Poetry collections I’ve read recently

Margaret Ronda, Personification (Saturnalia Books, 2010)
Winner of the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, selected by Carl Phillips

This incredible collection of poems investigates how we imbue objects and others with distinct personalities that may or may not reflect the actual intention of the original creation. The poems in the collection are a mixture of free verse and prose poems, with “short fiction” thrown in for the mix. One poem in particular, “The Path, Alight,” plays with lyrical form and was inspired by Anne-Lise Francois’s Open Secrets (one of the key critical piece’s for my diss).

From “In the Arcades,” p. 8:

We stepped through the weather

toward that mill of instruction: the reading room

where strangers shuffled in double-time

kicking up asterisks of dust

Rebecca Wolff, Figment (W.W. Norton, 2004)
Winner of Barnard Women Poets Prize, chosen by Eavan Boland and Claudia Rankine

You may know Wolff as the author of The Beginners (2011) and as the founding editor of Fence. Here, in her second collection of poems, she explores poetry’s relationship to fact and fiction, drawing on real and imagined people, places, and events. Wolff’s poetic voice is strong, filled with bravado and sly laughter, as demonstrated in “3. Inquire Within”:

Put a cap on it

Any opportunity for rest

Now you have reached the limits

of my intelligence.

(p. 46)

Claudia Emerson, Late Wife (Louisiana State University Press, 2005)
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize

Emerson is easily one of my new favorite contemporary poets. She recently released a new collection, Secure the Shadow (Feb. 2012), which I look forward to reading once I catch up on my reading list. Late Wife is about love, but with section headings such as “Divorce Epistles,” it is easy to see that this will not be a simple tale of love and loss. The order of poems move from the boxing and moving of households to an exploration of broken families in the speaker’s past. Emerson brings small details from daily life into sharp focus, bringing emphasis to the trivial rather than the larger reasons why a marriage falls apart.

From “Migraine: Aura and Aftermath,” p. 38:

… Though I have felt the cold air

of this disappearance before, each time the aura

deceives me to believe reality itself

has failed. I fear this more than what it warns

because I cannot remember I will survive it.

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4 thoughts on “Poetry collections I’ve read recently

  1. L.G.Smith says:

    "Emerson brings small details from daily life into sharp focus, bringing emphasis to the trivial rather than the larger reasons why a marriage falls apart."That, for me, is the essence of poetry, the ability to focus on those small but telling details that have the ability to alter life. Oh, and say it in a pretty way. 🙂

  2. Anna says:

    I completely agree. I've been studying more poetry lately to figure out how to incorporate little details into my prose.

  3. Neurotic Workaholic says:

    I especially like the cover of Late Wife. I've been looking for new stuff to read, because I feel like I've read everything on my bookshelves at least two or three times. Thanks for the recommendations!

  4. Jacqueline Howett says:

    Thanks for recommendations! All of them sound good!Hmm, for some reason this has inspired me to think about giving my own poetry book 'Amorphous Angelic, selcted poems' a new book cover. This time with an image, instead of the plain cover with just words.Have a great Sunday!

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