January 20 – Organize my bookshelves

There’s something about a long weekend Sunday that just makes you want to to get things done. You don’t feel like you’re “wasting” a weekend day on cleaning because there are three of them! So, I finally got around to doing a much-needed organization of my bookshelves and general sprucing up of the apartment. I decided to organize the books by category, starting with my unread non-fiction:

20130120_172609

 

Yes, those are two copies of The Wordy Shipmates you see. And, yes, I did buy both of them. Then I added in my poetry:

20130120_173023

 

Obviously I need a little bit more poetry to fill up that empty space.

Then, I got tired of taking pictures of each stage. I’m sorry I don’t have photographs to document it, but I organized the rest into unread BEA/nonrequested galleys, unread requested galleys, and unread fiction. Unread fiction was organized into want to read in the next few months, want to read sometime in the next few years, and unsure if I ever want to read.

20130120_182324

 

Here’s the finished unread shelf. The books I’ve read are stored in the shelves that are underneath the desk. As you can see, I stack my shelves back pretty deep, so if I don’t know where everything is, it’s easy to forget about books. (Hence the double copies of The Wordy Shipmates.) I’d really like to have the review copy quadrant (upper right) cleared out by BEA this year, so I’m going to try and plug away at that slowly but surely. Other than that, though, I’m just going to enjoy a bookshelf that is actually organized in some way and read what I want, when I want.

I’ve been thinking about doing a rotating library book, review copy, purchased copy, ebook, just to get through everything I have. It won’t be firm or anything, and pretty lenient since I read multiple books at once, but I tend to ignore certain parts of my shelves in favor of others. So, that’s something to think about. Maybe I’ll give it a try and see how it goes!

How did you spend your Sunday?

Poetry Project December – Mid-Year Reflection

Happy December, poetry readers!

We started this project, in its most recent incarnation, six months ago and it’s time to take a moment to look back at what we’ve done and think about how we’d like the rest of the year to go. For this month’s Poetry Project, if you’re so inclined, answer the questions below.

As always, you can link up to any post from the month of December, as long as it is about poetry. Post about your favorite holiday poem or share with us any poem that strikes your fancy, holiday related or no.

1) What has been the most rewarding aspect of The Poetry Project so far?
2) What is your favorite post from a fellow Poetry Project participant this year?
3) What is your favorite poem that you have read because of The Poetry Project?
4) What are some poetry-related goals you’d like to set for the coming year?
5) Do you have any suggestions for The Poetry Project in 2013? What would you like to see happen?
6) Share with us one line of poetry that you think we need to read.
7) Is there a new poet that you have discovered through The Poetry Project?
8) Anything else you would like to share?

As always, thank you all for participating! This time of year is all about remembering what we’re thankful for and so incredibly thankful for everyone who has taken time out of their day to post about poetry and then share it with us.

Please link up to your December poetry posts in the linky below.

Surprise snow storm!

Though some forecasts were predicting snow for the Northeastern US, no one was predicting quite this much snow. I left the office around 5:15 and there was a light slush on the ground. I got out of the subway around 6:30 to about 2 inches. It’s still snowing now a few hours later and it’s still accumulating. So much snow! Anyway, it’s late in the day, but I thought I’d throw up a quick Poetry Wednesday to celebrate (?)  this early snow storm. (I’m trying to channel my inner Lorelei Gilmore here, but I really dislike the snow.)

This is an excerpt from the poem “Falling Leaves and Early Snow” by Kenneth Rexroth. You can read the full poem at the Poetry Foundation.

In the afternoon thin blades of cloud
Move over the mountains;
The storm clouds follow them;
Fine rain falls without wind.
The forest is filled with wet resonant silence.
When the rain pauses the clouds
Cling to the cliffs and the waterfalls.
In the evening the wind changes;
Snow falls in the sunset.
We stand in the snowy twilight
And watch the moon rise in a breach of cloud.
Between the black pines lie narrow bands of moonlight,
Glimmering with floating snow.
An owl cries in the sifting darkness.
The moon has a sheen like a glacier.

