April is National Poetry Month. Celebrate with one of these titles, selected by Literary Mamas. Enjoy!
Download the list to find it fast at your local bookstore or library.
Irena Smith, Columns Department Editorial Assistant, says, “Bruce Snider’s The Year We Studied Women is a phenomenal collection of poems, capturing all the pain and pathos and excruciating awkwardness and poignant beauty of adolescence and the claustrophobia of growing up gay in a small town. The poems are stark and resonant, elemental and ambiguous. ‘And so it goes in these stories,’ Snider writes in ‘Another Kind of Sword, Another Kind of Stone,’ ‘a boy and his sword off to slay the dragon/or find love/ which is another/kind of sword forced into another/kind of stone. You learn this quickly/when you’re the hero.’ In ‘Physical Education,’ he describes his own changing body as a cactus, ‘unfurling another/new petal/another/bristling spine.’ This is a collection to read and re-read and cherish, especially as spring makes its entrance and new growth begins to push through the thawing ground.”
Nicole Stellon O’Donnell recommends Elizabeth Bradfield’s Interpretative Work. “I appreciate the clarity of her language and her sharp images. The collection combines wide-eyed wonder with a scientific sensibility, offering a nuanced vision of our role in the natural world. For example, in ‘No More Nature’ she writes about the saturation point we reach at the end of a long trip into the wilderness. She writes, ‘No more / we can’t take it, / can’t resuscitate our wonder, can’t keep up with its unrelenting.’ That’s the relentless of April in Fairbanks where I live. More light and more light and melt. For me, this is the season to be ‘unable to not listen, unwilling to miss anything.’ I’m glad to have Bradfield’s poems to remind me both that it’s her and that it passes so quickly.”
Literary Reflections Co-Editor, Christina Marie Speed, shares, “In preparation for National Poetry month I read A Poetry Handbook and Swan: Poems and Prose Poems in tandem. I did this to gain understanding of Mary Oliver’s approach to poetry and then conceive it in whole action. The handbook gives an overview of the poem and its many traits (the book is only 130 pages long) infused with her distinctive voice and insights to her process. Oliver asks the reader to consider form and function, and to appreciate the distinct expression each poem offers in the reading experience. Swan is a rich collection exhibiting the depth of Oliver’s aesthetic appreciation and keen awareness of nature, humanity, and change. It also is just one of many of her published collections of poetry. If you are a long-time poetry reader, or just starting out, these two titles are not to be missed.”