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  • Tara Sonin 4:00 pm on 2018/04/05 Permalink
    Tags: 100 selected poems, alessandra lynch, , anne carson, autobiography of red, bull, calling a wolf a wolf, courtney peppernell, dalily called it a dangerous moment, danez smith, david elliott, devotions, don't call us dead, , , exlizabeth acevedo, good bones, gwendolyn brooks, kaveh akbar, kiki petrosino, langston hughes, maggie smith, magic with skin on, , , milk and honey, morgan nikola-wren, nikita gill, no matter the wreckage, , pillow thoughts, , rumi, , sarah kay, selected poems, shakespeare's sonnets, sun yung shin, the collected poems, the essential rumi: selected poems, the poet x, , the rose that grew from concrete, tupac shakur, twenty love poems and a song of despair, unbearable splendor, wild embers, , witch wife   

    25 Must-Reads for National Poetry Month 

    April is National Poetry month, so we’ve got verses and rhymes and metaphors on the brain. Poetry is wonderfully expressive, and features everything from the most intimate of stories to the grandest of adventures. Here are 25 must-reads for the month!

    Devotions, by Mary Oliver
    One of America’s classic poets has a new collection of 200 poems. Follow Oliver through her poetic journey starting when she was only 28 years old through today, with themes of belonging, nature, and the importance of asking questions.

    Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
    If you’re in the mood for emotional vignettes about what it means to be a woman, to be in love, to be marginalized, and to find your strength, this one’s for you. Once you’ve savored it, pick up the more recent The Sun and Her Flowers.

     

    Calling a Wolf a Wolf, by Kaveh Akbar
    A story of recovery told in verse, this poetry collection is about living with ghosts and learning to love yourself.

    Good Bones, by Maggie Smith
    One of the most famous poems in 2016 comes from a larger anthology that touches on the unique experience of motherhood that is worth reading no matter your stage in life.

    Don’t Call Us Dead, by Danez Smith
    A fascinating anthology of poetry about the African-American experience in America. Imagine a world where black men are surrounded by love and happiness…but it exists after death. Themes of death, revolution, police brutality, and so much more are explored in this provocative book.

    The Princess Saves Herself In This One, by Amanda Lovelace
    Another feminist poetry anthology to start your month off right. This collection tackles issues like body positivity, assault, surviving grief, and so much more.

    The Rose That Grew from Concrete, by Tupac Shakur
    A wise soul taken from us too soon leaves behind a legacy of beautiful, poignant writing about poverty, systemic racism, violence, and love.

    Unbearable Splendor, by Sun Yung Shin
    A beautiful collection about identity, family, the immigrant experience, and being a modern woman.

    Dalily Called it a Dangerous Moment, by Alessandra Lynch
    Trauma is an experience that can rarely be defined in words, but this collection rips open the mechanics of overcoming trauma, specifically sexual assault, through the poet’s modern yet timeless way with words.

    Witch Wife, by Kiki Petrosino
    This stunning spellbook on love, being a woman in all phases of life, motherhood, and inhabiting the female body will cast a spell on you.

    Pillow Thoughts, by Courtney Peppernell
    The course of true love never did run smooth, but this poetry collection about heartbreak and finding the courage to move on will smooth over all your rough edges, if you’re feeling particularly jagged after a breakup.

    Bull, by David Elliott
    Another novel-in-verse based on a myth, this time in the young adult genre: Bull tells the story of Asterion, but you know him by another name: The Minotaur. But who was the boy before he was a monster? Irreverent, with equal amounts of humor and tragedy, this retelling is part tragedy, part villain origin story.

    Magic With Skin On, by Morgan Nikola-Wren
    Another tome that spins words like magic, this debut poetry collection is about the connection the artist has with her muse, who is currently nowhere to be found.

    The Essential Rumi: Selected Poems, by Rumi
    Rumi’s poetry is everlasting, and applies to the modern age more and more with reminders to trust yourself, be kind and compassionate, and find love everywhere.

