Reading Authors’ Favorite Poems

I do not recall what I was doing that led me to this list (I’m sure it had something to do with the poetry unit I was teaching my ninth-ish graders), but the list of favorite poems by famed authors excited me. I thought, I want to read through that list. (I am a real sucker for lists and for goals. See my entire blog.) So I copied the list of poems out from The New York Times’ “What’s Your Favorite Poem?” (2015) and then I kept that list on file and pecked away at it here or there. It may be a bit clunky for a blog read, but here is the list of poems followed by individual reviews and then (maybe my favorite part) a flexible book club based on this list of poems. For the original article, which includes the authors who recommended these poems and their reasons, click HERE.

Favorite Poems of Famous Authors According to a New York Times’ Article:

  • “The Laws of God, the Laws of Man,” A. E. Housman
  • “High Flight,” John Gillespie Magee Jr.
  • “Middle Passage,” Robert Hayden
  • “In Flanders Fields,” John McCrae
  • “The Swing,” Robert Louis Stephenson
  • “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven,” Yeats
  • “Kingdom Animalia,” Aracelis Girmay
  • “The Glass Essay,” Anne Carson (really long)
  • “Man and Wife,” Robert Lowell
  • “Sleep”/“Well, so patience to our souls,” Amelia Rosselli
  • “A Song in the Front Yard,” Gwendolyn Brooks
  • “Remembrance,” Emily Bronte
  • “The Afterlife,” Billy Collins
  • “My chest of books…” John Keats
  • “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower,” William Carlos Williams
  • “Falling,” James Dickey
  • “Of Mere Being,” Wallace Stephens
  • “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions: No Man Is an Island,” John Donne
  • “The Long Boat,” Stanley Kunitz
  • “Caged Bird,” Maya Angelou
  • “The Drunken Boat,” Rimbaud
  • “David Cassidy Then,” David Cooper
  • “Trees,” Joyce Kilmer
  • “Hop on Pop,” Dr. Seuss
  • “Brand New Ancients,” Kate Tempest
  • “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” Jacqueline Woodson

My Reviews of the Poems (favorites marked with an asterisk):

The Laws of God, the Laws of Man: I can see why someone would love this poem. It has no logic to it, really, it’s just a guy trying to exempt himself from the “laws of God and man.” He didn’t write them, he doesn’t agree with them, he shouldn’t be held to them; it is a sort of tyranny to the “foreigner.” Ehn. The actual poem is certainly acceptable, if not breath-taking. And it might make you think, but not for long, because, like I said, it lacks intellectual rigor, really. Wishful. Propogandist. But what is our answer to this? Huh. (See The Collected Poems of A. E. Housman and also The Invention of Love, Tom Stoppard)

High Flight: This is a classic of sorts. You should recognize the last line: “Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.” While not completely congruent with many theologies, there is also something true about it and about the romantic celebration of/experience of flight, or, as I see it, metaphorically other human feats of talent such as art (and writing). I like it. It’s an ecstatic romp of language and thought on the happy side. (See High Flight: The Life and Poetry of Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee or Touching the Face of God, Ray Haas)

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Middle Passage: It’s certainly beautiful as a poem and disturbing as a story. “Middle Passage” is about the Middle Passage—the leg of the triangle sea navigation used for hundreds of years of African slave trade, from African shores to American shores. I would say that it is a poem worth reading, and it is, but you are going to need to study it to fully extricate what it has for you. Why? Because it’s confusing, that’s why. It is on the long side for a poem, but the confusion lies in the different voices. There are six? Or seven? And since Hayden uses so many things (Roman numerals, italics, quotes, indentations, etc.) in seemingly random succession, it is nearly impossible to know at first read who is speaking and how many voices there are. On the other hand, you get the idea behind the poem and behind the gruesome scenes and behind most of the emotions, and you also realize that this is structurally beautiful poetry and powerful language (though another barrier to immediate understanding is the lofty vocabulary. You could use a dictionary, for sure). I would recommend this poem to an older audience because of its violence and mature content. It would be a good one for studying in a variety of history or literature classes in high school or college. Personally, I could hear the creaking of the masts as I read and, even on the first read, could sense the horrors of history. (See Collected Poems, Robert Hayden (and also Africans in America)

