Reading Suggestions

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Quick Reads: Poetry

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short on timeOnly have a few minutes to read at a time?  Why not try a book with short chapters, essays, poems or stories?  Here are some collections from award-winners, Poets Laureate, classic authors, and even a Brownsburg Public Library staff member!

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She Walks in Beauty: a woman’s journey through poems.

“She Walks in Beauty” is Caroline Kennedy’s selection of poetry that tells the story of a woman’s life including first love and lasting love; marriage, motherhood, and work; times of silence and solitude, and times of awe.

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Hungry Ear: poems of food and drink.

A collection of poetry celebrating the role of food and drink in everyday life, identity, and culture includes pieces by such writers as Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost, and Allen Ginsberg.

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Rachael Beck. Plainverse: for people who can’t stand obscure poetry.*

Walt Whitman.  Song Of Myself.

Walt Whitman was deeply interested in the American language as it was emerging in his time. He was fascinated by the vocabularies of the sciences and the streets, and was a regular visitor to the New York Public Library, where he loved to peer into the provenience of the words he overheard and read. In this beautiful book, Robert Hass and Paul Ebencamp walk us through Whitman’s “Song of Myself”-one of the greatest poems in American literature. Much is revealed about the words Whitman chose in 1855-their inflections, meanings, and native usages we wouldn’t otherwise know. In doing so, we understand perhaps for the first time, Whitman’s query in Song of Myself: “Have you felt so proud to get at the meaning of poems?” In the first part of the collection, Hass an introduction to the poem and, with Paul Ebenkamp, a rich annotation of “Song of Myself”-both the first version from the 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass, and the final, revised text that appeared in the so-called “Deathbed” edition of 1892. The second part of this book includes a selection of poems from across the span of Whitman’s career that gives us a fresh look at Whitman’s work.

Emily Dickinson. I’m Nobody! Who Are You?

The simple, lyrical language of Emily Dickinson‘s poetry conveys remarkably complex musings on familiar themes: love, death, nature, and more. Dickinson’s reclusive lifestyle makes the depth, texture, and vivid liveliness of her ideas all the more notable. Her unorthodox language choices and experimentation with traditional poetic forms make even her shortest poems beautifully textured reads. Dickinson’s works rank among American poetry’s most accessible “classics” for their pure unaffected tone; dashes of wit; and memorable rhythmic lines. (Novelist)

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e.e. Cummings. Complete Poems.

At the time of his death in 1962, E. E. Cummings was, next to Robert Frost, the most widely read poet in America. Combining Thoreau’s controlled belligerence with the brash abandon of an uninhibited bohemian, Cummings, together with Pound, Eliot, and William Carlos Williams, helped bring about the twentieth-century revolution in literary expression. He is recognized on the one hand as the author of some of the most beautiful lyric poems written in the English language, and on the other as one of the most inventive American poets of his time—in the worlds of Richard Kostelanetz, “the major American poet of the middle-twentieth-century.

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Robert Frost. The Poetry Of Robert Frost.

This definitive, paperback edition brings together more than three hundred fifty of Frost’s poems, each one with annotations providing complete bibliographic information and noting any textual changes.

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Maya Angelou. Mother: a cradle to hold me.

With her signature eloquence and heartfelt appreciation, renowned former Poet Laureate and national treasure Maya Angelou celebrates the first woman we ever knew: Mother. From the beginnings of this profound relationship through teenage rebellion and, finally, to adulthood, where we stand to inherit timeless maternal wisdom, Angelou praises the patience, knowledge, and compassion of this remarkable parent. Perfect for Mother’s Day, or for any day on which we wish to acknowledge this all-important bond, Mother is an awe-inspiring affirmation of the enduring love that exists in every corner of the globe.

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Rae Armantrout. Versed.

Rae Armantrout has always organized her collections of poetry as though they were works in themselves. Versed brings two of these sequences together, offering readers an expanded view of the arc of her writing. The poems in the first section, Versed, play with vice and versa, the perversity of human consciousness. They flirt with error and delusion, skating on a thin ice that inevitably cracks: “Metaphor forms / a crust / beneath which / the crevasse of each experience.” Dark Matter, the second section, alludes to more than the unseen substance thought to make up the majority of mass in the universe. The invisible and unknowable are confronted directly as Armantrout’s experience with cancer marks these poems with a new austerity, shot through with her signature wit and stark unsentimental thinking. Together, the poems of Versed part us from our assumptions about reality, revealing the gaps and fissures in our emotional and linguistic constructs, showing us ourselves where we are most exposed.  Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

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Best of the Best American Poetry.

Presents an anthology of one hundred top-selected poems culled from the poetry publication’s first quarter century, and offers insight into the art form’s flourishing status.

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Helen Williams Chaney. Dying To Meet God!*

Billy Collins. Horoscopes For The Dead.

A latest volume of 50 poetic works by the former U.S. Poet Laureate includes poignant and lighthearted pieces on intimate topics ranging from love and death to solitude and aging.

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Claudia Emerson. Late Wife.

A collection of poems in which the poet reminisces about the life she led with her first husband, describes the healing she went through after her divorce, and expresses her feelings toward her second husband, whose former wife died of cancer.

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Allen Ginsberg. Howl.

The prophetic poem that launched a generation when it was first published in 1965. When the book arrived from its British printers, it was seized almost immediately by U.S. Customs, and shortly thereafter the San Francisco police arrested its publisher and editor, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, together with City Lights Bookstore manager Shigeyoshi Murao. The two of them were charged with disseminating obscene literature, and the case went to trial in the municipal court of Judge Clayton Horn. A parade of distinguished literary and academic witnesses persuaded the judge that the title poem was indeed not obscene and that it had “redeeming social significance.” Thus was Howl & Other Poems freed to become the single most influential poetic work of the post-World War II era.