Poetry Project October Roundup

I apologize for a month of slacking off and being a few days late to the party on this one. October is one of the more stressful months we have at work and most of the days this month I just came home and read silly YA. I posted a few poems, but not a lot.

I also am trying to ignore the fact that October is over. It moved so fast! Here is the round up of all the amazing Poetry Project participants for the month of October! I hope you had a spooktacular poetry reading month. (Everyone’s allowed to say spooktacular seriously once during the whole month of October.)

Amy @ New Century Reading posted a fabulous Ted Hughes poem called “Wind.” You know that Ted Hughes is one of my favorite poets, so get over to Amy’s blog and read read read!

Kristin @ Matched posted the Christina Rosetti poem “Goblin Market,” which works for this month’s theme and our Christina Rosetti month in January!

Nancy @ Simple Clockwork posted about a collection of Cebuano poems, specifically the poem “Images (of Life) by E. Gadiana Cabras. Cebuano, Nancy’s native language, is spoken in the Phillipines. Her post includes the poem in its original Cebuano and the English translation. She also posted another Cebuano poem called “The Monster of Old” by Canuto C. Lim. Finally, for All Souls’ and All Saints’ days she posted the poem “Cemetery by Marra PL. Lanot.

Madeleine @ Scribble and Edit wrote about the poem “The Hag” by Robert Herrick and Tim Burton’s “Nightmare before Halloween.” She also shared two original Halloween haikus!

Mona @ Infinity Books posted about an Edna St. Vincent Millay (one of my favorites!) poem called “Journey.”

Snowball @ Come Sit By the Hearth posted about how she believes that we’re all, in some way, “haunted.” It’s a lovely musing! She also posted the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow poem “Haunted Houses.”

Kaye @ the road goes ever on posted samples of the Edgar Allen Poe poems “The Sleeper,” “Annabel Lee” and “The Raven” and a list of her favorite Poe poems. She also posted an excerpt of the Poe story “The Pit and the Pendulum.”

Gavin @ Page 247 posted the poem “All Souls’ Night” by Hortense King Flexner.

This month’s theme is “War Remembrance” and Kelly is hosting the Mr. Linky. Remember, you don’t have to follow along with our monthly themes to participate. All you need to do is post about poetry during the month of November! If you posted during October and you don’t see your post here, please add it to the November Linky and we’ll include it in November’s round up!

Poetry Project October – Spooky poems!

October is here! There’s a chill in the air, though the days are still warm. I have two tiny pumpkins sitting on my table, reminding me that October is here. October happens to be my favorite month. When I was younger, school was still exciting and new, the weather is getting cooler and the leaves are changing. I always loved when the leaves would fall and my great-grandfather would rake them up into a pile and I would dive in with my dog again and again.

Now that I’m older, October is the end of a busy summer. It’s the time when I can finally relax and enjoy the season. I can start to wear tights and bake things and really enjoy stew and all the foods I love best. Sure, I love watermelon and fresh corn on the cob, but give me a hearty stew or a roasted butternut squash soup any day. It’s also one of my favorite times of the year to read, with spooky stories. And let’s not forget the yearly viewing of Hocus Pocus. A completely necessary tradition.

But we’re not here to talk about all those things, we’re here to talk about the best thing about this October: spooky poetry for The Poetry Project. Whether you want to go with a classic Edgar Allen Poe poem or you want to branch out and see what contemporary spooky poetry is like, this is your chance!

