My familiarity with them has come from reading their work or meeting them and hearing them read in person or both. [A little secret - many of my books have been bought at readings or ordered just afterward]. It is always extra special when I discover that their poetry not only rocks, but they are great literary stewards that frequently are giving back to the greater writer community. Several of these are such stewards. So, I give you my 2019 Poet Crush List. I confess these poets are rocking my world.
Katie Manning is the author of a poetry collection titled, The Gospel of the Bleeding Woman which I read this year and found intriguing. Her writing reminded me a bit of Magdalene by Marie Howe another awesome poet who was selected for my Crush list in the past.
In Portland for AWP19, I met Katie and picked up a copy of another of her books, Tasty Other. The second book was very different. This book was entertaining. It made me laugh and had just a touch of dark humor. Loved the poem Belly of the Whale, and the attempt to make Jack Nicholson look less creepy. My favorite was a series of 10 vignettes of a statue of Mother Mary on Johnson street that comes to life in various situations. I love that Mother Mary was humanized in these poems. Katie addressed experiences of pregnancy, motherhood, and parenting with humor and realism.
On a final note, Katie is the Founder & Editor-In-Chief of Whale Road Review. Additionally, she records short video reviews of other people's work, and that is so cool. Follow Katie here.
Jennifer Moore is the author of The Veronica Maneuver, which I have read and What the Spirit Said, which is on my list buy and read soon.
I discovered Jennifer at AWP19. I have no idea if she was in attendance, but Mary Biddinger and Akron University Press were. I always, always check out Akron Press because they have consistently feature outstanding poetry. Mary made a couple of book recommendations and that's how this all happened.
The Veronica Maneuver opens with, In the year of our Lord the Electric Chair and it was there she had my full attention. Jennifer wrote with a splash of mystery, which I loved. The poems were transformative. There was calm, there was chaos, there were Christ's face and a bullfight. It was marvelous how it all came together. I look forward with much anticipation of reading more of Jennifer's work. You can follow Jennifer here.
Melissa Studdard's I Ate The Cosmos for Breakfast has made me hungry for more of her work. She quotes Wallace Stevens, "The poet is the priest if the invisible." Studdard is that High Priestess. Whether it is revealing the invisible to the naked eye or her copious attention to detail, to texture, and to metaphor. There is a touch of eroticism, feminine mystique, that is divine. Each time I read one of these poems I feel like I've learned something else, or else I come away with a curiosity for questions I never before entertained.
Melissa has been involved in VIDA - Women in Literary Arts. Melissa is rocking the poetry Cosmos! You can follow her here
Jericho Brown in person is one thing. Charming,
outlandishly funny and occasionally
sarcastic. At least that has been my experience seeing him at multiple AWP conferences. In his word, I see a much different man. Yes, there is sarcasm, but with a whole different intonation. He has championed a darker but no less real side of life. Cynical, yes, but squarely attuned to the unmistakable divide that festers in America.
Jericho's Louisiana roots never quite seem to be far away. His book, The New Testament kept me asking myself over and over sometimes uncomfortable questions. It also left me wondering how to get this book into more widely read. He has a newer book out that I have not read. but have added to my ever-growing wish list. You can find more on Jerico here.
Anne Barnsgrover wrote in her debut book, with simply smashing imagery. "I feel like a wasps nest nailed to a door, all the stingers dried to rose thorns." This was another Mary (knows how to pick them) Biddinger find. The book, Brazen Creature.
Loving, losing, and all that happens in-between in these poems. Each is bold and unapologetic. Each is brazen. It could be in some ways a feminist manifesto.
Metaphor is not lost on the revenge of the brown recluse. "Our hearts are nothing//but lies and lilac bruises. Old friend, we both want/each other dead tonight." This collection of poems was like an emotional workout. I want more of her work to read!
More on Anne Barnsgrover found here.
Martha Silano is one of what I refer to as the magical Northwest Poets. There are a number of them in the greater Seattle area that are incredible beyond what any single geographical are should be entitled to. Could it be the water? She has five collections of published poetry. I have four of them. I've met her at AWP two or three conferences and my knowledge of her and her work go back a number of years.
In Martha's most recent book, Gravity Assist, published by Saturnalia Books, she toys with all things relative to our orbit. The seen and unseen. Forces and things nearest to us and the way out. Jealous of that star in Orion that isn't~ stare without resentment.
The collection moves quickly and touches on Gerbils in space and wings that were not given. Of course, there is your favorite and mine, Autocorrect! Someone, I don't recall who said there was math in poetry. Yes, it's there. Oh, the things Martha orbits around in this book. She tries to outdo gravity, but the words fall to the page anyway.
But alas, the first book I read of Martha's remains my favorite - Little House of the Immaculate Conception. That's why I keep buying her books and continue to be amazed.
More on Martha Silano found here.
There, you have it, my Six Pack of Poet Crushes for 2019