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Donald Hall. White Apples And The Taste Of Stone.

One of the most significant poets of his generation, Donald Hall has garnered numerous accolades and honors, including the Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize. White Apples and the Taste of Stone collects more than two hundred poems from across sixty years of Hall’s celebrated career, with new poems recently published in The New Yorker, the American Poetry Review, and the New York Times.

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Norma Hamilton. Events Echo.*

Robert Hass. Time and Materials.

A first new collection in ten years by the former U.S. poet laureate and author of Sun Under Wood reflects on the beauty and energy of the physical world as well as life in contemporary America, in a stylistically varied compendium that includes the piece, “Envy of Other People’s Poems.”

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Yusef Komunyakaa. The Chameleon Couch.

A latest volume of poetic works by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Neon Vernacular is an intimate exploration of music as a muse that analyzes such venues as an East Village blues club and a Basho shakuhachi, in a collection that also evaluates poetry as a hymn.

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Norbert Krapf. Somewhere in Southern Indiana.*

WS Merwin. Shadow of Sirius.

Winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

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Mary Oliver. A Thousand Mornings.

In A Thousand Mornings, Mary Oliver returns to the imagery that has come to define her lifes work, transporting us to the marshland and coastline of her beloved home, Provincetown, Massachusetts. In these pages, Oliver shares the wonder of dawn, the grace of animals, and the transformative power of attention. Whether studying the leaves of a tree or mourning her adored dog, Percy, she is ever patient in her observations and open to the teachings contained in the smallest of moments.

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Sylvia Plath. Ariel.

Seeking to restore the selection and arrangement originally intended by Plath at the time of her death, this edition of her final works features a facsimile of her complete working drafts of the title poem provided to offer insight into her creative process.

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Postmodern American Poetry.

A survey of major poets and movements of American postmodern poetry includes more than four hundred poems by over one hundred poets.

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Adrienne Rich. Tonight No Poetry Will Serve.

Includes a collection of verse by a National Book Award-winning poet, including the intimate address of “Axel Avakar,” the dark humor of “Quarto,” the underground journey of “Powers of Recuperation” and many more.

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James Whitcomb Riley. The Best Of James Whitcomb Riley.*

The best-loved poems by the “Hoosier Poet” are here collected to read and cherish time and time again. Included are some of Riley’s most durable and endearing works—poems about nature, home, and country as well as the dialect poems for which Riley is famous.

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Charles Simic. Master of Disguises.

A collection of poetry by 2007-2008 poet laureate of the United States Charles Simic in which he examines themes such as identity, mystery, violence, and innocence.

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Martha Lee Sprat. Love Poems and Other Hogwash.*

Mildred Raynolds Trivers. Circled Round With Awe.*

Stacy Post. Sudden Departures.*

A poetry chapbook from one of BPL’s own!

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Tracy Smith. Life on Mars.

With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. In these brilliant new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant, and revisits the kitschy concepts like “love” and “illness” now relegated to the Museum of Obsolescence. These poems reveal the realities of life lived here, on the ground, where a daughter is imprisoned in the basement by her own father, where celebrities and pop stars walk among us, and where the poet herself loses her father, one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. 

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Natasha Trethewey. Native Guard.

A compilation of poetry addresses the complex history of the American South, offering a lyrical tribute to the Native Guard, one of the first black regiments in service during the Civil War and paying tribute to the author’s mother and her illegal interracial marriage.

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David Shumate. High Water Mark.*

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William Blake. Songs of Innocence; and Songs of Experience.

Classics of English poetry, alternately describing childhood states of innocence and their inevitable ensnarement in a corrupt and repressive world. Contains the full texts of all the poems in the original 1794 edition of both collections.

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John Keats.  The Works of John Keats.

Odes and sonnets of the classic English Romantic poet.

William Butler Yeats. A Poet To His Beloved.

Poems deal with unrequited love, sorrow, loss, nature, dreams, women, aging, beauty, forgiveness, and poetry.

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Catullus. The Poems of Catullus.

Of all Greek and Latin poets Catullus is perhaps the most accessible to the modern reader. Dealing candidly with the basic human emotions of love and hate, his virile, personal tone exerts a powerful appeal on all kinds of readers. The 116 poems collected in this new translation include the famous Lesbia poems and display the full range of Catullus’s mastery of lyric meter, mythological themes, and epigrammatic invective and wit.

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The Greek Lyrics.

Anonymous metrical inscriptions and drinking songs accompany biographical sketches and selections from the verse of Greek poets of the seventh and sixth centuries B.C.

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Rumi.  The Essential Rumi.

Works of the 13th century Persian poet.

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Boris Pasternak. The Poems of Doctor Zhivago.

The Anchor Book of Chinese Poetry.

A comprehensive compendium of more than one thousand poems by 125 poets encompasses the full sweep of Chinese poetry, including ancient folk songs from the Book of Songs and Lao Tzu’s Tao Te-Ching to the twentieth-century poetry of Mao Zedong and the post-Cultural Revolution works of the Misty poets.

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Basho Matsuo. A Haiku Journey.

Kwame Alexander. Crush: love poems.

Presents a collection of the author’s love poems, as well as five poems by other authors, including Nikki Giovanni, Sherman Alexie, and Pablo Neruda.

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Time you let me in: 25 poets under 25.

A celebrated poet brings together the poetry of 25 poets under the age of 25; ranging in style and subject but all high-caliber in their artistry, these young voices speak the thoughts, hopes and concerns of their generation.

*Indiana author

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