There are several great resources for spooky poetry:

Poems tagged “Halloween” at the Poetry Foundation
Poems tagged “Halloween” by the Academy of American Poets
A digital collection of poetry by Edgar Allen Poe

But other than spooky poems, there are also a lot of poems written about October and fall. I hope you’ll read some of those as well. This is a good time to completely immerse yourself in the season. Enjoy the cooler air. Take a poem with you. Then, tell us about it and sign up with the Mr. Linky below. Here’s one to get started:

October by Robert Frost

O hushed October morning mild,
Thy leaves have ripened to the fall;
Tomorrow’s wind, if it be wild,
Should waste them all.
The crows above the forest call;
Tomorrow they may form and go.
O hushed October morning mild,
Begin the hours of this day slow.
Make the day seem to us less brief.
Hearts not averse to being beguiled,
Beguile us in the way you know.
Release one leaf at break of day;
At noon release another leaf;
One from our trees, one far away.
Retard the sun with gentle mist;
Enchant the land with amethyst.
Slow, slow!
For the grapes’ sake, if they were all,
Whose leaves already are burnt with frost,
Whose clustered fruit must else be lost—
For the grapes’ sake along the wall.


This week in…

blogging. 

This week was BBAW and it was one of the most heart-warming, sentimental (in the best way!), happy-making BBAWs that I can remember. It was all about loving your fellow book bloggers and just saying thank you. What an amazing week. I posted about how I have met a few bloggers this past year and I want to meet more, an interview with Bernadette Davis, and about how much the connections I’ve made through book blogging have meant to me.

Some of my favorite posts from this week:

Last week, I also blogged about a very informal readalong that I’m hosting in October. I’d like to have Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury and The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern read by October 31st. Will you join me?

reading. 

I have thrown myself into RIP VII full force this week. I read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs. I didn’t mean to read Where Things Come Back for RIP, but after I started reading it, I realized it is kind of RIP-y. I started reading The Seance by John Harwood.

Also, things you should know about these books:

  • All four feature characters with the name Alma or very similar to Alma (Amma in Sharp Objects.)
  • Two of them feature ornithologists prominently (Where Things Come Back and Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children)
  • All of them feature missing, murdered, or dead children
  • All of them are creepy

I’m a little ornithologist-Alma’d-missing kid’d out. I’m going to finish The Seance, but I need to read something totally different ASAP. Hopefully something still very RIP-y, but not so weirdly similar as these four.

poetry.

Poetry took the back burner for BBAW this week, but there was a really wonderful poem sent out as part of the Poets.org Poem-A-Day email. It’s called “Big Game” and it’s by Brenda Shaughnessy. My favorite lines:

Now, in grownhood, I call the ghost
to my fragile table, my fleshy supper,
my tiny flame.

As a reminder, this month our theme is “classic” poetry. You can sign up for this month’s Mr. Linky on Kelly’s blog.

crafting.

So, my sisters want crocheted things for Christmas, because I am broke (student loans!) and I have a huge stash of yarn that I need to use up. (So I can spend the money not spent on student loans on new yarn. Who needs to eat?) I started making my sister’s shawl and, thanks to some help from Heather, found a matching hat. She requested a black scarf and hat set to match her red coat. I chose this shawl I found on pinterest:

 

 

You can purchase this shawl pattern here. The hat that Heather found to match is perfect and my sister really likes it, too, which is all that matters. You can see the hat here.

And aldjfpwoeuroaughghghghghghhhh. As I was writing up this post, I really looked at the photo and compared it to my shawl and it looks different. I realized that I read the pattern incorrectly and did the flower part wrong. I was wondering why mine didn’t look as good, and now I know. So all the work I’ve done! I’m going to have to rip it out. This is my sad face.

Anyway, my goal today is to find a hat and scarf pattern for my younger sister. She wants to be surprised, but my other sister is “supervising” the decision. That’s all for me this Sunday. I hope you have a fabulous week!

Poetry Project – Read a Classic in September

Ah, September.

The leaves will soon start turning color, the sun is setting sooner, the nights are cooler. The days may still be in the 80s, but school has started and it’s really starting to feel like fall is around the corner. What better way to celebrate getting back to the books than with a classic poem? I hope you’ll join us in reading any classic poem or just in posting about any kind of poetry

“Classic” is such a subjective term and I hope you’ll play around with the meaning, but for the purposes of this recommendations post, I’m going to take “classic” to mean anything published more than 50 years ago. Feel free to twist and turn what classic means to you, just like Snowball did for the Pulitzer Prize theme last month. One good thing about adhering to the “more than 50 years ago” rule is that a lot of the poetry can be found in the public domain.

