The Rooster’s Wife – Russell Edson
As an undergrad this book shattered my narrow idea of what a poem could be and do. Edson seems to genuinely have fun with his poems, isn’t afraid of humor or the ludicrous, and, as a result, writes these pseudo fables that create worlds where a man is hiding inside of a monkey suit that is hiding inside of a monkey suit that is inside of a monkey suit. I turn to Edson’s selected poems whenever my brain is feeling stagnant (I turn to his poems a lot).
The Book of Questions – Pablo Neruda
I love when poems ask questions and I love a good list; this book is a list of questions I lose myself in again and again. One of my favorite writing prompts is to take a question from this book and try to write an answer.
Reasons for Moving – Mark Strand
Strand, for me, mastered the feelings of anxiety and displacement in his poetry without leaving the reader feeling hopeless; his speakers walk between two worlds and are trying to find their place in both, trying to find themselves in both. I read his poems and think, “Oh—so that’s how I’ve been feeling.”
The Lumberjack’s Dove – Gennarose Nethercott
Nethercott’s book is a fever dream folktale that holds close the ideas of separation, transformation, and acceptance; it tells us, “There is nowhere to go but forward,” but then it constantly circles back and tells us the story in a new way. This poem is magic and science; it is alchemic.
After You, Dearest Language – Marisol Limon Martinez
A book of poems structured like a cross between a dictionary and a choose-your-own adventure novel where each brief definition takes you into a dream that feels both familiar and strange at the same time and allows you to decide whether you want to read the definition as a whole, or begin to cross reference it with others. When I teach, I tell my students that poetry is made from the words we know and can find anywhere, but they are reanimated in a way that makes them new; this book taught me that.
David Wojciechowski is the author of Dreams I Never Told & Letters I Never Sent (Gold Wake Press). His poems have appeared in Bateau, Jellyfish Magazine, The Laurel Review, Meridian, Figure 1, and other journals as well as in the collaborative writing anthology They Said (Black Lawrence Press). He is a freelance designer and teaches writing and literature in Syracuse, NY. David can be found online at davidwojo.com and on Twitter @MrWojoRising.