poem index

Reading Recommendations


April 13, 2012
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We asked a number of poets, including previous Chancellors of the Academy of American Poets, to list a few poetry books that they would recommend to others. The selections that came in include influential volumes, books returned to over and over, must-reads, and books frequently recommended to students or new poetry readers.

Ai recommended:

Galway Kinnell
Body Rags (2002, Mariner Books Reissue)

Galway Kinnell
The Book of Nightmares (1973, Mariner Books)

W. S. Merwin
The Lice (1993, Copper Canyon Press Reissue)

Cesare Pavese
Hard Labor (1979, Johns Hopkins University Press)

James Wright
Shall We Gather at the River (1968, University Press of New England)

Sylvia Plath
Ariel (2004, HarperCollins Restored Edition)

Allen Ginsberg
Howl (1956, City Lights Books)

Robert Bly recommends:

Wallace Stevens
Harmonium (1923, Faber and Faber)

Antonio Machado
Soledad (1990, Fondo de Cultura Económica)

Antonio Machado
Times Alone (1983, Wesleyan University Press)

Richard Wilbur
The Beautiful Changes (1947, Reynal & Hitchcock)

Robert Creeley
For Love (1980, Macmillan)

Cesar Vallejo
The Black Messengers (1995, Losada)

Billy Collins recommends:

Richard Brautigan
The Pill vs. The Springhill Mind Disaster (1969, Delacorte Press)

Fernando Pessoa
Fernando Pessoa & Co.: Selected Poems (1999, Grove Press)

Kenneth Koch
New Addresses (2001, Alfred A. Knopf)

Wislawa Szymborska
View with a Grain of Sand (1995, Harvest Books)

Toi Derricotte recommends:

Lucille Clifton
The Book of Light (1993, Copper Canyon Press)

Galway Kinnell
The Book of Nightmares (1973, Mariner Books)

Yusef Komunyakaa
Dien Cai Dau (1988, Wesleyan University Press)

Sharon Olds
The Gold Cell (1987, Alfred A. Knopf)

Rainer Maria Rilke
Duino Elegies (1992, W. W. Norton & Company Reissue)

Gerald Stern
Paradise (1984, Random House)

Ruth Stone
Simplicity (1997, Paris Press)

Joy Harjo recommends:

John Burnside
The Good Neighbour (2005, Jonathan Cape)

Audre Lorde
The Black Unicorn (1995, W. W. Norton & Co. Reissue)

Okot P'Bitek
Song of Lawino (1984, Heinemann Reissue)

Robert Hass recommends:

Forrest Gander 
Science and Steepleflower (1998, New Directions)

Donald Revell
Arcady (2002, Wesleyan University Press)

Brenda Hillman
Cascadia (2001, Wesleyan University Press)

Louise Glück
October (2004, Sarabande Books)

Myung Mi Kim
Commons (2002, University of California Press)

Peter Gizzi
Some Values of Landscape and Weather (2003, Wesleyan University Press)

John Hollander recommended:

John Milton
Paradise Lost (2005, W. W. Norton Reissue)

George Herbert
The Temple (1981, Paulist Press Reissue)

Walt Whitman
Leaves of Grass (1855 edition, Penguin Classics)

Emily Dickinson 
Complete Poems (1976, Back Bay Books Edition)

Alfred, Lord Tennyson
Complete Poems (1999, W. W. Norton & Co. Edition)

Thomas Hardy
The Complete Poems (2002, Palgrave Macmillan)

Wallace Stevens
Collected Poetry and Prose (1997, Library of America)

W. H. Auden
The Complete Works (1988, Princeton University Press)

Elizabeth Bishop
Complete Poems, 1927-1979 (1984, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

James Merrill
Collected Poems (2001, Alfred A. Knopf)

Fanny Howe recommends:

Bernadette Mayer
Midwinter Day (1999, New Directions)

Lyn Hejinian
Happily (2000, Post Apollo Press)

Rae Armantrout
Up To Speed (2004, Wesleyan University Press)

Melvin B. Tolson
Libretto for the Republic of Liberia (1999, University Press of Virginia)

Leslie Scalapino
Zither & Autobiography (2003, Wesleyan University Press)

Susan Howe recommends:

Algernon Charles Swinburne
Poems and Ballads and Atalanta in Calydon (2001, Penguin Books)

Ezra Pound
The Pisan Cantos (2003, New Directions)

Rainer Maria Rilke
elected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, ed. & trans. by Stephen Mitchell (1989, Vintage, Reissue Edition)

John Ashbery
Where Shall I Wander (2005, Ecco)

John Ashbery
Self Portrait In A Convex Mirror (1992, Penguin)

John Ashbery
Tennis Court Oath (1977, Wesleyan University Press)

J. H. Prynne
Poems by J. H. Prynne (1999, Bloodaxe Books)

W. H. Auden
The Sea and The Mirror: A Commentary on Shakespeare's "The Tempest," (2003, Princeton University Press)

Gertrude Stein
Gertrude Stein, Writings 1932-1946 (1998, Library of America)

Wallace Stevens
Collected Poetry & Prose by Wallace Stevens (1997, Library of America)

Emily Dickinson
The Master Letters of Emily Dickinson (1998, University of Massachusetts Press)

H. D.
Trilogy (1998, New Directions)

H. D.
Helen In Egypt (1998, New Directions)

William Carlos Williams
Patterson (1995, New Directions)

Robert Creeley
Collected Poems of Robert Creeley, 1945-1975 (1985, University of California Press)

Mark Jarman recommends:

Robert Lowell
Life Studies (1967, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Chase Twichell
The Ghost of Eden (1998, George Braziller)

Philip Larkin
High Windows (1974, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Elizabeth Bishop
Geography III (1977, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Philip Levine
1933 (1974, Atheneum)

Andrew Hudgins
The Never-Ending (1992, Houghton Mifflin)

Garrett Hongo
The River of Heaven (1988, Alfred A. Knopf Reprint)

Philip Levine recommended:

Elizabeth Bishop
Geography III (1977, Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Sterling Brown
Southern Road (1974, Beacon Press)

Zbigniew Herbert
Selected Poems (1986, Ecco Press)

Kenneth Koch
New Addresses (2001, Alfred A. Knopf)

Larry Levis
Winter Stars (1985, University of Pittsburgh Press)

Cesare Pavese
Hard Labor (1986, Ecco Press)

Theodore Roethke
The Lost Son (1948, Doubleday)

Edward Thomas
The Poems of Edward Thomas (2003, Handsel Books)

Walt Whitman
"Song of Myself" from Leaves of Grass (1983, Bantam Classics)

William Carlos Williams
Selected Poems (1985, New Directions)

Nathaniel Mackey recommends:

Robert Duncan
Bending the Bow (1968, New Directions)

Kamau Brathwaite
The Arrivants (1988, Oxford University Press)

H. D.
Trilogy (1998, New Directions)

H. D.
Hermetic Definition (1972, New Directions)

H. D.
Helen in Egypt (1998, New Directions)

Ed Roberson
Voices Cast Out to Talk Us In (1995, University of Iowa Press)

Arthur Sze recommends:

Jay Wright
Transfigurations (2000, Louisiana State University Press)

Charles Simic
Selected Early Poems (2000, George Braziller)

John Yau
Borrowed Love Poems (2002, Penguin)

C. D. Wright
Deepstep Come Shining (1998, Copper Canyon Press)

Forrest Gander
Science and Steepleflower (1998, New Directions)

Jon Davis
Scrimmage of Appetite (1995, University of Akron Press)

Carolyn Kizer
Cool, Calm, and Collected (2000, Copper Canyon Press)