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ALRIGHT! So poetry is a genre I’ve had very little experience with, but I’ve enjoyed the collected works of Emily Dickens and plenty of one-offs recently, so have been slowly pulled into its orbit. This year I’d like to make a concerted effort to explore poetry more fully. I’m not going to set myself a specific goal or challenge or anything, but here’s a list I’ve been compiling for a while of poetry that interests me. I think I’ll start with something akin to a novel-in-verse, as narrative poetry is the kind that’s been most compelling to me thus far, and then dabble!

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Dante’s Inferno, by Dante Alighieri

Aurora Leigh, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning

The World Doesn’t End, by Charles Simic

The War Poems, by Wilfred Owen

The Wasteland, by T.S. Eliot

Leaves of Grass, by Walt Whitman

Ariel, by Sylvia Plath

The Collected Poems, by Langston Hughes

The Country Between Us, by Carolyn Forché

The Moon is Always Female, by Marge Piercy

The Fact of a Doorframe, by Adrienne Rich

The Great Fires, by Jack Gilbert

Map of the Lost, by Miriam Sagan

The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, by Pablo Neruda

A Village Life, by Louise Glück

Emplumada, by Lorna Dee Cervantes

The Black Automaton, by Douglas Kearney

Life on Mars, by Tracy K. Smith

Voices, by Lucille Clifton

Breaking Poems, by Suheir Hammed

Citizen, by Aaron Shurin

Smith Blue, by Camille T. Dungy

Pretty Tilt, by Carrie Murphy

As I’ve said though, I’ve had very little exposure to poetry and so I don’t really know where to start. This list is incomplete and only a rough jumping-off point. Now that I’m looking at it all typed out, I realize that it’s made up almost entirely of works by European and American poets, which is unsatisfactory. Clearly, I need to do some more pointed research, and will be updating this list as I go. General recommendations are greatly appreciated, and specific ones for poets from non-Western countries are even more so!

Do you have a favorite poet? Collection? Single work? Let me know!

Written by Emily Jane

January 13, 2013 at 1:15 am

Posted in Poetry

4 Responses

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  1. All you can so to begin is to begin. Something will grab you.

    I would like to suggest a few more narrative poems that a lot of people like and that mesh with your interests as I understand them from your blog. Also, nothing too long!

    Christina Rossetti – “Goblin Market,” at least; Rossetti pairs well with Dikcinson

    Robert Browning – “Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came” and any number of his “dramatic monologues”

    Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz – “The Dream” and many other lyric poems. She is a 17th century Mexican poet.

    While I am in the 17th century, the “Fables” of Jean de la Fontaine are fun – Aesop and similar stories in sparkling verse. Marianne Moore did a good translation.

    Alexander Pushkin’s “Eugene Onegin” is a light, funny novel in verse.

    I am not much help out side of Europe and America. No, I have one piece of advice there. Try a book of Classical Chinese poetry – any book. They are usually short . See what you think. Something like The Selected Poems of Tu Fu translated by David Hinton or One Hundred Chinese Poems, or maybe Women Poets of China, both translated by Kenneth Rexroth. If you get hooked, this is a whole other world of poetry.

    Amateur Reader (Tom)

    January 13, 2013 at 2:47 am

    • You’re right of course, there really is only one way to get started and that’s just to do it. Thanks so much for these suggestions, they seem right up my alley! Will definitely be checking out at least a few of these, and anthologies are a great idea 🙂

      Emily Jane

      January 13, 2013 at 9:56 pm

  2. I’m looking forward to hearing about these! I too am fairly unfamiliar with poetry, so I’ll be interested to hear more about your experimenting. Please love Aurora Leigh! I absolutely adore it. The plot isn’t my favorite thing in all the land, but Elizabeth Barrett Browning has all these amazing, incisive observations. In such lovely language. Oh EBB. She was so cool and great.


    January 13, 2013 at 2:37 pm

    • I’m totally prepared to! I can’t remember where I first read/heard about it, but I became convinced that I’ll like it. Now I’m even more sure I won’t be let down!

      Emily Jane

      January 13, 2013 at 10:05 pm

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