During the month of June, No Tells is featuring "Recommended Summer Reading" selections by No Tell contributors.
Evie Shockley's recommendations:
Summer reading is reading you think you're going to get to do between the time you grade the last spring semester final and the time some very energetic student emails you for a fall semester syllabus -- if you're me. And I say to you (myself): good luck! With great optimism and a strong sense of purpose, I present (in no particular order) my list of Poetry Books I Will Read This Summer, If I'm Lucky:
Nox by Anne Carson (New Directions Press, 2010)
Nothing like an art book to heighten one's experience of poetry. In this case, the unusual presenation has an utterly mournful history, but having heard Carson read from the poem, I'm grateful that she went so some lengths to share her grieving with the rest of us.
The Heart's Traffic by Ching-In Chen (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press, 2009)
I won this book in a National Poetry Month Giveaway! How lucky am I? I'd otherwise have bought it. Look at how Chen arranges her poems on the page -- it's "open field," not "boring field" or "random field." I know with this much care for the visual, the language is going to be good...
Lighthead by Terrance Hayes (Penguin, 2010)
Actually, I've already buzzed through most of this collection -- had the good and unusual fortune of acquiring it just hours before a plane ride -- but I'm planning to go back and savor it. From "Lighthead's Guide to Addiction": "If you are addicted to masturbation, seek company."
God Damsel by Reb Livingston (No Tell Books, 2010)
Is it tacky to mention the new book by the blog's host, if it's on your summer reading list? It is? Well, pretend I didn't do it.
Tongue by Rachel Contreni Flynn (Red Hen Press, 2010)
Rachel and I have something in common besides poetry. : ) But that has nothing to do with her new book. Or does it?? I guess I'll find out when I read it! The cover is terrific, by the way.
Suck on the Marrow by Camille Dungy. (Red Hen Press, 2010)
We have a lot of catching up to do, trying to conceive of the experience of African Americans, enslaved and free, during the 19th century, /in poetry/. Dungy is moving that collective project ahead a few steps. I want some of that.
The Plot Genie by Gillian Conoley (Omnidawn, 2009)
I also won this book and I also have already begun reading it, but because I didn't fly away from my routine that day, I didn't get terribly far with the read. Looking forward to this new incarnation of star-crossed lovers.
Apocalyptic Swing by Gabrielle Calvocoressi (Persea, 2009)
For a good while, I thought the title referred to the kind of music that would be playing at the end of days. It is now my understanding that, instead, it has something to do with boxing. I will read and learn more!
A Toast in the House of Friends by Akilah Oliver (Coffeehouse Books, 2009)
I've been wanting to read this book since Oliver's magnificent reading at St. Mark's almost 2 years ago. This poetry sings (as I recall)! It also does a total takeover of the page. I want to dive into this book and swim -- an appropriate summer activity, no?
Words in the Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell ed. Thomas Travisano w/ Saskia Hamilton (FSG, 2008)
Okay, this isn't poetry, it isn't small press, and it isn't even new. But it's about poets, poets writing to one another about lives in/and poetry! And, damn it, I want to read it this summer! Who else besides you, dear poetry readers, would I tell??
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Evie Shockley is the author of a half-red sea (Carolina Wren Press, 2006), the new black (Wesleyan UP, forthcoming 2011), and two chapbooks. She co-edits jubilat and teaches African American literature and creative writing (poetry) at Rutgers University, New Brunswick.