For most of 2019, this page tracked what poetry I finished reading each week. Scroll to the bottom of the list to read about my original motiviation to begin this page.
For 2020, I will be tracking what books I finish each week, regardless of genre. I plan to update this page every Sunday afternoon.
(Also, I wrote some short impressions of a few of the 2019 books; hot takes, really. Move fast and review things. The author’s name, if it’s a hyperlink, will take you to the mini-review. I make no promises that there will be more, but who knows? Hope springs infernal.)
4/ Week of 20 Jan
- James C Scott, Seeing Like a State (Yale, 1998)
- Anna Kavan, Ice (Penguin, 1967)
3/ Week of 13 Jan
- Keith Thomas, Religion and the Decline of Magic (Penguin, 1971)
2/ Week of 06 Jan 2020
- Elaine Pagels, Revelations (Penguin, 2012)
1/ Week of 30 Dec 2019
- Clarice Lispector, The Hour of the Star (Benjamin Moser, trns; New Directions, 2011)
- Ishmael Reed, Mumbo Jumbo (Scribner, 1972)
- Jenny Odell, How to Do Nothing (Melville House, 2019)
Weeks 40–52/ Finished in 2019
While I’ve continued to move slowly through several collections, everything unfinished last month remains unfinished. My reading has been dominated by nonfiction, and some new work commitments have begun to take up much more of my time.
Both the nonfiction and the work will continue through the winter, so I’m putting this project on hold until the new year.
(Feel free, if you’d like, to cling to the faint hope that I may yet slam out a few more “hot takes” between now and the end of the year. Who am I to dash your laughably unrealistic expectations?)
Weeks 36–39/ Finished in September
I didn’t finish anything in September, since most of my reading time was devoted to my (I think) 19th re-read of Lord of the Rings. As I have long known, autumn for me is often a time to revisit old texts, like having a familiar TV show or favorite album on in the background while you’re working.
But here’s the poetry I’ve been carrying with me or keeping close this month (I’ve listed them in descending order of how likely I’ll finish in the next few weeks, from most to least):
- H.D., Trilogy (New Directions, 1973, 1998)
- Brenda Hillman, Pieces of Air in the Epic (Wesleyan, 2005)
- JRR Tolkien, Beowulf (Mariner, 2015)
- Thomas Meyer, Beowulf (Punctum, 2012)
- William Brock, Life Supports (Talisman House, 1997)
- Robert Bly, Collected Poems (Norton, 2018)
- Edmond Jabès, The Book of Questions, vol II (Wesleyan, 1991)
- Larry Eigner, Calligraphy Typewriters (Talisman House, 1997)
35/ Week of 26 August
- Reginald Shepherd, Red Clay Weather (Pittsburgh, 2011)
Also, there are some changes coming. See this.
34/ Week of 19 August
- Ken Babstock, On Malice (Coach House, 2014)
- Tracy K Smith, Wade in the Water (Graywolf, 2018)
33/ Week of 12 August
Another week with nothing finished. Mired in several longer things, as well as the arrival of two new books, a Collected and a very large Selected.
32/ Week of 5 August
Nothing. See this.
31/ Week of 29 July
- Robert Bly, The Light Around the Body (Harper & Row, 1967; Norton, 2018)
- Laura (Riding) Jackson, Selected Poems in Five Sets (Persea, 1993)
30/ Week of 22 July
- Reginald Shepherd, Otherhood (Pittsburgh, 2003)
- James Lenfestey, The Marriage Book (Milkweed, 2017)
29/ Week of 15 July
- Robert Bly, Silence in the Snowy Fields (Wesleyan, 1962; Norton, 2018)
- Philip Levine, What Work Is (Knopf, 1991)
- Tom Clark, Easter Sunday (Coffee House, 1987)
28/ Week of 7 July
- CD Wright, The Poet, the Lion, Talking Pictures, El Farolito, a Wedding in St. Roch, the Big Box Store, the Warp in the Mirror, Spring, Midnights, Fire & All (Copper Canyon, 2016)
- Frank O’Hara, Meditations in an Emergency (Grove, 1957)
27/ Week of 1 July
I’m this close to finishing a few books, but I haven’t wanted to rush them, and I’ve had so many distractions…
26/ Week of 24 June
Nothing. Didn’t pick up a book of poetry except to move it out of my way reaching for something else.
25/ Week of 17 June
- Harryette Mullen, Urban Tumbleweed (Graywolf, 2013)
Also, on being half-finished with Finished.
