Here’s part three of the five-part series in which poets share their five favorite poetry collections–with reasons for their selections included. Hopefully, it’ll help shine light on collections that absolutely need to be read. This week, please welcome Hannah Stephenson.
Here are five poetry collections I often return to.
The Man Suit, by Zachary Schomburg
“Ha ha ha” oh wait I feel scared I mean sad LEMME READ THAT POEM AGAIN! That is the reaction I have to Zachary Schomburg’s poems. Creepy, weirdo, beautiful poems in this book (including “Full of Knives,” a poem I love to read aloud).
Apocalyptic Swing, by Gabrielle Calvocoressi
Such gorgeous sensitivity in these poems. Boxing is indeed a recurring concept in the collection (check out that great cover!), but so is vulnerability, the fragility/pliability of memory, history, and experience. “Acknowledgment, 1964” (and the whole collection) hurts me with its wisdom.
Given Sugar, Given Salt, by Jane Hirshfield
Every time I come back to this book it teaches me something new. The perfect gift for anyone who craves reflection and powerful, quiet poems (yourself, perhaps). Hirshfield does so much in so few lines. Poems you need in your life are “Muslin,” “One Life Is Spent, the Other Spends Us,” and “Tree.”
Blessing the Boats: New and Selected Poems, by Lucille Clifton
The most perfect poem ever written may indeed be Lucille Clifton’s “blessing the boats.” I have sent this poem to so many people over the years, and have read and reread it when I need comfort. Clifton’s poems help us learn and change.
Palm at the End of the Mind, by Wallace Stevens (edited by Holly Stevens)
I read this book so much that it broke in half along the binding. I shelved the tattered halves and still kept reading it that way. The Florida poems are one kind of magic (“Donna, donna, dark”), and all of his other poems are another kind of magic (ice cream and jars and chaos/order).
Hannah Stephenson is a poet, editor, and instructor living in Columbus, Ohio (where she also runs a monthly literary event series called Paging Columbus). Her writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Verse Daily, Hobart, Contrary, MAYDAY, and The Nervous Breakdown; her collection,In the Kettle, the Shriek, is now available from Gold Wake Press. You can visit her online at The Storialist (www.thestorialist.com).
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