    Edgar Allan Poe, by Edgar Allan Poe
    A poetry collection by a classic writer whom you may know a little about, but who otherwise remains a mystery. These poems are dark and haunting, bordering on magical, and explore the intersections of humanity, devotion, longing, and obsession.

    Selected Poems, by Gwendolyn Brooks
    The very first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer prize for poetry definitely deserves to be read. (You may already know one of her famous poems, “We Real Cool”, about the consequences of risky behavior.)

    The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo
    In this recent New York Times bestseller, an Afro-Latina poet struggles to express herself surrounded by family and culture she often feels at odds with. She likes a boy her family wouldn’t approve of; her mother wants her to be a strict Catholic…and performing her poetry is something she craves, but fears could break her from the world she knows.

    Wild Embers, by Nikita Gill
    A feminist collection that blends the world of magic with the world of women. You will be inspired by tales of mythic heroines and how their stories connect with your own.

    Shakespeare’s Sonnets, by William Shakespeare
    He may be known for his plays, but Shakespeare’s sonnets are just as beautiful, tragic, inspiring, and honest about human nature.

    Autobiography of Red, by Anne Carson
    Switching things up for a novel in verse! This re-telling of a Greek myth is about a boy-monster who flees a tragic upbringing and finds himself turning to a man with a familiar name: Herakles. Geryon finds himself falling for the man, only to be broken-hearted. Love, lust, and coming-of-age can be found in this tale.

    Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, by Pablo Neruda
    Pablo Neruda is one of the 20th Century’s most celebrated poets, infusing his work with Latino history, culture, and imagery. One interesting thing to note about this collection is that the love poems are often tinged with sadness, reflecting the true nature of the feeling we all crave, that can often leave us brokenhearted.

    100 Selected Poems, by E.E. Cummings
    E.E. Cummings may be a classic poet now, but his work is largely considered experimental and different from the norm. Cummings was also a visual artist, and some of his paintings are collected here!

    The Collected Poems, by Langston Hughes
    Fifty years’ worth of Langston Hughes’ most moving poems (many of which haven’t been published in book form before) is an incredible survey of the life and passion of one of America’s most celebrated poet.

    No Matter the Wreckage, by Sarah Kay
    You may have seen her TEDx Talk, but Sarah Kay also has a poetry collection. It’s the perfect anthology of poems about adolescence, femininity, race, culture, and family.

    Poems, by Maya Angelou
    James Baldwin said of this collection: “Black, bitter, and beautiful, she speaks to our survival.” One of our most important and influential writers, Maya Angelou’s poetry deals with the black experience, womanhood, and so much more.

    The post 25 Must-Reads for National Poetry Month appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 8:00 pm on 2018/01/09 Permalink
    Tags: , milk and honey, , the sun and her flowers, well-versed   

    5 Reasons Rupi Kaur Is the Poet of Our Times 

    Poetry doesn’t often make headlines—much less the bestseller lists. Which makes Rupi Kaur all the more remarkable, even before you’ve even read a single word of her verse. Her first collection of poems, Milk and Honey, has sold more than a million copies, likely many of them to her more than 2 million social media followers. In a book world in which thrillers dominate, having a bona-fide poet sell like that is pretty exciting.

    Of course, poetry is subjective, and your appreciation (or lack thereof) for it changes as you change. Poems that didn’t resonate when read in school creep up on you in middle age, and poets that blew your mind when you were 20 may not seem as profound by age 50. But Kaur is the real deal, and as close as we’ve come to a poetry superstar in a long, long time. As her second collection, the marvelous The Sun and Her Flowers, continues to gather her new admirers, we offer these reasons why.

