Top Ten Tuesday: My Favorite Poetry Books
Today's topic, 'Places in Books I'd Love to Live', just didn't interest me and I think I've done a similar list several years ago. So today I'm off the board getting ready for April and Poetry Month.
1. Teaching with Fire: Poetry that Sustains the Courage to Teach edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner---This very well may be the book that made a poetry lover out of me. Every poem in the collection was selected by an educator for having some significance in their career. The poem was displayed on one side of the page with the educator's explanation of its significance on the other. Many, many, many of the poems and explanations spoke directly to my heart and how I felt about being an educator.
2. Ten Poems to Change Your Life edited by Roger Housden---I found this small volume of poetry in my library and after reading it quickly devoured all the books in the "Ten Poems" collection. Roger Housden has unlocked the poetry code for me. He selected ten poems, which he identifies as life changing poems and spends a few pages explaining each one. I realized as I read his descriptions that I never really knew how to read poetry before, so the only poems I ever really liked were the ones that I could figure out without too much fuss. Out of the ten poetry books I list today, all of the books in his series could make the list but I just selected one, the first I read, as a place holder all of them. Here is my original blog post written after my first time through the book in 2013: Ten Poems to Change Your Life review. I actually like the review I wrote for a subsequent volume better. Please feel free to check that one out, too: Ten Poems to Set You Free. Hey, while you are at it help yourself to one more, Ten Poems to Heal Your Heart.
3. The Trouble with Poetry by Billy Collins--- Billy Collins is one of my favorite poets because his poems are so accessible. One doesn't need to have a MFA to understand his poems. I always get the idea when I read Collins that he is an accidental poet. It is as if he has to write down a poem or two every few days to survive, so he writes about whatever pops into his mind. The poems themselves aren't really stream-of-consciousness but the ideas for them seem to be. The first poem in The Trouble with Poetry, is a tease. In "You, Reader", Collins brags that he wrote down a poem that you or I should have, but he got to it first. I wonder how you are going to feel / When you find out / that I wrote this instead of you, ... Collins makes me laugh, too. He muses in the poem which is also the title of the book, "The Trouble With Poetry", that the trouble with poetry is that it encourages the writing of more poetry. Isn't that the point? No wonder Collins was the U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001-3. He is a good ambassador for poetry.
4. I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy by Hafez, translated by Daniel Ladinsky---Where have I been? Hafez, a fourteenth century poet from Persia, has obviously been around a lot longer than me, yet I just recently discovered him. I loved every minute with this small volume of poetry. A poet is someone / Who can pour Light into a spoon, / Then raise it / To nourish / Your beautiful parched, holy mouth. I do feel like poetry nourishes my parched soul.
5. Dog Songs by Mary Oliver---Oliver is my favorite poet. I've read over a dozen of her poetry collections and have at least that many left to go. I want to read everything she has written. Dog Song is a favorite among favorites because I am a huge dog fan just like Oliver. Steadfastness, it seems, / is more about dogs than it is about us. / One of the reasons we love them so much.
6. Strong is Your Hand: Poems by Galway Kinnell--- Kinnell is remembered as a poet that the average person can read and understand. I'll toast to that! I appreciate poets who write poems that inspire me and ones I can recite.
7. Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine---Citizen is part poetry, part essay, part personal, part collective experiences, part historical, and completely heartbreaking and maddening. In it poet Claudia Rankine uses her talent to give voice to the black experience(s) in America. Most of the poems are short and written in free form so, at first glance, I wasn't aware that I was even reading poetry. But the choice usage of perfect words just piled up to leave me clutching my chest because my heart was breaking over and over.
8. God Went to Beauty School by Cynthia Rylant---What if God was able to experience everything from a human point of view? Would he get a dog? Climb a mountain? Watch TV? What would amaze him the most about our world? Hands? Elephants? Riding in a boat? GOD WENT TO INDIA / To see the elephants./ God adores elephants. / He thinks they are the best thing / He ever made. / They do everything / He hoped for: / They love their children, / they don't kill, /they mourn their dead. / This last thing is important/ to God...Each and every poem causes me to stop, to reflect, to smile, or to cry. I love this little book. I love the idea of God experiencing life on earth as a human, which relates to me and my experiences. Rylant writes for children, but this adult loves her poems, too.
9. How Lovely the Ruins: Inspirational Poems and Words for Difficult Times edited by Spiegel and Grau.--- Reading this small volume was like taking a long drink of water on a hot day, refreshing and necessary. The title pretty much tells you why. We are experiencing bad times like no other and while we are home alone or feeling isolated, how refreshing to read poems and essays which speaks right to those feelings.
10. Devotions by Mary Oliver---I had to add another volume of poetry by my fav! Devotion is a collection of Oliver's best poems. It is a tome but one to be treasured.
Love has taken away all my practices
And filled me with poetry. -Rumi