The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Appetite by Aaron Smith
This collection of poems was a quick and exciting read. As a lover of pop culture in poetry, I appreciated so much of what Smith does in this book. My favorite section was the third part, which is a long poem called "I Love the Part." It goes through all of these scenes from a wide range of movies and says what the speaker likes about them. As they build, we get more and more of a glimpse into the speaker and it makes you think about your own experience as a viewer. Smith's book isn't afraid to look at the dirty or ugly parts of our thoughts. I'm proud to be a finalist along side this book for both the Thom Gunn Poetry Award and for the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Poetry.
Render by Collin Kelley
Blowout by Denise Duhamel
This was one of my great finds at AWP. I didn't realize Duhamel had a new book, so when I saw it, I immediately bought it. I love Duhamel's work and she's served as an influence to me in what I try to accomplish through narrative poems. This book is no exception. It's humorous, honest, and heart-breaking. The book focuses heavily on divorce and the breaking down and moving on that comes with it. What I admire about Duhamel is how she plays with the speaker, which is a version of herself (much like I do in a lot of my work). The poems often highlight her own insecurities and the insecurities about writing "personal" poetry. This is highlighted in the knockout poem "Takeout, 2008."