Poetry

  • Ariel

    Sylvia Plath

    while reading Wintering, i tried to read along with this at the same time, as the chapter titles in Wintering are the titles of these poems, but in the sequence that Sylvia Plath had decided upon. she killed herself before the book was published and Ted Hughes reordered the poems into chronological order, removed some that he felt were “personally aggressive,” and added several poems written in the very last months before Plath’s death, which are “colored by her suicidal depression.” (*)

    i’ve owned Plath’s collected poems since high school and have only read a few here and there, so it was good to have a starting point and find that i really appreciate her voice in many...more

  • Sun Under Wood

    Robert Hass

    i like his phrasing and the detail of nature imagery. the book follows a slight narrative, drawing out personal themes alongside folklore. a calming collection of poems, introspective and clearly captured.more

  • The Low East

    David Henderson

    riding the train today, exiting to snow falling and slush sidewalks. appropriate to read this slim book of largely new york inspired verse.

    new year rain and snow whirling down
    something to watch outside the window

    pleasing combinations of syllables, the city imagery, and references to the lettered avenues.more

  • The Waste Land and other poems

    T.S. Eliot

    one of those used books that has been sitting on my shelf forever, pulled it out finally and loved the way the words tumbled out. even when the subject doesn’t appeal exactly or the allusions and images are too deeply symbolic for uneducated reading (i.e., not in a class), the language is beautiful, images stirring, and rhythm tight.more

  • Illuminations

    Arthur Rimbaud

    i bought a used copy of the Louise Varése translation a few years ago. it’s been kicking around, never read, like a few other books of poetry. supposedly Jim Carroll is reminiscent of Rimbaud, but maybe it is his better known book A Season in Hell. this one seems so rich in allusions with a classical feel and a visionary nature.

    the plus of buying used books is finding things like this makeshift bookmark. potentially this book has traveled much further than i have.more

  • The Autobiography of Red

    Anne Carson

    after reading Anne Carson, i always have a heightened sense of awareness. this book is a “novel in verse” and much more of a story than the previous books of hers that i read. she has an incredible way of splicing time, in terms of when everything is taking place. it is set like a classical myth (and this even includes a very scholarly preface with appendices) but retold in some kind of modernish times. everything is removed from reality while having such amazingly clear images. she uses such beautiful language, and i love how she pulls the characters towards each other and then apart. plus this story is about a red monster with wings.more

  • Fear of Dreaming

    Jim Carroll

    i picked this up randomly, though i should have learned by now that picking up poetry in that manner isn’t the best approach for me. Jim Carroll also wrote The Basketball Diaries, an autobiographical coming of age/drug addiction story that was later turned into a movie starring Leonard DiCaprio. i never read the book, but i do remember seeing the movie and probably the book is much better.

    this collection of poetry spans from Carroll’s first “aboveground” book, Living at the Movies, to “newer works” (from 1989–1993). the poems of the first book were by far the ones that caught me the most; something about them seems more sincere or maybe it’s the more obvious backdrop of...more

  • The Beauty of the Husband

    Anne Carson

    all the Anne Carson books i’d like to take out at the library are always missing from the shelf — i finally took this one out so i could stop frowning at it. as i thought, i’m not so into the story here: it’s “the story of a marriage” and throughout the characters are called “the wife” and “the husband” but other characters have names. i love the way she writes though, the way she approaches her ideas and presents the concepts. i think over half the references went right over my head.

    there is a reading group guide at the vintage website....more

  • New Addresses

    Kenneth Koch

    another recommendation from elissa, poems addressed to various things like “life” and “yes” and “the italian language” and “wars,” etc. a nice study in anthropomorphism with prying reflection.more

  • Atomic Field

    Nicholas Christopher

    i picked this up last summer when i was temping at a publishing company, and i started to read it but never finished. the book is comprised of two extended poems, one, one dated 1962 and one 1974, each made up of 45 smaller poems. the two series of images and memories and dreamlike scenarios don’t seem like solid pieces in themselves. the individual poems feel incomplete and arranging them together does not make the extended poems feel any more whole. somehow he manages to remember these moments in clear detail without becoming nostalgic. i feel just as distant from it all.more

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