The Book of Judas – Brendan Kennelly

This is a fascinating book which is a 400-page epic poem in twelve parts, the style and structure of the poems speaks volume to me, an open letter to god on the sexual, political, and social economic, it is a work of moral terrorism, a poem on meeting Judas who is severed and articulate, cold and fiery, ancient and contemporary, an essential part of our culture, and of each one of us, skilled in the necessary, appalling art of judging each other.

Collected Poems Weldon Kees

The Collected Poems by Weldon Kees is my second choice from one of my favourite American poets, I was first attracted to Kee’s by his disappearance and his mystery but this book I keep returning to and reading more, his poems have a wisdom, like inscriptions of charm full of riddles and curses which you can’t help falling under his spell. His poems are apocalyptic and his life a mystery, but the sheer emotional desolation of his work is redeemed by his imaginative brilliance.

Laureate’s Block – Tony Harrison

This is for me the best of Harrison, vigorous and combative, often tender and funny, the title poem achieved notoriety when it was published during the run up to the announcement of the new Poet Laureate, it is one of several republican poems that Harrison has published over the last few years,

“You’ll never hear me heave an envious sigh.
I’d sooner be a free man with no butts, Free not to have to puff some prince’s wedding,
Free to say up yours to Tony Blair,
To write an ode on Charles I’s beheading
And regret the restoration of his heir…”

Songs of Love & Grief – Heinrich Heine

Is undoubtedly Germany’s most significant poet second in importance to Goethe, the poems are deceptively simple on the surface, the multiple allusions, word play, and shifts and break in diction. Revealing the identification and alienation from German culture, these poems have light, yet sadness in imagery and romantic pathos, this collection has some of the best poems on love and the structures of grief that I’ve read.

Quick Question – John Ashbery

is my last choice, for me this collection poetry appeals not because of the wisdom packaged into form, but because of the elusiveness and mysterious promise of his lines remind us that we always have a future and a condition of meaningfulness to start out toward, with such rich poetic gems as “Unfit To Stand Trial”,

“A beautiful debut comes to mind;
New smells, new songs, strands too tightly wound,
Music- rhythms more secure, glancing harmonies.
They’re pharmacies.”

Matt Duggar’s poems have appeared in various journals such as The Potomac Review, The Journal, EyeFlash Poetry, Marble Poetry Magazine, his second full collection Woodworm (Hedgehog Poetry Press) is now available, his first full collection Dystopia 38.10 won the erbacce prize (2015) also won the Into the Void Prize (2016) and was one of the Winners of the Naji Naaman Literary Prize (2019) (Honours for Complete Works).

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