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In Flanders’ Fields: When I first read this poem (at least this go-‘round), I immediately thought of Rilla of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery. In that novel (a favorite of mine), the protagonist’s brother goes off to fight in the first World War and writes a short poem that travels the world and inspires many a soldier and civilian. It seems to me that this poem (the fictional “The Piper” by Walter Blythe) is inspired by “In Flanders Fields.” Then I looked it up, and I am definitely not the first person to make this connection. But you were wondering about the poem? It is a short, beautiful, inspirational poem from another time and place. It is, as Blythe’s is, written with the voice of a soldier at the front. He has died fighting for the cause and he is encouraging others to take up the cause and continue the fight. It has a melancholy strain to it, but it is also heartbreakingly simple and sweet. It speaks of costs of war fairly clearly and it is a perfect read for, again, either a history or literature class. (See In Flanders’ Fields and Other Poems and the picture book, In Flanders’ Fields: The Story of the Poem.)

The Swing: It is a simple poem. And yet. It feels like a swing. And you want to love it because swinging on a swing so high that you can see over the garden wall and up on the roof… it is one of the best things, isn’t it? It’s pastoral, idyllic, meant for children and for adults to recapture their childhood in only twelve lines. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite poem ever, but it is a pleasant one and one which a student or poet might use for observation and study. (See A Child’s Garden of Verses)

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*Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven: You don’t need to know anything to enjoy this poem, especially if you have a sense of words and aesthetics, it’s just a short and achingly beautiful poem. It borders on the simplicity of “Roses Are Red,” being a pure love poem, but the simplicity is just part of its beauty. With just a few whacks of the poetic line, we have imagery, we have emotion, we have a story of sorts, and we have a vulnerability you can feel in your chest. Then you wonder, “Who is Aedh?” Turns out, it’s not so important to the reading of this poem. In fact, most versions replace “Aedh” with “He,” or shorten the title to “The Cloths of Heaven.” But there are some critics who say that Aedh—one of three characters that Yeats uses in his poetry mid-career—is either a bit farcical or referencing an Irish god (of death, actually). In this case, the poem is a little tongue-in-cheek, a bit purposefully exaggerated. Strangely, most people disregard the allusion entirely. They certainly have a better understanding of Yeats’ work as a body than I do, so I guess we’ll just go with that, for now. (See The Collected Poetry of William Butler Yeats)

* Kingdom Animalia: Love this poem. It’s a more modern poem than most of them listed here, but it is an extremely powerful poem. It leaves space to analyze it, especially in light of the title, but it can be enjoyed simply in the first reading. It’s very bittersweet, celebrating the little things with an exquisite beauty of poetic presentation, but we are confronting death here: the death of loved ones and our own inevitable death. (See Kingdom Animalia, The Black Maria, or Teeth)

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* The Glass Essay: This is the first poem on the list that I needed to purchase a book to read in its entirety. I bought an old copy of Glass, Irony and God, a collection of Carson’s poem beginning with the longest, “The Glass Essay.” It runs to page 38 but is not sparse for a poem. It is like part of a story—snapshots saying something—so more poemlike than not. I can’t recall if I’ve read any Ann Carson before, but I love this poem. Like with many stories and poems, I can’t quite go there with Carson in the final meaning of the poem (I am more in line with the Emily Bronte she considers throughout), but I can recognize and appreciate so many other moments of the poem. There is terror and sadness, but overall it is a thing of both beauty and mundanity, full of stark, catching lines and—quite frankly—nearly flawless as a poem. It reads like those high-end poems, sure, but it is also accessible. Loved this one. (See Glass, Irony and God)

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Man and Wife: With a quick search and study, I found that people get all sort of contradictory things out of this poem. It is definitely one of those poems where one can read it and enjoy it without doing extensive research or studying it in class, though it begs that with all sorts of allusions to both Lowell’s personal life and other things (an insane asylum, a Greek god, a type of tree…). Still, the first read probably won’t do it for you and you’ll need to go back once or twice to re-read with the understanding you have gained along the way. The first time you have questions, the second you have more purpose. It is a nice poem, very considered, visual, and deep. It is also about love (and marriage, see title) after some time, which is not something you see so often. I don’t think it’s as negative as some critics do, but I am reading it in light of a flash piece I am currently trying to sell, set on a morning in bed with a long-term spouse, so almost exact. My piece is meant to highlight the beauty though normalcy of long love. (See Collected Poems)

