Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Summer Poetry

If April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of dead land, then it makes sense if July is the kindest (August being much too decadent). All it breeds is a thicker lawn, some new cousins, and the brain-frazzling flicks that are The Summer Blockbuster.

Whether or not it's for browsing in the psychedelic swelter of the afternoon heat or for an escape from those cinema-tastic bonanzas, July is a great time to explore and get back to poetry. Schoolyard nemesis or undergraduate crush, there's nothing like it to get the neurons whizzing and the synapses flashing when you feel the ease of summer pressing your brain into various malignant states.

So, briefly, here are some recommendations for books of poetry both old and new meant reconnect you with the poems (and poets) you've loved and forgotten, as well as with some you've never heard of.

The Shadow of Sirius by W.S. Merwin -- This year's Pulitzer Prize winner for poetry is Merwin's latest and greatest book of poems yet. Elegiac in tone, honest in phrasing, and provocatively personal in its assessments of times gone past, Merwin homers Homer in his (now truly) inimitable style.

The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert -- Not his newest but certainly his best, this book of poems cemented Gilbert's status as one of the American greats. Vivid like pain and memorable as a 30 year vacation (as Gilbert took in the Greek Isles), each of the poems in this book shines with capacious lament and a fleeting if not gloomy joy. Brilliant, sad, and emotively pure (if the word can make sense in this context), good for wallowing in the indistinct greys of morning cloud cover.

Selected Poems: 1934-1952 by Dylan Thomas -- Best known for not going gentle into the good night, this timeless book of poems is (in my opinion) a great one for the burgeoning teenage poet searching for foot- and hand-holds in the ever-widening world of acadmia and/or/especially, poetry. Seemingly serious, Thomas remains to be one of the greatly underappreciated comedians of his age, capable of such brilliant lines as, "oh, let me shipwreck between your thighs."

Other poets we (Blogger Boy with the extra-special insight of Z. Blast) love: Katie Ford, Denise Levertov, Michael Ondaatje, Stevie Smith, Galway Kinnell, W.H. Auden, etc. AND REMEMBER, if inclined, buy these books at Liberty Bay Books,, or your local independent bookseller.

Upcoming: BEEROK PT. 2, Beach Reads, The Best of Canada, and The New Classics.

To get you pumped on poetry, here's a clip of Bukowski, drunk (as if there was any other state for a man to be reading poetry in), talking and reading about poetry and motion.


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