Art Works Blog

Your Desert Island Poetry Books

Not that we're planning to get stranded on a desert island anytime soon, but just in case, here's what our Facebook fans recommended as their Desert Island Poetry Books.

"W.H Auden's selected poems; I just love Auden." ---Emily D.

Ralph Angel: Exceptions and Melancholies ---Steve M.

Antonio Machado's Border of a Dream, translated by Willis Barnstone ---Theresa W.

Louise Gluck's Vita Nova. One of my favorites! ---Natalie H.

The Stranger Manualby Catie Rosemurgy ---Sarah S.

"For myself only---Some Haystacks Don't Even Have Any Needle and Other Complete Modern Poems [by Stephen Dunning]. As an educator my favorite is Hailstones and Halibut Bones [by Mary O'Neill] to be read aloud. It's a beautiful collection about the colors of the spectrum and engages all of the senses. Powerful rhythm and rich language." --- Susan S.

Mark Doty's Atlantis ---Lisa F.

The Owl in the Mask of a Dreamer by John Haines ---Sarah Katherine C.

Dylan Thomas' Collected Poems ---Mykol T.

Raymond Carver's Fires ---Wendy Kawabata

"Leaves of Grass is always thought-provoking." ---Rick A.

Candy is Dandy: The Best of Ogden Nash ---Girija K.

"Rose by Li-Young Lee. Nobody makes ordinary life, love, and relationship moments seem quite so momentous, which they in fact are." ---Robert C.

Anything by Mary Oliver ---Sheila C.

The Captain's Verses by Pablo Neruda --- Chris M.

Wallace Stevens: The Palm at the End of the Mind ---Ayaka G.

Collected Works of Zbigniew Herbert ---Becca A.

"The poetry of William Butler Yeats because he speaks to my soul, my place of ancestry, my angst, my child, my love." --- Lyda T.

The collected works of Wallace Stevens. ---Nathan M.

Collected works of Ezra Pound. ---Joe M.

"Everything Else in the World by Stephen Dunn. My true love gave it to me, and I instantly fell in loves with Stephen Dunn. He also makes ordinary moments momentous, has a knack for the quietly epic. --- Mat C."

"Pablo Neruda's Los versos del capitan because it's passionate about love, about lust, about the world, about politics, about freedom." ---Claudia E.

"Trouble by Mary Baine Campbell. Because life would be lonely on the desert island, and, well, this one's great for break-ups." ---Alexa Rose M.

"Domestic Fugues by Richard Newman. I love how he juxtaposes high and low diction, and often uses traditional forms to convey contemporary content." ---Shel C.

Robinson Jeffers: The Women at Point Sur ---Randolph P.

The Great Fires by Jack Gilbert. ---Dan B.

"Seamus Heaney! Seeing Things would suffice, and The Spirit Level, too, if allowed two. If it were narrowed to one poet, it would be this Irish, Catholic, professor of poetry forever "digging" with his pen unearthing gems of beauty, subtlety, and grace. If the Desert Island Poetry Book needed to be an anthology, I would choose What Would Suffice: Contemporary American Poets on the Art of Poetry edited by Christopher Buckley and Christopher Merrill. If I could greedily grab a second, it would be The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart edited by Robert Bly, James Hillman, and Michael Meade." ---Gregory M.

"William Stafford's The Way it Is: New & Selected Poems, a collection that encompasses the humanity and grace of Stafford and teaches one again and again what poetry can (and should) do." ---Mary H.

Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Years of Spiritual Poetry by Women---One.Drop Mag

Paradise Lost by John Milton ---Matthew D.

Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair by Pablo Neruda ---Cindy B.

The Complete Emily Dickinson ---Jim A.

Letters from Maine by May Sarton ---Jong Y.

From This Condensery: the Complete Writings of Lorine Niedecker ---Matthew C.

Geography III by Elizabeth Bishop ---Sarah W.

"I like the Norton Anthology of Poetry and The Making of a Poem: a Norton Anthology of Poetic Forms (best enjoyed with the addition of a notebook, a pencil, an unabridged dictionary, and a rhyming dictionary so you can try writing a bit too). With children: Sing a Song of Popcorn: Every Child's Book of Poems" ---Emily S.

"Hart Crane, the complete poems. The early poems are so "Cleveland," my hometown and the others are so "New York," my adopted hometown. Sadly he never lived in rural Wisconsin, my current hometown." ---William S.

The World Falls Away by Wanda Coleman. ---Aloud

"Pablo Neruda, period." ---Andree B.

"Billy Collins, of course, all his books." ----Alice P.

The Gift by Hafiz ---Donna B.

"Emily Dickinson's Complete Poems---Franklin and Johnson editions for main course and for dessert. The complete Billy Collins, if there is one available by the time I'm forced to a desert island, but for now Ballistics would do. Or maybe The Best of It by Kay Ryan. And for good measure The Essential Tagore. Death, humor, and love in large quantities should sustain me. Maybe throw in some Rumi and a bit of Neruda---one can't have too much love---even on a desert (and I assume deserted except for me) isle. And if at all possible, anything Wislawa Szymborska. And please include some bookmarks with poems of Lucille Clifton---especially "Homage to My Hips." I have it memorized but just in case I have amnesia from the sinking of the boat or the crashing of the plane, please include bookmarks with her poems on them…. I could never choose just one poet." --- Taylor

We can't give you any actual poets to take to the desert isle with you, but we can give you some poetry Art Talks! Check out our interviews with Literature Fellows Meg Day and Ken Chen, and with National Book Award-winner Nikky Finney.

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