Day 28: Steven Allen May Discloses His Five Favorite Poetry Books

April 28, 2011

Shh…we’re part of 30 (maybe 35) poets sharing their five favorite poetry books during National Poetry Month, which is almost over! Although the month comes to a close, the recommendations live forever on the 32 Poems blog. Don’t believe me? This post about how the five favorite poetry books idea came to be tells you what you need to know—and provides links to other book recommendations.

Now, Steven Allen May shares his suggestions:

EECCHHOOEESS by n. h. pritchard. New York University Press, 1971.

Norman H. Pritchard is not a household name although he ought to be recognized as an early American Concrete poet. The fact that he was an Afro-American Concrete poet seems to have confused a number of people; reviewers, the buying public, etc. However it should be noted that his two full collections were published by New York University Press and Doubleday. His work was extremely ahead of his time, highly visual, and nearly impossible to read. That’s the challenge. That’s the reward.

Metropolis 1-15 by Robert Fitterman. Sun & Moon Press, 2000.
Fitterman, working in a parallel universe as Rachel Blau DuPlessis with her Drafts series, has re-imagined the long poem form. His Metropolis series aims to be as large as the city that crafted it (New York). Here each section is a different form, a different tone, a different voice. It’s an incredible beginning!

Silent Type by Barbara DeCesare. Paper Kite Press, 2007. Barbara DeCesare is a poet, any book of hers is more than worth reading but HEARING her read her work is that much better. Once you hear her, the voice snakes off the page and into your ears as though she is whispering her poems just to you. The book is an experience. Catching her live is an experience, listening to her CD is an experience. How often can that be said about a POET?

That This by Susan Howe. New Directions, 2010. The 2011 winner of Yale University’s Bollinger Prize in American Poetry. I have an appreciation of Ms. Howe’s work going back several years now and I found this book heartfelt and very moving. At the same time, I was less engaged in the middle third of the book as it seemed I have seen this act before in earlier books of hers: shredded text. The final section, the title piece, is remarkable, making the experience more than worthwhile.

jambandbootleg by Paul Siegell. A-head Publishing, 2009. Paul Siegell is a young gun poet in Philadelphia who has successfully fused his love of live music performance by, say, Phish, for example, with highly visual components. This is his initial book and it absolutely has launched him. Pay attention to this one!

BIO: stevenallenmay is a poet, publisher, and blogger living in Northern VA. He co-founded Plan B Press in 1999. Last year Plan B Press published the highly regarded Full Moon on K Street: poems about Washington D.C. edited by Kim Roberts. When not running the Press, steven chases around his two small children.

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