Today is World Poetry Day, so I thought maybe I should finally write that post about some of my favourite poetry books before I continue to procrastinate it. (In my defence: I really like poetry and it’s so hard to decide on favourites!)
Obviously poetry can be very subjective, and it’s likely not all of my choices will be for you, but I hope you can bear with me and we can make it to the end of this post without too many disagreements. These aren’t all of my favourites (I’m not fond of decisions that mean I have to think about what I like best. Favourite lists are hard), and they’re most likely not my Top 5, but they’re five collections I really like, and I hope that maybe some of you will check at least one or two out. None of them are collections with multiple poets, and I linked recordings of the poets reading their own work wherever I could, and in two cases the poets’ websites.
Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems
We read excerpts of Howl in university and I was fascinated. The style is certainly not for everyone, but it is also an amazing work. And at this point I could be boring and link you to one of the various recordings of Ginsberg reading Howl, but I’m going with another poem from the collection, America
Elisabeth Hewer, Wishing for Birds
I love this collection a lot. It’s beautiful and haunting and maybe a little weird sometimes (in the good ways). I’ve been following Hewer’s poetry for a while now, and she keeps surprising me. If you’ve been around tumblr you might have seen lines from her poems on edits before (I know the last two lines of God Should Have Made Girls Lethal were pretty popular for some time). I don’t think anyone has recorded any of her poems yet, but here’s another long-time favourite from Wishing for Birds, Love Letters from Helen of Troy. If you’re interested you should also check out her website.
Amanda Lovelace, The Princess Saves Herself In This One
This really made an impression on me. The moment I put it down I just sat there for a moment thinking “Damn.” It’s an incredibly powerful colection and I’m not sure me rambling on could really do it justice. Go read for yourself instead! You can find her website here.
T.S. Eliot, Selected Poems
I’m a fan of German expressionist poetry (I even picked it as my topic for my oral A-level exam), and Eliots poetry is very reminiscent of that. This particular collection was picked and edited by Eliot himself as an introduction to his poetry prior to Four Quarters. It’s a great collection. One of my favourite poems is The Hollow Men, and since there is a recording of Eliot reading it, I’m linking it here.
Sinéad Morrissey, Parallax
This was the hardest to pick, becasue any book I’d decide on definitely means another one will have to miss out, and there’s so many good ones? I first encountered Parallax in my final year at university, in a course on modern British poetry, and it was one of my favourite collections we talked about in that course. It’s short, the entire collections fills less than a hundred pages including notes, and I have to admit it’s kind of hard toexplain why it’s on this list. It just fascinates me, and whether it’s because of the poetry itself or because I read it for uni first, it makes me want to pick it apart. You can listen to a recording of Morrissey reading the first poem of the collection, 1801, here.