Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Last Two Poetry Books I've Read

From time to time I want to use this blog as a place to mention what I'm reading and to promote contemporary poetry books. I thought I'd begin by naming the last two poetry books I've read and giving a brief note about each.

Speak Low by Carl Phillips
Carl Phillips is one of my favorite contemporary poets and this is his new book. As always it is beautiful. Many might be surprised how much I like Phillips because he writes very differently from me, but I don't really understand the idea of only liking people who write like you. It seems pointless to only like people who are similar to you. I will never write like Carl, but I will always enjoy his work. He is gay and deals with the gay identity in very compelling ways, but never very straight forward ways. In part this is because his poems are very lyric but they always give you hints of a narrative and situation. This collection is worth checking out and if you don't know his work also read Cortege. It is my favorite. 

Ohio Violence by Alison Stine
This is a debut collection that is well worth reading. I was intrigued by the title. I'm from Indiana and lived right on the Ohio line and I'm always drawn to other midwest poets, especially those that lived in more rural areas, like I did. Stine takes the midwest values and plays with them. There is violence that lurks beneath the surface of the cornfields and football games. The poems seem to interconnect but they don't rely on each other. The narrative here is compelling and beautiful but never forward. You try to make sense of the pieces you are given of a young girl struggling with what might or might not have happened. Overall it's a book I'll read again and probably take away even more from it. I look forward to reading more of Stine's work in the future. 

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