I saw that Jim Goar listed his ten favorite books of poetry. When I read his, I wanted to read my own.
There are different kinds of favorite. These are favorites in the sense that they made other favorites possible for me. They are the ten books I think of right now that each changed the way I thought about poetry. Half of them are the books that convinced me I wanted to go study poetry more.
In no particular order:
- Invisible Cities, Italo Calvino
- Lunch Poems, Frank O'Hara
- Poems for the Millennium, Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris
- Best Loved Poems of the American People, Hazel Felleman and Edward Frank Allen
- Houseboat Days, John Ashbery
- Collected Poems, Sylvia Plath
- Outlying Districts, Anselm Hollo
- Four Year Old Girl, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge
- Collected Poems 1947-1980, Allen Ginsberg
- Exercises in Style, Raymond Queneau
I have a feeling I'll be writing more about each of these books soon. But I probably won't be writing much about Best Loved Poems of the American People because part of me is a little embarrassed that it's on this list but also because it's the one on the list that I don't have on my bookshelf right now. I remember reading "The Vagabonds" by John Towsend Trowbridge in it. I also remember reading Ogden Nash and Robert Frost in it, but searching the book on Amazon appears to make a liar out of me. I guess I must have first encountered those two somewhere else. It's also the first book I remember reading poems aloud from.
Runners-up that would probably be on this list if I asked me on a different day are:
- The Promises of Glass, Michael Palmer
- The Descent of Alette, Alice Notley
- The Sonnets, Ted Berrigan
- Selected Poems and Four Plays, W.B. Yeats
- Sleeping with the Dictionary, Harryette Mullen