Richard Siken – Crush
This is the book that brought me back to poetry, and I will be forever grateful. After multiple re-reads, I still admire the sheer scale and scope and invention of what poetry can be and look like on the page – and the introspection and interrogation of the meaning of love is something deeply fundamental to my own writing.
Marina Tsvetaeva – Bride of Ice: New Selected Poems (translated by Elaine Feinstein)
If Siken brought me back to poetry, Tsvetaeva solidified its place in my life. This collection brings together her most famous and best-loved poems; sharp-witted, sad, mocking and brave, these poems elevate everything that is intimate and private to something haunting and authentic. There’s both a freedom and a secretiveness to her poetry that makes you feel you’re listening in to something very, very special.
Ghassan Zaqtan – Like a Straw Bird It Follows Me: And Other Poems (translated by Fady Joudah)
Zaqtan has the ability to talk about huge concepts such as space and time and history so eloquently and with such mutability – the past is both yesterday and thousands of years ago; place is specific, but also accessible. His poetry is beautiful, inspiring and political, and I’m immensely grateful to be able to read his work through the translation of Fady Joudah.
Julian Randall – Refuse
I’m easily distracted when I read, but I distinctly remember the first time I read Randall’s poem “A Thousand Cardinals” because everything else stopped. This collection works incredibly to turn the everyday into the mythic and it discusses how the fundamental aspects of life that preoccupy us can both change us, but also help us find the power to move on from them (if we need it).
Courtney Sina Meredith – Brown Girls in Red Lipstick
A brilliant poet from Aotearoa/New Zealand, this collection teaches me how poetry can be angry, funny, silly and proper all at the same time. Poems deal with issues such as poverty, conflict, sexism and racism but they’re also flirty and frivolous, and deeply urban placed in two of my favourite places in the world – Auckland and Berlin.
SK Grout grew up in Aotearoa/New Zealand, has lived in Germany and now splits her time as best she can between London and Auckland. She is the author of the micro chapbook “to be female is to be interrogated” (2018, the poetry annals). She holds a post-graduate degree in creative writing from City, University of London and is a Feedback Editor for Tinderbox Poetry. Her work also appears in Crannóg, Landfall, Rising Phoenix Press, Banshee Lit, Parentheses Journal, Barren Magazine and elsewhere. More information here: https://skgroutpoetry.wixsite.com/poetry