April 17: Erica Dawson’s Five Favorite Poetry Books

April 17, 2011

Caki Wilkinson’s Circles Where the Head Should Be.
Caki’s book is one of the best debuts I’ve seen in a really long time: incredibly smart; but, her amazing intellect doesn’t intimidate the reader. The poems are heady but extremely accessible, often making me smile while forcing back tears.

Morri Creech’s Field Knowledge
Morri’s poems are quiet and contemplative, but the energy fueling the lines is palpable because he often visits what I refer to as “the good verb store.” He puts the defibrillator on subjects some readers think are DNR: biblical figures, philosophers, things that happened before 2000.

Greg Williamson’s Errors in the Script
Reading this book when I was in his Poetic Forms class changed my poetic life. I learned anything was ready for traditional and invented forms: anything from waiting on hold for a Help Line to cans of soup to a disappointment that’s almost tragic.

Juliana Gray’s Man Under My Skin
Juliana managed to do something many writers simply can’t do well (obviously, Claudia Emerson can). She wrote a book involving issues of marriage and divorce but did it so craftily in metaphors of birds and other good ol’ fashioned concrete images; it’s hard not to admire this collection.

Laura McCullough’s Panic
Similar to my gut reaction to Ras’ book, the kickass cover did it for me, here. But, inside, the poems weaving together a narrative of a boy who drowned in a neighborhood pool is an amazing mix of fiction and poetry that’s simply ferocious, in the best way.

BIO: Erica Dawson’s first collection, Big-Eyed Afraid, won the 2006 Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize and was named Best Debut of 2007 by Contemporary Poetry Review. Her poems have appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, Harvard Review, Barrow Street, The Swallow Anthology of New American Poets, Best American Poetry 2008, the 7th edition of Poetry: A Pocket Anthology, and are forthcoming in Waccamaw and other journals and anthologies. Assistant Professor of English and Writing at University of Tampa, Poetry Editor of the Tampa Review, and founding faculty of the University’s brand-new low-residency MFA, she lives in gulf coast Florida with her 10 month-old Shih-Tzu/baby, Stella. Read an interview with her. Listen to her read poems.

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