Mary Lambert – Shame Is an Ocean I Swim Across
Lambert’s free-verse collection tackles the isolation of mental illness, illustrates the wonders of exploring queer female sexuality, and never hesitates to go there–to those dark places of brutal, refreshing honesty about trauma and self-esteem. All that and a side of bold humor, because not only is it a warm and sharp feeling to read what you can relate to, it’s also important for people who can’t relate to understand that these things aren’t the end of the world and certainly aren’t without their colorful and victorious angles.
William Shakespeare – The Complete Works
Well, he isn’t exactly obscure, but as far as documentation goes, Shakespeare pioneered the integration of poetry and narrative (and also performance art–what a guy!). Shakespeare’s words transport the audience into the buzzing minds of the characters in such a way that no, of course this isn’t how people really talk, but it’s the print version of how they think–like describing a photograph in detail, Shakespeare harnesses the essence of the ever-emotional human thought process via vivid imagery and freedom for the reader to experiment.
Yoko Ono – Acorn
I don’t say this lightly, but I would trust Yoko Ono’s poetry as my therapist (right up there with the Polar Bear sculpture at the Musée d’Orsay, and my actual therapist, of course); in Acorn, I found reasons to be calm and wide-eyed that I never could’ve thought up. Using a slightly how-to style, Ono has written a mindful journey of nature, human connection, and the intimacy between the two as she brings reader attention to the closeness of the sky or the quiet endearment that we possess for our friends.
Robert Bresson – Notes on the Cinematograph
Although intended as an accumulation of Bresson’s wisdom in ascetic filmmaking across his career, Notes on the Cinematograph reflects on how we, as humans, connect with art, and its tips on running a set and trusting a production act as sage advice regarding trust in one’s fellow human and world. I’d consider Bresson to be a poet as well as a director, because his notes from over the years are highly evocative and wise; every one-liner has a life of its own and demands that we smoke only what we’ve got.
Brynne Rebele-Henry – Fleshgraphs
WARNING LABEL: Though it’ll be tempting, do not consume too much of this book at once; Rebele-Henry’s poetry is formatted in one of my favorite ways (numerically and populated by a curious ensemble cast), but even the one-liners are extremely rich and dark. This surreal little book is packed with beautifully gruesome imagery that tosses the reader from one body part to the next–it’s about the freedom of sexuality and substance versus the insecurities and dangers that accompany our bodies.
Fran-Claire Kenney (she/her) is a Queer writer, filmmaker, and student based near Philadelphia. Her work has appeared in Coffin Bell Journal, New Pop Lit, and Wards Lit Mag, and she has been awarded by The Short Story Project. Kenney is on Twitter, YouTube, and probably the couch as well.