Reading List: Poetry

poetry

Most poems can be read in one sitting, but their meaning may stay way with you forever. If you’re a fan of poetry, check out the poetry collections below. Some are eBooks that you can read from home, and others are print books that are available at the library.

 

Questions About Angels by Billy Collins (eBook)

Billy Collins – winner of a Guggenheim Fellowship, veteran of a one-hour Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross, and a guest on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion – arrives at Random House with the poetic equivalent of a Greatest Hits album, seasoned with some wonderful new numbers. Read our review here.

 

American Primitive by Mary Oliver

50 lyrical poems by the author express renewal of humanity in love and oneness with the natural.

 

Selected Poems of Langston Hughes by Langston Hughes

The poems Hughes wrote celebrated the experience of invisible men and women: of slaves who “rushed the boots of Washington”; of musicians on Lenox Avenue; of the poor and the lovesick; of losers in “the raffle of night.” They conveyed that experience in a voice that blended the spoken with the sung, that turned poetic lines into the phrases of jazz and blues, and that ripped through the curtain separating high from popular culture.

 

The Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes

Contains in sequence all the poetry written by the author from 1956 until her suicide in 1963, together with fifty selections from her pre-1956 work.

 

New Poets of Native Nations edited by Heid E. Erdich

This anthology gathers poets of diverse ages, styles, languages, and tribal affiliations to present the extraordinary range and power of new Native poetry.

 

poetry 1

 

The Varorium Edition of the Poems of W.B. Yeats by W.B. Yeats

This book contains the complete poems of Irish author and activist W.B. Yeats. Yeats’ poetry speaks of love, nature, politics, and myths.

 

Selected Poetry by Victor Hugo and Steven Monte (eBook, includes poems in French and English)

This generous, varied selection of poems by one of France’s best-loved and most reviled poets is presented with facing originals, detailed notes, and a lively introduction to the author’s life and work. Steven Monte presents more than eighty poems in translation and in the original French, taken from the earliest poetic publications of the 1820’s, through collections published during exile, to works published in the years following Hugo’s death in 1883.

 

The Woman I Kept To Myself: Poems by Julia Alvarez

The Dominican-American writer presents a collection of autobiographical poems, each comprising three 10-line stanzas.

 

The Complete Poems: 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop

A collection of 149 poems by the author.

 

Selected Poetry, 1937-1990 by João Cabral de Melo Neto (eBook, includes poems in Portuguese and English)

Brings together a representative selection of the work of one of Brazil’s most respected poets, including many poems published in English for the first time.

Featured Poetry: “Quiet Fire: A Historical Anthology of Asian American Poetry 1892-1970”

quiet fire

 

This anthology is intended to serve as an archival counter-memory, illuminating the gaps in what has been presented as “American poetry” and “American culture.”

Juliana Chang, the editor of Quiet Fire, introduces this poetry anthology with a reminder. Chang wants the readers to know that Asian American poetry has a longer, older tradition than one might have been led to believe. Chang states that Asian American poetry dates back to the 1890s with poets like Sadakichi Hartmann (secretary to Walt Whitman) and Yone Noguchi. The tradition has carried on among Asian American writers- Chang includes poems that date up to 1970.

After the introduction, Quiet Fire includes poems by Moon Kwan, Jose Garcia Villa, Jun Fujita, and many more. Brief biographies of the authors can be found toward the back of the book, as well as the written memories of different Asian American literary movements and poetry scenes.

Not only can you enjoy various poems in Quiet Fire, but you can also learn about a vital part of poetry history in America that was once overlooked. Quiet Fire is available for check out here at the library.

 

Featured Book: “Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise” by Justin Wainscott

Print

 

Justin Wainscott, a member of Union’s Board of Trustees and pastor of First Baptist Church in Jackson, recently released a new book. Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise is divided into 2 sections: hymns and poems. The hymns section draws heavily from Scripture; Wainscott adds recommendations of familiar tunes for each hymn to be sung to. The poems section focuses on different themes such as God’s grace, dealing with anxiety, and family.

One poem that particularly stands out is “Shared Wonder,” which is about our relationships to art:

The art we most enjoy-

whether stories or sketches,

paintings or poems,

music or movies,

sermons or songs-

is the fruit of private wonder

being made public.

Wainscott goes on to write about the joy of shared wonder, which he concludes is the end result of art.

Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise is a great resource for worship leaders, pastors, and laymen alike. Whether you’re looking for a new hymn to sing or a poem to resonate with, this book is here to help you worship God. You can check out Lost In Wonder, Love, And Praise from the library.

Featured Poet: Seamus Heaney

The path to success is to take massive, determined action.