I got a little excited when I was writing up this post and I found it almost impossible to narrow down. It was hard not to jump up and down and squee about ALL THE POETS. There are hundreds of years of poetry for you to explore, so use this list as a jumping off point, or ignore it entirely. Unfortunately, my list ended up being very focused on the Western canon. If you have other suggestions, please list them in the comments or write your own post!

Let’s Go Waaaaaay Back

Sappho (~615BCE-~550BCE) – We don’t really know much about Sappho, other than the fact that she was born on the island Lesbos in Ancient Greece and much of her poetry has been lost; she was a teacher and poet and was famous, as her bust can be found on statues and her likeness on coins from Ancient Greece. You can read Sappho’s poetry here. (Source: poets.org)

Homer (8th century BCE) – If you want to get really ambitious, why not read the Illiad or The Odyssey? You would be a hero among Poetry Project participants. Bonus! They’re available online: here (Illiad) and here (The Odyssey).

Chaucer, Shakespeare, Donne!

Geoffrey Chaucer (1343 – 25 October 1400)- Just because a class on Chaucer is what caused me to give up MY English major, please don’t be scared! I’m just kidding – I just happened to be enrolled in a very difficult Chaucer class when I became a Spanish major instead, but I’m disappointed I missed out on reading his work in depth. Also, I just found the coolest website ever. You can read The Canterbury Tales in the original Middle English, Modern English or side-by-side. So cool!

William Shakespeare (26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) We’re celebrating Shakespeare over an entire month in July 2013, but that’s forever away. Get a head start by reading some of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Read them here.

John Donne (1572 – 31 March 1631) – Reading John Donne in high school is one of my favorite reading experiences. I connected with Donne’s poetry in a way that I didn’t really think was possible of a poet so old. His poetry is accessible, but so nuanced. You could spend a lifetime reading Donne, or enjoy his poems on one read. Check out John Donne’s Poetry Foundation page to read a collection of his poems.

Skipping A Whole Bunch of Years to the 19th and 20th Century!

WB Yeats (13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939) -I’ve always been interested in the poetry of Yeats, but I’ve never spent quality time with him. When I was putting together my list of poetry to read for Jillian’s Classics Club, I knew that he would be high on the list. The Poetry Foundation has a collection of 58 poems by Yeats.

Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892) – Reading Walt Whitman is like reading nothing else. If you haven’t read him yet, I highly recommend it. Walt Whitman’s Poetry Foundation page.

Emily Dickinson (December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) – With the possible discovery of a new photograph of Emily Dickinson, this poet has been in the news a lot the past few days. Emily Dickinson is, in my opinion, a must-read. Here are her Complete Poems.

I lost a little bit of steam there at the end, because it was really hard to think of who to include. There are hundreds more that could have gone on this list, but these are the poets I am most familiar with and the ones that I think you might get the most out of reading. Of course, this list is entirely subjective. I encourage you to create your own list. Take this month to read one “classic” poet or read a smattering of poems from various poets. I look forward to reading your posts!

Unless otherwise noted, my source for dates is Wikipedia.

Poetry Project August Round Up

Hello poetry darlings! Today is the official end of the Poetry Project for August. This was an amazing month. I can’t tell you how happy reading your posts made me all month. I am very pleased with the way the new format is working. The conversation really flows from one blog to the next. This Project wouldn’t exist without all of you who participate, so thank you. I really can’t tell you how amazing it has been to see so many blogs talking about poetry.

One exciting thing that has come out of the Poetry Project is all the new poetry blogs that have found their way here. Welcome! It’s also been great to see people really exploring poetry for the first time. I hope you’re a little less intimidated at the end of August than you were at the beginning.

If you are posting today and you want your post to be included in a round up, please link to it in the Mr. Linky for September, which will be hosted on my tireless, amazing co-host Kelly’s blog.

Now, onto the round up!

