Tag Archives: lists

Books of 2014

2 Jan

books

I love it when the calendar flips to a new year.  I fill with hope and dreams and begin to make lists of all of the things I want to accomplish.  One of those lists that makes its way onto my iPad is a reading list of books I want to read by year’s end.  Of course, life gets in the way and I seldom complete the list, but the dream of hours spent sitting in quiet reading helps to calm my often unquiet mind.

Every year there are hundreds of new books that are released, each of which is a little voice I want to hear, even if in passing.  I decided to make a list of some of the just-released (i.e. Dec. 2013) or forthcoming titles that I can’t wait to read.   Please do leave a message in the comment box and let me know what titles you’re looking forward to (even if it’s your own)!

GroDahle

A Hundred Thousand Hours by Gro Dahle translated by Rebecca Wadlinger, Ugly Ducking Presse, $17, Dec. 15, 2013.  (Disclosure: Becca is a very good friend of mine and this book of Norwegian translations is simply amazing!)

Frannie

Our Vanishing by Frannie Lindsay, Red Hen Press, $17.95.  March 204.  I had the pleasure of reading from my new book with Frannie in Watertown, MA back in the fall and she’s a spectacular poet.  She read a bit from this collection, and it’s astounding!

Young

Book of Hours by Kevin Young, Random House, $26.95.  March 2014.

Pedestrians_final_for_website_grande

The Pedestrians by Rachel Zucker, Wave Books. April 2014.

Davis

 Can’t and Won’t: Stories by Lydia Davis, FSG, $26.  April 2014.

Cloud

Cloud Pharmacy by Susan Rich, White Pine Press, $16.  April 2014.

Whitman

Whitman Illuminated, illustrated by Allen Crawford, Tin House, $28.95.  May 2014. (I cannot wait to get my hands on this!)

Harvey

If the Tabloids Are True What Are You? by Matthea Harvey, Graywolf, $25.  August 2014. (I am a huge MH fan, ever since I took her poetic forms class as a CW/Lit undergrad at Houston).

Blood Lyrics by Katie Ford, Graywolf.  October 2014.  (Katie Ford is one of my poetry heroes and I wish more people knew of her.  She is probably one of the best poets I’ve read in the past ten years and I was so fortunate to have her blurb my recent book.  She is innovative, intelligent, and moving in her work.  She a sneak peek from her forthcoming collection here).

Citizen by Claudia Rankine, Graywolf.  October 2014.  (Graywolf is knocking it out of the park in 2014 and I can’t wait!  Rankine is such an influential poet of our time and she really helped to change me as a writer and person when she was my senior honors thesis adviser at Houston.  I adore her and her work.)

Twenty Poems That Could Save America by Tony Hoagland, Graywolf.  November 2014.  (Another win for Graywolf.  I love Hoagland’s work and his irony and intellect, even if it’s been the cause of conflict over dinner parties and AWP hotel room conversations.  He’s legendary.  Read more here.)

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Updating

2 Nov

After a horrendous past two months (mysterious illness-like symptoms, numerous tests, doctor’s appointments, plus the government shutdown which assisted in preventing me from traveling to LA to receive my PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry, etc.), I am looking forward to next week, where I’ll be traveling to MA for a series of three Perugia Press-related readings to celebrate my book, The Wishing Tomb, and Gail Martin’s Begin Empty Handed, which was awarded this year’s Perugia Press Award.  If you’re near any of the places on the itinerary below, I hope you’ll come out and join us:

The Collected Poets Reading Series
w/ Gail Martin & Lori Desrosiers
Thursday, November 7, 2013, 7PM
Mocha Maya’s, 47 Bridge St.
Shelburne Falls, MA

Friday, November 8 at 7:30 PM
w/ Gail Martin & Joan Barberich
The State Room
35 State Street (behind India House)
Northampton, MA

Saturday, November 9 at 7:00 PM
Salon Reading w/ Gail Martin & Frannie Lindsay
Invitation only
Watertown, MA

While in MA, I also am hoping to have a little excursion time to see Emily Dickinson’s house, the Plath archives at Smith College, and to have dinner with my sweet cousin, Hope, who lives in Boston.  I can’t wait!

