August Poetry Bookhaul

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I got 13 poetry books this month, Another America by Barbara Kingsolver not in the photo, totally forgot to include it. You can check my previous post on how much each of this was. I will be talking about the synopsis of these poetry books.

1. Moy Sand And Gravel by Paul Muldoon

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Paul Muldoon’s ninth collection of poems, his first since Hay (1998), finds him working a rich vein that extends from the rivery, apple-heavy County Armagh of the 1950s, in which he was brought up, to suburban New Jersey, on the banks of a canal dug by Irish navvies, where he now lives. Grounded, glistening, as gritty as they are graceful, these poems seem capable of taking in almost anything, and anybody, be it a Tuareg glimpsed on the Irish border, Bessie Smith, Marilyn Monroe, Queen Elizabeth I, a hunted hare, William Tell, William Butler Yeats, Sitting Bull, Ted Hughes, an otter, a fox, Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Joscelyne, un unearthed pit pony, a loaf of bread, an outhouse, a killdeer, Oscar Wilde, or a flock of redknots. At the heart of the book is an elegy for a miscarried child, and that elegiac tone predominates, particularly in the elegant remaking of Yeats’s “A Prayer for My Daughter” with which the book concludes, where a welter of traffic signs and slogans, along with the spirits of admen, hardware storekeepers, flimflammers, fixers, and other forebears, are borne along by a hurricane-swollen canal, and private grief coincides with some of the gravest matter of our age. 

Moy Sand and Gravel is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.

The main reason I bought this one was because it was a Pulitzer Prize winner and Paul Muldoon is a poet I have not read anything by. I can’t wait to dive into this poetry book.

2. Littlefoot by Charles Wright

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After the end of something, there comes another end,
This one behind you, and far away.
Only a lifetime can get you to it,
and then just barely.

Littlefoot, the eighteenth book from one of this country’s most acclaimed poets, is an extended meditation on mortality, on the narrator’s search of the skies for a road map and for last instructions on “the other side of my own death.” Following the course of one year, the poet’s seventieth, we witness the seasons change over his familiar postage stamps of soil, realizing that we are reflected in them, that the true affinity is between writer and subject, human and nature, one becoming the other, as the river is like our blood, “it powers on, / out of sight, out of mind.” Seeded with lyrics of old love songs and spirituals, here we meet solitude, resignation, and a glad cry that while a return to the beloved earth is impossible, “all things come from splendor,” and the urgent question that the poet can’t help but ask: “Will you miss me when I’m gone?

I’ve read few passages from this poem and I think it is very good, I love the play on words depicting life, I am such a sucker for those stuff, plus it has been a long time that I’ve been wanting to read anything by Charles Wright, now I don’t have any excuse.

3. Apology for Want by Mary Jo Bang

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There is a keenness in the poems of Apology for Want that one rarely encounters in a first collection, an unfailing and unflinching exactitude – of language, of metaphor, of emotion. Mary Jo Bang is a poet of unerring discernment, of uncanny perspicacity. The precision in these poems is never gratuitous; this is fine furniture where every nail is driven by necessity. Bang delineates the all-too-human condition of gazing and longing and gives us cautionary tales of what happens to those who shun restraint and yield instead to desperate attempts at satisfaction.

This poetry book caught my attention because of one particular poem inside, I have never heard of Mary Jo Bang before, I love that I can discover different poets and constantly finding a new favorite. I have a good feeling she’ll be one of my favorites.

4. The Middle Ages by Roger Fanning

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A new collection from a Whiting award and National Poetry Series winner. 

Thomas Lux has called Roger Fanning “an American original…[whose] poems are so pure, so piercing, so simple, so distilled that reading him is like taking a drunk-with-language dive into a moonlit lake on a night you believe you will live forever!” Fanning writes surprising and evocative poems that are filled with humor and ingenuity; Mary Karr says he “tunes us in to those minuscule instants of revelation that can keep life from being a long zombie convention.” This new collection of poems, Fanning’s first in more than ten years, in part chronicles a period of time when he suffered a break with reality, and continues his investigations into the drudgeries, the disappointments, and the joy of our daily lives.