Kristin @ MatchedWith posts this month featuring poems by Wallace Stevens, WH Auden, and Anne Sexton, Kristin really shared some amazing poems! She also wrote her own poem, modeled after Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking At A Blackbird.”

Snowball @ Come Sit By The Hearth: Snowball read Pulitzer Prize-winner Earnest Hemingway for this month’s challenge, working her way around the prompt a little bit since he won the prize for fiction, not poetry. You know what I say, “rules” were meant to be broken! The poems she includes are interesting and one of them is very funny. She also posted a reaction to “A poem a day” by William Sieghart and a few poems from Rita Dove’s collection American Smooth. 

Amy @ New Century Reading: Amy shared the poem “Morning Song” by Sylvia Plath, commenting that she really loves the way Plath represented motherhood in her poetry.

Jeanne @ Necromancy Never Pays: Jeanne shared two amazing poems and poets with us this month: “The Lake Isle at Innisfree” by WB Yeats and “Spiral Notebook” by one of my favorite poets, Ted Kooser.

Gavin @ Page 247: Gavin shared two poems by new-to-me poet Lisel Mueller called “Sometimes, When the Light” and “Why We Tell Stories.” She also shared “Thanks” by WS Merwin.

Nancy @ Simple Clockwork: Nancy shared poetry connected by a theme: adultery. In her post, she compared the poems “For My Lover, Returning to his Wife” by Anne Sexton, “What My Lips Have Kissed” by Edna St. Vincent Millay, “I Knew A Woman” by Theodore Roethke, and “Sonnet to a Gardener: II” by Filipino poet Trinidad Tarrosa-Subido. This post is fascinating! She also posted about Angela Manalang-Gloria, another Filipino poet. She included the poems “Revolt from Hymen” and “Soledad.”

Evelyn N. Alfred @ Librarian Dreams: Evelyn shared the poem “Straw Hat” by Rita Dove, another new-to-me poet that I’ll be exploring more now.

AnnaEA @ Knit-Write: AnnaEA shared the poem “Sorrow” by Edna St. Vincent Millay. Millay is one of my very favorite poets, so I was thrilled to have a reason to read so many of her poems this month!

Lizzy @ Lizzy’s Literary Life: On Lizzy’s blog, she is giving away two signed copies of The Magicians of Edinburgh by Ron Butlin. You have until September 2nd to enter!

Vasilly @ 1330vVasilly posted about a lovely poem called “The Healing Time” by Pesha Joyce Gertler. It was also her birthday! Go wish her happy birthday.

Kaye @ the road goes ever ever on: Kaye did something different and great for the Poetry Project – she highlighted a blog, DS at The Third-Storey Window, who often features poetry. I love this!

Trish @ Love, Laughter & a Touch of Insanity: Trish! I have been begging and begging Trish to participate and I’m so happy and grateful she did. Trish is so honest about talking about poetry and how it can be difficult sometimes, especially if we’re used to blogging about books. They’re very different to talk about. Trish does an amazing job discussing her reaction to Conrad Aiken’s “Morning Song.”

Here, on Regular Rumination: This month, I talked about my favorite Pulitzer Prize-winning poets, I wrote a how-to post called “How to Love A Poem,” I posted the poem “At Some Point, They’ll Want to Know What it Was Like” by Tracy K. Smith, and I did a few random poetry lines from random poetry books.

Kelly @ The Written World (my co-host!): Kelly posted her thoughts on two books of poetry: New Hampshire by Robert Frost (Part 1 and Part 2) and The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay. I absolutely love how she blogs about each poem!

I hope you’ll take some time to click through these links and read the poems that the Poetry Project participants shared or suggested. There are amazing poems included in this list and it would be a great way to discover new poets.

Thank you again for making August such a huge success for the Poetry Project! Remember, next month’s theme is a “classic” poem. Play with that theme! Kelly will have more about this month’s theme on her blog on Wednesday, September 5 and I will have a list of my suggestions, just like this month. I hope to see you there!

