I just walked into my apartment carrying seven packages. I didn’t expect all the books I ordered on Amazon to arrive at the same time. Anyway, I can’t even pretend not to be excited. This is geek Christmas, people! I had to honor the holiday by taking pictures with my blackberry.
And because I want you to be as excited as I am, here’s each book in detail. (Yeah. I have way too much free time, but hey – it’s a Sunday.)
The Poet’s Companion by Kim Addonizio (I love me some her!) and Dorianne Laux.
I actually read most of this kick ass craftbook this summer in Austin. It was so good I decided I needed a copy of my own. If you are a new poet (like myself) or a poet in need of some fresh ideas (like myself), Addonizio and Laux have put together a great resource with your name on it. With chapters on everything from “Writing the Erotic” to “The Energy of Revision” as well as an appendix of other books worth checking out, it’s quickly becoming this poet’s best friend or dog or diamond.. it’s really good.
I’ve been a fan of E. Patrick Johnson’s work since I happened across one of his articles on ProjectMuse while I was an undergrad. A pioneer in Performance Studies as well as a scholar on the black gay experience, his writing has been very important to me personally. It’s crucial for young gay men (of all colors) to have mentors – in writing and in person – and I consider E. Patrick Johnson to one of mine. Imagine how excited I was when I found out that he was working on a book about being Black and Gay in the SOUTH. Honey, I could’ve farted a magnolia blossom right then! I can’t wait to read this one and tell you all about it.
Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey
Speaking of the Southern experience, I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long to get my hands on Natasha Trethewey’s Pulitzer Prize winning collection of poetry. Written as a tribute to her mother as well as the Lousiniana Native Guards (one of the first black regiments in the Civil War), my bookshelf is honored to finally welcome it home.
Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade – edited by Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady
Now, you know good and well that I love everything Cave Canem has done and continues to do for black poets. Needless to say, when I happened across this anthology at the library here on campus, I did a little dance. Like The Poet’s Companion it was one of those books I decided I needed to own. If you have any questions about the diversity of black contemporary poetry, read this book and get you some knowledge!
The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South – A Cave Canem Anthology edited by Nikky Finney
While my praise of Cave Canem is still ringing in your ear, I need to give a shout out to this anthology of Black Southern poetry. Honestly, the chapter headings alone are irresistable — “Swimming, Childhood, and Other Thunders: Don’t Get Your Hot Hair Wet or Your Good Shoes Dirty” or “The Twenty-first Century Southern Riff and Shout: Modern Lullabies for Planet Octavia.” You know you need to get this book!
Blues Baby: Early Poems by Harryette Mullen
I was first introduced to Harryette Mullen during a classroom discussion of her book Sleeping with the Dictionary. I’ve been feeling her ever since. What I find so interesting about her poetry is that she takes the Black and often Southern narrative into the experimental realm. She turns language on itself and asks the reader, “Well, what are you gonna do with it now?” Blues Baby is a collection of her early work.
Leadbelly by Tyehimba Jess
And last but certainly not least, Tyehimba Jess’s debut collection of poetry. Honestly, I’ve heard so many different kinds of poets praise this book for it’s subject matter and sound, it was only a matter of time before I got it for myself.