- Dancing in Odessa by Ilya Kaminsky, telling the tale of having to leave his country because of the situation in his country and dealing with memories of family and loves
- Insomniac Diary by Bill Hicok, a very unusual collection of poems dealing with day to day life from an unusual perspective
- Long Division by Alan Michael Parker, a collection unified by the use of counting and math, featuring poems on many aspects of life
- The Vital System by CM Burroughs, a collection based on body, some of desire and intimacy, some with pain
- After Urgency by Rusty Morrison, many poems dealing with the aftermath of the death of the poet's parents, winner of the Dorset Prize
- Nobody's Hell by Douglas Goetsch, a collection using great details and appreciating life
- Please by Jericho Brown, a collection unified by music appreciation and will excellent voice and song in the poems
After I'd been through so many contemporary collections of poems, I started thinking about how poems fit into my life and realized I could write some essays on the topics. It's leading me to reading many of the earlier collections of poems I've read by other poets--most of these were published by Tupelo Press.
Also in the class I read poems from Norton and from Farrar, Straus and Giroux--
- A Village Life by Louise Gluck, a collection unified by the experience of a town throughout a woman's life
- Nothing in Nature is Private by Claudia Rankine, a collection dealing with natural human drives
- The Dream of a Common Language by Adrienne Rich, a collection about a woman and her sexuality among other things
- What the Living Do by Marie Howe, a strong collection dealing with a woman's experience of abuse and coming to terms with her feelings about it as she grew up
I've also read two collections from New South featuring a broad range of poets and writers and a collection of Love and Other Passion by the poets of Central Florida.
I've also started reading more poems in the speculative poetry genre, Prismatica by Elizabeth Barret, and Voyagers by Mark Pirie and Tim Jones.
I'm writing about this en masse because I grew tired of writing book reviews because they don't give me as much flexibility to interact mentally with the poems. Instead I've started working on some essays about my reactions to these and other poems. Writing essays are a lot more work and offer a writer the way to compare and contrast writing or speak about different topics in poetry. I've read poetry for several decades now so in some ways it is freeing while in other ways it prevents the quick turnaround of looking at a collection, writing a review and shoving it on your shelf.
Some reasons to go back and reread collections you've read before is that this tends to improve your own writing. You tend to look at a polished poem from a collection and say to yourself, how can I improve my own writing. Ways to improve include:
- better use of detail
- more unified collections, i.e. you don't settle for writing one poem on a topic, you dig deeper and see where else grief may take you, or love, or music
- a desire to open the space of your poem more--remove unneeded details and let the wisdom shine on the page
- expand your topics that you write about in poetry from the personal, to witnessing other people, news events, etc.