup: these two poets, long married, are treasures of the Los Angeles poetry scene.

Martha Silano
One of my new year’s resolutions was to read more books. I began the year with 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl. The irony, of course, is that she does write 100 essays, albeit teeny-tiny ones, with titles like “The necessary,” “On sleeping in the theatre,” and, one of my very favorites, “On lice,” because it ends:

So, you thought you wanted to observe life? Motherhood shakes her head, clenches her fists, and demands, No, you must live it.

Live it, indeed. Like Eula Biss, whose personal confrontation with whether to vaccinate her child resulted in On Immunity: An Inoculation, my next read. Biss captures well an inquisitive and receptive mind at work, striving to make sense of facts in the midst of myriad assumptions surrounding health, disease, the body, and vaccination. Thank goodness for writers like her, who take the time and energy to separate out the myth from the actual danger of trace toxins, being poked by a needle, and other so-called risks.

Next came Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill, a gorgeous, heartbreaking novel, with gems glistening from every page—gems spoken to cosmonauts during sign-off (“May nothing be left of you, neither down nor feather”), gems I dog-eared and return to now: “These bits of poetry that stick to her like burrs.”

The poetry burrs, indeed. For me they include Charles Simic’s “Riddle” and “Fork,” Wallace Stevens’s Selected Poems, Simon Armitage’s “You’re Beautiful,” The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink edited by Kevin Young, which I’ve been hungrily dipping into as my students write literary analyses of Young’s “Ode to Gumbo,” Cornelius Eady’s “Sherbet,” and Sharon Olds’s “First Thanksgiving.” Like stickseed in my socks: Dorothea Lasky’s Black Life, Mary Szybist’s Incarnadine, Rachel Zucker’s Museum of Accidents. Because good prose always brings me back to my favorite genre of all, the one that most reliably induces felt thought.

Tom Sleigh
A book I finished recently is Adam Nicolson’s Why Homer Matters. Nicolson is a polymath who combines speculative anthropology, archaeology, personal anecdote, and a keen literary mind to make the material world that Homer inhabited completely present. His theory that the Greeks were originally a people who came from the steppes is borne out by the repeated imagery that links the sea to the grasslands of the plains. This is just one instance of an ingenious connection that forms what you might call the cultural and historical subconscious of the poem. Nicolson is an avid sailer, and sails the same routes as the Homeric warriors, in order to experience first-hand whatever traces of ancient Greek culture still persist. By viewing his life through the lens of Homeric adventure and loss, Nicolson shows how a book can penetrate every crevice of your experience.

I’d also recommend a little known translation of Osip Mandelstam by James Greene, simply called Osip Mandelstam. It has a foreword by Nadezhda Mandelstam and Donald Davie, and was published by Shambala. It’s long out of print, but you can find a few copies on Amazon. Greene translated only those poems that he felt he could bring over into English. He also leaves untranslated whatever part of a poem he can’t bring over into English. His idiom is the spare British English of an anti-Romantic skeptic who nonetheless stays faithful to Mandelstam’s compression and occasional grandeur of phrase. His use of irregular rhyme knits the wayward associations tightly together. All this works amazingly well—so well, in fact, that Madame Mandelstam praises the poems as “some of the best I ever saw.” Greene did two versions, the later one published by Penguin. That version has more poems, and he translate every line, but the poems in that edition don’t have the same idiomatic canniness. So if you want the texture of Mandelstam’s music and thought, the earlier version is the one to get.

Austin Smith
I like Emerson’s quote, “There is creative reading as well as creative writing,” (see James Richardson’s wonderful little book on that idea, titled First We Read, Then We Write). My creativity as a reader takes the form of an insatiable restlessness. I’m like someone who goes to an all-you-can-eat buffet, takes too much of everything, finishes nothing, but leaves feeling satisfied that they got their money’s worth (this metaphor does not condone food wastage). The books still on my plate at the moment are a new book about Roberto Bolaño, titled Bolaño: A Biography in Conversations, a wonderful celebration of his life and work by those who knew him. I love biographies. They give me courage. One that I read over and over again is Bates’s John Keats, which lately I have been putting aside just before he dies in order that he might live. This leads me to Keats’s letters, which I’m never not reading. Another great collection of letters I read like a litany is Letters: Summer 1926, and comprises the triangular correspondence of Pasternak, Tsvetayeva, and Rilke in the last years of Rilke’s life. In this age of email, the velocity of their affection for and competition with one another, dramatized by the exigencies of the space and time through which a letter must travel, is marvelous. I’ve also spent months wandering through a book by Barthes called Preparation of the Novel. As one who is always preparing to write a novel, I resonate with his awe before the task, and the first chapter, on haiku, is wonderful. Most recently, I devoured James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time, a book every American should read, while also working with great pleasure through Gaston Bachelard’s The Poetics of Space and the novel Plainsong by the late (and great) Kent Haruf.

Terese Svoboda
I’ve been taking a “wormhole crush crash course” from Dragon Logic by the ever brilliant Stephanie Strickland, and (full disclosure) I recently wrote a blurb for Ah, Wind, the latest book by octegenarian Carolyn Stoloff, my teacher from forty years ago (doesn’t conflict of interest eventually expire?), full of great poems with lines like “A man walks about with his flame of affection / for the space of a held breath // then love’s blown from its wick” and “Without wounds / can a field be sown?” Overwhelmed by identity politics of late, I’ve turned to NeoPepper’s downloadable chapbook Facial Geometry by the trio Maureen Seaton, Neil de la Flor, and Kristine Snodgrass, which exhibits “a disturbing disintegration of authorial identity.” I’m also reading my hero Cary Nelson’s Revolutionary Memory: Recovering the Poetry of the American Left (2001) that reveals how Pound and Eliot made off with half of American poetry. (He also wrote Will Work For Food: Academic Labor in Crisis nearly twenty years ago!) And last but hardly least, there’s Terri Witek’s crazy new chapbook, First Shot At Fort Sumter / Possum, which is, as always, wild—it blends war comic word balloons and iconography with a dual text concerning a dead possum.

Adam Vines
Over the past month or so, I have been rereading collections by Claudia Emerson, whose poems over the years have had a great impact on my sensibility and whose recent death has affected so many who loved her and her poems. Pharaoh, Pharaoh, Late Wife, and Secure the Shadow are fantastic collections; however, I am still drawn the most to the lyrical poems in Figure Studies, especially the poems from the “All Girls School” section. Another collection I read recently, The Tulip Flame by Chloe Honum, reminds me of Emerson’s lyrical poise. The quiet manner, unassuming syntax, and delicately rendered natural world in Honum’s poems eerily heighten the human drama of ballet and trauma of losing a mother to suicide. Furthermore, I am rereading Amy Clampitt’s Selected Poems, Gjertrud Schnackenberg’s Supernatural Love, and Mary Jo Salter’s Nothing by Design for a class I am teaching this semester, and I am completely smitten with Caki Wilkinson’s Wynona, the high-strung, maladjusted, and utterly charming persona in Wynona Stone Poems, Wilkinson’s second collection.

In the upcoming months, I am looking forward to getting my hands on Claudia Emerson’s posthumously published The Opposite House from LSU Press and Hastings Hensel’s Winter Inlet, which will be out from Unicorn Press this summer.

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Posted in From Poetry Magazine on Monday, March 9th, 2015 by Lindsay Garbutt.