Monday, 14 December 2009

Slim volumes, rich pickings: poetry2Ks

Following a little off-blog abuse for my book choices, which is exactly what I hoped to inspire, here's my list of 10 favourite poetry collections from the last decade, all plucked from my own bookshelves rather than other lists...

De/compositions - W.D. Snodgrass (one of the best American poets of recent decades, this is a wonderfully entertaining book of bad, supposed early versions of great poems - witty and educational)
First Things When - Robert Rehder (American living in Switzerland, funny and profound)
The Invisible Kings - David Morley (pitch perfect)
These Days - Leontia Flynn (classic lively debut collection)
Dart - Alice Oswald (atmospheric exploration of a river from perhaps the decade's strongest emerging figure)
Mandelson, Mandelson - David Herd (Alexander Pope crossed with Frank O'Hara in the Age of Peter)
Tramp in Flame - Paul Farley (mature third collection syndrome)
The Drowned Book - SeanO'Brien (hard to choose between this and Downriver, to be honest)
Nelson and the Huruburu Bird - Mairead Byrne (Irish poet now in the US, fantastically hybridising before your eyes in this book)
Ideas Have Legs - Ian McMillan vs Andy Martin (a personal favourite as a book - meaning book as object, some strong McMillan poems combined with inventive design, accessible, funny but also moving and powerful)

I've not included anthologies in that list. Neil Astley's Staying Alive would be my essential anthology of the decade, though the 2nd most read is Legitimate Dangers, edited by Michael Dumanis and Cate Marvin, a great wedge of younger American poets I found far more exciting than, say, those anthologised in Bloodaxe's recent Voice Recognition.

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