Books Acquired Recently: Poetry Edition

Keillor, Garrison, ed. Good Poems: American Places. 2011. New York: Penguin Books, 2012.

Kelly, Donika. Bestiary. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016.

I have been feeling the need to read more poetry lately–it’s one way of coping with the horrible U.S. political situation–and was therefore glad that the poet Donika Kelly was giving a reading at my local Barnes & Noble this past Friday evening. It was exactly what a poetry reading should be: well-attended, with some good poetry delivered by a speaker who is engaging and realizes that making a connection with the audience through their commentary on the poems is just as important as the poems themselves. Kelly was clearly happy that there were a lot of students in attendance, and she did a good job trying to make her work accessible to them.

Before the reading, I did some browsing in the poetry section and came across Keillor’s book. I own and like the first in his series of anthologies, Good Poems, and was excited to find that there is a volume focused specifically on place, which is one of my research interests. I have read about a quarter of it this weekend and have not been disappointed.

Published by danielshankcruz

I grew up in New York City and lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Goshen, Indiana; DeKalb, Illinois; and Salt Lake City, Utah before coming to Utica, New York. My mother’s family is Swiss-German Mennonite (i.e., it’s an ethnicity, not necessarily a theological persuasion) and my father’s family is Puerto Rican. I have a Ph.D. in English and currently teach at Utica College. I have also taught at Northern Illinois University and Westminster College in Salt Lake City. My teaching and scholarship are motivated by a passion for social justice, which is why my research focuses on the literature of oppressed groups, especially LGBT persons and people of color. While I primarily read and write about fiction, I am also a devoted reader of poetry because, as William Carlos Williams writes, “It is difficult / to get the news from poems / yet [people] die miserably every day / for lack / of what is found there.” Thinkers who influence me include Marina Abramovic, Kathy Acker, Di Brandt, Ana Castillo, Samuel R. Delany, Percival Everett, Essex Hemphill, Jane Jacobs, Walt Whitman, and the New York School of poets. I am also fond of queer Mennonite writers such as Stephen Beachy, Jan Guenther Braun, Lynnette Dueck/D’anna, and Casey Plett. In my free time I’m either reading, writing the occasional poem, playing board games (especially Scrabble, backgammon, and chess), watching sports (Let’s Go, Mets!), or cooking (curries, stews, roasts…).

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