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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.


Celebrate National Poetry Month with 32 Poems. We’re sharing more than 215 favorite poetry books suggested by 43 poets in 30 days—and we’re sharing them with you.

Thanks to Reb Livingston for the inspiration behind this idea. Each year, she invites poets to share their favorite books in December.

Through this celebration, we hope to:

1. Promote the work of writers who may be new to you. Someone already wrote me to say they bought a few of the books recommended by John Poch on Day One.

2. Promote the work of the writers who volunteer to share their recommendations. At the end of each post, you’ll notice a juicy bio—often with links to the writer’s projects. I hope you take a moment to find out what they are working on these days.

The schedule of writers follows. Please feel welcome to share it on your blog. We’re creeping into the month of May, which shows poetry can’t be contained to just one month.

April 1: John Poch
April 2: Jonterri Gadson
April 3: Eric Weinstein
April 4: M.E. Silverman
April 5: Arielle Greenberg
April 6: Lucy Biederman
April 7: Eric Pankey
April 8: David Lehman
April 9 AM: Collin Kelley
April 9 PM: J.J. Penna
April 10: Jennifer Atkinson
April 11: Luke Johnson
April 11: Interview with Terri Witek
April 12: Holly Karapetkova
April 13: Daniel Nester
April 14 AM: Donald Illich
April 14 PM: Ravi Shankar
April 15: Carolina Ebeid
April 16: M. Scott Douglass
April 17 AM: Adam Vines
April 17 PM: Erica Dawson
April 18: Elizabeth J. Coleman
April 19: Bernadette Geyer
April 20 AM: Sally Molini
April 20 PM: Amit Majmudar
April 21: Kelli Russell Agodon
April 22: Jeannine Hall Gailey
April 23: George David Clark
April 24 AM: Ren Powell
April 24 PM: Dan O’Brien
April 25: Randall Mann
April 25: Andrew Kozma
April 26 AM: Mary Biddinger
April 27 AM: Juliana Gray
April 27 PM: Carrie Jerrell
April 28: Steven Allen May
April 29: Erin Elizabeth Smith
April 29: Joshua Gray
April 30: Rachel Zucker
May 1: Erika Meitner
May 2: Caki Wilkinson
May 5: Andrea Hollander Budy
May 6: Lisa Russ Spaar
May 7: January Gill O’Neil
May 10: Brian K. Spears


Thank you for joining us for NATIONAL POETRY MONTH and the 32 POEMS CELEBRATION of this month with recommendations for poetry books that will knock the socks (or tights or pantyhose) right off your feet! Today Bernadette Geyer brings her suggestions to the 32 Poems blog. Burning the Empty Nests, by Gregory Orr – Orr’s […]


John Poch, editor of 32 Poems Magazine, starts off April’s Poetry Month Celebration with his list of the five poetry books he thinks you need to run out and buy. Tune in tomorrow—and the rest of this month—for more poetry book recommendations by poets you know and love. 1. The Last Predicta by Chad Davidson […]

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Erika Meitner attended Dartmouth College, Hebrew University on a Reynolds Fellowship, and the University of Virginia, where she received her M.F.A. in 2001 as a Henry Hoyns Fellow. She’s received additional fellowships from the Virginia Center for Creative Arts (2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009), the Blue Mountain Center (2006), and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference (John […]