    Her Grasp of Medium

    We’re living in the 21st century, a world in which tiny computers live in every pocket. People are increasing cutting cords and consuming media on their phones instead of their televisions. Just 25, Kaur understands that even if print books are making a comeback, her generation lives on social media, and that has an effect on how they read and understand. Her poetry reflects this; it’s often said she really publishes on her Instagram account, which is where much of her work appears, long before it’s collected. Her poems are crafted for the platform—short, with artful line breaks that are visually appealing (the impact of the “shape” of a poem has long been misunderstood, but poets from T.S. Eliot to Lewis Carroll believed what a poem looks on the page matters). They are usually accompanied by her warm, hand-drawn illustrations. If you were to design a bionic poet for the social media age, it would be Rupi Kaur.

    She Makes It Look Easy

    That style of short, eccentrically-formatted poems is easy to mock. Like the folks who see a Jackson Pollack painting and say their kid could paint it, people see a poem like this and think anyone could do it:

    the idea that we are

    so capable of love

    but still choose

    to be toxic

    But the style is much more controlled and subtle than it first appears. Kaur’s line breaks are diamond-sharp, and her lack of capital letters and limited use of punctuation (the period is the only mark she uses) is a nod towards her heritage; both features of Punjabi, the language of her birthplace. If you dismiss Kaur’s work as simplistic, you’re not paying attention.

    Her Work Fights Chauvinism

    Criticism of Kaur often has a decidedly unsavory chauvinistic edge. A large proportion of her work deals with issues women encounter daily, but are often invisible to men; as her audience is heavily female, there’s a tendency by male culture hawks to dismiss it as silly or shallow. It’s a sadly common idea—that anything that appeals to women must, of course, be inferior (a fact romance readers know well). That much of Kaur’s work deals with abuse and oppression by men makes it feel even more of the moment in the era of #MeToo and #TimesUp.

    There’s a Narrative

    Neophytes often boggle at the abstract nature of poetry—its lack of a story or a character to become involved with.

    Kaur, remarkably, constructs a narrative with her poems, despite the fact that they initially appear one-by-one on her social media platforms. Milk and Honey is divided into four sections: the hurting, the loving, the breaking, the healing. Reading from the beginning to the end tells the story of a relationship, with Kaur as the main character, and it’s a powerful story arc that’s easy to invest in emotionally. It turns out Kaur is a storyteller—and a very good one.

    She’s Not Processed

    Art in the modern age is often overly processed and commercialized. Singers are auto-tuned to perfection. Writers are more conscious and savvy about reaching a viable market than ever. Kaur charms with an aesthetic that seems to be precisely the opposite, a refreshing quality that is hopefully the beginning of a new trend. Her work pops up on social media with an immediacy that feels urgent, and her artwork has an off-the-cuff feel that reminds you of quick doodles in the margins of a book. There’s an air of honesty about it all, an emotional impact resulting from truth rather than careful attention to production values.

    Poetry is often thought of as impenetrable, but Rupi Kaur has made it imminently accessible, and in doing so, she has revolutionized an ancient art form for today.

     

    The post 5 Reasons Rupi Kaur Is the Poet of Our Times appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:30 pm on 2017/03/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , milk and honey, , , ,   

    5 Modern Day Poets Who Will Legit Get You Excited About Poetry 

    Poetry—real poetry, the sort that speaks to the human condition and moves you to tears, to applause, to sudden epiphanies alone in your room at night—is powerful stuff. A great shame of the modern anti-intellectual zeitgeist is the marginalization of poetry; the more people who experience the form, the better off the world will be. The five poets below are young, and just hitting their stride with work that is simultaneously cutting edge and classic. If you’ve never considered reading poetry before, check one of these modern-day geniuses. You might just change your mind.

    Rupi Kaur. (Milk and Honey)
    Rupi Kaur, sometimes referred to as an “Instapoet,” never wanted to be a poet or a writer; she wanted to be an artist, and considered her poetry a hobby. Born in India, and now just 24 years old, her book Milk and Honey, originally self-published, has been on The New York Times bestsellers list for almost a year. Her work is rooted in her cultural and religious background as a Sikh woman, and confront, with brutal honesty, issues from feminism, to violence, to everyday frustrations and depression. She built a huge following online, posting her poems as she completed them. Representative quote: “your body is a museum of natural disasters can you grasp how stunning that is.”

