Anna Akhmatova, The Complete Poems of Anna Akhmatova, translated by Judith Hemschemeyer (Zephyr Press, 2014)

For a life lived in and through poetry, and for lines like this: “And staring me straight in the eyes, / And threatening impending death, / Is an enormous star.”

A. R. Ammons, A Coast of Trees (1981)

For the same reasons I love Medbh McGuckian: language is made strange in Ammons and I never know where the line or the poem will take me. For lines like this: “then, with nothing, we turn / to the cleared particular, not more / nor less than itself, and we realize / that whatever it is it is in the Way and / the Way in it, as in us, emptied full.”

Bhanu Kapil, How To Wash A Heart (Pavilion Poetry LUP, 2020)

For its compassion in relaying the complexites of migrant experience, for its sensitivity to the vulnerability of the human body, and for lines like this: “I want to wake up / In the arms of the person / I love/ And drink coffee with them / On a balcony / That opens up to a forest / Where the moss / Glows green / In the pouring rain.”

Medbh McGuckian, Marconi’s Cottage (Gallery Press, 1991)

Medbh McGuckian speaks in a language that is wholly her own. Every time I read her I learn something new about what poetry is capable of articulating. For lines like this: “I try to love the sky / As the sea’s accomplice, / But nothing human / Can help us know the stars.”

Roger Robertson, A Portable Paradise (Peepal Tree, 2020)

The poems about the Grenfell Tower fire and racial injustice in Britain in A Portable Paradise make this a poetry collection that everybody should read right now. For lines like this: “When police place knees / at your throat, you may not live / to tell of choking.”

Leeanne Quinn is an Irish LGBTQ+ poet. Her debut poetry collection, Before You, was published by Dedalus Press (Ireland) in 2012, a poem from which was highly commended in the Forward Prize for Poetry 2013. Her poems have been widely anthologised, appearing in Windharp: Poems of Ireland Since 1916 and The Forward Book of Poetry 2013, among others. Poems have recently appeared in Poetry Ireland, PN Review, Long Poem Magazine, The Moth, Cyphers, and The Stinging Fly. Her second collection, Some Lives, will be published by Dedalus Press in October 2020. She lives in Munich, Germany.

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