 

When Seamus Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, he had already been writing poems since the 1960s. Born in Northern Ireland in 1939, Heaney grew up in a politically divisive world as WWII was beginning. He excelled at school and became a teacher and poet, often spending time in the United States to educate pupils there. Heaney also wrote plays and spent time traveling as a professor; however, he is most remembered for his poetry.

Heaney’s poetry contains themes of nature, relationships, working life, and Irish culture. Take his poem “Blackberry Picking” as an example:

For Philip Hobsbaum
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.
Heaney used language that invoked our senses: words like “fermented,” “sour,” and “sticky.” He brought his readers into his world and helped them connect with the earth.

eBook Review: “Questions About Angels: Poems” by Billy Collins

questions about angels

 

Billy Collins makes me laugh. He writes about situations that are usually serious and imagines them as even more serious, which is funny to me. Take death, for instance. In his poem “The Dead,” he recalls how people like to say that “the dead are always looking down on us.” This could (and maybe should) be a sobering thought, but you have to read what Collins follows up with:

 

The dead are always looking down on us, they say,

while we are putting on our shoes or making a sandwich,

they are looking down from the glass-bottom boats of

heaven

as they row themselves slowly through eternity.

 

What imagery! Collins takes a sobering topic (dead people who are watching us) and then pairs it with the most mundane thing they could be seeing us do (putting on our shoes or making a sandwich). Can you imagine being dead, and looking down at the people you used to know and love and hate and worship, and there they are just putting two pieces of bread together in a dimly lit kitchen? How boring and average, right?

But the “boring” and the “average” are what make Collins’ poetry so great. He can make an ordinary white cloud seem fascinating. He can take a normal phrase or idea- like a father “going out for cigarettes” and not returning home- and give it new life. A lot of times his skill makes me laugh, but I also stop and think about what he’s written. Most poetry encourages you to pause and reflect, and Collins, even with the bits of humor sprinkled throughout his lines, certainly will teach you something new. You’ll look at whatever subject he’s chosen to champion in an entirely different way.

Questions About Angels: Poems is just one of his poetry collections. I like every poetry collection by Collins that I’ve had the pleasure to read. The good thing about Questions About Angels, however, is that the library has it in both a physical book form and as an eBook. I find that this collection still resonates even while reading it on a screen. The font and form is still right, and, since most of Collins’ poems are not terribly long, it can be convenient to read them via eBook.

If you only like reading physical books, you can check out Questions About Angels from our shelves. But if you want to try something different- maybe you want to read familiar things in a new way- click on the eBook link. Either way, I think you’ll enjoy the poems.

Spotlight On The American Poetry Review

pex poetry

The American Poetry Review is a journal that publishes original literary work. Readers can view poetry and literary criticism from various resources, and they can also submit their own work under the APR’s guidelines.

The Union University library provides access to older editions of the APR via JSTOR, Academic OneFile, General OneFile, and Literature Resource Center. Newer submissions can be read online at the APR website.

 

FAQs about The American Poetry Review:

 

Is the APR also in print?

Yes, they do have print versions of APR for a price, here.

 

How often is the APR published?

Bimonthly.

 

How far back can I see APR entries, using the library databases?

We have 3 databases that carry APR from 1989 to the present. You can find access to the APR by conducting a general search on the library website or by searching for it by title using the “Journals” tab.

 

What kind of writing can I find in the APR?

Poetry translations, critical essays, articles, poems, and interviews.

Featured Book: “New Poets Of Native Nations”

 

new poets of native nations

 

New Poets Of Native Nations is a diverse poetry anthology featuring 21 different native poets, all of whom were first published in the 21st century (hence the title “new”).

These poets include:

Tracey M. Atsitty

Trevino L. Brings Plenty

Julian Talamantez Brolaski

Laura Da’

Natalie Diaz

Jennifer Elise Foerster

Eric Gansworth

Gordon Henry, Jr.

Sy Hoahwah

LeAnne Howe

Layli Long Soldier

Janet McAdams

Brandy Nalani McDougall

Margaret Noodin

dg nanouk okpik

Craig Santos Perez

Tommy Pico

Cedar Sigo

M.L. Smoker

Gwen Nell Westerman

Karenne Wood

 

The poetry features traditional lyrics, long narratives, personal reflections, and historical commentaries. For example, Gwen Nell Westerman (of the Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota Oyate and the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma) writes about native displacement and its injustice in “Dakota Homecoming:”

We are so honored that

you are here, they said.

We know that this is

your homeland, they said.

The admission price

is five dollars, they said.

Here is your button

for the event, they said.

It means so much to us that

you are here, they said.

We want to write

an apology letter, they said.

Tell us what to say.

 

New Poets Of Native Nations is an integral look into the lives and thoughts of native people around the U.S. The poems are chronologically current but rich with history. If you’re looking for a fascinating poetry collection, look no further than New Poets Of Native Nations.

