The Beauty of the Husband, Anne Carson
Simply the book that fascinates me most out of many by this massively influential and important contemporary poet: a monumental lesson in aesthetics, from Carson’s relentless, centrifugal examination of the concept of Beauty, to the studied simplicity of her language, casual as ash.
March End Prill, Bryan Sentes
A poetic diary of the mental twists and turns of living in the early 2000s, dense as plutonium, reads like DNA under an electronic microscope. It shows you poetry is often most powerful when it’s about “now”—Its just finding where “now” is that’s difficult.
Clinical Studies, George Slobodzian
These are sacramental poems for, by, and about the flesh and its processes. Birth, death, digestion, sex and all their salivary interims, come under examination in verse like seamlessly operated skin: smooth on the surface, belying the intricate patterns beneath—one taut, organic whole.
Fureur et Mystère, René Char
You might describe Char’s poems the way he describes the people of his hometown in a piece called “Suzerain”: “forts comme des chênes et sensibles comme des oiseaux,” strong as oak trees and sensitive as birds. A hero of the French Resistance during WWII, Char’s surreal, wildly imaginative imagery helps you understand that a poem is only true to “life”, or to the experience of living, insofar as it is true to the enigma of the experience, and the equal hardship and wonder that enigma brings.
Ossuaries, Dionne Brand
I am reading this right now, and I have never learned more about my time, its conflicts, its failings, than in Dionne Brand’s words. Tell you more about it when I’m done. Read it too! You need it!
James Dunnigan is the author of two chapbooks, “The Stained Glass Sequence” (Frog Hollow Press, 2019) and “Wine and Fire” (Cactus Press, 2020). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in such places as Maisonneuve Magazine, CV2, Lantern Magazine, Event Magazine and Montreal Writes. Aut facere scribenda aut scribere legenda since 1994.