Requested by B.J. Novak

Poetry

as soko says, first love never die
  1. James Merrill
    If I could write like anyone, it would be him. Elegant and clever like Nabokov, but the intelligence of the verse does not trip up its accessibility. My faves are "The Black Swan," "The Broken Home," "Days of 1964." Bonus: his memoir A Different Person is one of the best I've read.
  2. Frank O'Hara
    I'm sure sales got a boost from madmen. Who cares. Poetry completely (and vernacularly) of its time--that still feels contemporary. Like a pocket version of your coolest friend.
  3. Mary Karr
    The fucking coolest broad. Better known for her memoirs. The poetry is just as good. I especially admire how she always sounds like herself.
  4. Patti Smith
    Like walking through the woods and seeing a wild animal--then following it off the path. Untrained and majestically confident.
  5. Richard Brautigan
    Epically weird & from the gut. Drug fueled but not like Bukowski. More like he's opening a part of his head and letting you walk on in. Bonus: "The Hawkline Monster" and "The Abortion: An Historical Romance 1966" are excellent gonzo novels.
  6. John Milton
    Paradise Lost is so worth reading. Esp for Eve's deep interiority and the most complex recognizable version of Satan I've ever read.
  7. More Modernists: John Berryman, Hart Crane, WD Snodgrass
    These guys have so much odd sorrow and humor. Betting one of them will feel personal to you.
  8. Sucker for the Romantics: Wordsworth, Keats, William Blake
    Read these out loud. Totally different experience. Live wires, all of them.
  9. Sylvia Fucking Plath
    It's so cliche but WHO CARES she was a dreaming mad dry funny black-minded genius.