Vonnegut believed that all people, no matter the walk of life, should write poetry every day. The therapeutic nature of words can only corroborate such an argument, but people are often put off by poetry because of inaccessible subjectivity. The best collections are assembled in a way that bridges the gap between poetry and prose, not necessarily by telling a story, but by making human connections that are indelible. Here are my five best suggestions:
Most people can sympathize with the turmoil of American political interests of the late 60's and early 70's. Rich places an absolute spark on the tinder of her times through compelling structures and powerful verse. A must-read. I confess to stealing the phrase "prose-bound" from her.
Correspondence themed work has a way of creeping into a reader's personal feelings and heightening perspective. Olson's first section of this massive volume, "Maximus, to Glauchester," shows his mastery of streaming simplicity and beautiful descriptions of American people & culture.
Picture the desert, as so many of us can. Flies buzzing, relationships crack and blister in the heat. A balance of life and death. Mary Karr is one of the smartest writers of our time and her poetry is scorching intensity.
To include something for kids that isn't Jack Prelutsky or Shel Silverstein (god rest), Sad Underwear is the cutest collection of clever quips that 8 year olds could ever hope for. Funny and well illustrated (Richard Hull). It is subtitled "More Poems for Children and their Parents!"
I needed to include some ancient poetry on this list, so I couldn't get past the Tao when referencing some of the most accessible and influential poetry ever written. Aside from the religious and philosophical undertones of this work, the beauty of thought and verse creates a timeless poetic experience. Exceptional and insightful.
I've spent most of my life getting paid to teach, mostly young children. Obsessed with the ancient world, I studied Classics with a focus on Roman poetry, contributing to my degree in English from … more