Holiday Recommendations

Poetry Super Highway’s Holiday recommendations for 2020. For yourself, the poetry lover, or the undiscovered poetry lover.

Great Books from Individual Writers:

Holiday in the Islands of Grief by Jeffrey McDaniel
Whale Day by Billy Collins
Holiday in the Islands of Grief by Jeffrey McDaniel

In his new collection, Jeffrey McDaniel confronts the insular and expansive qualities of loss. With electric language and surrealistic imagery, McDaniel’s poems deliver the quotidian elements of middle-age life while weaving us in & out of childhood and adulthood alongside body and mind. The tragic and life affirming share the same page and the same world, reminding us how close corruption can be to innocence; domesticity to fantasy; aging to youth. 

Whale Day by Billy Collins

Billy Collins’s new collection brings together more than fifty poems and showcases his deft mixing of the playful and the serious that has made him one of our country’s most celebrated and widely read poets. Here are poems that leap with whimsy and imagination, yet stay grounded in the familiar, common things of everyday experience. Collins takes us for a walk with an impossibly ancient dog, discovers the original way to eat a banana, meets an Irish spider, and even invites us to his own funeral. Sensitive to the wonders of being alive as well as the thrill of mortality, Whale Day builds on and amplifies Collins’s reputation as one of America’s most interesting and durable poets.

Mowing Leaves of Grass by Matt Sedillo
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver

Mowing Leaves of Grass by Matt Sedillo

“Matt Sedillo’s poetic work is full of history, struggle, tragedy, anger, joy, despair, possibility and faith in the struggles of working class people to overcome the forces of capitalism and racism. If Patrice Lumumba, Rosa Luxembourg, Emiliano Zapata and Ella Baker were alive today, they would all be reading and sharing Matt Sedillo’s work with their comrades in service of organizing the next revolution. He is truly the poet laureate of struggle.” – Paul Ortiz, Author of Emancipation Betrayed and Director of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program

Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver

In “Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver” (Penguin), one of our most beloved writers offers both the best of her work and a spiritual road map of sorts. Spanning more than 50 years and featuring more than 200 poems, the collection shows Oliver, in the early years, turning away from grief and finding in nature a “vast, incredible gift.” Over time, as she carefully observes and records, Oliver extols the beauty and complexity around her and reminds us of the interconnectedness of living.

New Anthologies We Love:

Pushcart Prize XLlV: Best of the Small Presses 2020 Edition
Best American Poetry 2020 edited by Paisley Rekdal
Pushcart Prize XLlV: Best of the Small Presses 2020 Edition

“An invaluable record.” – Kirkus Reivews

“A treasured compilation.” – Library Journal

“A wonderful edition.” – Publishers Weekly

“The Pushcart Prize has changed the face of American literary publishing and has given untold numbers of young writers a boost.” – Charles Baxter

“The Pushcart Prize editions are urgent and absolutely necessary.” – Mary Karr

Best American Poetry 2020 edited by Paisley Rekdal

The state of the world has inspired many to write poetry, and to read it—to share all the rage, beauty, and every other thing under the sun in the way that only poetry can. Now the foremost anthology of contemporary American poetry returns, guest edited by Major Jackson, the poet and editor who, “makes poems that rumble and rock” (poet Dorianne Laux). This brilliant 2019 edition includes some of the year’s most defining, striking, and innovative poems and poets.

Poetry Resources:

Taylor Mali's Metaphor Dice Starter Set
Poem to Book: The Poet's Path to a Traditional Publisher by Emily Harstone
Taylor Mali’s Metaphor Dice Starter Set from Taylor Mali

An ingenious writing tool and poetry prompt generator that helps writers of all levels think and write for figuratively based on the understanding that a metaphor is simply an equation between an idea and an object (with perhaps an adjective thrown in as a variable). The brainchild of poet & educator Taylor Mali (“What Teachers Make”), Metaphor Dice allow the user to “write backwards” by presenting thousands of metaphors to see if any seem worth a few minutes of exploration.

Poem to Book: The Poet’s Path to a Traditional Publisher by Emily Harstone

Don’t wait for inspiration to strike! Whether you’re an aspiring or published poet, this book will help you get in a frame of mind to make creative writing a consistent part of your life. With prompts from Robert Lee Brewer’s popular Writer’s Digest blog, Poetic Asides, you’ll find 125 ideas for writing poems along with the journaling space you need to respond to the prompt.

Blatant Self Promotion:

The Tokyo-Van Nuys Express by Rick LupertGod Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion

The Tokyo-Van Nuys Express by Rick Lupert

Rick Lupert’s 25th collection of poems and latest travelogue written in Japan while visiting Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima, follows in the footsteps of Richard Brautigan and is loosely inspired by his title The Tokyo-Montana Express. Follow Lupert through Japan with his signature wit and poet’s eye as your guide, as he stands in the mysterious “stick line”, as indescribable food is put in his mouth (and described anyway), as a monkey crawls on his head, as Hiroshima looms at the end of it all.

God Wrestler: A Poem for Every Torah Portion by Rick Lupert

A poem for each of the weekly Torah portions, written by Los Angeles poet Rick Lupert who immersed himself in the weekly text and came out on the other side with a poem that adds humor, modern insight, and “reverent irreverence” to his interpretations of these ancient stories around which modern-day Judaism has developed. This collection of Jewish poetry adds to Lupert’s growing canon of Judaic liturgy interpretations which have found receptive audiences and readers, from all over the world, who are seeking modern interpretations of our oldest text.