Day 10: Jennifer Atkinson on Her Five Favorite Poetry Books

April 10, 2011

Here are 5 of my all-time favorite books of poems, listed in no special order:

Elizabeth Bishop’s Geography III

Gerard Manley Hopkins’s Selected Poems

Eugenio Montale, The Occasions (Arrowsmith translation)

Rexroth’s One Hundred Poems from the Chinese

The Essential Haiku (Basho, Buson, Issa), Hass, ed.

These are 5 that I come back to always, again and again.  If I were to have recorded my Very Favorite book every day for the past 25 years these would have shown up more often than any others.  By far.  Sure, I have books that I’ve gone nuts for for a few months—Anne Carson’s Red,  Louise Bogan’s Blue Estuaries, Harryette Mullen’s Sleeping with the Dictionary… come to mind. Then there was that six months in Kathmandu with only a Selected Keats and a Selected Roethke I found in the used book shop on New Road.  There was the Christmas I was 15 and my grandparents gave me my first book of poems, The Collected Wallace Stevens, which I am happy to confess I loved nearly every page of, but in all honesty I must admit that I also loved for a while my next book, Bob Dylan’s Tarantula. I’ve been reading Gary Snyder so long (since the summer I was 17 and a very cool girl from the Sarah Lawrence summer theater group recommended him—thank you) that I’m surprised to have gotten this far in the paragraph without mentioning his name. From Riprap and the Cold Mountain Poems to Mountains and Rivers (or is it Rivers and Mountains?) Without End I’ve loved and admired Snyder’s poems. But there are dozens and dozens of others I turn to so often I can’t not mention them: Michael Palmer’s At Passages, Baudelaire’s Flowers of Evil, Jorie Graham’s first few, Charles Wrights’ last several, Psalms, The Book of Job, Jim Galvin’s God’s Mistress and Elements, Ammons’s, Jay Wright’s, especially, Boleros, the work of my good friends and brilliant husband whom I’m leaving out because I can’t mention them all…

BIO: Jennifer Atkinson is the author of three collections of poetry, The Dogwood Tree, The Drowned City, and most recently, Drift Ice. Individual poems have appeared recently in journals including Field, Image, Witness, New American Writing, Cincinnati Review, and Missouri Review. She teaches in the MFA program at George Mason University in Virginia.

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