James Wright

His spare, straightforward poems with lyric leaps always pull me in, and usually end with a punch. And no one else can use the words “green” and “lonely” like Wright.

Persephone in America – Alison Townsend

True love is hard to explain, but I loved this book enough to send it to my father, who got his MFA in poetry after retirement. He died shortly after he read it, but not before we had a chance to talk one last time on the phone and agree that this book is sustenance, and true, and beautiful.

West with the Night – Beryl Markham

Not poetry, but a very poetic memoir, this book is about a woman pilot’s life in Africa in the first half of the 20th century. Politically problematic, I’m guessing, but I can still access the feeling of openness inside that I had when I first read this book in the 1980s.

Buffalo Head Solos – Tim Seibles

It’s so difficult to write about politics, race, love, sex, and the mysteries of being a person with all the wounds and oddnesses that entails, but Seibles manages to do it in this book. It’s generous writing that invites you in and gives you plenty to feast on–similes and metaphors like you’ve never had alongside rhythms that feel like the rhythms of the body.

Maggie Smith

I know it’s cool to disdain those who have had success, but I love Maggie’s book Good Bones for how it combines the startling metaphor and the directness of a woman who has put the time into craft and has something to say. Check out her earlier books, too, which are rich with myth and fairy tale.

Katherine Riegel is the author of Love Songs from the End of the World (Main Street Rag 2019), the chapbook Letters to Colin Firth, and two more books of poetry. Her work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, The Offing, Orion, Poets.org, Tin House, and elsewhere. She is co-founder and poetry editor for Sweet Lit, and teaches independent online classes in poetry and creative nonfiction. Find her at katherineriegel.com.

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