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I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I’ll mention it again: I am a list maker.  Call me OCD and you wouldn’t be far from the truth.  I love lists.  This type of list (below), however, is one of my favorites.  It’s my reading list.  I thought I would share my fall reading list with you:

Prose

After Her by Joyce Maynard  (lovely, dark, coming of age novel, which I was inspired to read after hearing this bit on NPR on the way home from teaching a class one afternoon)

The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts For Your Writing Practice by Kelli Russell Agodon and Martha Silano (this is a new release by two wonderful poets, both of whom I’ve had the pleasure of publishing in PLR)

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay (recommended by my mother, who is perhaps the most widely read person I’ve ever known, except for maybe my dad, who actually reads the encyclopedias).

Dallas 1963 by Bill Minutaglio (anyone who has known me long enough knows that I have a Kennedy-history obsession that is not limited to the assassination history.  This Nov. marks 50 years since the assassination of JFK, and this new book has been released just in time).

Poetry

Ain’t No Grave by TJ Jarrett (this is probably one of my favorite books of poetry to come out this year, and I’m in the process of reviewing it for a journal).

Begin Empty Handed by Gail Martin (this is a wonderfully crafted new book, and I’m looking forward to reading with Gail next week)!

Dancing in Odessa by Ilya Kaminsky (I first read this book as an undergrad, so it’s been about eight years since I poured over its perfection.  I love this book, as does almost everyone who has read it.  I read it in tiny slivers and ruminate.  It’s best digested that way so the foreign story will unfold carefully, and not all at once).

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I was invited to record a podcast for Arizona State University’s wonderful literary journal, Superstition Review.  My podcast consists of me reading a handful of poems that have been published in SR, included a few from my second book, The Wishing Tomb.  You can listen and read more, here.

Top 20 Books of Poetry

28 Apr

National Poetry Month is coming to an end and I couldn’t let it end without posting my Top 20 favorite books of poetry of all time.  These are books that I’ve returned to again and again, books that have helped me through some rough patches in my life, books that have inspired me to look at poetry in a new way, books that have formed me, books that I have said, “you must read this” to complete strangers.

My Top 20 Books of Poetry

My Top 20 Books of Poetry

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

This is a no-brainer.  I have been a Plath devotee for going on 15 years now and I’ve read this book no less than a dozen times.  Quiz me on it. Go ahead — ask me anything.

Cusp by Jennifer Grotz

Not only is the cover of this book gorgeous, but the poems inside are simply stunning.  I love how Grotz takes the reader on journeys from Texas to France.  Favorite poem: “Kiss of Judas.”  Fun fact: Grotz was my third reader for my undergrad creative honors thesis at the Univ. of Houston in 2006.

Ordinary Things by Jean Valentine

I love Valentine’s poems because of their strangeness and brevity.  Her word economy inspires me again and again.  This is my favorite book by her.  Favorite poem: “After Elegies.”

What the Living Do by Marie Howe

It doesn’t get better than this book by Marie Howe.  This book makes me weep and has inspired me in innumerable ways.  I turned to this book again and again when writing The Glass Crib and helped me come to terms via writing with the death of my brother when I was 16.  Favorite poem: “For Three Days.”

What is this thing called love by Kim Addonizio

This is such a smart, sexy book by a smart, sexy poet.  Favorite poem: “What Was.”

Deposition by Katie Ford

The Catholic girl in me loves how Ford dissects Christian narratives (Catholic ones, primarily) and weaves them with narratives of trauma.  Her fragmented writing helped me move from clear, straightforward narrative to a wilder, broken lyric.  Favorite poem: “The Shroud of Turin.”

Forth a Raven by Christina Davis

I love this book for many of the same reasons why I love Katie Ford’s book (and really, Jean Valentine’s).  Her poems are tiny, fragmented, but have a dazzling attention to detail.  Favorite poem: “Forth a Raven.”

Broken Helix by Dina Ben-Lev

My friend Matthew Siegel turned me on to this (out-of-print) book/poet when I was at Houston and I’m so very thankful.  No one else I know has ever heard of her, which is a shame.  This is the only full-length collection she’s done, and that was back in 1997.  It focuses on her search for identity as an adopted person, which, of course, if you know me, you can easily see the draw.  You can still find used copies of this book on Amazon or ebay for anywhere form $10-$40.  Favorite poem: “The Adopted Daughter’s Lucky Loop.”

