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poetry writing

Editor’s Note: I met Jonterri Gadson via the Poet Party, which 32 Poems hosts on Twitter. If you ever want to join us at the party, follow the hashtag #poetparty on Sundays at 9 pm ET on Twitter. We’d love to see you there.

1. Muscular Music by Terrance Hayes

When I was scared to write about race, my poetry professor, Denise Duhamel, handed me this book. This book made me see that I wouldn’t be fulfilling some type of stereotype if I wrote about race or being a woman/mother/survivor, or any other aspect of who I am.

2. Leaving Saturn by Major Jackson

It only took one line for me to fall in love with this book: “You are almost invisible in all this plain decay.” What’s that you say, Major Jackson, there’s more where that came from inside of this book?

3. Late Wife by Claudia Emerson

I’m a breakup expert, but I thought I couldn’t write about heartbreak in my poems until I read this book. She writes about love, pain, mourning, and families and made me believe that anything is possible in poetry if you’ve got the skill to pull it off.

4. Please by Jericho Brown

I read this collection in one sitting, then I had dreams about this collection, and now this collection lives in my purse. These poems give trauma a heartbeat. The fact that this collection exists makes that rhythm triumphant.

5. Open Interval by Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon

She can do anything—repeat the same phrase, write in forms, use her own name in multiple poems—all with an, at times, heartbreaking narrative running beneath the poems. This is a collection worth studying and stealing from. I do both.

Jonterri Gadson is Debra’s daughter. She is a Cave Canem fellow and a 2nd year poet in the University of Virginia’s Creative Writing MFA program. In the summer, she will serve at Texas A&M as a Creative Writing Instructor for gifted 8th-10th graders in the Duke Talent Identification Program. Her poetry has previously been published in Muzzle, Torch, Conte, Poetry Quarterly, Diverse Voices Quarterly, and other journals. Her poetry is forthcoming in Sugar House Review and Tidal Basin Review. She currently teaches Intro to Poetry Writing to undergraduates at the University of Virginia. She can be found tweeting daily at www.twitter.com/jaytothetee

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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
I’d rather read a new poem by Chad Davidson than any poet of my generation. For word play, gigantic conceits, line by line surprise, and contemporary culture looked at with wisdom rather than condescension, you just can’t beat it.

2. Every Riven Thing by Christian Wiman
One of the smartest poets we have, enamored of silence and able to make beautiful sounds with it. Some have blamed him for sounding like Hopkins, Donne, and Herbert. I praise him for that, but he’s really doing his own thing, completely, writing some of the most daring poems of our generation.

3. Half Life by Meghan O’Rourke
Lines chiseled from stone, yet poems that make you feel deeply. I’ve read this book over and over, and I never change my mind about it.

4. Things Are Disappearing Here by Kate Northrop
One of the most subtly gorgeous books I’ve ever read.

5. Bucolics by Maurice Manning
So idiosyncratic you’d think no one could pull this off, but he does. I wish I’d written it.

BIO: John Poch’s most recent book of poems is Dolls (Orchises Press 2009). He teaches at Texas Tech University.

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Ignore Everybody

February 6, 2010

I joined a group of poets to write 30 poems in 30 days. Some of us have gathered together before — in a virtual way — to cheer each other on (threaten? cajole? prod? encourage? shame?) to write poetry. In the old days, I used to think being a professor was the way to artistic […]

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Poetry Workshop

January 12, 2009

Have you every wanted to take a poetry workshop but the classes were held too far away? Perhaps you did not have the money to pay for one? Perhaps you could not bear to spend 8-14 weeks in a classroom again? Are you someone who enjoys writing prompts? Then, the monthly Guardian poetry workshop might […]

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For a present, someone gave me Trader Joes’ gluten-free peanut butter cookies. You have to keep them frozen until use. When I opened the package, each piece of dough was a neat, small, brown tower. Once I put these little dough towers into the oven, the kitchen filled with the smell of sugar and peanut […]

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