FIVE BOOKS OF POETRY THAT CRACKED MY BRAIN OPEN (IN A GOOD WAY)

  1. Lyn Hejinian's "My Life" (1980)
    A mother of "language poetry," Hejinian wrote this experimental autobiography in 37 sections of 37 sentences each; she was 37 at the time. I once slipped a love note under the door of her office in the UC Berkeley English department.
  2. Anne Carson's "Glass, Irony, and God" (1995)
    No writer is better at simultaneously working your brain and your heart than the genius Anne Carson. Wuthering Heights, ancient Greece, and contemporary heartbreak all rolled into one.
  3. Juliana Spahr's "Fuck You-Aloha-I Love You" (2001)
    Enough said.
  4. Inger Christensen's "Alphabet" (1981, Danish)
    First line: "Apricot trees exist. Apricot trees exist." The sections evolve according to fibonnacci's sequence, and the book itself becomes a part of nature. Most affecting poetry I've ever encountered. I interviewed her translator, Susanna Nied, for the Denver Quarterly about a year ago.
  5. Claudia Rankine's "Don't Let Me Be Lonely" (2004)
    Life in America after 9/11. Life as a human being whenever. Aloneness and togetherness. Personal and political. Text and image.