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Poetry

32 Poems chose to celebrate National Poetry Month by sharing recommendations of poetry books. We hope this effort helps you discover or re-discover poets–either those recommended or those recommending. Here’s the latest set of recommendations from Elizabeth J. Coleman:

For the most part, I don’t have favorite poetry books of all time, rather books I am most excited about right this minute, so I’d like to recommend five of those. I continue to be dazzled and excited by books as I read them, and I wouldn’t want to limit myself to five (five hundred maybe.)

Having said that, here are five I’m crazy about right now, that I would highly recommend.

Elegy on Toy Piano by Dean Young is a beautiful, compelling book. The process of discovery for the poet becomes a process of discovery for the reader. In spite of Young’s focus on death as an end (rather than a new beginning), I found his work uplifting in its honesty in its raw beauty, and in its sly and generous humor.

The fascination in Tomaz Salamun’s poems lies in the disparate things that are brought together, their majesty lies in the way they contain the world, both of space and time, and their fun lies in not knowing where the poet will go next. In The Book For My Brother, danger lurks everywhere: in an oppressive political landscape, in nature, in the universe’s dark humor (which becomes the poet’s), in religion, in God, in relationships and in the poet’s isolated self. The poems unfurl like the clay and silk flags and the river in “To the Heart.” (The oppressiveness of the culture and of nature are reflected in the fact that the flags are made partly of clay. They are not free, cannot fly in the breeze.)

The poems in Home Deep Blue embody Valentine’s grace and generosity as a poet. Valentine is a visual poet, a poet of color. While the subject of Valentine’s poetry is often other people, in many of her poems I feel like I’m seeing a painting. In “To Raphael, angel of happy meeting,” “The pear tree buds shine like salt” (what a beautiful image), and in the last stanza, “the abundant tree/open out its branches, white-gold wings…still too light for us to hold.”

Yehudi Amichai’s images are always fresh and always apt. Each image, though straightforward, tends to contain its own universe, and he writes with great irony, yet without cynicism. An exquisite example of Amichai comparing the human to the inanimate is from “Letter of Recommendation”” “Oh, touch me, touch me, you good woman!/This is not a scar you feel under my shirt./it’s a letter of recommendation/folded from my father:/”He is still a good boy and full of love.” The image creates a second simple scene, complete with dialogue.

Finally, my heart will always belong to Guillaume Apollinaire, the first poet I fell in love with, and his book Alcools, in French. The music of the poems flows as beautifully and mysteriously as the Seine in “Le Pont Miraubeau.”

BIO: Elizabeth J. Coleman’s poems have appeared in Connecticut Review, 32 Poems, The Raintown Review, “J” Journal, Per Contra and Blueline among others. Her chapbook, The Saint of Lost Things, was published in 2009 by Word Temple Press. Elizabeth’s translations of poetry into French have appeared in Per Contra. In 2009, Elizabeth was the featured poetry reader, chosen by 32 Poems, at “Periodically Speaking: Literary Magazine Editors Introduce Emerging Writers at the New York Public Library.” Elizabeth is a candidate for an MFA in poetry at the Vermont College of Fine Arts, a member of the New York, Georgia and Washington DC Bars and a classical guitarist. Visit her website to see links to some of her work and to purchase her chapbook, The Saint of Lost Things.

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Welcome to Day 13 of National Poetry Month. 32 Poems is celebrating by sharing five favorite poetry books each day this month in order to:

1. Promote contemporary and, hopefully, new-to-you books.

2. Promote the work of the writers taking the time to recommend their favorite books.

Please consider ordering the recommended books and also checking out the work of the recommenders. We include a bio at the end of each post.

With no further ado, Daniel Nester shares his five favorite poetry books:

  1. Amanda Nadelberg, Isa the Truck Named Isadore. A tour-de-force of a debut. From the first time I read her poems, I published it every chance I could get. Check out her sestina here.
  2. Barbara Louise Ungar, Charlotte Brontë, You Ruined My Life. My colleague at The College of Saint Rose writes a poem-cycle on “was-bands,” life, love. Torch songs au go-go.
  3. Jeanann Verlee, Racing Hummingbirds. When will we finally admit so-called slam poets can hang with we elbow-patchers on the page? This is a good place to start.
  4. Julie Carr, 100 Notes on Violence. A big leap forward from an already forward-looking poet. This is an important book.
  5. M. NourbeSe Philip, Zong! I just ordered this, so I can’t offer a blurb. I’ve just heard good things about it—use of source materials with poems. Looking forward to reading this.

BIO: Daniel Nester is the author of How to Be Inappropriate, a collection of humorous nonfiction. His first two books, God Save My Queen and God Save My Queen II, are collections on his obsession with the rock band Queen. His work has appeared in a variety of places, such as Salon.com, The Morning News, McSweeney’s, The Daily Beast, Time Out New York, and Bookslut, and has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry 2003, The Best Creative Nonfiction, and Now Write! Nonfiction. He is an associate professor of English at The College of Saint Rose in Albany, NY. He is managing editor of the group culture-slash-literature blog We Who Are About To Die. Find him online at danielnester.com and on Twitter.

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1. Denis Johnson. The Incognito Lounge. Desolate characters told through a raw, muscular language that still maintains a loose, lyrical pulse. 2. Nick Flynn. Some Ether. I love how Flynn is able to write from what seems like a dream state and yet be so grounded and emotionally searing. 3. Marie Howe. The Good Thief. […]

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This month—April—we’re taking time to share five favorite poetry books. Each day, a writer (often a poet) will share their five favorite books by authors living or dead. We hope that this introduces you to new-to-you writers, new-to-you books, and to the authors of the lists themselves. Arielle Greenberg shares this list with you today: […]

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The following post is by Amanda DeMarco. When I moved to Berlin, I hoped blogging would help me come to terms with my new surroundings. Living abroad is an enriching experience for a poet, but it’s also traumatizing. You lose yourself to it, you fortify yourself against it, and (hopefully) you eventually negotiate a personal […]

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