Monday, December 29, 2008

MASSBOOKS OF THE YEAR/POETRY: Recommended Reading from the 8th Annual Massachusetts Book Awards--2008

Recommended Reading from the 8th Annual Massachusetts Book Awards

The Award Books
Blackbird and Wolf by Henri Cole (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). In these poems the writer strives to fuse the mind and the world,meditation and observation, until what is seen becomes what is felt.

If No Moon by Moira Linehan (Southern Illinois UP). This cohesive and brave collection of lyric poetry invites the reader toexplore the author's devotion to embracing life, grieving death, and pursuing creativity.

Gulf Music by Robert Pinsky (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). Former Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky explores the intersections between individual, cultural, and political memory through the idiosyncratic notion of forgetfulness.

Highly Recommended

Lawrence City by Cesar Sanchez Beras (Wellington House Publishing). Set in Lawrence, Massachusetts, the collection explores town landmarks such as the Ayer Mill clock, City Hall, and Bellevue cemetery.

Inconsiderate Madness by Helen Marie Casey (Black Lawrence Press). Casey’s poems focus on Mary Dyer, a Quaker hanged as a heretic in 17th century Massachusetts, and explore themes of belief, devotion, and the relationship between religion and
the state.

The Alchemy of Grief by Emily Ferrara (Bordighera Press). Ferrara incorporates love, loss, friendship, and transformation in poems about the pain and healing of a grieving mother.

Descartes’ Loneliness by Allen Grossman (New Directions). A combination of comedy and tragedy, Grossman’s collection of poetry about death dares to find humor and peace in loss.

Under Sleep by Daniel Hall (U of Chicago Press). Written over a ten year period as an elegy to Hall’s partner, Under Sleep utilizes a variety of poetic forms and styles to relate the effects of a loved one’s death on the living.

From Mist to Shadow by Robert K. Johnson (Ibbetson Street Press). In a poetic exploration of his own life, Johnson shares thoughts on love, literature, family, careers, and the characters who have colored his experiences.

Beloved Idea by Ann Killough (Alice James Books) Killough struggles to understand through metaphor-heavy verse her feelings toward her nation, evoking images from American religion, literature, and politics.

Easy to Keep, Hard to Keep In by David R. Surette (Koenisha Publications). Surette’s musical verses relate autobiographicalstories from his life in and around Boston.

The Situation by John Skoyles (Carnegie Mellon UP). Skoyles addresses the relationship between life and death while incorporating love, loss, and religion.

Saving the Lamb by B.G. Thurston (Finishing Line Press). These poems use images from nature to illustrate aspects of human life and of the life of the poet in particular.

Judges for the 8th MassBooks in Poetry were Claire Buck (Department of English, Wheaton College),Lawrence Raab (Department of English, Williams College) & Vanessa Vargas (Forbes Library, Northampton)

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