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3 Great Poetry Books (+ 3 more)

It's the end of the year. Let's share our favorites!

3 Great Poetry Books I Read in 2011
Or: Of the many poetry books I enjoyed this year, I returned to these most. 

These collections were recent discoveries for me, but not necessarily published this year.

After the Ark
by Luke Johnson

I don't often read poetry books in one long session but one after the other these poems kept me rapt. In his debut, Johnson, the son of two ministers, deftly blends faith and loss into full-bodied and accomplished poems. And I'm not alone in my praise. The Huffington Post listed the collection as one of the 20 Best Books From Independent Presses.


At This Distance
by Bette Lynch Husted

In poems that explore distance — human and geographical — Husted travels her Oregon landscape, as well as universal roads, lonesome towns and the spacious, shaded and shiny places within each of us. "She writes with deep care and conscience," says Naomi Shihab Nye. "Her poems shun nothing, exploring difficult legacies and the mysterious encroachments of 'what people do' with calm humility and curiosity."   Don't miss: Anything a Box Will Hold

A Brief History of Time
by Shaindel Beers

How does she do it? In her debut collection, Beers offers sometimes longish, prose-like poems that twist and turn and keep me reading and re-reading, asking: Did she say that? Did she mean that? How did she do that? These are grounded, hardworking poems that don't stammer or hedge, and yet they are intimate, epic, crafted — and real. "This young woman writes poems crammed with the beauty, irony, and the sadness of the world: crummy jobs, meanness, illness, loss, and all the perspective they bring," says Penelope Scambly Schott.


And 3 More
In 2011, I turned and returned to these poetry books:

by January Gill O'Neil
O'Neil's debut collection is one of the most visually appealing poetry books I've read. The poetry world is, sadly, cluttered with shoddy production. Thankfully, CavanKerry Press knows the value of good graphic design, quality paper, and a professionally produced product.


by Ce Rosenow

I wasn't a fan of haiku — until I read this book. And now, I read the short form with great appreciation. "These poems are just like waves — some quiet, some stormy," notes Michael Dylan Welch. "Acceptance, ultimately, is a central stance of this book, welcoming what is received, to the point of celebration."


Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room
by Kelli Russell Agodon

In this smart, funny and touching collection, Agodon offers poems both rich and lively. My copy is marked and worn. Favorite poems: Memo to a Busy World, Letter to a Past Life, and Letter to an Absentee Landlord. (Who am I kidding, nearly every page bears a bookmark).


What did I miss? What poetry books did you love this year?

Stay tuned. The lists keep coming. Next up:

- Favorite Writing Resource Books

- Books to Read in 2012

  & a Book Giveaway!


Reader Comments (8)

Of course, now I have to buy them all...!! :)

My favorite for 2011 has been Diane Lockward's "Eve's Red Dress" and "What Feeds Us" She is amazing.

"My Husband Discovers Poetry" is one of my favorite poems. Love.

She also has a newer book, "Temptation by Water" which I don't have. (yet)

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEliza

I don't know where I found this poem (it might have been in The MacGuffin Literary Magazine.) Anyway, I have never found anything else by this author. I thank her for this poem.

The Plural of Amaryllis by Naomi Benaron‏

The amaryllis bulbs have multiplied
since winter, when we divided
the goods and called it quits.

All this red on white intruding
on my spring, each bloom a thorn-pricked
finger and no one here to lick the wound.

I thought to split them up in the fall--
there is too much bloodied
beauty for a single bowl.

I thought to leave some bulbs
at your doorstep with a note
like abandoned bastard children

except I can't determine
the plural for amaryllis,
don't want to look the fool.

How gently a knife could
cleave the twins' joined tunics.

But the roots, those snarls
of sleep tangled hair:
a different story.

December 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEliza

That poem is a stunner - thanks for sharing it.

And thanks, also, for suggesting Diane Lockward's books. I'm adding them to my (growing) list of "Books to read in 2012."

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterdrew myron

All but one is now on my to-read list; I already have, turn and return to, Letters From the Emily Dickinson Room. Thanks for this great round up!

My faves this year:

Rookery by Traci Brimhall
Threshold by Jennifer Richter
Colosseum by Katie Ford.

Happy new year!

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMolly

Thanks for the recommendations. If I were the type to make resolutions, it would be to purchase (and give away) even more poetry in 2012.

I haven't read Luke Johnson's collection, but I have been enjoying another NYQ release by Mather Schneider called He Took A Cab. It's an interesting ride through memorable situations that only a cabdriver is able to experience. I've been meaning to write about it on my own blog, sooner or later. Maybe my New Year's resolution should be to not take so long to do things.

P.S. - I'm also a big fan of Lockward's blog.

December 31, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShawnte

Thanks for the suggestions, Molly & Shawnte. My reading list grows.
And yes to more giveaways -- I love chance & free!

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdrew myron


Thanks so much for mentioning my book! And I'm interested in a couple others you mentioned that I haven't read.

I've read January's book and LOVE IT too!

but thanks for the recommendations of the others, will check them out!

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelli Russell Agodon

My pleasure, Kelli.
Thanks for stopping by.

January 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdrew myron

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