Ai’s Cruelty – Ai’s first book of poetry and probably her best. Her short persona poems are sharp as a knife, and aesthetisize pain like no other poet I’ve read.
Russell Edson’s The Tunnel – A collection of Edson’s selected poems. His prose poems are crucial examples for anyone interested in the form. Strange fables and surreal fantasies, Edson’s metaphors transcend meaning and become imaginative transformation, an idea which drives my current work.
Albert Goldbarth’s Budget Travel through Space and Time – Goldbarth is one of the most prolific poets alive, and every poem he writes is a wildly spinning galaxy of anecdote, observation, insight, and image. This was the first book I read by him, and it has remained my favorite.
Sabrina Orah Mark’s Tsim Tsum – Mark is the youngest poet on this list, and Tsim Tsum is her second and latest book. Her poems are whimsical and bizarre, yet emotional too. Like Edson, she writes entirely in prose poems, and like Edson, the poems seem to value possibility and strangeness over meaning.
Joan Murray’s Looking for the Parade – Murray inhabits each poem in this book with a gentle wisdom and a wry sense of humor. Her easy grace is so inspiring to me.