RA Back Pocket: Poetry | Wyatt’s World

Poetry might not constitute the highest circulation stats in libraries, but it is ever more relevant. Here are five collections from 2017 to be long remembered, proving reliable suggestions to readers of all interest levels.

The Complete Poems of A.R. Ammons. Vol. 1: 1955–1977; Vol. 2: 1978–2005 by A.R. Ammons (Norton).
Ammons’s open and wide-ranging poems take as subjects the landscape around him and the commonplace of daily life. This complete and key set of works by the two-time National Book Award winner is an essential purchase.

Half-light: Collected Poems 1965–2016 by Frank Bidart (Farrar).
This must-have collection of Bidart’s empathetic exploratory poems gathers past important works along with new poems. Honored this year with a National Book Award, Bidart is also a past winner of the Wallace Stevens Award, the Bollingen Prize, and the PEN/Voelcker Award.

The Book of Endings by Leslie Harrison (Univ. of Akron).
This collection, a finalist for the National Book Award, includes poems of grief and longing. Harrison’s project is a fine suggestion for short, dark days, when readers find themselves in need of solace in the middle of celebrations.

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver (Penguin). Consider Pulitzer Prize-winning Oliver the poet to suggest to readers who think they do not like poetry. Her clarion voice has convinced many of the deep pleasures of the form. In this handpicked collection, Oliver shares her favorite works from over fifty years of writing.

Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith (Graywolf).
For an example of how poetry has become part of the cultural conversation and acts as a means of indictment, turn to Smith’s forceful, contemporary lyric. Here, poetry addresses the seething events of our times, seeking to name but also reframe them. A 2017 LJ Best Poetry selection.


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Neal Wyatt About Neal Wyatt

Neal Wyatt is LJ's reader's advisory columnist. She writes The Reader's Shelf, RA Crossroads, Book Pulse, and Wyatt's World columns. She is currently revising The Readers' Advisory Guide to Genre Fiction, 3d ed. (ALA Editions, 2018). Contact her at nwyatt@mediasourceinc.com.

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