Still Life – A.S. Byatt

At the bottom of this novel, like a serpent coiled around the root, is Byatt’s hard-earned knowledge that sometimes the very worst thing actually happens. She plucks the beating heart from her own story and throws it into the darkness: it flies on.

Collected Poems, 1909-1962 – T.S. Eliot

Eliot’s evasiveness, playfulness, pretentiousness and vulnerability, all charm me. I have spent more time thinking about his work than that of any other poet.

The Canticle of the Rose – Edith Sitwell

Edith Sitwell’s sensual melopoeia is a constant pleasure. This selection of her poems includes the best of her dancing, prancing abstract early poems, and her incantatory, apocalyptic later poems.

The Divine Comedy – Dante Alighieri

Seven hundred years ago, an embittered failed politician wrote about the mortal soul’s longing for love. I wish I could read a canto every day – I wish I had the time to learn his Comedy by heart.

Poems 1943-1956 – Richard Wilbur

More than any other poet of his generation, Wilbur knew how to think through a poem. The thesis statements of his titles, like “The Beautiful Changes” and “Love Calls Us to the Things of this World” are minor masterpieces of concision in themselves.

Daniel Cowper is a poet, fictionist, and translator; he is the author of a poetry collection, Grotesque Tenderness, published in 2019 by McGill-Queen’s University Press. His poetry chapbook The God of Doors was published in 2017 as a winner of Frog Hollow Press’ Chapbook Contest. His poetry was long-listed for the CBC Poetry Prize in 2017, and has appeared in literary reviews and anthologies in Canada, the US, and Ireland. He lives on Bowen Island with his wife, Emily Osborne, and their infant boy.

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