Sunday, December 11, 2005

poetry books 2005



I may have overlooked some, but these are the poetry books I got this year. I put the five that really knocked me out separately at the top, not in any order. Five stars all around. The rest follow.

Study for the World’s Body – David St. John.
Complete Posthumous Poetry – Cesar Vallejo. Among my favorite poems here is “The Gravest Moment in Life.”
Trouble in Mind – Lucie Brock-Broido
ILL LIT – Franz Wright. I’m sold.
Vier Fragen der Melancholie – Tomas Salamun. I should have gotten this in English, but so be it. I think I still will get it in English. But the little German hardback is beautiful.

4 Stars
-The Master Letters – Lucie Brock-Broido. Very terrific, but not as terrific as “Trouble in Mind.”
-Poem of the Deep Song – Federico Garcia Lorca. This would have made it to the upper eschelon list, but I was familiar with most of it already, so my socks stayed on.
-Fire & Flower – Laura Kasischke. At times rapt, and even thrilling. You must read the “Barney” poem.
-First Four Book of Poems – W.S. Merwin. Of the poems in this volume, I already had “The Lice” and his previous “Selected Poems,” but this is essential stuff. I’ll enjoy it my whole life.
-The Body Electric (anth. of American Poetry Journal). This was a find – used bookstore in Philly. I discovered a bunch of poets I hadn’t read before, including SJ Marks and Norman Dubie, whose poem “Hummingbirds” almost shot this into the upper eschelon.
-Selected Poems and Prose of Paul Celan – I had much of this already, but in German. Good to have the bilingual edition.

Stars-n-Stripes
-Selected Poems – Carol Ann Duffy. This was worth it simply for the poem titled “$.”
-Candy Necklace – Cal Bedient. Vivid and imaginative, if hard to warm up to.
-Postmodern American Poetry – a Norton Anthology. Don’t know yet.
-Of This Time – Gerald Stern
-Pittsburgh Book of Contemporary American Poetry. This is a nice selection. What bugs me is how they have these full-page photos of the poets and suddenly I’m reading the poems with the face in my head and it disturbs the whole thing like a grimy filter. It doesn’t matter if they’re beautiful or homely. Some big names here (Kooser, Olds, Soto) and some folks I hadn’t heard of. I especially liked the Leonard Nathan poems. I like any poet who can get away with naming him/herself in the poem. That’s not easy.
-Voice Over – Elaine Equi. Don’t ask me how but I ordered this second-hand on Amazon and it came signed by Equi. I like her style.
-Selected Poems, Giuseppe Ungaretti. This was a gift from Carlo. It’s pretty good. Need to spend more time with it.
-The Wild Iris – Louise Gl├╝ck. I really dig her, but it is true that sometimes the poems start to sound a lot like each other. Many of them are named “Matins.” I wonder about doing that.
-Repair – CK Williams. Haven’t really gotten into this.
-Passing Measures – Peter Riley. Riley does wonderful place poems. There are some excellent poems at these websites. http://jacketmagazine.com/02/riley02.html
http://www.nd.edu/~ndr/issues/ndr13/riley/songs.html
-New and Selected Poems - Stephen Dunn. Need to spend more time here.
-Figures of the Human - David Ignatow. I really like him. Very original.
-Carnival Evening – Linda Pastan. This wasn’t as good as I expected.
-Nine Horses – Billy Collins. I wouldn’t have, but this was going at Borders for $3.99.
-Outside History – Eavan Boland. Used bookstore buy in London. Doesn’t grab me.
-Subhuman Redneck Poems – Les Murray. He’s great.
-Forward Book of Poetry 2004. A British gathering. Lukewarm on this.

6 comments:

Bob Hoeppner said...

Vallejo: that would be the Eshleman translation? I have that one, but I admit I like some of Bly's translations better (e.g. "The anger that breaks a man down into boys")

Just getting into Lucie Brock-Broido and Paul Celan. Some good stuff there. Carol Ann Duffy: I keep seeing her name and intend to get better acquainted. I have a couple by CK Williams and also haven't gotten much into it. Well, getting Billy Collins for 4 bucks isn't too much of an offense against poetry.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sarah

Carol Ann Duffy is one of the poets I most admire. I met her in Liverpool some years back. Your blog is coming along fine with great and interesting thoughts and links. Love that picture of the frosted leaf!

Chris George

SarahJane said...

Bob -
Yes, the Eshleman. But interesting that you mention Bly. I also really like Bly's translations, though I have only read one Vallejo poem that he translated. The first translation of Neruda's "Walking Around" I ever read was Bly's, and I have never really been able to wean myself away from it.
I'm glad you don't mind my $3.99 Collins purchase! But seriously, I do enjoy him sometimes. There's just so much better out there to read, and life is short...
After all I'd heard about CK Williams I thought I would pick up his book and be magically transformed, but no dice. Facing the shelf, my hand keeps gravitating elsewhere... like to Brock-Broido. I hope you'll like her.
best, sarah

SarahJane said...

hi chris,
very nice of you to visit me. i had never read duffy until this year.
I find a really good trick to play on yourself if you want to become familiar with someone's poetry is take just that one book with you on a trip on or the train or whatever and with little else to do you'll be funneled into it. I did that with Duffy. I need to try it out with some of those other books I haven't gotten into yet, too.
cheers, sarah

caffeine destiny said...

Hi there,
I like your poems a lot! And yes, Lucie Brock-Broido is divine. Have you read much Larissa Szporluk? I think I'm spelling her name wrong, but she's great as well.

SarahJane said...

hi -
i haven't read larissa s., but i think she does have a poem in one or two of the BAP books. I'll check. Which book do you have?
i did put the letters of anne sexton on my wish list after reading what you said about the book...
cheers, sarah

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