Archive for the ‘Poetry’ Category

Nat’l Book Awards: Poetry Longlist

Tuesday, September 17th, 2013


Following yesterday’s announcement of the longlist for the National Book Awards for Young People’s Literature, the poetry longlist was announced this morning.

The Book Beast, which has the exclusive on the announcement, notes that the list includes “acknowledged masters like Frank Bidart, Lucie Brock-Broido, and Brenda Hillman; dynamic newcomers like Matt Rasmussen, and the decade-in-the-making follow-up to Mary Szybist’s debut, National Book Critics Circle Award finalist Granted.”

The Book Beast annotates each title, with links to reviews and author interviews. Full bibliographic information is available on our downloadable spreadsheet, Natl Book Awards- Poetry Longlist.

The nonfiction longlist will be announced tomorrow, followed by the fiction list on Thursday.


Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Love, DishonorGood going, Sarah Vowell. She managed to make the American public fall in love with a debut novel, written entirely in rhyming couplets (you gotta love a writer who rhymes “bourgeois” with “Christian Lacroix“), during her appearance on Comedy Central’s Daily Show Thursday night. As an indicator of how well she did, the book is now at #9 on Amazon sales rankings and rising and holds are mounting quickly in libraries. The book was also reviewed the NPR book site last week.

Vowell was on the show to promote her friend, David Rakoff’s novel, Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish(RH/Doubleday; RH Audio), which was published last week. The author died of cancer last year, just weeks after completing the book.

Libraries are showing 10:1 holds ratios on light ordering.

Below is the first part of the interview — part 2 is on the site.


Monday, April 15th, 2013

For oneThe Divine Comedy shining moment this weekend, Dante’s The Divine Comedy broke into the Amazon Top 100, getting a boost from NPR Weekend Edition Saturday‘s feature on a new translation by Clive James (Norton, published today).

Scott Simon introduces the story by saying that the The Divine Comedy, “is a 14th century poem that has never lost its edge. Dante Alighieri’s great work tells the tale of the author’s trail through hell — each and every circle of it — purgatory and heaven. It has become perhaps the world’s most cited allegorical epic about life, death, goodness, evil, damnation and reward.”

It’s a good time for a new translation. Dan Brown’s Inferno, (RH/Doubleday) which refers to the first section of The Divine Comedy, arrives next month. Libraries may want to have copies on hand for events featuring a livestream of the author’s single appearance for the book, at Lincoln Center on May 14.

Share That Poem!

Tuesday, April 2nd, 2013

Arriving just in time for National Poetry Month (April, if you have been under a rock), is Poems to Learn by Heart, collected by Caroline Kennedy and  illustrated by Jon J. Muth, (Disney/Hyperion, 3/26/13).

Poems to Learn by HeartCaroline Kennedy thrilled us with an anthology of her family’s favorite poems in A Family of Poems: My Favorite Poetry for Children, (Disney/Hyperion, 2005). She follows up with a delightful collection of poems that are terrific for memorizing. It includes old favorites like Mary Ann Hoberman’s Brother,

I had a little brother
And I brought him to my mother
And I said I want another
Little brother for a change.

Also included is A.A. Milne’s Disobedience that begins “James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby Dupree took great care of his Mother, though he was only three.”

Poems by Langston Hughes, Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson, join new ones sure to become classics like Jeff Moss’s If Little Red Riding Hood…,  a delightful imagining of how the storybook character would be instructed in the differences between a wolf and grandma by her dad.

We don’t have to wait all year to read poetry but it’s great to have a whole month to celebrate the reading, the sharing, and the writing of poetry. When and where? Everywhere! Try memorizing a verse or two while waiting in line at the grocery store, or a few short ones while waiting for those cookies to come out of the oven. Begin a class visit or a meeting or an assembly with a poem.

Try celebrating my favorite day of the year, national Poem in Your Pocket Day on Thursday, April 18, 2013. The idea is simple: poems are unfolded from pockets throughout the day during events in parks, libraries, schools, workplaces, and bookstores. Select a poem you love during National Poetry Month, then carry it with you to share with co-workers, family, and friends or on Twitter by using the hashtag #pocketpoem.

At Bank Street College of Education, we would paper the hallways of our school with children’s selections. Let us know your plans, projects, and suggestions for Poem in Your Pocket Day by emailing

Need a little help on the poetry front? There is no more practical or current guide than The Poetry Friday Anthology: Poems for the School Year with Connections to the Common Core, by Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong, an essential purchase.

After the jump, more helpful titles


Inaugural Poet on FRESH AIR

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Looking for the gulf motel

Richard Blanco, whose inaugural poem “One Today” rivaled the First Lady’s bangs as the talk of the President’s second swearing-in ceremony, told Terry Gross on Fresh Air yesterday that he still doesn’t know who put his name into consideration for the honor and really doesn’t want to know. It let’s him imagine the President “sitting in the Oval Office with my book and saying, ‘Get this guy in here!’ ”

Blanco’s latest collection is Looking for The Gulf Motel (Pitt Poetry Series).

