"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Monday, April 12, 2021

TTT: The most recent poetry books I've read and what I think about them


 Top Ten Tuesday

Another "Poetry Month" theme for my Top Ten Tuesday posts, today I am off-the-board listing-

 The most recent poetry books I've read (and what I think about them)

1. Whale Day and Other Poems
by Billy Collins
(Currently reading; published in 2020)
Billy Collins has a great sense of humor and I often find myself laughing at some point while reading his poems. Last night I was reading them while my husband was in the bathroom getting ready for bed. I kept calling out to him to hurry because I wanted to read aloud some funny poems I just found. One of them even won the prize in my mind for a funny title: "Listening to Hank Mobley Around 11 O'clock After a Long Boozy Dinner, the Four of Us at Captain Pig's, Our Favorite Restaurant." If you feel daunted by poetry but want to give it a try, Billy Collins is a perfect poet to start with.

2. Dearly: New Poems
by Margaret Atwood
(Published in 2020)
Atwood is the author of The Handmaid's Tale so I was prepared for some futuristic and dystopian-type poems. She didn't disappoint on this score, even including a few poems on zombies, werewolves, and the like. By far her strongest poems in this collection dealt with the themes of climate change, aging, and mortality. If you want to know more, please check out my review of Dearly here.
3. DMZ Colony by Don Mee Choi
(Published in 2020)
This collection won the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry. The author is Korean-American and she returned to Korea as a translator at some point. The book is about life in and near the DMZ between North and South Korea and how the conflict between the divided country lives on. I honestly didn't understand completely every poems, especially those that talked about people and circumstances I'd never heard of before. But the emotional impact of this whole collection is profound. For many hours after I completed it I sat in stunned silence just feeling the "feels" that the poems evoked in me. 
4. Light for the World to See: A Thousand Words on Race and Hope by Kwame Alexander
(Published in 2020)
I wish I'd listened to this on audiobooks because it is heralded as a "rap session on race." It is short with the words coming at the reader large and loud. It calls for attention on what is happening in our world around race and the importance of drawing attention to the problems.

5. The Hill We Climb: An Inaugural Poem the Country by Amanda Gorman
(Published in 2021)
On January 20th I was glued to my TV watching the inauguration ceremony for Joe Biden. I'd been in tears all day. The horrible Trump years were over. Could healing finally begin? Then Amanda Gorman, the poet selected to read a poem for the momentous day, stepped up to the podium. The earth stilled and wisp of hope could be felt on the air. She recited her poem, she she wrote after witnessing the siege on the Capitol on Jan. 6th. The words helped. Her words helped:

Somehow we've weathered and witnessed
a nation that isn't broken,
but simply unfinished.

6. MARY OLIVER poetry books-- 
 a. The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays by Mary Oliver
(Published in 2008)
Ten new poems, thirty-five classic poems, and two essays
b. The Swan: Poems and Prose Poems by Mary Oliver
(Published in 2010)
"Joy is not meant to be a crumb."
c. The Leaf and the Cloud by Mary Oliver
(Published in 2001)
If this lovely book-length poem were a symphony, it would have seven movements.
d. Long Life: Essays and Other Writings by Mary Oliver
(Published in 2004)
Contains a collection of seventeen essays and ten poems.
I've obviously been on a Mary Oliver jag recently, reading four of her books in the month, with one more on the shelf waiting its turn. All of Oliver's books sort of slop over on to each other after you've read a few of her collections. Many of her books contain some of her classic poems, so the reader will greet these poems as old friends.  Want to know more about the author and these four books, check out my post here, A Peek at the Writings of Mary Oliver.
7. Apple (Skin to the Core) by Eric Gansworth
(Published in 2020)
Apple (Skin to the Core) is a memoir written in verse by artist and poet Eric Gansworth. He is a member of the Ononadaga Indian tribe living among the Tuscaroras, living on the Rez (reservation) yet an outsider on the inside. This is the story of his family, starting with the horrible boarding schools three of his four grandparents were sent to as children to "kill the Indian but save the man." Gansworth was the youngest of many children, born into a family of poverty and an absent father. The memoir is divided into sections as Eric tells us his story and the story of his family from his childhood on the Rez to his current life as an artist living off the reservation. It was a 2021 Printz Honor book. I didn't find it an easy book to read, but I did appreciate the insights I gained from it. Here's my review of Apple where I go into a lot more detail.
8.  Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo
(Published in 2020)
I included this book on my list last week since it is a novel written in verse. Two narrators of the story have very different voices and the poetry reflects that. Read my short review of Clap When You Land here.
9. The Witch Doesn't Burn In This One by Amanda Lovelace
(Published in 2018)
The second book in the Women Are Some Kind of Magic series of poetry books by Lovelace. In this one the witch doesn't take any sh*t from men and is strong in standing up for herself. That sounds great but the result felt like the author was saying that ALL men are terrible and must be destroyed. I disagree so I had trouble finding much to relate to in the poems. I will warn you this book will trigger strong emotions in women who have suffered at the hands of men, though.

