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Doug's Poetry Picks for Poetry Month

If every head of state and every government official spent an hour a day reading poetry we'd live in a much more humane and decent world. ~ Mark Strand

Doug is one of Bookstore1’s most enthusiastic poetry lovers. Here are five books he recommends for National Poetry Month, our favorite month of the year!

American Melancholy by Joyce Carol Oates.

Has she always written poems this good? Once upon a time I read her Love and Its Derangements and The Fabulous Beasts, but I don't remember the poems in those collections well enough to say. Extraordinarily good poems—unfortunately for poet poseurs like myself, one might throw their pen down and say, "How am I going to write anything else after reading American Melancholy!"

When a poet’s most recently published poems send you backwards for more you know they are hitting all the right notes. The “brother” poems in Post-Colonial Love Poem gain greater meaning now having read this earlier work.

Water / Music by Peter Filkins

Filkin’s book of poems is so good, so subtle, you need a minimum of two swims through it in order to fully appreciate the music. There is an unmistakable rhythm in the book, you’ll see what I mean when you read it. Water / Music is my choice of best “new” book of poems. It far out paces any I’ve read this year, particularly due to its attention to arrangement and design beyond the individual poem. Also simply because of its sheer beauty.

The only problem with this astonishing work is that I will have to purchase the first volume published in the set—the later poems. Yes, I am now a thoroughly indoctrinated and adoring member of the Paul Celan sect. Though there is no political party of poetry here, there is intoxication. Bring it on! The other good thing? It is a bilingual edition.

Dearly: New Poems by Margaret Atwood

For someone who has followed Atwood’s poems even longer than her novels, this is a rich gift. Even for readers who may have only known of the Handmaid’s Tale, Atwood opens a whole new universe of wonder with these poems. You hear her chant to herself as she begins, “It’s late, it’s very late; / too late for dancing. / Still, sing what you can.”

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