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Well, so patience to our souls: This is confusing, and not because the poetry itself is confusing (though it might be. Give me a sec). I can’t tell if there is a poem titled “Sleep” in the collection Sleep, or if Rosselli’s poems are untitled and divided merely by asterixis? After much to-do, I found a short poem or part of a poem beginning “Well, so patience to our souls.” The issue with reading Rosselli is the lack of translation. A small fraction of her work has been translated and English-speakers don’t generally know her stuff. All that said, the bit I read (if it was right or not, I know not) was very poet-y. That’s not really a compliment. Go to any poetry reading and you will find a number of stuffy, insider-type orators carefully breathing into the rhythm of some loose-jointed allusions and edgy imagery. Perhaps Rosselli is partly responsible for that? While hard-core poets might enjoy this type of thing, I, as a dabbler, don’t really. It feels confusing, suffocating, and pretentious. Not that Rosselli’s poem is all those things, really, just that it feels old, now. Go ahead, mine it for its meaning and its beauty or study it for its original freshness, but I don’t feel like I need to. But I am curious to know if I even read an entire poem. (See Locomotrix)

* A Song in the Front Yard: Gwendolyn Brooks is a favorite of mine. She doesn’t need traditional form or rhyme or any of that for her poems to sound like music and her meaning to be clear. If you haven’t been there—a sheltered kid thinking they might want to live the unsheltered life—then you can easily imagine it, here. She does play with rhyme and with words and their sounds, but the real power is in the story. It’s a great, solid poem. (See The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks)

Remembrance: This is old-fashioned poetry, a classic of the English language. It’s a medium-length poem, with traditional rhyme and rhythm. It would be a great poem for teaching, because it’s not too difficult to understand but it could be re-read and mined for more. There’s tension here and plenty of emotion: perhaps too much for today’s taste. The speaker is recalling a lover who died a long time ago, but whom they are still grieving. Indeed, they are considering the very nature of grief: can it lessen? Can it end? Can life ever be the same after it? It’s a little depressing, actually, but it’s an interesting poem. (See The Complete Poems of Emily Bronte)

* The Afterlife: It’s a fun poem. It’s a nice poem. I’m not sure I understand its point? I mean, it’s logically absurd, basically, but poems often are. It’s pushing buttons, surely, saying that everyone goes to the afterlife they conceived of on Earth, so I’m assuming it has more to do with what our notions are about the afterlife? I like it. The people Collins chooses to portray are more or less familiar to us; there aren’t specific references to certain gods or anything, but what is it that we hope for? What is it that we believe? Yeah, on second thought, I like this poem, from a poet I (and many, many people) am familiar with. (See Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems and/or Sailing Around the Room: New and Selected Poems)

My chest of books divide among my friends: More than anything, it is the history behind this poem that is of note. The circumstances. Keats was dying of consumption in his early 20s after a very brief and bright career. He left for Italy to regain his health but he really had little to no hope. He wrote this poem (in iambic pentameter) on a scrap of paper as his will and then went to Italy, where he died at 25, in poverty but with friends. This is considered his last penned poem. What a fascinating thing, to write your last will and testament as a jotted poem, leaving your library (about 80 books, it turns out) to your friends. The wishes were carried out. (See The Complete Poems of John Keats or Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats)

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* Asphodel, That Greeny Flower: This is the second poem on this list that is long enough I had to buy it in book-form to read it in its entirety, thought it’s the first to arrive of the three. And less than 40 VERY sparse pages just flies by. This long poem is considered Williams’s masterpiece, written for his wife of many years when he was in his 70s, ailing, struggling, and confessing his affairs to her. It took him two years to write, which is something to think about as you read it. It feels both off-the-cuff and carefully crafted at the same time. I tend to like what little of William Carlos Williams I have read. While I am not a huge fan of reading difficult, long-form poetry (I feel so lost, like the author is hiding clarity behind a curtain), I liked relaxing into a reading of “Asphodel.” Perhaps it’s a little bit that I am getting older myself and the piece felt futuristically nostalgic, but if a good reader just chills while reading this (and knows a little background), the meaning rises up to just below the surface, anyhow. And it sounds beautiful. And it has wonderful phrases. And I also thought the use of repetition and stream-of-consciousness and even humor was playful in a very bittersweet way. It would definitely be worth a closer read and worth studying.