The main reason I bought this one was because of the cover (yeah I’m shallow like that sometimes, plus it was published by Penguin so to me those are good reasons to buy a book. haha

5. Why I wake Early by Mary Oliver

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The forty-seven new works in this volume include poems on crickets, toads, trout lilies, black snakes, goldenrod, bears, greeting the morning, watching the deer, and, finally, lingering in happiness. Each poem is imbued with the extraordinary perceptions of a poet who considers the everyday in our lives and the natural world around us and finds a multitude of reasons to wake early.

As I’ve said before I am collecting all of Mary Oliver’s works.

6. Swan by Mary Oliver 

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“Joy is not made to be a crumb,” writes Mary Oliver, and certainly joy abounds in her new book of poetry and prose poems. Swan, her twentieth volume, shows us that, though we may be “made out of the dust of stars,” we are of the world she captures here so vividly. Swan is Oliver’s tribute to “the mortal way” of desiring and living in the world, to which the poet is renowned for having always been “totally loyal.”

7. The Lifting Dress by Lauren Berry

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Selected for the National Poetry Series by Terrance Hayes. 

Lauren Berry’s bracing and emotionally charged first collection of poetry delivers visions of a gothic South that Flannery O’Connor would recognize. Set in a feverish swamp town in Florida, The Lifting Dress enters the life of a teenage girl the day after she has been raped. She refuses to tell anyone what has happened, and moves silently toward adulthood in a community that offers beauty but denies apology. Through lyric narratives, readers watch her shift between mirroring and rejecting the anxious swelter of her world, until she ultimately embraces it with the same violent affection once tendered to her.

The topic of this book is something I was quite interested, I have read few novels about rape but not one poetry book about it, I wanted to see how the author will go about such a sensitive topic.

8. American Sublime by Elizabeth Alexander

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A brilliant new collection by Elizabeth Alexander, whose “poems bristle with the irresistible quality of a world seen fresh” (Rita Dove, The Washington Post)
Too many people have seen too much

and lived to tell, or not tell, or tell

with their silent, patterned bodies,

their glass eyes, gone legs, flower-printed flesh . . .

-from “Notes From”
In her fourth remarkable collection, Elizabeth Alexander voices the outcries, dreams, and histories of an African American tradition that goes back to the slave rebellion on the Amistad and to the artists’ canvases of nineteenth-century America. In persona poems, historical narratives, jazz riffs, sonnets, elegies, and a sequence of ars poetica, American Sublime is Alexander’s most vivid and varied collection and affirms her place as one of America’s most lively and gifted writers.
“Alexander is an unusual thing, a sensualist of history, a romanticist of race. She weaves biography, history, experience, pop culture and dream. Her poems make the public and private dance together.” –Chicago Tribune

I enjoy poetry books with topics of the struggles of African American back in the day it was so powerful that I am always left in awe. One great book discussing the same topic is Beg Your Pardon by Lynne Thompson

9. Otherwise Elsewhere by David Rivard

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The expansive, energetic new poetry book by David Rivard, author of Sugartown and Wise Poison

You pay as you go. Mornings 
at this point are either like spread sails or (more likely) 
spread-sheets–they fill fast. Mornings are fortunes, 
but as suspect as a wristwatch running in reverse. 
–from “Vigorish”  
David Rivard’s new collection Otherwise Elsewhere describes the many powers–psychological and historical–that flow through people’s lives in acts of faith, greed, pleasure, celebrity, gossip, and consolation. A teenage boy looking at a weathered gravestone wonders how many times he’ll sign his name in his life; the forest on the move in Macbeth intersects with a blind man cured by Christ; a man coming out of a terrible dream of being lost is saved by touching his wife’s hair. “For those of us who need it,” one poem asserts, “instruction is everywhere.” 

