Books needed for Poetry Reading Month

Last April, I read and blogged about a book or chapbook of poetry every day (except for the two days I took off to produce poetry-related podcasts), and this year I’m planning to try and repeat the performance. A few people have already sent me review copies, but I’ll be happy to add more to the pile, which has 21 titles in it so far. Click on the foregoing link for examples of the kind of response-post I tend to write. My postal address is on the Contact page. (But email me first to make sure I don’t already have the book.)

Incidentally, in the comments to my summary post last year, I talked about possibly launching a site to promote the idea of an International Poetry Reading Month as an alterative or complement to NaPoWriMo (National Poetry Writing Month), but I decided I just don’t have the time for one more project — especially if I’m hoping to do this myself. Besides, experience has shown that I am spectacularly bad at organizing and motivating other people. But if anyone wants to join in, I’d love the company. If you’re pressed for time, try just reading a chapbook a day. The point — for me at least — isn’t to see how much I can read, but to see whether I can bring my full attention to what I do have time to read (taking time off from looking at the news, catching up with Facebook and Twitter, etc.). I also don’t require myself to read only recently published books, or books I’ve never read before: any book of poetry is fair game, so long as I read or re-read it from cover to cover that day.

Another freedom I might allow myself this year is to listen to a collection of poems as an alternative to reading some mornings. For example, there are now five audio chapbooks from Whale Sound to choose from, and any one of them would be worth another close listen. For those who consider this a daunting project, by the way, note that the total listening time for these chapbooks seems to range between 9 and 21 minutes. Most people could fit that into their morning commute.

21 Comments


  1. Love your idea and have a pile of books and chapbooks ready for the reading! Will try to join in to support and to read poems!

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    1. That is awesome. It will be fun to see what you read and how you write about it.

      Obviously if one were especially enterprising, one could combine Poetry Reading Month with Poetry Writing Month, and instead of prose reviews or responses, write poems in the style of whomever one has just read. That’s a bit too ambitious for me, though!

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  2. Grand idea! I’ll have to mention it to some poet friends.

    Wondering if you have ever read Jeffery Beam…

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    1. Yes, actually his Gospel Earth is one of the review copies I’ve received (quite a few months ago, I’m afraid) and though it is long, the poems are short enough that I’m pretty sure I can read it all in a morning. (I’ve read most of it already, but not in order.) Anyway, it’s in the pile!

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      1. Oh, that’s great–I already sent him a link, so I’ll be sure to say that you have it! You know how must books that get sent to reviewers vanish…

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        1. You were talking about poetry on CD–his “New and Selected” collection, “What We Have Lost,” is on CD. It’s not new, but…

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  3. Cool. I enjoyed what you did last year and even bought a few of the titles you reviewed after reading them, so you motivated me, at least.

    One thing I remembered and especially liked from discussions here around that time was the idea of trying to read locally, which got me out looking for chaps by Texas writers. I found a some gems and hope to blog a few of them in April, though I won’t find time for anything daily. I will be looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

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    1. Yeah, I don’t know if I will be focusing on Pennsylvania poets again to quite that extent, though I’d like to. I’m kind of broke (whence, in part, this post).

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  4. Hey. Want to borrow/trade a few? I have a large handful I could mail; you could return the ones I want to keep via cheap media rate. I can email you titles when I’m back from AZ trip.

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    1. I’m kind of a cheapskate. I guess it depends on how great they are. Otherwise, I’d rather save the postage and put it toward buying books. As for trading, that presumes I’d be willing to part with a poetry book… (I’ll be the first to admit that my attitude toward books is very unevolved.)

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      1. You’ll probably get enough w/o a mail lending library. But if you don’t let me know.

        I was thinking of sending you Ellen Bass’ latest. My new favorite. But I want that back. A Howie Good chap, which you could keep (although I liked very much).

        Book/media very cheap. But very slow.

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        1. Howie just offered to send me two of his chaps, so I will not want for HG material. What is the title of the Bass book?

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  5. Her latest. Last year’s (or 2009) The Human Line. There’s another Copper Canyonn woman writer I’d like to lend. Crummy memory.(Mine.) Will have to follow up on that one. When I have my library in front of me.

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  6. I love the idea of trying to read a book of poems a day, and I’d love to read the same books that you and Kathleen and others were reading. Any chance that we could compare lists? I realize that may take more coordinating than we might like.

    Maybe, instead of coordinating the whole month in advance, we could simply choose 4 books, and that way, folks who can’t read a book a day could commit to a book a week. We could know in advance which week would go with which book. We’d know that people would be commenting (perhaps) during that week.

    I’m not trying to be the bossy girl who shows up at the party and rearranges all the place cards on the table and cuts the cake in bigger slices (or smaller, depending on your sense of metaphor and relationship to cake). Just a thought.

    I’d also be happy to help with the organizing . . . but again, maybe that’s just my inner bossy girl pushing through.

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    1. Kristin, I’d be glad to let you try and organize something. I thought about including my list of books so far in this post, but then shied away from it, because it’s possible that I will end up disliking one or two of them, and picking up another book that day instead. (I am not into blogging about poetry I don’t like. Since so few people read poetry already, my project here is to spread enthusiasm for it.) So maybe a better idea would be to share my list with you via email and you can see if any of those titles seem like candidates for the chosen four. I can then read enough of each of your nominees to decide if I like them, and we can publicize the list. How does that sound? Or do you have a few candidates in mind already? Email me (and Cc Kathleen if she’s willing) if this sounds like a good approach. By the way, I like assertive women, being a little on the obnoxious side myself. It’s quiet people I have a hard time relating to.

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  7. I told Tara Powell to send you a copy of her first book. I haven’t seen it yet (because I thought it was out of print but now find out it’s available on Amazon.) Not sure the length.

    I met her via a feature she did on poetry by poets who just happen to be … Southern women. And I like her. Looking forward to seeing her poetry as well.

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    1. Thanks, Marly. I seem to be meeting quite a few good Southern poets online, most of them women.

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