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* Falling: “Death is an inevitability, though it must always come as a surprise to the living” (Jenna Krajeski, The New Yorker). That is a quote from a kind of a review of the poem, “Falling.” I was really surprised by this poem. I remember the first time I saw “James Dickey” in a literature textbook and hoped, for a moment, that I might be related to this author. (My mother’s maiden name is Dickey and my grandfather’s given name is James Dickey.) But I haven’t seen that much of the author over the years, to be honest, so I didn’t expect this poem. It’s long, maybe too long, but it contains choices of both content and word (and format) that are genius. The idea for the poem began with a snippet from the news and the poem ends with several minutes of watching a woman (who has become myself) plummeting to her death while thinking, stripping, contemplating flight… the air constantly whipping in my ears and all my senses alive. I wonder if I might like some of Dickey’s other poetry better, but “Falling” is a pretty miraculous poem, whether or not I fully understand or even agree with its “conclusions.” (See The Complete Poems of James Dickey)

Of Mere Being: This is a poet’s poem, I think, which makes sense because I also think Wallace Stevens is a poet’s poet. Actually, there are a great many poet’s poets, which is not so cool, really. I mean, twice through and at least I understand the palm as a tree, so that’s good, though I haven’t understood that the bird is a phoenix, which is important. It’s not so bad that all I can do is hear this poem whispered melodically and nod my head. I do get it, to a point. Its thoughts are interesting too. Stevens says that existence is enough to cause emotion, even happiness. There is some contemplation on death and life. I guess I understand why you would really like it. I enjoy it, with reservations. (See The Palm at the End of the Mind)

Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions: No Man Is an Island: A classic. You’ve probably read it, and if you haven’t, you’ve heard two quotes from it multiple times, and that’s saying a lot because the poem is nine lines in total. The first is, obviously, “No man is an island…”. The second is, “…never send to know / for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” The point is a very early idea of the butterfly effect as it pertains to humans in a giant organism of humanity.  (see Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Death’s Duel)

* The Long Boat: Modern poetry, but so classy: which means, clear and yet beautiful. I really like this rather short poem and there is so much there. There is meaning, perhaps a little blisteringly evident, but then again it’s rather universal, at least as a metaphor, which is indeed how it is meant to be read… the second time. The first time, it’s all senses engaged in emotional, thoughtful, imagery. Reading this poem and seeing that Kunitz was the poet laureate at the prime of his career at age 95 really makes me want to read more of his work. If I were going to do a New York Times “What’s Your Favorite Poem” book club, I would definitely include a couple of his books (see below). (See The Collected Poems)

Caged Bird: Certainly this is a wonderful poem and Maya Angelou knew what she was doing when she wrote it. I read and reviewed the book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, a little while back, but I don’t seem to remember realizing there was a poem related to it. From what I can tell, the poem was written decades after the memoir, so Angelou was using imagery that she had used before. Perhaps she was still thinking about it. Despite of the poem’s depth and intimacy, it is easy to understand though much more difficult to internalize. It’s a poem about freedom versus slavery and about listening to others. Basically. A great classic. (See The Complete Poetry)

The Drunken Boat: (Translation from the French) Hmm. I read it as, from what I can tell, it is meant to be read: sort of a lucid onslaught of bright and obscured visions as an abandoned boat wanders about the Atlantic shores of North America. I was looking for some sort of moral judgment, but apparently Rimbaud was sixteen and in France when he wrote this and I think it’s more of an emotional journal with a hallucinatory effect. It’s not that short. Actually, it feels too long, to me, especially with repeated words and basic images, but it is considered Rimbaud’s best and a piece of genius work that fits its sound and form to the meaning of the poem. It is good, for sure. And with the repeat of children we look for meaning. At any rate, the imagery, if fevered, is quite fetching. (See Arthur Rimbaud: Complete Works)

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David Cassidy Then: This poem and the poetry of Dennis Cooper are not going to be for everyone. Interested for much of his career in the intersection between violence and sex (I believe that’s how The Paris Review put it), this poem is a level of sex + mundaneness + intimacy that you don’t read all the time. Like the lens is super-focused and super-magnified. But it’s strange because the poem is also an ecstatic and gleeful romp into a fantasy (of sleeping with a famous actor) that has a definite playful (and perhaps naive) side. (I actually really wanted to learn more about where this particular poem came from, but I couldn’t find anything.) There are things to talk about, here, and the poem itself is really tight, really beautiful in form and language. I can see why you might love this poem, but certainly it is uncomfortable if you have even a touch of mysophobia or have even been called “uptight” in your life. (See The Dream Police: Selected Poems)

