Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Holiday Gift Guide: Poetry Book Edition (even if you don't write poetry, you can read poetry)

List #2:  Poetry Books for the People in Your Life.

My same note as in List #1 applies to this one too--

The link included will connect you with Amazon because they have the best overall reviews of books and products...

However-- buying your book directly from the publisher or the author when possible is more beneficial to the press or writer.

If you can't do that, then buying from a local independent bookseller is a great choice.  Support your community by shopping locally!

My third choice on where to purchase it would be Amazon. 

Below are some poetry books I recommend--

For Anyone Who Has Ever Been Catholic, Knew Someone Catholic, Is Interested in Catholicism or a Behind-the-Scenes Look at Life in the Convent:

In Broken Latin by Annette Spaulding-Convy

What you wouldn't expect in a book about life in the convent: clove cigarettes, Patsy Cline, midnight-blue Wonderbras, Chanel No.19, a slow comfortable screw against the wall, Madonna (the singer not the virgin).

What you will find in this book about poet who was once a nun: clove cigarettes, Patsy Cline, midnight-blue Wonderbras, Chanel No.19, a slow comfortable screw against the wall, Madonna (the singer not the virgin).  As well as many more things you wouldn't expect to find.

An absolutely amazing, intriguing, and interesting book whether you are Catholic or not.  The writing is fresh and inviting.  The images are unique and remarkable.  This would be a great book for a book club to read and talk about because there is so much in this book that will surprise.

For Anyone Who Has Never Heard of Rachel Rose:

Song & Spectacle by Rachel Rose

Rachel Rose is a Canadian poet with an international perspective on life.  Her poems are accessible, but always with intrigue and some of the most beautiful lines.  I am always amazed by her ability to create these amazing images with language.

Her viewpoint is one I am drawn too.  She has a wise outlook and doesn't stay away from the political. If you want to see how to write a political poem--read her work. She doesn't rant or rephrase what we already know, but connects the political with the personal, takes it from a statement and brings it into a poem.

I'll be including Rachel's book as my pick for Crab Creek Review's Editors' Choice section.  Yes, it's that good.


For Anyone Who Is Bored of Poetry or Hasn't Fallen in Love with a Book of Poems Lately--

Slow Lightning (Yale Younger Poets Book Series Winner!) by Eduardo Corral

One of my very favorite poetry books ever.

This is a sensual book and not for the prudish people in your life.

I have been put-off by poets who overuse irony, who keep themselves as the witty narrator narrating their whimsical life while keeping their hands clean of intimacy.  Eduardo does not-- his book invites the reader in and absolutely satisfies in beauty, language, subject.

And there are some subjects in this book that are for adults--so may not be best suited for your conservative parents...or maybe, it's just what they need.

My Amazon Review:

I love this book.  I love Eduardo's images and the way he writes a poem.  It's been a long time since I've fallen in love with a book of poems, but this book has become an absolute favorite of mine.  Filled with references to artwork and artists, this books explores relationships, where we our in our own world, and moves in and out of English and Spanish beautifully.  These are emotionally honest poems sensual and without the distance many poets put between themselves and their work.  Just beauty, absolute beauty.

For Anyone Who Needs a Good Book of Poetry by a Great Storyteller--

Crush by Richard Siken

It took me a while to figure out if the image on the cover was a thumb or a cigar-- it's a thumb.

Crush, a Yale Younger Poets Book winner!  From a few years back, but killer lines and can Richard tell a story.  He can also keep a long poem going without anyone getting bored and dropping out.

Beauty, sorrow, humor, and just fantastic writing in this book.

This book never leaves my desk.


For Anyone Enjoys Longer Poems or Needs a Lesson on How to Title A Poem

Balloon Pop Outlaw Black by Patricia Lockwood

The book is just fresh.  From the title page taking up two pages in gigantic font to this line: literature opens among the leaves like so many/seed catalogues.

And I mentioned that she writes awesome titles, here are some of them:
"When We Move Away From Here, You'll See A Clean Square of Paper Where His Picture Hung"
"The Cartoon's Mother Builds a House in Hammerspace" 
"The Front Half and the Back Half of a Horse in Conversation" 
"Children With Lamps Pouring Out of Their Foreheads"  
"Killed With an Apple Corer, She Asks What Does That Make Me"

Yes, she rocks.  As does Octopus Books who published it.

For Anyone Who is Interested in History, the Environment, Nuclear Power, or Washington State:

Plume by Kathleen Flenniken

Kathleen was born in Hanford or what some have called Atomic City.  These poems explore the relationship and history of this town, "downwinders" (what the called the folks who lived downwind of the nuclear reactor), and her coming to terms with her hometown.

Kathleen is an amazing poet and our state's poet laureate.


For Anyone Who Loved The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion--

The Bled by Frances McCue

Frances' book beat out my book as the winner for the Washington State Book Award in Poetry and she deserves it for writing this incredible book about her husband's death.  She is an incredible poet and has a steady hand when dealing with a topic that may lead others into sentimental land.  Her writing is intimate, beautiful, and powerful.


For Anyone Who Can See the Humor in the Po' Biz:

The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets by Jeffery Skinner

First, this is a "memoir" not a book of poems.
Second, it is quite funny.
Third, I am about 1/3 into it, so I can't give it a full review, but so far, I'm enjoying it and everyone on Amazon gave it 5 stars (except for one 4 star review).

I will say, I was annoyed in the very opening because he says "firemen" instead of "firefighters" (then does it again), but I got over that, and am really enjoying this book.

It's fun to be laughed at and he's laughing at himself just as much.

For Anyone Who Loves Interviews and Looking Inside a Poet's Mind:

Poetry in Person: 25 Years of Conversations with America's Poets by Andrew Neubauer

I love this book.  It's on my nightstand and is pure pleasure for me, as a poet myself, before bed.   I can't say enough about this book if you love reading interviews as I do.  Just one interesting thought after another.  It's as if I'm having a conversation with two others about poetry and I have taken the role of listener.

This book just makes my heart swell in that happy poetry way.

For Anyone Who Likes a Good Read, I Give You a Large Group of Books I Love Written By My Friends--

Even though they weren't written this year, I still call these my favorites. 

~ Kells

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  1. Funny I should read this just now, as I am one chapter into the Skinner "self-help memoir," and I love it. I'm new to an MFA program, and we've read a lot of advice for writers books this semester, and this is the most engaging and practically helpful of all. I can't wait to read more!
    -smj (@sharkushka)

  2. Oh great Kelli - you just increased the size of my want list, thus taking a bite out of my wallet. I did already order Broken. Latin and am awaiting it's arrivel impatiently.


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