Poetry Project – Pulitzer August

This is your friendly reminder that you have only a few days left in August to post about  poetry and, if you decided to follow along with our prompt, Pulitzer Prize-winning poets. Please be sure to sign up with the Mr. Linky at the bottom of this post by August 31st. On September 1st, I will post a round-up of all the poetry posts you send me! I can’t wait to read them all.

Anyway, let’s play Random Line from a Random Poem from a Random Poetry Magazine on Lu’s shelf! I have Poetry Magazines from September-June on my shelf. I just pulled this random number sequence from random.org (because I’m cool like that): 5, 4, 4.

he thinks he knows

That’s poem 4, line 4, from the April 2012 issue of Poetry magazine. It’s from a poem called “Work” by Nate Klug.

This experiment was not nearly as fun as I thought it was going to be. You win some, you lose some.

Should we try again? What if we do random lines from a random poem from a random Poetry magazine? I’ll pick 4 numbers: 4, 4, 9-10

and nibble like sleepwalkers held fast —
brittle beauty – might this be the last?
(“Wherof the Gift is Small” by Maxine Kumin)

Okay, now that was fun. I love seeing these lines out of context. They are beautiful on their own, but I suggest you seek out the poem in its entirety. You can read the full poem on the Poetry Foundation website.

 

How to Love A Poem

(I am posting this as a part of this project. Join in!)

We fall in love with words all the time. We are word-lovers. Passionate about stories. Fans of paragraphs and characters and punctuation. We can love a novel so hard that it becomes more like a friend than a collection of one word after another. We talk about characters like they are real. We are readers.

I have talked about how to read a poem, how to understand a poem, how to study a poem. Recently, Reading While Female listed her Top Ten Tips for Reading Poems. They are excellent. Go read them.

That’s how you read a poem. But how do you love a poem?

Sometimes, you love a poem because of one line. You might read all the words that come before that one line absentmindedly, reading the poem halfheartedly, understanding the words but not feeling them and then that one line or stanza or word simply stops your heart.

Sometimes that’s all it takes. The rest of the poem will probably catch up to your love and admiration for that one line, but sometimes it won’t. Sometimes a poem is nothing but a vehicle for an amazing line. Sometimes a poem is nothing but that shortest, most perfect combination of words.

It’s okay to just love that line. You don’t have to love the rest of the poem. Have you ever seen a baby taste their first piece of fruit? Until that moment it’s been all milk and cereal and milk and cereal. Suddenly there’s sweetness and tartness and all these flavors that the baby has never experienced. The first bite is a shock. The second is a test, to see if the first one was a fluke. But it’s not! The fruit always tastes as good and different as it did the first bite. Babies eventually learn that not every piece of fruit tastes that good, but they have the taste.

You have the taste now. You’ve read that line that stopped your heart and you want more. Maybe you read more poems by that one poet. Maybe you start picking up new poets. You try to find the lines that, if you were a teenager, you’d write across the cover of your angsty journal over and over again. I still do that. Maybe you start to find entire poems, entire books of poetry, that are comprised of lines you love. You are loving poetry.

It’s possible that you will love a poem you do not understand. There will be poems you don’t understand. Embrace the fact that you really have no earthly idea what it means, but you love the way it sounds. Go with it. Love it. Take those sounds and say them out loud, hold them in your mouth, and release them into the world. Poetry is meant to be spoken, to be seen on the page in all its written glory and set free by your voice, to an empty room or to a crowded room. To your bedroom, to your lover, to your friend. Just speak the words and forget the meaning. Words have a power all their own, just in their sounds and the ways they work together, apart from their connotations. It’s okay to love a poem just because it sounds amazing, even if its meaning is forever elusive.

