I never cease to be amazed at all of the great poets and poetry books out there that I've never heard of. And guess what? The poets in your life (or you, if you have no other poet in your life), don't know 10% of the great work that's available either. So, between now and the holidays (whichever one or ones you celebrate), I'm giving you (and your poet friends and lovers) a gift: My "Top Ten Poetry Books That Should Be On Your Holiday Wish List."
I like anthologies. But more than that, I like anthologies that in addition to being a collection of terrific poems, exceed my expectations about the value of putting together a group of poems in the first place. From The Fishouse is such an anthology.
Of course its packed with great poems--the best of the best of emerging poets from the website with the same name (href="http://www.fishousepoems.org"), dedicated to "the oral and aural aspects of contemporary American poetry"--by poets like Tracy Smith, Evie Shockley, Ilya Kaminsky, Major Jackson, Ross Gay, John Poch, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Matthea Harvey, Camille Dungy, Dan Albergotti, Matthew Dickman, and dozens more like them. But it also comes with a 36-poem CD, tucked inside the back cover for your listening pleasure (complete with playlist of poems following the table of contents in the book, as well). But, wait! There's more...
Here are 10 more reasons to add this book to your Holiday Wish List:
1. In the table of contents, poems are organized into sections according to their general type. Here are some of my favorite chapter headings--each title courtesy of one of the poems contained therein:
"To Whoever Set My Truck on Fire: Poems that Make Various Sorts of Address"
"Cleopatra's Bra: Poems about the Body, the Bawdy, the Sensual, and the Sexy"
"Death and Taxus: Poems Serious about Puns and Word Play"
"Self-Portrait with Sadness, Wild Turkey, and Denis Johnson: Aubades, Elegies, Odes, and Other Traditional Modes"
There are a total of ten chapters, and the best part is that some poets have poems in more than one chapter, for those of us who would like a second drink from our favorite poet's well, thank you very much.
2. There is a forward by Gerald Stern.
3. There is an introduction by the editors, Camille Dungy, Matt O'Donnell, and Jeffrey Thomason.
4. There is "An Index of Poetic Traits" for the serious poetry maven who has memorized every prosodic device listed in The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics. The index is alphabetical (the "A"s include "Address," "Allusion," "Anaphora/Epistrophe," and "Assonance"), and has the following explanation:
This index lists categories of poetic traits that contribute to the sonic quality and/or overall effect of the poems in this book, Each poem is listed in at least three categories. While this is by no means a definitive list, we hope it is a useful starting point for those interested in the mechanics of these poems.
5. Following the above mentioned index is a "Cross-Referenced Index of Poems by Title," which lists each poem in the book alphabetically with at least three relevant poetic strategies that lead to the success of the poem out loud and on the page.
6. There are Contributors Notes (of course!).
7. There's an Acknowledgements Page (again--of course!).
8. There's an About the Editors page.
9. There's an About "From the Fishouse"--a little history, a little love.
10. And finally, all of those great poems. Ok, you twisted my arm. Here's just one:
If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta's opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you've started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel's cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue's explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.
From The Fishouse, An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great. The only reason it shouldn't be on your holiday wish list is that it's already on your shelf!
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Top Ten Poetry Books That Should Be On Your Holiday Wish List: From the Fishouse
was born in the Midwest, grew up in New Mexico, and has lived in the San Francisco bay area for two decades. Terry has published in numerous literary journals, including Best New Poets 2012, Crab Orchard Review, Green Mountains Review, Great River Review, New Millennium Writings, and The Comstock Review. His work has garnered six Pushcart Prize nominations. He is the winner of the 2014 Crab Orchard Review Special Issue Feature Award in Poetry. His chapbook, Altar Call, was a winner in the the 2013 San Gabriel Valley Literary Festival, and appears in the Anthology, Diesel. His chapbook, If They Have Ears to Hear, won the 2012 Copperdome Poetry Chapbook Contest, and is available from Southeast Missouri State University Press. His first full-length collection of poems, In This Room (CW Books, 2016), is now available, and his second, Dharma Rain, was released by Saint Julian Press in October of 2016. Terry is a 2008 poetry MFA graduate of New England College, and a free-lance poetry consultant. For more information about him and his work see www.terrylucas.com