Day 33: Andrea Hollander Budy’s Five Favorite Contemporary Poetry Collections

May 5, 2011

Babylon in a Jar by Andrew Hudgins: I have read this powerful and stirring collection numerous times. Most unforgettable are the two poems titled “Ashes,” which begin in humor and end close to the bone. Hudgins’s poems grab at something inside us that is both vital and elusive, and they don’t let go.

Song and Dance by Alan Shapiro: This beautifully wrought collection of poetry is pure elegy, and yet Shapiro takes us with him on this personal journey of loss and grief, and reminds us that the language of elegy can inhabit us not only with solace but with beauty.

Vinculum by Alice Friman: If you haven’t read a book by one of our most articulate contemporary poets, this marvelous new collection is a good place to begin. Friman understands the fragility of nature, the human body, and our often fractured spirit, and her sense of humor is winning.

Late Wife by Claudia Emerson: In this Pulitzer Prize-winning collection, Emerson maps the terrain of the often encumbered human heart. The book is beautifully organized and emotionally resonant. Emerson is a poet who matters.

Then, A Thousand Crows by Keith Ratzlaff: This is one of my favorite books by one of my favorite contemporary poets who deserves much more recognition. Ratzlaff brings together disparate threads and weaves them together deservingly and surprisingly, always with the alarmingly powerful results.

BIO: Andrea Hollander Budy (pronounced BEW-dee) is the editor of When She Named Fire: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by American Women (Autumn House Press, 2009) and the author of three poetry collections: Woman in the Painting (Autumn House Press, 2006), The Other Life (Story Line Press, 2001), and House Without a Dreamer (Story Line Press, 1993), which won the Nicholas Roerich Poetry Prize. Her other honors include the D. H. Lawrence Fellowship, a Pushcart Prize for prose memoir, the Runes Poetry Award, the Ellipsis Poetry Prize, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and two from the Arkansas Arts Council. Budy splits her time between Portland, Oregon, and Mountain View, Arkansas. Since 1991 she has worked as the Writer-in-Residence at Lyon College, where she was awarded the Lamar Williamson Prize for Excellence in Teaching. Her website is

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