Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Poetry and the Wonder Room

My colleague Allison Funk's book Wonder Rooms (2015) had me thinking, among other things, about the idea of large collections of various objects or curiosities. It's one thing to think of my library as a large wonder room, and then too, I can think of my volumes of poetry that way.

This summer, I've had the opportunity to cover a few different volumes of poetry, and some of the volumes or groups of books in a category constituted a kind of wonder room unto itself. The poems told a story and created spaces. And there were many unanswered questions that the books raised, which is to say, even more space.

I was pleased to add Celeste Doaks's book Cornrows and Cornfields (2015) to my collection. She writes about a range of cultural signifers, father-daughter relationships, and other topics that caught my interest.

Major Jackson's Roll Deep (2015) was another important work to add to the mix. I enjoyed the book for multiple reasons, and I was particularly moved by the way Jackson diversified the 'bad man' figure in a series of poems. Jackson is in the W. W. Norton mix, so I took some time to think through his works in relation to books by other Norton poets like Ai, Rita Dove, and A. Van Jordan.  

The surrealist moments throughout Rachel Griffiths's poetry in Lighting the Shadow (2015) gave me all kinds of rewarding challenges. I was pleased to add her book to my collection, in part because her work stretched my views of poetic practice and possibility.

I discovered Christopher Gilbert's poetry this summer. He's a Graywolf Press poet, and I was able to read his volume Turning into Dwelling (2015) and connect that to several other works by  Graywolf poets like Elizabeth Alexander, Carl Phillips, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Tracy K. Smith, Harryette Mullen, and Claudia Rankine.

So much poetry, so much room to wonder.

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