10. How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons
by Barbara Kingsolver.
(Published in 2020)
Though I adore Kingsolver's novels I am not as moved by her poems. I kept wanting a little bit more from each one. Or maybe my mood right wasn't in the right place and did not jive well with this collection. I was so anxious and worried about the upcoming election in October when I read it.  I own it so I will try it again in a few years and see if I still agree with my current estimation of it.  I know there are gems to be found there like this:
Tiptoe past the dogs of the apocalypse
asleep in the shade of your future.
Pay at the window. You’ll be surprised: you
can pass off hope like a bad check.
You still have time, that’s the thing.
To make it good.

-“How to Be Hopeful,” Barbara Kingsolver



  1. I like reading poems singly, but don't know how I would do with a whole book of them. :)

    1. Try one of Mary Oliver's books. They are short and almost all the poems are understandable.

  2. These all sound like they have something nice to offer. Gorman's I'm really curious about (and isn't that an amazing story!!).

    1. Yes. It really is. She has a point in the poem where she refers to living in a country where anyone can be President and here she is reading a poem at an inauguration. It was so real.

  3. This is really interesting! I almost never read poetry, so it is totally outside my area of expertise. But I was particularly interested to see Barbara Kingsolver's book on your list - I haven't yet picked up her poems, but am curious! Thanks for sharing an excerpt!

    1. I love Kingsolver and she is such a deep thinker. Her poems reflect that.

  4. Mary Oliver was such a great poet.

    My post: https://lydiaschoch.com/top-ten-tuesday-literature-themed-colouring-books/

    1. I cried when Mary Oliver died. For selfish reasons of course...no new poems from her.

  5. Wonderful! I am happy you posted your thoughts on some of the most recent books of poetry you have read. I will never forget hearing Amanda Gorman read her poem at the inauguration. I will filled with so much hope.

    1. Me, too. I think it was at that point i the ceremony that I felt we as a country would be okay.

  6. Completely agree with you for 'The witch doesn't burn in this one' I just turned into hating men rather than female empowerment 😬 I really want to read clap when you land and dearly: new poems!

    My post: https://booksandbouquets.blogspot.com/2021/04/top-10-tuesday-book-titles-that-sound.html

    1. Glad I am not alone in my estimation of "the Witch Doesn't Burn in This One". I gave it three stars on Goodreads so I must not have hated the whole thing.

  7. I haven't read a ton of poetry. Lisa Schroeder has written books in verse that I have liked.

    1. I'll have to check out her books. Where should I start?

  8. I've read The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One and it was just okay for me. Dearly sounds good though!

  9. Like so many people, I loved Gorman's performance at the inauguration. I don't even like poetry and I loved her poem!

    Happy TTT!

  10. I'm not a big poetry reader but The Witch Doesn't Burn in This One has really caught my eye. Great post!

  11. I'm not the biggest poetry fan out there, but maybe I'll pick a book from your list and read it! I really want to love poetry, but I just don't know?!

  12. You've got some fantastic books on this list! Billy Collins and Kwame Alexander stood out to me the most.

  13. I've never read poetry or gotten into it, but I hope you enjoy what you've been reading lately. :) Thanks so much for the visit to Finding Wonderland.


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