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.
5. Almanac, Austin Smith
[Out of print; I seem to have the only copy in the world.]
Up next: Top 10 nonfiction books I read in 2015. Any favorite books of poems you read this year?
The best things I read in November, in no particular order.
Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems, Robin Coste Lewis. Good grief, everyone should read these poems. Really so pleased and delighted that Lewis received the National Book Award for this. Very well-deserved. (With thanks to Wei for giving us a copy.)
Hold Still, Sally Mann. Difficult and beautiful and strange all at once. I felt a particular bond with Mann, owing to the fact that she lives about an hour from here, in the green, rolling paradise that is the Virginia countryside.
Letters to a Young Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. Why did I wait so long to read these letters? Silly of me. Should be required reading/inspiration for writers.
The Heart of the Matter, Graham Greene. Greene always surprises me. I tend to expect something stuffy from him, which is unfair, and then he eludes me.
As We Are Now, May Sarton. An unflinching and yet moving portrait of a dying woman, locked away and seemingly forgotten in a nursing home, who is striving to stay human and sane.
The Charterhouse of Parma, Stendhal. What a crazy, unexpectedly fun romp through the Napoleonic era! We follow the air-headed romantic Fabrizio, who is constantly saved from death/torture/exile by women.
What did you read and enjoy in November?
I feel totally wrecked, having just finished Voyage of the Sable Venus and Other Poems, which Wei left us (along with many other gifts) last weekend. We talked a lot about race that weekend, even though three-fourths of us were out of our depth. I feel the same way I did that night as I do now, having finished these poems: weak and weepy with frustration—frustration at myself, at cyclical injustice, at my own culpability and ignorance. What is to be done? How can we make up for all of the evil that has gone on and continued to go on in our nation’s desperate bid to maintain white supremacy?