April Is Poetry Month

You might say, "Poetry? Eeewww." And we would understand as we've all suffered some sad poetry readings, boring analyses, or bad rhymes. But don't give up yet! Here are a few selections, by no means an exhaustive collection, of our favorite authors and rhymes. One of the beautiful things about poetry is that you don't have to read from cover to cover; generally speaking, you can pick and choose among an author's offerings. Another thing we like about poetry is that in a few short sentences, an author has combined the same words we use everyday to convey an entire story in an artful way. Magic. We think you'll be able to find one, just one, poem in this collection that speaks to you or encourages you to read other authors in our collection.

The Poetry of Robert Frost

By Robert Frost

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One of the most steadied and lauded American poets and for good reason. Sometimes writing for a youthful audience ("the fog comes on little cat feet...") and sometimes writing for persons of more experience ("...I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.") Revisit Frost's poetry now that you're out of English class and see what you think.

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The Poetry Home Repair Manual: Practical Advice for Beginning Poets

By Ted Kooser

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"Much more than a guidebook to writing and revising poems, this manual has all the comforts and merits of an enlightening conversation with a wise, patient friend, one willing to share everything he's learned about the art he spent a lifetime learning. Ted Kooser offers tools, insights, and instructions (and warnings against instructions). Using examples from his own rich literary oeuvre and from the work of a number of successful contemporary poets, he schools us in the critical relationship between poet and reader, which is fundamental to what he believes is poetry's ultimate purpose: to reach other people and touch their hearts."
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Selected Poems

By Robert Lowell

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Selected Poems includes over 200 works culled from Robert Lowell's books of verse--Lord Weary's Castle, The Mills of the Kavanaughs, Life Studies, For the Union Dead, Near the Ocean, History,For Lizzie and Harriet, and The Dolphin. Edited and with a foreword by the poet Frank Bidart, who also edited Collected Poems of Robert Lowell, this volume is a perfectly chosen representation of "the greatest American poet of the mid-century" (Richard Poirier, Book Week)

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Poet's Choice: Poems for Everyday Life

By Robert Hass, editor

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"When Robert Hass first took his post as U.S. Poet Laureate, he asked himself, "What can a poet laureate usefully do?" One of his answers was to bring back the popular nineteenth-century tradition of including poetry in our daily newspapers. "Poet's Choice," a nationally syndicated column appearing in twenty-five papers, has introduced a poem a week to readers across the country.

"There is news in poems," argues Robert Hass. This collection gathers the full two years' worth of Hass's choices, including recently published poems as well as older classics. The selections reflect the events of the day, whether it be an elder poet recieving a major prize, a younger poet publishing a first book, the death of a great writer, or the changing seasons and holidays. They also reflect Hass's personal taste. Here is "one of the most gorgeous poems in the English language" ('To Autumn' by John Keats): a harrowing Holocaust poem ('Deathfugue' by Paul Celan); and 'my favorite American poem of spring' ('Spring and All' by William Carlos Williams). With a brief introduction to each poet and poem, a note on the selection, and insights on how the poem works, Robert Hass acts as your personal guide to the poetry shelves at your local bookstores and to some of the best poetry of all time."

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Pinion: An Elegy

By Claudia Emerson

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"In this eloquent long poem, Claudia Emerson employs the voices of two family members on a small southern farm to examine the universal complexities of place, generation, memory, and identity. Alternating between the voices of Preacher and Sister, Pinion is narrated by the younger, surviving sister Rose, in whose memory the now-gone family and farm vividly live on."
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On the Bus with Rosa Parks: Poems

By Rita Dove

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"A dazzling new collection by the former Poet Laureate of the United States. In these brilliant poems, Rita Dove treats us to a panoply of human endeavor, shot through with the electrifying jazz of her lyric elegance. From the opening sequence, 'Cameos,' to the civil rights struggle of the final sequence, she explores the intersection of individual fate and history."
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Negative Blue

By Charles Wright

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The culmination of the cycle that won Wright the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award:

Time will append us like suit coats left out overnight
On a deck chair, loose change dead weight in the right pocket,
Silk handkerchief limp with dew,
sleeves in a slow dance with the wind.
And love will kill us--
Love, and the winds from under the earth
that grind us to grain-out.

--from "Still Life with Spring and Time to Burn"

When Charles Wright published Appalachia in 1998, it marked the completion of a nine-volume project, of which James Longenbach wrote in the Boston Review, "Charles Wright's trilogy of trilogies--call it 'The Appalachian Book of the Dead'--is sure to be counted among the great long poems of the century."

The first two of those trilogies were collected in Country Music (1982) and The World of the Ten Thousand Things (1990). Here Wright adds to his third trilogy (Chickamauga [1995], Black Zodiac [1997], and Appalachia [1998]) a section of new poems that suggest new directions in the work of this sensuous, spirit-haunted poet.

(From the publisher's description)

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My Wicked, Wicked Ways

By Sandra Cisneros

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Hailed as "not only a gifted writer, but an absolutely essential one" (The New York Times Book Review), Sandra Cisneros has firmly established herself as an author of electrifying talent. Here are verses, comic and sad, radiantly pure and plainspoken, that reveal why her stories have been praised for their precision and musicality of language.

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Late Wife

By Claudia Emerson

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"In Late Wife, a woman explores her disappearance from one life and reappearance in another as she addresses her former husband, herself, and her new husband in a series of epistolary poems. Though not satisfied in her first marriage, she laments vanishing from the life she and her husband shared for years. She then describes the unexpected joys of solitude during her recovery and emotional convalescence. Finally, in a sequence of sonnets, she speaks to her new husband, whose first wife died from lung cancer. The poems highlight how rebeginning in this relationship has come about in part because of two couples' respective losses. The most personal of Claudia Emerson's poetry collections, Late Wife is both an elegy and a celebration of a rich present informed by a complex past."
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The Flying Change

By Henry Taylor

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"The poems in The Flying Change embrace a wide range of subjects and tones. Henry Taylor's concern with the rural anecdote, demonstrated in his two earlier works of poetry, The Horse Show at Midnight and An Afternoon of Pocket Billiards, is here broadened to include not only funny stories called "snapshots" but also extended meditations on change and death. Throughout this collection, Taylor combines everyday speech with careful control of traditional forms to produce poems of unusual power."
A Pulitzer Prize-winning book.

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