During May and June, No Tells is featuring "Recommended Summer Reading" selections by No Tell contributors.
Shane McCrae's recommendations:
Internal West by Priscilla Becker (Zoo Press)
There’s a weightlessness to Becker’s music that is counter-balanced—often, perfectly—by the heaviness of so much of what is said in the poems. I am drawn to this book again and again by its many self-contradictions.
Paradise Lost by John Milton (The Project Gutenberg EBook)
Milton, to use (shudder) Harold Bloom’s phrase (of course, of course, he was talking about Shakespeare), is always ahead of us. Paradise Lost gets doper every time I read it. And hey: Summer’s hot. So is hell.
Dick of the Dead by Rachel Loden (Ahsahta)
Speaking of Milton, Loden’s Nixon has developed over the years into something of a Miltonic anti-hero, and is, for me, the most compelling character in contemporary poetry. Damn right.
Colosseum by Katie Ford (Graywolf)
Although—Katie Ford’s New Orleans is a beautifully realized character, and Colosseum is a beautifully living book.
Enter Morris Imposternak, Pursued by Ironies by Eugene Ostashevsky (Ugly Duckling Presse)
This chapbook is sold out, and so I feel like a jerk for even mentioning it. But, yo—buy it if you can find it: Straight-up heartbreak that reminds one of the impossibility of straight-up heartbreak. Because summer is for sad.
Trust by Liz Waldner (Cleveland State University)
Not only is the book itself beautiful as a physical object, but the poems move with an electric, erratic physical force. There is a pronounced friction here between the music of the words and the music of the movement of the mind. http://www.csuohio.edu/poetrycenter/AuthorBook/Waldner.html
Tuned Droves by Eric Baus (Octopus Books)
Y’all know me—Octopus is fam. But even if they wasn’t fam, I’d be all over this book: Again, it’s the music—it’s as clear as water. And again, it’s the mind—marbles in a riverbed. Baus blurs the line between poetry and prose more effectively than any other writer I’ve read.
My Soviet Union by Michael Dumanis (University of Massachusetts Press)
Even if this book were reduced to its first poem only—“The Woods Are Burning”—it would be awesome forever. However, as a bonus, the rest of the book is awesome forever.
A Pipe Dream and a Promise by Finale (Interdependent Media)
You know how every time you watch a dope skate video you wanna go out and skate?
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Shane McCrae went to school at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and Harvard Law, and this fall will begin studying for a PhD in English at Iowa. He poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in The American Poetry Review, Effing Magazine, African American Review and others. His first chapbook, One Neither One, was recently published by Octopus Books, and his first full-length book, Mule, will be published by the Cleveland State University Poetry Center in the fall of 2010.