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great books . . .

I've decided to 5 contemporary books of poetry in my intro to poetry class in the spring. I think I am going to create a blog for the class to allow for informal discussion and supplemental readings.

I'm still trying to decide on the 5 books. Four of the five possible books:

1) Jeff Clark, The Little Door Slides Back
2) Tony Tost, Invisible Bride
3) Lisa Jarnot, Ring of Fire
4) Peter Gizzi, Some Values of Landscape and Weather

I feel confident of choice # 2 and choice # 3. I do want some diversity of books. I think Tost and Jarnot's books are distinct enough. But I am not sure about the others yet.

Any suggestions of three books of contemporary poetry I might use? By contemporary I simply mean in print and published in the last five years or so.

If any of yous have suggestions, I would love a nice list.


Tony Tost said…
I'm really honored your considering using Invisible Bride. If you ever want me to swing by the class I'd love to do so.

One consideration: it might be cool to use a book hot off the presses, before any critical reaction of what ever stripe. Both Ben Lerner's The Lichtenberg Figures & Eleni Sikelianos' The California Poem are coming out in the next month or so (I think). Mark Wallace's Haze would be a good possibility w/ its mixture of critical prose in there. Peter O'Leary's Watchfulness & Brenda Coultas' A Handmade Museum are two recent books that work in ways completely different than any of the books on the list. O'Leary's in particular, as well as Joe D's Incidental Eclipse, would appeal I think to students looking for more spirit & less self-reflexion in their art.

Maurice Manning's Lawrence Booth's Book of Visions is also outstanding, more narrative & southern than anything else on the list.
postpran said…
thanks for the suggestions Tony. Yes, it would be great if you could visit my classes in the spring and do a little talking and reading.
Chris Vitiello said…
I'd like to toss Renee Gladman's "The Activist" (Krupskaya), Harryette Mullen's "Sleeping With the Dictionary," and Pamela Lu's "Pamela: A Novel" (Atelos) onto your list.

Particularly the Gladman book.
evie shockley said…
i'll second chris's recommendation of *sleeping with the dictionary.* i've taught it and students love it, once they understand what mullen's up to.

speaking of dictionaries, you might want to consider a collection that is hot-off-the-presses (a la tony's suggestion): a. van jordan's *m-a-c-n-o-l-i-a.* several of the poems are written as dictionary entries for a word, in which the narrative elements come out in sentences like those used to show how a word is used in a given sense. the story is of a young black girl who made it to the national spelling bee competition during the era of segregation.

DonEzraCruz said…
Evie makes a good point....we do have Van here on campus with us, afterall. He'll even come into class one day, I'm certain. Tom is doing this this semester. Chat with him to see how it turns out.

I'm not going to suggest any contemporary poems, but rather put a plug in for the canon. No, I reckon the students in UNCG's ENG 106 sections don't need to know it. But you're going to have to justify not using it to whomever MR. Jerk Face they have looking at the syllabi, to ensure "Coverage." Besides, whomever you chose to use, there will always be connections that can be made parallel (to other contemporary) or backwards in time. Just say you'll supplement these contemporary books with xeroxes, handouts, or, in your futuristic case, the blog. And, the canon can be fun. I was trying to keep my dog from eating everything in the house and got distracted by Spencer's Faerie Queene. All it is is round the world monster killing in 80 days. How many ways can you disembowel a wicked hell beast in verse? (maybe that will be my next writing prompt for class)

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