Poetry Rising

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Fashion designer Reed Krakoff wasn’t the only one to gain exposure from yesterday’s inauguration ceremony. Books by  Richard Blanco, author of the Inaugural Poem “One Today,” (which the L.A. Times “Jacket Copy” blog praised, suggesting it outshone the President’s speech) are rising on Amazon, with one cracking the Top 100.

#34 (was #1,255)

Looking for The Gulf Motel (Pitt Poetry Series)
Richard Blanco
Retail Price: $15.95
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press – (2012-02-28)
ISBN / EAN: 0822962012 / 9780822962014

#152 (was #7,822)

City of a Hundred Fires (Pitt Poetry Series)
Richard Blanco
Retail Price: $14.00
Paperback: 48 pages
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press – (1998-10-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0822956837 / 9780822956839

#155 (was #13,377)

Directions to the Beach of the Dead (Camino del Sol)
Richard Blanco
Retail Price: $15.95
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: University of Arizona Press – (2005-09-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0816524793 / 9780816524792

National Book Awards; Poetry Finalists

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

The Poetry Finalists, just announced on Morning Joe: (annotations from the National Book Foundation)

David Ferry
Bewilderment: New Poems and Translations
University of Chicago Press

The passionate nature and originality of Ferry’s poems modulates beautifully between plainspoken high eloquence and colloquial vigor, making his distinctive speech one of the most interesting and ravishing achievements of the past half century

Cynthia Huntington
Heavenly Bodies
Southern Illinois University Press

In this blistering collection of lyric poems, Cynthia Huntington gives an intimate view of the sexual revolution and rebellion in a time before the rise of feminism.

Tim Seibles
Fast Animal
Etruscan Press

The newest collection from one of America’s foremost African-American poets threads the journey from youthful innocence to the whittled-hard awareness of adulthood

Alan Shapiro
Night of the Republic
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

In Night of the Republic, Alan Shapiro takes us on an unsettling night tour of America’s public places―a gas station restroom, a shoe store, a convention hall, and a race track, among other locations―and in stark, Edward Hopper-like imagery reveals the surreal and dreamlike features of these familiar but empty night spaces.

Susan Wheeler
University of Iowa Press

A meme is a unit of thought replicated by imitation. Occupy Wall Street is a meme, as are internet ideas and images that go viral. But what could be more potent memes than those passed down by parents to their children? Susan Wheeler reconstructs her mother’s voice—down to its cynicism and its mid-twentieth-century Midwestern vernacular—in “The Maud Poems,” a voice that takes a more aggressive, vituperative turn in “The Devil—or —The Introjects.”

New U.S. Poet Laureate

Friday, June 8th, 2012

The new poet laureate, Natasha Trethewey was profiled on NPR’s Morning Edition and on PBS NewsHour yesterday. She has published four books, including Beyond Kartrina (U. of Georgia Press, 9/1/10) and the upcoming Thrall (HMH, 9/18/12).

She won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for her third book of poetry, Native Guard, (HMH, 2006).


Poetry Gets the Biggest Pulitzer Bump

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

The book that rose the highest on Amazon after yesterday’s announcement of the Pulitzer Prize winners was the winner for poetry (Note: there was no winner for fiction this year).

Here’s how they stack up:


#97 (from #38,923)

More about the Life on Mars from Minnesota Public Radio

Life on Mars: Poems
Tracy K. Smith
Retail Price: $15.00
Paperback: 88 pages
Publisher: Graywolf Press – (2011-05-10)
ISBN / EAN: 1555975844 / 9781555975845


#141 (from #904) 

The Swerve: How the World Became Modern
Stephen Greenblatt
Retail Price: $16.95
Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company – (2012-09-03)
ISBN / EAN: 0393343405 / 9780393343403


#277 (from # 6,736)

Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention
Manning Marable
Retail Price: $18.00
Paperback: 608 pages
Publisher: Penguin (Non-Classics) – (2011-12-28)
ISBN / EAN: 0143120328 / 9780143120322


#298 (from  #5,567)

George F. Kennan: An American Life
John Lewis Gaddis
Retail Price: $39.95
Hardcover: 800 pages
Publisher: Penguin Press HC, The – (2011-11-10)
ISBN / EAN: 1594203121 / 9781594203121

Poetry Rising

Friday, October 21st, 2011

Terry Gross featured poet Marie Howe on NPR’s Fresh Air yesterday, sending her books up the Amazon sales rankings.

#92 (from #141,111)

What the Living Do: Poems
Marie Howe
Retail Price: $14.95
Paperback: 96 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company – (1999-04-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0393318869 / 9780393318869

#162 (from #318,263)

The Kingdom of Ordinary Time: Poems
Marie Howe
Retail Price: $16.95
Paperback: 80 pages
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company – (2009-09-08)
ISBN / EAN: 0393337340 / 9780393337341

Poet Tomas Transtromer Nobel Laureate

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

At least you can credit the Nobel committee with consistency. Again, the committee passed on American writers (a Nobel judge said in 2008, Americans are “too insular” to be worthy of the award; Toni Morrison was the last American to win, in 1993). A late surge in betting at Ladbroke’s in the UK gave Americans brief hope that Bob Dylan might be the winner.