Sometimes, though, you can only love a poem once you’ve wrestled it to the ground. Once you’ve spent hours digging through the rhymes and the rhythm, the assonance, the consonance, the enjambment, the meter, the symbolism, the imagery, once you’ve done your research, once you’ve read the criticism. Maybe you didn’t care for this poem at first, maybe it simply meant nothing to you, but something, whether it’s a school assignment or something that intrigued you about the poem, made you break out your highlighters, dictionary, and Wikipedia to figure out what the hell that poem means. It’s perfectly possible to spend hours or a lifetime untangling a poem to try and understand it and come out the other side disliking the poem or even hating it. Maybe, though, you’ll have a new appreciation for a poem, an appreciation that turns to love.

The best way to fall in love a poem is to forget what you know about poetry. Just feel it. Hear it. Taste it. Then remember everything you know about poetry. Fall in love all over again. What is a poem? Just a collection of words, put together in such a way that they make someone’s heart skip a beat.

Poetry Project – Reading the Pulitzer Prize Winners

Welcome to the August introductory post for The Poetry Project! Remember, if you’d like to play along, all you really need to do is write about poetry in the month of August. If you do that, come back to this post and join in our Mr. Linky, available at the end of this post. Link to any and all of your poetry posts, as long as they were posted in August (or after the July round up post, which you can find here at Kelly’s blog.)

If you’re participating in The Poetry Project by posting about our monthly theme, then August’s theme is Pulitzer Prize Winning Poetry. I’ve been accused of starting off a little bit strong here, but if you’re new to reading poetry, then it doesn’t hurt to start off with the best (as determined by an arbitrary committee, choosing based on their arbitrary interests, from a pool of poets that only come from one country). With all those caveats aside, there are some really great poetry collections that have won the Pulitzer. If you don’t know where to start, well, I have a few suggestions.

Welcome to So You Want to Read a Pulitzer Prize Winner! Let me start off by saying that I have not read the Pulitzer list widely, but I have read a fair bit of it. I plan on spending this month really exploring the list in a way that I haven’t had the chance to. My recommendations are based on the books I’ve read or the poets I’m very familiar with. For example, I haven’t read Robert Frost’s New Hampshire specifically, but I’m confident enough in my knowledge of Robert Frost that I can recommend that book to a certain reader.

I know this is a very US-centric challenge. For a future month, I’d love to focus on prizes that focus on poets from other countries. Please let me know if you have any suggestions for poets or prizes to feature!

Show Me the Classics!
If you’re working your way up to reading contemporary poetry, start here.  

The Ballad of the Harp-Weaver by Edna St. Vincent Millay – Winner 1923 – This title poem of this collection is probably most famous because Johnny Cash did a reading of the poem for the Johnny Cash show in 1970. I really recommend watching it, even though he did take some (small) liberties with the wording. If you haven’t read Edna St. Vincent Millay, I recommend it. She balances darkness, a keen eye, and a sense of humor well. The other good news is that this book is available in the public domain! You can read it for free here. I feel this is a good introduction, too, to how contemporary a sonnet can sound.

New Hampshire by Robert Frost – Winner 1924 – I think that everyone has a certain opinion of Robert Frost because they studied his poems in middle school or as Freshman in high school and they can seem very surface. When I was in college, we did a close reading of Frost and I really had a new appreciation for him. If you want to explore Frost as an adult, I really recommend it. As I said, I haven’t read this specific collection, but it does include poems you might have read, like “Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening.”

Show Me Those Poet Laureates!
This is, admittedly, a completely arbitrary list, but if you are not as interested in the classics, these poets are an excellent place to start exploring contemporary poetry. 

Annie Allen by Gwendolyn Brooks – Winner 1950 – Poet Laureate of Illinois 1968 – It’s actually fairly difficult to find this book, so you might have to resort to a collection of Gwnedolyn Brooks’s poetry, but you should read it all. Brooks, above all, tells stories with her poems. Sometimes she does it in few words and experiments more with form, but her poems are filled with characters, with real people that you might know. I’ve always thought her poems were so strong because of this. Brooks is, without a doubt, one of the most important poets of the 20th century.