    Amber Tamblyn. (Dark Sparkler)
    Resist the temptation to assume Tamblyn, a famous actress whose most recent high-profile role was on Two and a Half Men, is a vanity poet, leveraging connections to get some half-baked jottings published. Tamblyn is not only serious about it, she’s well-respected in the poetry world, and her poems are insanely great. With an acidic, darkly-hilarious voice, she draws on her experiences as a young woman and an actress. Her most recent book, Dark Sparkler, is the perfect introduction to her off-kilter work. The 38 poems inside are all about dead actresses, famous or otherwise, and slowly build a very grim view of the costs of Hollywood stardom—especially on young women seeking fame and success. Representative quote: “Logline: A woman fights to save her soul. Think a young Carole Lombard meets a younger Anna Nicole. Requires an actress that will leave an audience speechless, who’s found her creative voice. Not a speaking role.”

    Kei Miller. (The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion)
    Jamaican-born Miller writes poems that writhe and twist, pulling you along with lines that wrap into the next, never giving you a comfortable place to pause and gather your thoughts. Her focus is on moments in history, though not always the most famous or obvious ones—the poem quoted below was inspired by composer John Cage’s As Slow As Possible, a song that will take 639 years to perform if all goes as planned (that is a very real thing). He uses those moments to explore language and its evolution—the way it can illuminate and betray, sometimes all at once. The winner of the 2014 Forward Prize, you’re probably going to hear more from Miller in the coming years—and that is a very good thing. Representative quote: “The longest song begins like a comma, a rest that lasts for eighteen months. Long enough that when the first chord is heard, surprising
    as an extinct bird come back to life, many cannot stop their tears.”

    Sherman Alexie. (Face)
    Alexie draws on his Native American heritage and his own personal life for his poetry, which almost always tells a story (Alexie is a celebrated writer of those, too). His poems sketch moments from his life, moments that actually happened, and which likely came and went in a flash—but are imbued with infinite meaning and possibility once filtered through Alexie’s keyboard. This allows us to experience a point-of-view that we may not be familiar with through the reenactment of a universal experience, a dizzying perspective-shift that is powerful, beautiful, and compelling. And his self-deprecating humor is often laugh-out-loud funny. Representative Quote: “Dull and jealous, I was the smallest part
    Of the whole. I know this is stupid stuff
    But I felt less important than the farthest star.”

    Morgan Parker. (There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce)
    Reading Morgan Parker’s poems is like being woken up, or dragged up to the surface after a lifetime underneath. She’s angry, smart, and perceptive, and her poems are of the moment in a way few other writers attempt, much less succeed at. As you might guess from the title of her most recent collection, she’s got pop culture on lock and uses it to address issues of racism, feminism, sexism, and just about anything else that women and minorities have to deal with today—which is everything. In some ways, Parker is the ideal poet to read right now, especially pieces like “If You Are Over Staying Woke” and “Two White Girls in the African Braid Shop on Marcy and Fulton.” Representative quote: “Bodies so black they syrup. Hair so black there are no windows. The smell of burnt rope. How long will it be. How long do you want it. I know you. I wish I were you. I want to drag my toes in something I finally own. Do you know it only gets worse from here. Cash only.”

    The post 5 Modern Day Poets Who Will Legit Get You Excited About Poetry appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
  • Jeff Somers 6:30 pm on 2017/03/24 Permalink
    Tags: , , milk and honey, , , ,   

    5 Modern Day Poets Who Will Legit Get You Excited About Poetry 

    Poetry—real poetry, the sort that speaks to the human condition and moves you to tears, to applause, to sudden epiphanies alone in your room at night—is powerful stuff. A great shame of the modern anti-intellectual zeitgeist is the marginalization of poetry; the more people who experience the form, the better off the world will be. The five poets below are young, and just hitting their stride with work that is simultaneously cutting edge and classic. If you’ve never considered reading poetry before, check one of these modern-day geniuses. You might just change your mind.

