Danez Smith – Don’t Call Us Dead

Usually I read poetry books by sampling a poem here or there. This was the first poetry book I ever read cover to cover, in one sitting, as if it were a gripping novel in which every page, every line, was the gut-wrenching climax.

Philip Larkin – Collected Poems

Poems like “Poetry of Departures” and “The Less Deceived” have remained in my mind for decades, unintentionally memorized since I first read them. And then he tickles us with “This Be the Verse,” lest we take him — and ourselves — too seriously.

Emily Dickinson – The Gorgeous Nothings

To see these full-color facsimiles of the poems Dickinson wrote on scraps of paper reminds us of the powerful simplicity of her work. It is a book to treasure, to savor, to touch each page and imagine the poet’s urgency in capturing these phrases before they flew away.

Claudia Rankine – Citizen

These genre-bending prose poems do what other books can’t: give us snapshots of everyday racism, moments so fleeting and clear that they demand us to take note and understand.

Philip Metres – The Sound of Listening: Poetry as Refuge and Resistance

Metres gives life to marginalized voices and eloquent refuge from the siren blasts of racism and immigrant hatred. When I find myself wanting to use lines from his poems as epigraphs in my next memoir, I know he is saying something profound.

Catherine Marenghi is an award-winning poet and memoirist. She is author of the acclaimed “Glad Farm: A Memoir” (2016) and the forthcoming “Breaking Bread: Poems” (2020). A Massachusetts native, she is currently working on a book about her Italian immigrant grandparents. She divides her time between Mexico and Cape Cod.

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