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5 Poetry Collections Even the Prose-Bound Should Explore

  • May 24, 2010
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:
Diving Into The Wreck
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.
The Maximus Poems
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.
The Devil's Tour
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.
Sad Underwear and other complications
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!"
Tao Te Ching: The Book of Meaning and Life (Arkana)
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.

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August 29, 2010
On target, these capsule comments.
August 30, 2010
Thanks! Capsules are never easy to swallow whole, but thanks for reading John. :) I have been meaning to make a more comprehensive poetry list...maybe this month.
May 29, 2010
I'm at the beginning of a love affair with poetry, so Thanks! for this list- My prodding around has been rather hit or miss and I definitely haven't been reading enough. I will be checking these out soon though.
May 29, 2010
Thanks for reading, 21. The hard part of this list was not going on and on forever...there is so much unbelievable art and craft in poetry. Hey I just noticed you're U of I folk! Say hi to EPB for me. =)
June 01, 2010
Hey, you too? Neat. Your hello will have to wait until fall; I'm free for a couple more months. But I'll have plenty of opportunities for hello-ing then. : )
June 10, 2010
Good for you, enjoy your break. I used to sit in that riot-proof gloom for summer session...not recommended.
May 24, 2010
Interesting what you say about poetry in your intro.  I've only written poetry a handful of times, but I sure do love reading and listening to it.  These sound like great selections, I'll have to check them out.  Thanks for sharing!
May 28, 2010
Yes, you're welcome, D. We all need more poetry in our lives, IMHO. Thanks.
About the list creator
Christopher Eck ()
Ranked #238
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
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