- Editors' Shelf
Book Recommendations from Our Former Guest Editors
Tess Gallagher recommends To the Wren: Collected & New Poems 1991–2019 by Jane Mead (Alice James Books, 2019). "This book collecting all of Jane's work from 1991 to 2019 arrives as we look to celebrate this incomparable writer's tough-tender true-hearted way of singularly bringing into language ways of being with each other. There is just nobody like her, writing as if language was just being minted as she wrote out of her searching mind and heart."
Rigoberto González recommends The Boy in the Labyrinth by Oliver de la Paz (The University of Akron Press, 2019). "A touching long poem from a father to a child with autism. The range of emotions mirrors the range of poetic forms, a journey with no end or reconciliation, yet all of it an expression of love."
Joyce Peseroff recommends Persephone Blues by Oksana Lutsyshyna (Arrowsmith Press, 2019). "Lutsyshyna's witness includes wars both within and without: 'eastern Europe is a pit of death and decaying plums / I hide from it in the body of America,' even while America sings 'her silent highways / her pointed southern gothic / her flies that hover over the bodies of the dead.' Passionate and luminous, her poems answer a roommate who asks, 'native language, / what's it for you?' with 'It's a house with no room for darkness.'"
Robert Pinsky recommends My German Dictionary by Katherine Hollander (The Waywiser Press, 2019). "A magnificent first book of poetry, selected for publication by Charles Wright, who accurately calls these poems 'wise and brave.' A lexicon of grief, this book has the emotional, historical force of knowledge: knowledge of language and of languages, with their unknowable measures of horror and redemption."
Lloyd Schwartz recommends Because What Else Could I Do by Martha Collins (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2019). "This is a devastating and hauntingly beautiful book about a tragedy that leaves you grateful for poetry as a medium of expressing and sharing grief."
Lloyd Schwartz recommends Jill McDonough's Here All Night (Alice James Books, 2019). "I love Jill McDonough's poems because they make me laugh and cry at the same time. This is a wonderful book and her poem 'Cindy Comes to Hear Me Read,' about a former prisoner and how she spends her new freedom, is just by itself worth the price of the book."
Richard Tillinghast recommends two rereads: Postcards by Annie Proulx (HarperCollins, 1992), and Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1980). "I like to revisit classics, and these are two of the best books of our era. Both are dark. Both tell of the disintegration of American families. Postcards gives a panorama of America from the thirties to the present; Housekeeping is an extraordinary critique of domesticity and the coherence of the family unit."