24/ Week of 10 June
- Tomas Tranströmer (Bly, trns), The Half-Finished Heaven (Graywolf, 2001, 2017)
- Jenny George, The Dream of Reason (Copper Canyon, 2018)
23/ Week of 3 June
- Tomas Tranströmer (various translators), For the Living and the Dead (Ecco, 1995)
22/ Week of 27 May
Another week in which I didn’t actually complete anything. I’ve been drifting through some poetry collections that are re-reads for me, but the bulk of my reading has been non-fiction and several novels. But I have posted a few more short “hot takes.”
21/ Week of 20 May
Nothing. Between Anniversaries, which I just started last week, and pushing almost everything else aside to finally finish Through the Eye of a Needle, I have devoted very little time to reading poetry.
In the meantime, here are four “hot takes” — I hope to post a few more this week.
20/ Week of 13 May
- Ada Limón, Bright Dead Things (Milkweed Editions, 2015)
- Melissa Stein, Terrible Blooms (Copper Canyon, 2018)
19/ Week of 6 May
- Whitman, Leaves of Grass (1855 Edition) (Penguin Classics, 1986)
- Ron Padgett, Big Cabin (Coffee House, 2019)
- Todd Boss, Closer than Home (self-published, 1993)
18/ Week of 29 April
- Christopher Logue, War Music (FSG, 2015)
14–17/ Finished in April
- Ronald Johnson, ARK (Flood, 2013)
- John Matthias, Collected Longer Poems (Shearsman, 2012)
- Jim Harrison, Dead Man’s Float (Copper Canyon, 2016)
- JH Prynne, The White Stones (NYRB, 2016)
- Claire Wahmanholm, Night Vision (New Michigan Press, 2017)
- Claire Wahmanholm, Wilder (Milkweed Editions, 2018)
(Update on “Finished” for April.)
13/ Week of 25 Mar
- AR Ammons, Selected Poems (Library of America, 2006)
- Ursula Le Guin, So Far So Good: Final Poems 2014–2018 (Copper Canyon, 2018)
12/ Week of 18 Mar
- Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Oceanic (Copper Canyon, 2018)
- Rosemary Tonks, Bedouin of the London Evening (Bloodaxe, 2014)
11/ Week of 11 Mar
Nothing. Here’s why.
10/ Week of 4 Mar
- Tracy K Smith, Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011)
- CK Williams, The Vigil (FSG, 1997)
9/ Week of 25 Feb
The third week in a row with only one completed book.
- Paisley Rekdal, Imaginary Vessels (Copper Canyon, 2016)
8/ Week of 18 Feb
- Basho (Corman, trns), Backroads to Far Towns (White Pine, 2004)
7/ Week of 11 Feb
- John Taggart, Is Music (Copper Canyon, 2010)
6/ Week of 4 Feb
- WS Merwin, The Lice (Copper Canyon, 2017)
- Anslem Hollo, Guests of Space (Coffee House, 2007)
5/ Week of 28 Jan
- Galway Kinnell, Three Books (Mariner, 2002)
- Nicola Stӑnescu (Cotter, trns), Wheel with a Single Spoke (Archipelago, 2012)
- Tomas Tranströmer (Fulton, trns), The Great Enigma, New Collected Poems (New Directions, 2006)
4/ Week of 21 Jan
- Harryette Mullen, Recyclopedia (Graywolf, 2006)
- Linda Gregg, In the Middle Distance (Graywolf, 2006)
3/ Week of 14 Jan
- Paul Celan (Joris, trns), Breathturn (Green Integer, 2006)
- GS Giscombe, Prairie Style (Dalkey, 2008)
- Rimbaud (Ashbery, trns), Illuminations (Norton, 2011)
2/ Week of 7 Jan
- Larry Levis, The Widening Spell of the Leaves (Pittsburgh, 1991)
- Erin Belieu, Slant Six (Copper Canyon, 2014)
- Mary Ann Caws (ed), Pierre Reverdy (NYRB, 2013)
1/ Week of 31 Dec
- Ken Babstock, Days Into Flatspin (House of Anansi, 2001)
- Ursula Le Guin, Wild Angels (Copper Canyon, 1975/2018)
- Shirley Kaufman, From One Life to Another (Pittsburgh, 1979)
Too Many Books…
At the end of 2018, I realized my pile of poetry to be read had gotten out of control. Many were books I’d begun but not yet finished, or browsed through but to which I felt I had never given a full and close reading. But quite a few others were books I had not yet so much as started.
So I have resolved that I will complete two books of poetry each week in 2019 until I have reduced my poetry TBR stack to my satisfaction.
I say “complete” rather than “read” since there is a sizeable population of very large volumes that I haven’t started and which I know I could never begin and finish in a single week. So in order to complete two books, I’ll probably need to be juggling more like three or four books at a time. So be it.
To hold myself accountable, this page is the ongoing log of poetry books I’ve finished in 2019. I plan to update this each Sunday.