Thursday, November 19, 2009

Best Poetry Books of 2009 - Sampson Starkweather

Sampson Starkweather's selections:

Stars of the Night Commute by Ana Božičević (Tarpaulin Sky)
I've been waiting for this book to come out since I first saw Ana close her eyes and read, from memory, the entire sequence from the last section (Document) of her book. "Light is the first animal of the visible" "So. Go be the reaper in the fields." and when Ana finished, the bartender, transfixed like everyone else, said "Holy shit, now that's poetry!" The bartender, like the Stars of the Night Commute, proved to be prophetic.

A Million in Prizes by Justin Marks (New Issues Press)
Another book I feel like I've been waiting for forever, a book that already feels like part of my life. My friend tells me in Iran, instead of the radio, the cab drivers quote you poetry, that when someone dies, when you are sad or happy or in love or heartbroken, that you turn to poetry for --who knows-- whatever it is that we turn to poetry for, a sudden widening of the world I suppose. The poems in A Million in Prizes are like friends that comfort me, I carry these lines around like my own mini-survival kit: "I have this idea, but then I have to make the language." "The day crawls by like a living document, the prettier for having forgotten me." "Trying/ to be oneself// honestly/ finding the words// allowing their arrival/ arriving at them// easily/ a life's worth of work."

The Dance of No Hard Feelings by Mark Bibbins (Copper Canyon)
Question: How can a book be charming, funny, beautiful, angry, while maintain a bristling, eletric, and shape-shifting language, being politicaly gut-wrenching and somehow full of hope all at the same time?
Answer: Read The Dance of No Hard Feelings.


No Theater by Chris Tonelli (Brave Men Press)
This book reminded me of reading old school poetry, I mean the masters, like when I first read Rilke and Dickenson and Basho and Lorca and felt like I knew what silence and transformation meant for the first time. Poems that are crafted and felt, as if they've been there for a thosand years and will be there for a thousand more.

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Sampson Starkweather lives in the forest. His most recent chapbook is The Heart is Green from So Much Waiting from Immaculate Disciples Press. He is also the author of City of Moths from Rope-a-Dope Press and The Photograph from horse less press. Recent or forthcoming work can be found in Action Yes, Sink Review, SIR!, Open Letters Monthly, Pax Americana, RealPoetik and Ekleksographia.

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