Best poetry I read in 2015

To kick off my annual lists of the best things I read in the past year, here are the best 10 books of poems I read in 2015.

Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems

1. The Voyage of the Sable Venus, Robin Coste Lewis

Selected Poems

2. Selected Poems, Rita Dove

Electric Light: Poems

3. Electric Light, Seamus Heaney

Life on Mars

4. Life on Mars, Tracy K. Smith

Almanac: Poems: Poems

5. Almanac, Austin Smith

Elephant Rocks: Poems

6. Elephant Rocks, Kay Ryan

The Long Approach

7. The Long Approach, Maxine Kumin

[Out of print; I seem to have the only copy in the world.]

8. House, Bridge, Fountain, Maxine Kumin

Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations

9. Of No Country I Know, David Ferry

What Goes On: Selected and New Poems, 1995-2009

10. What Goes On, Stephen Dunn

Up next: Top 10 nonfiction books I read in 2015. Any favorite books of poems you read this year?

Favorite books from September

The best books I read in September, in no particular order.

A Little Life

A Little Life, Hanya Yanagihara. Good grief. I almost hesitate to recommend it, because of how intense it is, but wow, what a novel. It eats you alive. And it’s fully deserving of all of the accolades and nominations it has been raking in lately.

Stuart: A Life Backwards

Stuart: A Life Backwards, Alexander Masters. A gripping, unusual biography and a riveting portrait of homelessness in England.

Slaughterhouse-Five

Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut. This is the sort of thing I should have read in high school, but I am glad I finally got around to it; so surprisingly funny in all of its bleakness.

The Folded Clock: A Diary

The Folded Clock: A Diary, Heidi Julavits. A well-told and well-curated diary spanning two years of Heidi Julavits’s life.

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay (Neapolitan Novels, #3)

Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, Elena Ferrante. Despite the book covers, Elena Ferrante can do no wrong.

Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations

Of No Country I Know: New and Selected Poems and Translations, David Ferry. A surprising array of poems; I particularly liked his translations, especially of Rilke.

What did you read and enjoy in September?

Autumn day

Pyrrha and home in September

I am really taken with this poem, by Rilke, translated by David Ferry:

Herbsttag

Now is the right time, Lord. Summer is over.
Let the autumn shadows drift upon the sundials,
And let the wind stray loose over the fields.

Summer was abundant. May the last fruits be full
Of its promise. Give them a last few summer days.
Bring everything into its completion, Lord,
The last sweetness final in the heavy wine.

Who has no house will never have one now;
Who is alone will spend his days alone;
Will wake to read some pages of a book;
Will write long letters; wander unpeacefully
In the late streets, while the leaves stray down.

— Rilke, translation by David Ferry

I am sad to see summer go, because it was full and lovely, but I was a little bit excited to come home yesterday and feel cold and feel the urgent need for a sweater. Just a little bit excited.

Days of Our Youth
Mom and Dad on a camping trip, circa early 2000s?

Today is my parents’ 31st wedding anniversary. They are funny and weird and delightful and totally crazy about each other. Until I was married myself, I do not think I realized what a profound blessing and relational boon it is to have had (and to still have) happily married parents. We are given domestic gifts we neither deserve nor anticipate.

It turns out that I am simultaneously (a) full of ambition and (b) fabulously lazy.

We have a very busy season ahead of us (e.g., every weekend in October is currently booked with either small travel plans or house guests), and that makes the large portion of my personality that is introverted feel extremely anxious, but I have to keep telling myself that it’s always fine, or more than fine, in the end, because it turns out that I actually like people, despite what I am inclined to believe.