This year’s winner, Swedish poet Tomas Transtromer, at least has some connection to the US. The Guardian, in reviewing a new collection of his poetry earlier this year, called him, “…that rare thing: a non-English-language poet who has been fully accepted into British and US poetry in his own lifetime. In the 60s he became associated with Robert Bly and the Deep Image school of US poetry.”

For Americans not familiar with him, the AP story provides helpful information on the pronunciation of his name; TRAWN-stroh-mur.

Transtromer’s latest, New Collected Poetry hasn’t been published in the US yet, but three earlier collections are available and in many library collections.

The Great Enigma: New Collected Poems
Tomas Transtromer
Retail Price: $17.95
Paperback: 288 pages
Publisher: New Directions – (2006-10-17)
ISBN / EAN: 0811216721 / 9780811216722


Tomas Transtromer: Selected Poems, 1954-1986
Tomas Transtromer
Retail Price: $14.99
Paperback: 208 pages
Publisher: Ecco – (2000-02-09)
ISBN / EAN: 0880014032 / 9780880014038

The Half-Finished Heaven: The Best Poems of Tomas Tranströmer
Tomas Transtromer, Robert Bly
Retail Price: $15.00
Paperback: 122 pages
Publisher: Graywolf Press – (2001-10-01)
ISBN / EAN: 1555973515 / 9781555973513

Philip Levine Reprints on the Way

Monday, August 15th, 2011

As the NYT reported last week, sales of poet Philip Levine’s books soared after his appointment as Poet Laureate was announced on Wednesday.

A Knopf spokeswoman told the NYT that they are doing a rush reprint of Levine’s books and expect to meet all of the demand by early next week.

For those who want access to Levine’s poetry immediately, his most recent collection, News of the World is available on OverDrive.

News of the World
Philip Levine
Retail Price: $16.00
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: Knopf – (2011-02-15)
ISBN / EAN: 9780375711909 / 0375711902

Levine won the 1991 National Book Award for his collection What Work Is, (Knopf, 9780679740582) and the 1995 Pulitzer Prize for poetry for The Simple Truth, (Knopf, 9780679765844). He was interviewed on NPR’s All Things Considered last night.

Grooving to the Classics

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

I’m not making this up. A forthcoming movie is described by Deadline as an “action epic battle between good and evil that is inspired by the John Milton poem [Paradise Lost].” Benjamin Walker is in talks to play archangel Michael, who “will go mano a mano against Bradley Cooper’s Lucifer…the film will have cutting-edge visual effects that will make these battles resemble 300 meets Lord of the Rings– but with winged warriors.” Plans are to begin shooting in January, with the film possibly debuting at the end of 2013.

Bradley Cooper, who starred in The Hangover has been literary lately. He just finished filming as the lead in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and is about to begin shooting The Silver Linings Playbook, based on the debut novel by Matthew Quick, which was one of Nancy Pearl’s picks for summer reading, 2009).

What Would You Suggest?

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

I had an interesting reference question today from a school administrator of an inner city school with a high percentage of ESL families.

A generous donor is going to buy a book for every child in the school, K through 5th grade, to take home to keep. The donor wants the books to be hardcovers and something they will treasure for years and perhaps read to their own children in the future. What books would I suggest?

After considering beautifully illustrated classics like Alice in Wonderland or modern classics like Because of Winn Dixie, I thought about what I like to give kids that I don’t know. I often choose poetry, because it is something one can revisit, share and revel in. I also wanted to choose books that would be beautiful to hold.

Here’s what I suggested for each grade. What would you pick?


Here’s A Little Poem: A Very First Book of Poetry
Retail Price: $21.99
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Candlewick – (2007-02-13)
ISBN / EAN: 0763631418 / 9780763631413

First Grade

Julie Andrews’ Collection of Poems, Songs, and Lullabies
Julie Andrews, Emma Walton Hamilton
Retail Price: $24.99
Hardcover: 192 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers – (2009-10-06)
ISBN / EAN: 0316040495 / 9780316040495

Second Grade

omnibeasts: animal poems and paintings
Douglas Florian
Retail Price: $18.00
Hardcover: 96 pages
Publisher: Harcourt Children’s Books – (2004-10-01)
ISBN / EAN: 0152050388 / 9780152050382

Third Grade

The Random House Book of Poetry for Children
Retail Price: $22.99
Hardcover: 248 pages
Publisher: Random House – (1983-09-12)
ISBN / EAN: 0394850106 / 9780394850108

Fourth Grade

Poetry Speaks to Children (Book & CD) (Read & Hear)
Retail Price: $19.95
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks MediaFusion – (2005-10-18)
ISBN / EAN: 1402203292 / 9781402203299

Fifth Grade

Hip Hop Speaks to Children with CD: A Celebration of Poetry with a Beat (A Poetry Speaks Experience)
Nikki Giovanni
Retail Price: $19.99
Hardcover: 80 pages
Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky – (2008-10-01)
ISBN / EAN: 1402210485 / 9781402210488