These Just In
Sleeping it Off in Rapid City: Poems New and Selected by August Kleinzahler (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). I know Keinzahler's work from poems here and there, the occasional essay, and from talking with poet Robert VanderMolen, who corresponds regularly with Kleinzahler. This book has gotten a fair amount of publicity, and a quick scan-through seems rewarding. I am looking forward to spending some time with this one.
Sea Change: Poems by Jorie Graham (ECCO/HarperCollins, 2008). I've never warmed much to Graham's work, but I admire her bravura style--she always seem to teach me something I don't otherwise know about risk; no small thing in poetry. We'll see.
Watching the Spring Festival: Poems by Frank Bidart (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008). I've loved and followed Bidart's work ever since finding out that, as a young poet, he was a friend and confidant of Elizabeth Bishop. I recommend that everyone get a copy of Bidart's In The Western Night: Collected Poems, 1965-1990 and read their way forward in his work. Bidart is a major American poet with great poetic sensibility. One of my favorites.
Black Lightning: Poetry in Progress by Eileen Tabios (The Asian American Writers' Workshop, 1998). Because of the class on revision I am teaching on Friday, I have spent a bit of time with this over the past several days. What a great book it is.
Tabios works her way through the drafting and revision process in the work of fifteen Asian-American poets, including herself. The essays are meticulous, with copies of drafts, redrafts, interviews, and an almost "working out loud" style that is utterly compelling. The poets covered are as diverse as Mei Mei Berssenbrugge, Garrett Hongo, Meena Alexander, and John Yau. The book is also physically beautiful.
I almost can't put this one down.