Trees: a classic poem, there are some things to be admired here (and emulated: so many poets have used this poem as a jumping-off place) but I have to agree that it is a bit simple and sentimental. I think readers tend to like the point more than the actual poem: nature is a better poet than the best poet. Also, God is really the poet, here, so if you are going to get angry at that worldview… In the end, (Alfred) Joyce Kilmer was mainly famous for this single poem, at least in the long run, and died young in WWI. (See Trees and Other Poems)

Hop on Pop: Dr. Seuss is best known for his children’s books, complete with his illustrations. He is a cultural force and likely changed the world of picture books. Hop on Pop is a simplistic picture book meant for very early readers, even to teach reading. Seuss has more complicated books, but this is an absolute classic for the youngest children. The poem/book uses very few words and the rhymes are of the purest sort. And in Seuss style, the pictures make sense of the copy. “Walk / Talk / We like to talk.” Acknowledging this poem is to acknowledge a genius and influencer of children’s books and a large library. (See Hop on Pop or A Classic Case of Dr. Seuss)

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* Brand New Ancients: Kae/Kate (they/them) Tempest is meant to be heard. They is a renowned spoken word poet, so I would recommend you listen to Brand New Ancients, which runs at over an hour and is a story as much as a poem. I listened to it as I read it, occasionally making notes because it was interesting to see how Tempest had changed things, sometimes in fairly big ways, sometimes an important word, sometimes possibly just a quick change in the reading. I admit to being swept away. I have a thing for innovative art of any form, and perhaps there are many other spoken word story poems like this, but it was both new to me and extremely well done. I suppose I didn’t agree with all of the assertions of the poem (about us being gods and being one, though I think it was meant more metaphorical and literarily) and I also suppose the whole thing was a little gritty for my usual taste, but overall it was breathtaking and beautiful. If you have any sort of love for poetry (which I imagine you do, reading this post), you need to listen to this (at just under an hour and a half). If you read it while you listen, it counts as reading for sure, but this piece is definitely not just writing; it is performance art. I could find some small faults, but it was great as a story, as a poem, and as a performance, and it went beyond a regular old story, looping in all this great allusion and imagery. (See Brand New Ancients (paperback and audiobook))

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You Don’t Miss Your Water: And we finish this list with two titles (see directly above) that are meant to be listened to more than read in a book. Actually, “You Don’t Miss Your Water” can’t be found in any book; it is a song, or, as a poem, song lyrics. William Bell was a prolific and lauded songwriter (never probably even dreaming of publishing a book of poetry) and this is one of his most famous (and oft-covered) songs. To be honest, reading it as lyrics, it isn’t really that exciting, which leads to a whole discussion (which I had with my ninth graders this year) about is music poetry?. When listening to this song as a song, it gains a magic and a mood that are imbued by the delivery. This was maybe Woodson’s point when she included this “poem” in the Times article. It has rhyme, rhythm, and metaphor, and personally, I put a lot of emphasis on lyrics when I listen to songs. Songs aren’t just poetry, and not all music is poetry, but music and poetry are intertwined art forms and there are lyrics that can stand alone as powerful, lyrical words. Maybe this song wouldn’t be my choice here, but it is good, classic stuff. If interested in music and poetry together see this list HERE (and then come up with your own) or this one HERE. (See The Very Best of William Bell (audio, music))


A book club based on these poems would last 26 months and each month would cover the poem and up to two books. Of course, one could just pick and choose (you could start with the six I gave asterixis) and make it a year, or something. Anyhow, I love book club ideas (see HERE and HERE), so this is just another one based on The New York Times’ “What’s Your Favorite Poem?” Each author’s name is followed by the title of the poems listed above and then at least two suggestions for what to read in conjunction with that poem. Almost all (or all) of the selections include one book of poetry that contains the featured poem.

