Because some of you1,2 asked, I’ll be posting my reading lists here each month. I’m not required—or even supposed—to read all the books on the list for each month (“If you read all of them you’re doing it wrong”). I’m also expected to read them interleaved with each other, an approach that makes me more than a little dizzy—four poems from one poet, then four poems from another, and I end up with no idea which is which. I’m hoping to get better at it with practice.
My first month’s selections were:
- Tess Gallagher, Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems
- Albert Goldbarth, The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems, 1972-2007
- Lynda Hull, Collected Poems
- Larry Levis, The Selected Levis
- James Wright, Above the River: The Complete Poems
I read Wright, Goldbarth, Levis, and some of Gallagher. I liked Wright and fully expected to, and liked Goldbarth more the more I read him. I’ll whine more about my problems finding women poets I love in another post.
But the gem, for me, was Levis. I have the vague sense that I’ve heard of him somewhere (when I say his name I hear it pronounced affectionately by a former teacher), but I can’t remember any poems. As I read through each book, I left sticky notes on the pages with poems that I might come back to at essay-writing time. In The Selected Levis this was close to half the pages in the book. My favorite, and the one about which I wrote an essay, is “Slow Child with a Book of Birds.” I can’t find it anywhere online, but you can read a selection of work by this poet who takes my breath away here and here.
1 Hi, Ed (I know I owe you an email)!
2 Hi, Mark!