The Duino Elegies, Rainer Maria Rilke

For years I kept this book, along with the Book of Hours, next to my bed. Rilke’s poetry is a door straight to the divine.

All About Love, bell hooks

This book literally changed my life, and I recommend it to everyone I know. A masterclass in how to be kind to yourself and to others.

The Collected Poems of Ai

I don’t revisit this as often as I should because her poems are so violent, but Ai is a poet who fundamentally altered the way I think about lyric poetry. I’ve never read poems like hers before or since.

The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, trans. Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani

Nothing does it for me like a perfect love poem, and this book is full of them. It also has a great intro about courtship rituals in Japan’s Heian court, when these women were writing.

Deaf Republic, Ilya Kaminsky

It’s a tricky thing to write political poetry that works outside of its immediate political context, but this book is not only one of the most effective and complex allegories I have ever read, it also has some of my all time favorite love poems. A book that makes you feel every emotion.

Jade Hurter is a poet living in New Orleans. Her recent work has appeared in Iron Horse Literary Review, RHINO, Puerto del Sol, and elsewhere. She teaches English at the University of New Orleans.

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