Mother Love – Rita Dove

Rita Dove’s brilliant retelling of the ancient Greek Demeter and Persephone tale has cycled through my life at every stage. This explosive delicate collection holds all of the ways we mother and daughter up to an unflinching lens.

Atlantis – Mark Doty

No other poet can write with such beautiful excess about the deepest most profound loses as Mark Doty does, especially in this collection centered around losing his lover to AIDS. I dare you to read the title poem and go on with your day as though nothing has changed you.

She Had Some Horses – Joy Harjo

I remember being in class one night, when someone read the title poem from this book. The heavens came alive and Harjo was music everywhere.

Adrienne Rich

When I first heard “Diving into the Wreck” in high school, I finally saw myself in a poem. When I first read “Twenty-One Love Poems,” I finally saw myself as a lesbian in a poem. When Adrienne Rich died, I felt a piece of my heart go with her.

“The Wild Iris” – Louise Gluck

I admire the succinct rich elegance of every carefully carved poem in this collection. And, maybe, even a little bit of their arrogance.

Jen Rouse is the Director of the Center for Teaching and Learning at Cornell College. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, Gulf Stream, Parentheses, Cleaver, Always Crashing, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. Rouse is a two-time finalist for the Charlotte Mew Prize. Headmistress Press has published her books Acid and Tender, CAKE, and Riding with Anne Sexton. Find her at jen-rouse.com and on Twitter @jrouse.

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