 

Top 5 English Literature Databases

man reading

English majors are no strangers to writing papers, researching various texts, developing persuasive arguments, and integrating critical thinking. If you’re studying English, chances are you will need access to several different databases as you collect resources for your next assignment. Look no further: the library has you covered with the databases listed below.

 

MLA International Bibliography

The MLA International Bibliography provides “indexing for journal articles, books and dissertations in modern languages, literatures, folklore, and linguistics.” Here you can find articles like “Disembodied Voice and Narrating Bodies in The Great Gatsby” and “Will, Change, and Power in the Poetry of Adrienne Rich.”

 

JSTOR

JSTOR’s not just a database, it’s a powerhouse of information with a strong social media presence. JSTOR is your go-to for older documents, high-quality scans, and quirky viewpoints. You can also narrow down your JSTOR search by discipline, which helps give you an idea of the many subjects they have content on.

jstor

 

Literary Sources (Gale)

The great thing about Gale databases is their “Topic Finder:” a tool that helps you find new topics and connections when you enter in phrases. This Topic Finder can be a helpful resource in developing a thesis. Literary Sources features articles like “Hemingway’s Hunting: An Ecological Reconsideration” and “Edgar Allen Poe as a Major Influence on Allen Ginsburg.”

 

Fine Arts and Music Collection (Gale)

This database is particularly attuned to how literature connects with the arts. If you need research on a play or other dramatic works, this is a go-to database. With more than “150 full-text magazines and journals covered in databases such as the Wilson Art Index and RILM, this collection will provide support for research in areas such as drama, music, art history, and filmmaking.”

 

Oxford English Dictionary

Need to define a tricky word, or want to discuss its etymology in your next research paper? The OED is here to help! It contains the meaning, pronunciation, and history of over 600,000 words.

 

 

 

 

It’s Limerick Day!

On this twelfth day of May, it is imperative that you take a moment to celebrate one of the highest literary forms in the English language…the limerick.

Limericks are a comic verse form usually involving outlandish rhymes, often using place names. They were most likely named after County Limerick in Ireland. Today is the birthday of Edward Lear, the talented poet who arguably perfected the art of the limerick (while managing to grow a downright impressive beard).

Edward_Lear_1867

Here’s a sampling of ridiculous limericks by Lear:

There was an Old Man of Kilkenny,
Who never had more than a penny;
He spent all that money,
In onions and honey,
That wayward Old Man of Kilkenny.

There was an Old Man with a beard,
Who said, “It is just as I feared! —
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard.”     [autobiographical?]

There was an Old Man in a boat,
Who said, ‘I’m afloat, I’m afloat!’
When they said, ‘No! you ain’t!’
He was ready to faint,
That unhappy Old Man in a boat.

Here’s an original limerick dedicated to the suffering students of Union – may they pass all their exams!

There was a young lady at college,
Who attempted to gather much knowledge.
She’d study at night
In finals-week fright.
Thus she learned to like coffee at college.

beverage-black-coffee-blank-365637

 

National Poetry Month

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! When was the last time you read some lines from a favorite poet? Now is the time to dive back into poetry!

 

We have several famous poets in our library collection. Check out the list below if you’re looking for a good read:

  1. Pablo Neruda
  2. William Carlos Williams
  3. Anne Sexton
  4. Sylvia Plath
  5. Gwendolyn Brooks
  6. Robert Frost
  7. Christian Wiman
  8. Elizabeth Bishop
  9. T.S. Eliot
  10. Gary Snyder

 

Or maybe you’re a poet yourself! Check out our books on writing if you need any tips:

  1. The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century
  2. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
  3. A Poetry Handbook
  4. Everybody Writes
  5. How To Write Everything

 

And finally, a poem for you to celebrate National Poetry Month: “Of Modern Poetry” by Wallace Stevens.

The poem of the mind in the act of finding
What will suffice. It has not always had
To find: the scene was set; it repeated what
Was in the script.
Then the theatre was changed
To something else. Its past was a souvenir.

It has to be living, to learn the speech of the place.
It has to face the men of the time and to meet
The women of the time. It has to think about war
And it has to find what will suffice. It has
To construct a new stage. It has to be on that stage,
And, like an insatiable actor, slowly and
With meditation, speak words that in the ear,
In the delicatest ear of the mind, repeat,
Exactly, that which it wants to hear, at the sound
Of which, an invisible audience listens,
Not to the play, but to itself, expressed
In an emotion as of two people, as of two
Emotions becoming one. The actor is
A metaphysician in the dark, twanging
An instrument, twanging a wiry string that gives
Sounds passing through sudden rightnesses, wholly
Containing the mind, below which it cannot descend,
Beyond which it has no will to rise.
It must
Be the finding of a satisfaction, and may
Be of a man skating, a woman dancing, a woman
Combing. The poem of the act of the mind.