  • A. E. Housman: “The Laws of God, The Laws of Man”; The Collected Poems of A. E. Housman; The Invention of Love, Tom Stoppard
  • John Gillespie Magee: “High Flight”; High Flight: The Life and Poetry of Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee or Touching the Face of God, Ray Haas (or both)
  • Robert Hayden: “Middle Passage”; Collected Poems, Robert Hayden; Africans in America, Johnson and Smith
  • John McCrae: “In Flanders Fields”; In Flanders’ Fields and Other Poems; the picture book, In Flanders’ Fields: The Story of the Poem; Rilla of Ingleside, L. M. Montgomery (another option: World War I: The Definitive Visual History)
  • Robert Louis Stephenson: “The Swing”; A Child’s Garden of Verses; The Complete Stories of Robert Louis Stevenson (including The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde), and/or Treasure Island
  • William Butler Yeats: “Aedh Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven”; The Collected Poetry of William Butler Yeats; Irish Fairy and Folk Tales
  • Aracelis Girmay: “Kingdom Animalia”; Kingdom Animalia (or Teeth or The Black Maria); changing, changing
  • Anne Carson: “The Glass Essay”; The Beauty of the Husband (or Plainwater or An Autobiography of Red or Men in the Off Hours); An Oresteia or a translation, like Antigone
  • Robert Lowell: “Man and Wife”; Collected Poems; Robert Lowell, Setting the River on Fire
  • Amelia Rosselli: “Sleep”; Locomotrix; Sleep or October Elizabethans (very limited in English)
  • Gwendolyn Brooks: “A Song in the Front Yard”; The Essential Gwendolyn Brooks; Exquisite; Maud Martha
  • Emily Bronte: “Remembrance”; The Complete Poems of Emily Bronte; Wuthering Heights; The Bronte Sisters, Catherine Reef; (and I am actually working on a book of Bronte poetry, so once that’s published by Owl and Zebra Press, I would obvi recommend Poems of Currer, Ellis, and Acton Bell)
  • Billy Collins: “The Afterlife”; Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems and/or Sailing Around the Room: New and Selected Poems; Billy Collins Live
  • John Keats: “My chest of books divide among my friends”; The Complete Poems of John Keats or Complete Poems and Selected Letters of John Keats; Keats’s Poetry and Prose (Norton Critical); Bright Star (movie)
  • William Carlos Williams: “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower” (in Asphodel that Greeny Flower and Other Love Poems); Selected Poems (Tomlinson); The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams or A River of Words
  • James Dickey: “Falling”; The Complete Poems of James Dickey; Deliverance; Summer of Deliverance; (possibly a recent edition of The James Dickey Review)
  • Wallace Stevens: “Of Mere Being”; The Palm at the End of the Mind; The Necessary Angel
  • John Donne: “Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions: No Man Is an Island”; The Complete Poetry and Selected Prose of John Donne; Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Death’s Duel
  • Stanley Kunitz: “The Long Boat”; The Collected Poems; The Wild Braid
  • Maya Angelou: “Caged Bird”; The Complete Poetry; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (or The Collected Autobiographies of Maya Angelou); Letter to My Daughter
  • (Arthur) Rimbaud: “The Drunken Boat”; Arthur Rimbaud: Complete Works; Rimbaud: A Biography
  • David Cooper: “David Cassidy Then”; The Dream Police: Selected Poems; Closer; Jerk
  • (Alfred) Joyce Kilmer: “Trees”; Trees and Other Poems; Dreams and Images: An Anthology of Catholic Poets
  • Dr. Seuss/Theodor Seuss Geisel: “Hop on Pop”; A Classic Case of Dr. Seuss; Becoming Dr. Seuss; Just What the Doctor Disordered
  • Kae Tempest/Kate Tempest (they/them): “Brand New Ancients”; Brand New Ancients audiobook; Let Them Eat Chaos
  • William Bell: “You Don’t Miss Your Water”; The Very Best of William Bell (audio, music); “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” Otis Redding; (nothing else, unless you want to read Brown Girl Dreaming because Jacqueline Woodson recommended this title)


from “Asphodel, That Greeny Flower”:

“I cannot say / that I have gone to hell / for your love / but often / found myself there / in your pursuit.”

from Brand New Ancients:

“he had a smile like a jewel in a sewer, / knuckles like an open tool box, / eyes like Kahlua—”

“We don’t know the names of our neighbors, / but we know the names of the rich and famous. / And the names of their ex-girlfriends / and their ex-girlfriends’ new boyfriends / blah, blah, blah…”

“…she couldn’t make out the grain of their wood through the layers of varnish,”

“Her heart beat like wings in her chest.”

from “The Glass Essay”:

“Why hold onto all that? And I said, / Where can I put it down?”

“When Law left I felt so bad I thought I would die. / This is not uncommon.”

“Girls are cruelest to themselves. / Someone like Emily Bronte, / who remained a girl all her life despite her body as a woman, “

“I peel the steel cage of the sheets off my legs / and I am free.”

“As if anger could be a kind of vocation for some women. / It is a chilly thought.”

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