Turtle Island – Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder’s poems brought me home to planet earth, and into the deep cultural heritage of all people whose ancestors walked onto this continent eons or moments ago. This book was responsible more that any other for showing me the power of free verse, free on many levels. We all live on Turtle Island, nourished by mother earth, father sky, in solidarity with all our brothers and sisters.

The Fact of a Door Frame: Poems 1950-2000 – Adrienne Rich

She shook my imprisoned American suburban self. Nearly 60 years ago she penned verse and essays questioning white privilege, sexual identity, racism, economic inequality, environmental degradation, war, and sexism.

Sleepers Joining Hands – Robert Bly

The first poet I ever heard read out loud. His anti war poem, The Teeth Mother Naked At Last, entered me like a hot bullet. It’s violent images, denounced by literary critics of the time, brought home the horror and injustice of the VietNam war.

Song of Unreason – Jim Harrison

Harrison, a successful screen and fiction writer, considered himself first and foremost as a poet. His poems begin simple enough, then dive into the thickets of the soul — our minds being the last and largest frontier of the universe.

Iliad – Homer

This translation in an American vernacular captivated me as an undergraduate — chariots were cars. I was intrigued that this oral poetry could capture the obscene violence of war, the infighting of leaders, and a lust so demonic it begot a ten-year war.

Kristen Swanguarin collects poetry books and animal teeth. A birder, a peacenik, a cyclist, and an amateur poet, (“…since professionals get paid.”) KS is the author of an unpublished manuscript of poetry and prose poems titled, Confessions of a Dog Handler, based on 17 years as a musher in Alaska.


  1. kmerrifi says:

    Great selection, Kristen. Turtle Island is a holy text IMHO.TY.

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