Indeed I Was Pleased With The World by Mary Ruefle

Who doesn’t love the weirdness and lyricism of Mary Ruefle? This is by far my favorite book of poems by her.  Favorite poem: “Kiss of the Sun.”

Here, Bullet by Brian Turner

This book has been touted so many times, but if you’ve never heard of it, get thee to a bookstore right now! Turner’s work centers on his experiences in the US Army in Iraq and Bosnia.  This is a book of grit and no other book (except maybe Neon Vernacular from Yusef Komumyakaa) discusses war or a solder’s life better.  Favorite poem: “What Every Soldier Should Know.”

The Subsequent Blues by Gary Copeland Lilley

No one I know has ever heard of Lilley, and that’s a shame.  This is actually my husband’s book, which he bought at AWP in New York several years ago after hearing Kim Addonizio read from it.  This book is dark, witty, important, and just plain amazing.  Favorite poem: “Prayer to Saint James Byrd of Jasper, Texas.”

Sad Little Breathing Machine by Matthea Harvey

My friend Halli and I were Matthea Harvey groupies in college.  We took her Forms of Poetry class at Houston and fell in love with her way of looking at the possibilities of language and poetry.  This book is genius and if you’re trying to move yourself forward in writing, this will do the trick.  This is another book that helped me break out of my boring, staid narrative form.  Favorite poem: “Not So Much Miniature As Far Away.”

Stubborn by Jean Gallagher

This book is so important to me and gave me great inspiration for the writing of my first book, The Glass Crib.  Gallagher’s book creates interesting narratives that focus on Christian symbology, art, mysticism, and theology.  Favorite poem: “Stigmata.”

The Descent by Sophie Cabot Black

I’ve read this book at least half a dozen times and each time I discover something new.  I think that this is an important book due to the way it uncovers the human spirit in terms of nature, psyche, faith, damage, renewal.  The cover of the book actually inspired one of my own poems, “The Wounded Angel, 1903,” which appeared in The Glass Crib and on Poetry Daily in 2007.  Favorite poem: “Done For.”

The First Four Books of Poems by Louise Gluck

The essential Gluck.  I bought this after reading it in June 2005, when I was a fellow at the Bucknell Younger Poets Seminar at Bucknell University.  Consider it a primer.  If you’re a new poet, or a scholar of Gluck, it’s a fantastic resource.  Favorite poem: “The Egg.”

Some Ether by Nick Flynn

Like Matthea Harvey, my friend and I were Nick Flynn dorks as well in college.  I took two classes with him as an undergrad and during that time, I bought this book.  I really think I’ve read this book around 10 times.  It was inspiring to me because it helped me understand how to weave personal narrative without being melodramatic and how to break a line in an interesting way.  I think everyone needs to have this book.  Favorite poem: “My Mother Contemplating Her Gun.”

Song by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

BPK is awesome.  That is all.  And she’s the kindest soul I’ve ever met.  My love for her is unending.  Favorite poem: “Song.”

Trouble in Mind by Lucie Brock Broido

Claudia Rankine turned me on to Broido when I was her undergrad thesis advisee at UH and I’m eternally grateful.  This book helped me, in many ways like Flynn’s did, understand line breaks and form, but also how to build a broken lyric narrative.  Favorite poem: “The Halo That Would Not Light.”  That poem kills me.

To the Place of Trumpets by Brigit Pegeen Kelly

This book is long out of print, alas, but when my friend Matthew Siegel told me about it (and had his own copy), I dashed to Amazon.com used and ebay to find my own copy.  I got it for around $30, but I’ve seen people selling it for upwards of $800.  I highly, highly recommend this book, Kelly’s first, and in some ways like it better than Song.  Favorite poem: “Doing Laundry on Sunday.”

The Country Between Us by Carolyn Forche

There are so many reasons why this is one of my favorite books of all time.  It’s important for how it tackles the intersection of culture and politics, but tender in its discussion of human love.  While “The Colonel” (in this book) is one of my favorite poems in the world, I would have to say that my actual favorite poem in this book is “For the Stranger.”