    Rupi Kaur. (Milk and Honey)
    Rupi Kaur, sometimes referred to as an “Instapoet,” never wanted to be a poet or a writer; she wanted to be an artist, and considered her poetry a hobby. Born in India, and now just 24 years old, her book Milk and Honey, originally self-published, has been on The New York Times bestsellers list for almost a year. Her work is rooted in her cultural and religious background as a Sikh woman, and confront, with brutal honesty, issues from feminism, to violence, to everyday frustrations and depression. She built a huge following online, posting her poems as she completed them. Representative quote: “your body is a museum of natural disasters can you grasp how stunning that is.”

    Amber Tamblyn. (Dark Sparkler)
    Resist the temptation to assume Tamblyn, a famous actress whose most recent high-profile role was on Two and a Half Men, is a vanity poet, leveraging connections to get some half-baked jottings published. Tamblyn is not only serious about it, she’s well-respected in the poetry world, and her poems are insanely great. With an acidic, darkly-hilarious voice, she draws on her experiences as a young woman and an actress. Her most recent book, Dark Sparkler, is the perfect introduction to her off-kilter work. The 38 poems inside are all about dead actresses, famous or otherwise, and slowly build a very grim view of the costs of Hollywood stardom—especially on young women seeking fame and success. Representative quote: “Logline: A woman fights to save her soul. Think a young Carole Lombard meets a younger Anna Nicole. Requires an actress that will leave an audience speechless, who’s found her creative voice. Not a speaking role.”

    Kei Miller. (The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion)
    Jamaican-born Miller writes poems that writhe and twist, pulling you along with lines that wrap into the next, never giving you a comfortable place to pause and gather your thoughts. Her focus is on moments in history, though not always the most famous or obvious ones—the poem quoted below was inspired by composer John Cage’s As Slow As Possible, a song that will take 639 years to perform if all goes as planned (that is a very real thing). He uses those moments to explore language and its evolution—the way it can illuminate and betray, sometimes all at once. The winner of the 2014 Forward Prize, you’re probably going to hear more from Miller in the coming years—and that is a very good thing. Representative quote: “The longest song begins like a comma, a rest that lasts for eighteen months. Long enough that when the first chord is heard, surprising
    as an extinct bird come back to life, many cannot stop their tears.”

    Sherman Alexie. (Face)
    Alexie draws on his Native American heritage and his own personal life for his poetry, which almost always tells a story (Alexie is a celebrated writer of those, too). His poems sketch moments from his life, moments that actually happened, and which likely came and went in a flash—but are imbued with infinite meaning and possibility once filtered through Alexie’s keyboard. This allows us to experience a point-of-view that we may not be familiar with through the reenactment of a universal experience, a dizzying perspective-shift that is powerful, beautiful, and compelling. And his self-deprecating humor is often laugh-out-loud funny. Representative Quote: “Dull and jealous, I was the smallest part
    Of the whole. I know this is stupid stuff
    But I felt less important than the farthest star.”

    Morgan Parker. (There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce)
    Reading Morgan Parker’s poems is like being woken up, or dragged up to the surface after a lifetime underneath. She’s angry, smart, and perceptive, and her poems are of the moment in a way few other writers attempt, much less succeed at. As you might guess from the title of her most recent collection, she’s got pop culture on lock and uses it to address issues of racism, feminism, sexism, and just about anything else that women and minorities have to deal with today—which is everything. In some ways, Parker is the ideal poet to read right now, especially pieces like “If You Are Over Staying Woke” and “Two White Girls in the African Braid Shop on Marcy and Fulton.” Representative quote: “Bodies so black they syrup. Hair so black there are no windows. The smell of burnt rope. How long will it be. How long do you want it. I know you. I wish I were you. I want to drag my toes in something I finally own. Do you know it only gets worse from here. Cash only.”

    The post 5 Modern Day Poets Who Will Legit Get You Excited About Poetry appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

     
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