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Kelli Russell Agodon

Kelli Russell Agodon shares her five favorite poetry books with us today. 32 Poems is sharing recommendations for five poetry books each day of National Poetry Month. What are you doing to celebrate?

1) The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception by Martha Silano: A musical and vibrant collection that moves from aliens to Zinfandel, Aunt Suzie can really pole dance! to a kazoo. A light stick, the kind kids love. This is what I love about Silano’s work, you never know what each poem will hold and how she will surprise you. She has been a favorite poet of mine since I first read her book, What the Truth Tastes Like. I am always amazed with what she does with language.

2) Every Dress, A Decision by Elizabeth Austen: This collection has just come out this month, but I’m lucky & thankful to have had the opportunity to read it before it was published. The poems in this book are rich with story and music. And as poems go, Austen doesn’t just skim the surface, her poems will take you deep; she in an incredible poet who I know from the Northwest stage and so I’m happy to see her work reaching a national level.

3) Becoming the Villianness by Jeannine Hall Gailey: This has been a favorite book of mine for a long time. Poet Jeannine Hall Gailey is a feminist superhero in a pair of kickass pink boots. This collection is both fun and lively, but also poignant. From Wonder Woman to Spy Girls to the Snow Queen, you never know who you will run into in this book, but I tell you, you will always be interested and incredibly entertained. (By the way, Jeannine’s second collection She Returns to the Floating World will be published by Kitsune Books in July 2011, and as a first reader to that collection, I highly recommend it as well.)

4) The Alchemist’s Kitchen by Susan Rich: Susan Rich’s book has just been named a finalist for the Foreword Book of the Year Award in Poetry for 2010, so I feel confident recommending this book even though Susan has been a good friend of mine for the last ten years. To me, The Alchemist’s Kitchen is delectable reading, not only do we explore relationships, food, love, and life, but also art—the middle section of this collection pays tribute to photographer Myra Albert Wiggins. Rich’s poems calm me, help me to slow down and appreciate the details to life and her work make me pay attention to the music in our words.

5) A New Red by Lana Hechtman Ayers: A beautiful book of poems where a more modern Red Riding Hood gets to tell her story, along with the hunter and the wolf. Even Gretel wanders in for a poem. This is a tightly woven collection where the poetry reader can lose herself into the story of fairytales and at 129 pages, it’s a good size book so you’ll have excellent reading if you get lost on the way to grandmother’s house.

BIO: Kelli Russell Agodon is the author Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize, which is currently a finalist for the Foreword Book of the Year Award in Poetry. She is also the author of Small Knots (2004) and the chapbook, Geography.

Kelli lives in Washington State with her family where she is an avid mountain biker as well as the co-editor of Seattle’s 28-year-old print literary journal, Crab Creek Review, and the co-founder of Two Sylvias Press.

You can find her blogging at Book of Kells, where she writes about living and writing creatively or visit her website at: or on Facebook at: