Friday, April 20, 2007

The Road Somewhat Less Traveled

Sam’s tag: Name 5 poetry collections someone may not have read "but certainly must." They should be “off the beaten track,” but needn’t have caused the earth to open and swallow you whole. I had trouble reconciling must read with need not have caused the earth to open. I thought some poets in translation might suit, like Vasko Popa and Novica Tadic, but – can you believe it – when I checked the Amazon sales ratings, they were way ahead of American great Kenneth Patchen, whose wonderful Collected Poems is only the 595,768th best seller! I was beside myself with information!

I decided the books had to have a lower rank than Patchen but not be so obscure that you can’t get a book anymore (like Ingeborg Bachman, in English anyway). I include Amazon rankings just to prove how great I am at using statistics as a crutch.

1. Living in Paradise – Pier Giorgio di Cicco (Sales rank #1,998,074): The head is a paltry matter; feed it a little, it goes / on singing just the same. / Much too much is made of it; / it goggles over a bit of/fresh wind, is perfectly astonished

2. Study for the World’s Body – David St. John (#1,217,673): The orphans of the heart must turn to thee / Byron said of Rome, though he could have meant / The way they turned to you, as easily.

3. Candy Necklace – Cal Bedient (#1,594,095): Desire, say what you want. Your oranges go soft in the bowl. / Your laughter? The squashing sound of tomatoes bursting and spitting out seeds. / Death sits up on your counter, holding a sock by its tail and displaying his beautiful white foot.

4. Selected Poems – Medbh McGuckian (#701,869): They set the whins on fire along the road. / I wonder what controls it, can the wind hold / that snake of orange motion to the hills, / away from the houses?.

5. Voice Over – Elaine Equi (#789,234): Some days I wake up so sad, / ”morbid” you would say, / and not at all grateful for the little things/heaped up in the windows / of antique stores


Sam of the ten thousand things said...

Great list Sarah. Like the St. John - and especially the Equi. I'm especially drawn to Decoy.

Liz said...

Sarah, am tempted to buy some of the books from your list - I've got the Medbh McGuickan one- really like her - when I did a workshop in Ireland once, she was one of the poets, she is great fun as well as an inspiring poet.


SarahJane said...

thanks for tagging me, sam.
liz, McGuckian is definitely under-read! Of my list, the di Cicco is my definite favorite.

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