Charles River

Charles River
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Derrida

"Messianicity is not messianism ... even though this distinction remains fragile and enigmatic." (Jacques Derrida)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Top Poetry Titles of 2010

Like floral holidays, year-end book lists are an instrument of the industries which benefit from them; in this case, the book agents and publishing industry executives whose business it is to dictate intelligent taste and how it should be produced, packaged, and consumed. But as Don DeLillo drily notes, “all lists are forms of cultural hysteria.”

I offer my own, then, with that cautionary framing, and by way of providing a counter-word to the stale repetitions of the lists found in the pages of the New York Times, The New Yorker, and all those factories of institutional conformity. In no particular order, and without annotation or any claim to having sampled more than a fraction of what was published this year, here are the poetry titles that I found most compelling in 2010.

(N.B. -- In looking over this list I can't help but notice that of the thirteen living poets, only four are younger than me, and then by just a slim margin. This is a problem. Perhaps one resolution for 2011 will be to read younger poets and not just my contemporaries or elders).

Squeezed Light: Collected Poems 1994-2005 – Lissa Wolsak (Station Hill)

Luminous Epinoia – Peter O’Leary (The Cultural Society)

Trance Archive: Selected and New Poems – Andrew Joron (City Lights)

Roche Limit – Andrew Zawacki (Tir Aux Pigeons)

Of Sarah: Lines & Fragments – Julie Carr (Coffee House)

Pitch: Drafts 77-95 – Rachel Blau DuPlessis (Salt)

Driven to Abstraction – Rosmarie Waldrop (New Directions)

Is Music: Selected Poems – John Taggart, edited by Peter O'Leary (Copper Canyon)

Reason and Other Women – Alice Notley (Chax)

R's Boat - Lisa Robertson (UC Press)

Mean Free Path - Ben Lerner (Copper Canyon)

Collected Poems – Gustaf Sobin, edited by Andrew Joron & Andrew Zawacki (Talisman)

engulf—enkindle – Anja Utler, translated by Kurt Beals (Burning Deck)

New Selected Poems and Translations – Ezra Pound, edited by Richard Sieburth (New Directions)

To Be At Music: Essays & Talks – Norma Cole (Omnidawn)

The H.D. Book – Robert Duncan, edited by Michael Boughn & Victor Coleman (UC Press)

And two outstanding critical works:

Norman Finkelstein’s On Mount Vision: Forms of the Sacred in Contemporary American Poetry (Iowa UP)

Marjorie Perloff’s Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century (U Chicago)

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