Rivard’s poetry is full of unsettling humor and the careening movement of memory and imagination.

Another poet I have not heard before, I can’t wait to be blown away by his poetry.

10. Vanishing Line by Jeffrey Yang

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Night garden, moon
calendar, soft mint scent.
Warm wind, silent. Gold,
silver debris.
        —from “Yennecott”

Jeffrey Yang’s second collection of poems is an exploration of the various lines—horizon line, time line, blood line, poetic line—beyond which so much vanishes from sight, from memory. With historical documentation, lyrical association, and artistic virtuosity, Yang creates a collage of elegies, losses that are private and those that define our nation. Vanishing-Line is an ambitious book by one of the most fascinating new poets in America.

11. Sonnets from the Portuguese by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

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Ahhh the book I was so happy to get, it was included in Rory Gilmore’s Reading Challenge and it has beautiful illustrations inside!

12. White Apples and the Taste of Stone by Donald Hall

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Throughout his writing life Donald Hall has garnered numerous accolades and honors, culminating in 2006 with his appointment as poet laureate of the United States. White Apples and the Taste of Stone collects more than two hundred poems from across sixty years of Hall’s celebrated career, and includes poems recently published in The New Yorker, the American Poetry Review, and the New York Times. It is Hall’s first selected volume in fifteen years, and the first to include poems from his seminal bestseller Without. Those who have come to love Donald Hall’s poetry will welcome this vital and important addition to his body of work. For the uninitiated it is a spectacular introduction to this critically acclaimed and admired poet.

What made me buy it is the poem Ardor! Ahhhh I think I found a new favorite in the person of Donald Hall.

13. Another America by Barbara Kingsolver

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This edition contains six new poems, a foreword by Margaret Randall, a new preface by Barbara Kingsolver, and a newly designed cover.

I didn’t know Barbara Kingsolver also wrote poems, so I was just so happy to see this in our local second hand bookstore.

So those are the poetry books I accumulated this month. Total poetry count as of today is already 55 books. I am so happy. It is my life mission to have a bookcase filled with all the poetry books, I can’t wait for it to finally come to fruition!

Do you like poetry too? Can you recommend some to me?

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2 thoughts on “August Poetry Bookhaul

  1. “The Lifting Dress” by Lauren Berry sounds rather interesting – definitely have to check that one out! I usually prefer younger poets: everything by Meggie Royer is very, very good! I enjoyed Mira Gonzalez’ collection although that may not be for everyone. The works by pleasefindthis are more aphorism than poetry but still very cool as they speak directly to you. Other poetry books I can recommend: “B Is for Bad Poetry” by Pamela August Russell, both collection of Jeanann Verlee’s poetry, “Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth” by Warsan Shire and especially “Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty” by Christine Heppermann.

    Of all your poetry books so far, can you recommend a “must read” to me?

    Have a lovely day!

    • Wow thank you so much for all your recommendations! I have read Warsan Shire’s poems they are really good, and yes the I wrote This for You by pleasefindthis is yes, more like aphorisms, I enjoyed it nonetheless. I also read few poems of Mira Gonzalez, I agree not for everyone, her tweets are funny too.

      Lauren Berry’s lifting dress, that I am really excited to read, I’ll let you know after I’m done with it. I also like contemporary poets, but I enjoy classic ones here and there especially the works of CP Cavafy and Edgar Allan Poe, well you can never go wrong with Edgar Allan Poe.

      I could totally recommend No Matter The Wreckage by Sarah Kay, Love & Misadventure by Lang Leav, Chasers of The Light by Tyler Knott Gregson, The Year of What Now by Brian Russell, works of Mary Oliver, Ugly People Beautiful Hearts by Marlen Komar and Blackbird and Wolf by Henri Cole, these are the contemporary ones.

      If you want to try some classics, I could recommend Ariel by Sylvia Plath, I Hate and I love by Catullus, and Remember Body by CP Cavafy.

      Have a great day dear! 🙂

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