Day 22: Jeannine Hall Gailey Shares Her Five Favorite Poetry Books

April 22, 2011

These recommendations celebrate National Poetry Month and share five of Jeannine Hall Gailey’s favorite poetry books.

Well, I have so many more than five poetry books that I love, really love, so I had to narrow it down by some self-imposed parameters, so I decided to focus on books by women that used humor in a surprising way.

Dana Levin’s Wedding Day. Butterflies in the throat, words as play thing; the poem “Quelque Chose,” is worth the entire cost of the book all by itself, a hilarious ode to the (faux?) divisions of the poetry world.

Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room from Kelli Russell Agodon. A book that combines darkness and light, tabloids and saints, best when it explores the humorous side of death and anxiety.

Dorianne Laux’s Book of Men. Her best book yet, especially poems like “Superman” and “Cher” that combine the love of these pop culture icons and sharp insights into the nature of the vulnerabilities of our heroes.

Louise Gluck’s Meadowlands. Acid-tongued, icy dialogues between mythological figures and a modern-day couple of the brink of divorce.

Denise Duhamel’s Kinky. A book of poems in the voices of various Barbie dolls. Need I say more?

(Books I want to cheat and sneak onto this list too: Lana Ayers’ A New Red, with a novel take on the old story of Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s Lucky Fish, full of warmth, humor, and the love of cupcakes. Okay, that’s it. Matthea Harvey’s apocalypse and wordplay spectacular, Modern Life. Seriously, that’s the last one.)

BIO: Jeannine Hall Gailey is the author of Becoming the Villainess (Steel Toe Books, 2006) and She Returns to the Floating World (Kitsune Books, 2011.) Her work has been featured on NPR’s The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily, and in The Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror. Her poems have appeared in journals like The Iowa Review, The Seattle Review, and Prairie Schooner. She volunteers as an editorial consultant for Crab Creek Review and currently teaches at the MFA program at National University. Her web site is

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