2017 was the year I was thankfully, happily consumed with poetry. I wrote about 49 new books of poetry for my monthly column here at The Millions. The refrain starts with packages and cardboard mailers that my daughters collect from our front steps. They are stacked next to my desk, and I read and read and read, and then I write. I try to find poems that move me, that comfort me, that make me afraid and help me see where I’ve become complacent. When I am finished with that month’s column, I carry the titles to my bookshelves in another room, where they rest until I read them again.
If I’m sentimental about books, forgive me. We need them.
Here are some more books of poetry that I read this year.
Maps by John Freeman: “If wind asked permission / we might wait and listen / as if night stopped its blue / curtain and wheat bent without scattering / its hope of what happens in the dark, / and happens by accident.”
Still Can’t Do My Daughter’s Hair by William Evans: The nurse “bares my shoulder while saying / my, you are a big one, aren’t you. / My shoulder is a bronze /trophy in this nurse’s fingers / and I wait for the needle, wondering / how many bucks heard the wind / whisper how gorgeous they / were through the trees / of a perilous forest / before it carried the first / bullet with it.”
Begin With a Failed Body by Natalie J. Graham: “Your body is a jumble, a swarm held together with light. I want / a tangle of glossy leaves scattering light. I want, // perhaps, to hurt your buoyant body as it rises, to make // you feel.”
Book of Twilight by Pablo Neruda: “Blind old man, you cried when your life was / good, when your eyes held the sun, / but if the silence has already arrived, for what are you waiting, / for what are you waiting, blind old man, are you waiting for the pain?”
What Will Soon Take Place by Tania Runyan: “I did not ask to be created, / yet here I wait for my creator to return.”
Urbilly by Michael Dowdy: “Their headlights rattled down cul-de-sacs, / scanning vinyl shrines skirting a highway / that twists over the hills like licorice / and slips into Tennessee’s puckered lips.”
In This Quiet Church of Night I Say Amen by Devin Kelly: “There is too much beauty here / for this to mean nothing. Believe me // when I say there’s a universe / where we can hold each other // in the palms of our hands, both at once.”
Do you love Year in Reading and the amazing books and arts content that The Millions produces year round? We are asking readers for support to ensure that The Millions can stay vibrant for years to come. Please click here to learn about several simple ways you can support The Millions now.