Monday, September 04, 2006

Cube Rev's Recommendations: Modern Poetry

Wes made a request for novels and modern poetry collections that are worth reading. I have to admit, I am usually wary about making recommendations to people. Especially when it comes to poetry. Much like anything artistic whether it is music, art, literature, or film if you recommend the wrong thing it may turn people off to it entirely leaving them with a negative view. In this case, Modern Poetry. There are a lot of modern poets that I enjoy, but recomending a imagist poet from Eastern Europe isn't necessarily going to be turning any heads. So here are a few of my favorites. I have tried to stick to either selected or collected works since they tend to give a wide range of the poets work from the beginning of their career to whenever the book was published. Many of them have published brilliant books subsequent to these collections, but they are a good place to start.

Derek Walcott - Collected Poems 1948-1984
Where better to begin than one of the few modern epic poets. In a world where brevity is the norm he ventures forth into poetic masterpieces that would please Dante. Though born in the Caribean he often strays away from his local shores both physically and poetically describing the landscapes he has visited throughout his long career.

Stanley Kunitz - The Collected Poems
The grand old man of letters. When at the age of 99 he was made the poet laureate of the United States he was asked what he'd do during his tenure. He answered, "What I always do, write poetry." A friend of mine described a reading he gave around the same time. A frail old man is guided out to the podium in front of the crowd, barely able to hold himself up. When he started to read he puffed himself up and looked much larger and more powerful than his age would have you believe. There is no wonder why he was one of the most respected poets of his generation.

Lucille Clifton - Blessing The Boats
Probably one of my favorite poets. She transends race and gender, you feel her poetry, you taste the words and are nourished by them. Why hasn't she won the pulitzer?

Margaret Atwood - Selected Poems 1965 to 1975 / Selected Poems II 1976 - 1986
She is rare among writers, able to move in and out of genres quite easily writing just as brilliantly in poetry as she does in fiction. Though she is better known for her fiction her poetry should not be ignored.

Galway Kinnell - A New Selected Poems
He is finally coming out with a new book of poems. He isn't prolific because his poems are carefully crafted. Each one he labors over even after publication. He isn't typical, he isn't comfortable just producing work just for the sake of producing. He makes sure he gets it right.

Donald Hall - White Apples And The Taste of Stone
He is the first modern poet I discovered. I loved his work so much that I wrote him a letter and he wrote back to me on several occassions. From what I understand that isn't uncommon for him. A brilliant poet, probably my favorite just under Stanley Kunitz. If you want to start somewhere, start with Donald Hall.

posted by Out Of Jersey | 1:03 PM


Blogger Shesawriter said...

These look very interesting, Rev!

9:36 PM  
Blogger Darrell said...

I think the poetry lobe of my brain must be missing. I've just never gotten poetry. Of course, it might be a result of having had Allen Ginsberg and his ilk shoved down my throat in high school.

9:12 AM  
Blogger Too_Lively said...

Atwood is absolutely awesome as a poet!

I'll have to check out your other recommendations.

11:26 AM  
Anonymous Wes said...

Thanks...I will definitely check into these. I bought my first poetry book--Six Centuries Of Great Poetry (Edited by Robert Penn Warren & Albert Erskine)--and am enjoying it. Some I am familiar with and some are new to me. I just picked it up last night. It will be fun to check out some more. Thanks again!

10:09 PM  
Blogger The Cubicle Reverend said...

Poetry is definately not for everyone, though I have tried to choose more readable poets. You don't have to be a literature major to read their work. They are just beautifully written.

Atwood is worthwile, most writers who try to write in more than one genre don't do that good of a job at it. She's an exception.

I am not aware of the book. I'll have to try and dig it up. Anthologies are another good way to get your feet wet. The Norton Anthologies are pretty good, but can be pricy.

4:58 AM  
Blogger Katie said...

time to break out the ol poetry reading part of my brain

12:05 PM  
Blogger RC said...

ummm...i love modern poetry...not a big walcott fan.

--RC of

7:53 PM  
Blogger RC said...

have you ever read anything by Donald Justice before? I really like him.

--RC of

1:13 PM  

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