Thursday, December 6, 2007

Who are you reading?

Most of us who studied poetry in school were were required to read classic forms. For many of us who are self-taught we were introduced to poetry reading either classic poetry or contemporary work by emerging or established poets. If we're serious about our craft it important to know who is currently shaping the tone and direction of poetry. So who are you reading among contemporary poets? Among emerging poets, who do you enjoy? Do you attend readings? Have you been a featured poet?


Cati Porter said...

Hi Susan,

This is such juicy topic I could probably fill a whole binder with suggested reading. As a practicing poet, I find myself wanting to do nothing but read, but as the editor of a literary journal ( and the mother of two active young boys, I hardly have the time.

Because each issue of the journal is dedicated to a "kind" of poetry, i.e. poems of place, ekphrastic poetry, prose poems, I find myself reading whatever kind of poetry it is I am currently looking for. As an example of that, I recently read an anthology of prose poems edited by David Lehman. Other books I've read in the recent past include Claudia Emerson's Late Wife, Kimiko Hahn's The Artist's Daughter, Marie Howe's What the Living Do, Beth Ann Fennelly's Tender Hooks, and Alex Grant's Chains & Mirrors. I'm currently reading Roy Jacobstein's A Form of Optimism, along with an anthology of poetry that one of my poems was published in, White Ink: Poems on Mothers and Motherhood, which contains some amazing work by poets new and old, including Adrienne Rich, Allen Ginsburg, Agha Shahid Ali, and Sylvia Plath. For my kids, we've been reading T.S. Eliots Old Possums Book of Practical Cats, as well as Poetry Speaks to Children, which contains familiar poems both silly (Jabberwocky) and serious (The Negro Speaks of Rivers), along with a CD of poets reading their work.

And I love attending readings. Every year I go to the Idyllwild Arts' summer poetry program readings, which always feature stellar poets. A few years ago I ran, then slid, down a wet embankment trying to get to Yusef Komunyakaa to have him sign my copy of Neon Vernacular, much to my embarrassment. Also, every year here in Riverside, CA, where I live, the local university hosts a week of readings, which I always go to.

I've also been a featured reader on a few occasions, one of which is tonight, so if you happen to be anywhere near Riverside, CA, come on by -- the info's on my blog.

Also, thanks again for stopping by my blog. I hope your daughter will take your advice and start one of her own! I think it's been good for my son, though, sadly, I think he's already bored with it! But he's only 8, and so I have hope that he'll get back to it again someday!

...eatsbugs said...

Right now, I'm constantly digging the Indiefeed: Performance Poetry podcast. So many poets.

I'm in love with Rupert Estanislao, and also Carlos Andres Gomez. These two guys rip flesh open with their words.

In page poetry, I'm trying to get into Wordsworth and Sandburg. We'll see how it goes.

January said...

Hi Susan, thanks for stopping by my blog.

Who am I reading now? I'm a member of the Cave Canem writers' group, so I read a lot of poets who are publishing first books like Evie Shockley. But also on my nighstand are Natasha Trethewey and Terence Hayes. Other emerging poets I'm reading include Joseph O. Legaspi and Oliver De La Paz.

As for more established poets, I like Sharon Olds, Toi Derricotte, Phil Levine, Galway Kinnell, Robert Hass, Afaa Michael Weaver, and Naomi Shihab Nye--to name a few.

Supporting the poetry community is paramount for me, so I am as involved in poetry as I can be with two kids--blogging has been a huge part of it. I go to readings, and I cohost a reading series locally. Some resources which you probably already know about: Poetry Hut Blog (for poetry news), Poetry Foundation's podcasts, Read Write Poem and Writers Island (writing groups), and Sunday Scribblings (writing prompts).

Thanks for reaching out. I look forward to reading your work. Keep writing!

susan said...

Hi January,

A friend of mine is a member of Cave Canem. I have read and enjoy almost all the poets you mention. I will look for work by Joseph O. Legaspi and Oliver De La Paz. I've had the good fortune to meet Ms. Derricote and Ms. Naomi Shihab Nye is favorite. I have collections by both. I look forward to reading more of your work.