I’ll be honest and admit that I don’t know the first thing about poetry. It’s one of those creative things that I always wished I was good at, but I’m really, really not. I mean, did I write tons and tons of poems about my high school crushes? Of course I did, but that’s about as far as it went. And I took a couple of poetry classes in college, neither of which connected with me because:
A) One of them was taught by a poet who consistently name-dropped, made us buy his newest book, and at one point passed out one of his own poems without his name on it and made us critique it while he just sat there, smirking.
B) One of them involved, like, looking at photos and then making noises, and doing “public poetry” that was a lot more like performance art. Don’t get me wrong, I love stuff like that when other people do it, but there’s a reason I’m a writer and not a performer.
So while I would never pretend to be a poetry expert, I do know what I like. In honor of National Poetry Month, I thought I’d share some of my favorite poetry collections. Some of these are more well-known and some of them are less well-known, but I connected in different ways with all of them
E.E. Cummings: Complete Poems 1913-1962
When I was in high school I was a big nerd, which won’t surprise you at all. I had an E.E. Cummings poem hanging in my locker. I liked him so much that my senior year English teacher gave me her copy of this book, which was incredibly nice. It’s huge but that didn’t stop nerdy high school me from carrying it around everywhere. I know it’s a pretty big cliche for a girl to like E.E. Cummings, but seriously, there are such good poems here. Like the one that Michael Caine used to flirt with his wife’s sister in Hannah and Her Sisters! Full disclosure: I used an E.E. Cummings poem for a reading at our wedding. If you’re looking for a wedding-appropriate poem, it’s pretty much him or Neruda.
Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day by Nikki Giovanni
I’ve written before about how much I like this book. You can read one of my favorite poems from it, The Rose Bush, here.
Pretty Tilt by Carrie Murphy
Carrie Murphy is a Creative Lady and an absolutely wonderful poet. If you like this blog, you’ll love Carrie’s book Pretty Tilt. It’s all about girlhood, sex, high school, and feelings. So many feelings! You can read more about it here and check out one of my favorite poems from the book on The Hairpin.
Crush by Richard Siken
I’ve told this story on the internet before, but I found Richard Siken’s Crush by total accident. I was wandering through the library at Miami and pulling random books off the shelf, which was a fun way I spent my time when I should’ve been doing something normal. Anyway, I came across Crush, read a poem or two, and immediately thought, “What in God’s name is this wonderful book?” I fell in love with it, read it over and over, and then I made Dan read it. It’s basically a perfect book and you can read one of the poems here.
Strange Light by Derrick C. Brown
Derrick C. Brown opened for Eugene Mirman the last time I saw him, and I was blown away. His poetry’s hard to explain. It’s funny (he was opening for a comedian, after all), but it’s also very serious. I like Strange Light a lot, but his poetry is extra-good when it’s performed. You can watch/listen to A Finger, Two Dots Then Me, but be warned: it will make you feel a lot of things. Fun fact: Derrick C. Brown officiated the wedding of David Cross and Amber Tamblyn! Don’t worry, I can always relate anything back to Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.
What about you guys? What are your favorite poetry collections? Let me know!