The Carrier of Ladders by W.S. Merwin and The Shadow of Sirius by W. S. Merwin – Winner 1971 and 2009 – US Poet Laureate 2010 – The Carrier of Ladders is available as a part of the collection The Second Four Books of Poems. Like Brooks, Merwin’s poems often tell a clear story. His language is clear and concise, but beautiful. Interestingly, when Merwin won the Pulitzer, he gave the prize money to support the draft resistance movement during the Vietnam War.

Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser – US Poet Laureate 2004 – Delight is right. I love Ted Kooser. I love the way he writes poetry, I love the way he reads poetry. I’ve mentioned his American Life in Poetry Column here before. They’re lovely poems that celebrate the small. Try out this poem from Delights & Shadows called “The China Painters” to see if Ted Kooser is a poet you might enjoy.

Late Wife by Claudia Emerson – Winner 2006 – Poet Laureate of Virginia 2008-2010 – Full disclosure: Claudia Emerson was my poetry instructor when I was in college. Her poems are  beautiful and descriptive and if you aren’t sure where to start, but you know you’d like to read a contemporary poet, start with Emerson.

Show Me that Challenge!

Neon Vernacular by Yusef Komunyakaa – Winner 1994 – By describing this book as a challenge, I hope I don’t scare you away. That’s not what I want to do. This is probably one of my most recommended books of poetry. I love it, especially the first section, but Komunyakaa is not always the easiest poet to read. He plays around with form and also has a large number of cultural and literary references in his poems that I don’t often understand without doing research. That being said, there are lines from the poetry of Yusef Komunyakaa that ring so true and perfect. Even if you are a first time poetry reader, you should read Komunyakaa. Yes, his poetry might require a little bit of extra work, but it’s rewarding.

______________________________________________

Hopefully there is something from this list that will intrigue you! I also highly recommend Natasha Trethewey’s Native Guard, as I discussed back in February. For my own project this month, I’ll be reading some collections of poetry that won Pulitzer’s that I haven’t read yet. My goal will be to read one book for each decade. Here is my list:

2010-12: Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith
2000s: Time & Materials by Robert Hass
1990s:  Black Zodiac by Charles Wright
1980s:  Thomas and Beulah by Rita Dove
1970s: Now and Then by Robert Penn Warren
1960s: Pictures from Brueghel by William Carlos Williams
1950s: Collected Poems by Marianne Moore
1940s: The Age of Anxiety by WH Auden
1930s: Collected Verse by Robert Hillyer
1920s: Complete Poetical Works by Amy Lowell

Happy August poetry reading! I hope you find a Pulitzer prize-winner to fall in love with. Remember, any poetry post that goes up from July 25-August 30 (round up will be posted on August 31) counts, even if it is not about a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Please add your links to the Mr. Linky below:

Poetry Project – Pablo Neruda, Sonnet XVII

Though I have long thought that Neruda’s poems about nature and politics surpass his love poems, this is a poem that will always mean more to me than I can say. It is a poem about a love all-consuming. This poem is from one of Pablo Neruda’s most famous books, at least in the US, called 20 Love Poems and a Song of Despair. The translation was done by WS Merwin, former poet laureate of the US. I am not sure who did this particular translation, since I do not have Merwin’s book in front of me to check against this version, but there are only a few lines that vary from translation to translation.

Sonnet XVII by Pablo Neruda

 

I don’t love you as if you were the salt-rose, topaz
or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:
I love you as certain dark things are loved,
secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom and carries
hidden within itself the light of those flowers,
and thanks to your love, darkly in my body
lives the dense fragrance that rises from the earth.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,
I love you simply, without problems or pride:
I love you in this way because I don’t know any other way of loving

but this, in which there is no I or you,
so intimate that your hand upon my chest is my hand,
so intimate that when I fall asleep it is your eyes that close.

________________________

Be sure to check out Kelly’s roundup of the Poetry Project participating links. Did you post about poetry in July, but you didn’t have a chance to link to it? Be sure to include it in the August Mr. Linky, which will be available on Wednesday, August 1st. The Poetry Project is an ongoing project to get bloggers reading and blogging about poetry. Want to learn more about the Poetry Project and how you can participate? Check out our introductory post.