Day 29: Joshua Gray’s Fabulous Five Poetry Books

April 29, 2011

Today’s recommendations of favorite poetry books comes to us from Maryland poet Joshua Gray.

Shame on me. Seriously. What a wonderful little assignment from 32 Poems — list your favorite five single-author poetry books for National Poetry Month. I definitely have my five favorites, that’s not the problem. The problem is when it comes to contemporary poetry, I’m the bastard child of a lost cause. I read many more anthologies and collections than single-author full-length books, and of those I do read, for this particular assignment it helps if the poets weren’t dead. If part of the point is to list OPPs so that there is a bit of juice coming the poet’s way, I should be ashamed of myself. After scanning my bookshelf, I can only ask, do I even have five I can list as favorites?

The short answer is yes and no.

The other short answer is I have to group them first.

After grouping them into categories, I have come up with five fabulous books. Fabulous because calling them favorites implies they are better than a whole slew of others. They are better than one or two similar books, but favorite can be stretching it.

They are:

1. Ants on the Melon, Virginia Hamilton Adair. Category: poetry book I’ve re-read the most
2. Midnight Voices, Deborah Ager. Category: Favorite book by local poet
3. Niagara River, Kay Ryan. Category: book by a poet with a poet-household name.
4. After Oz, Michael J Bugeja. Category: poetry book by a teacher-poet.
5. Beowulf, by Seamus Heaney. Category: ancient text with a translation by a contemporary poet.

Adair has indeed passed away, but I had to include her, because this book really does top the list of my favorites.

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