Best Books of Poetry 2018: Short List

Sunday, December 23, 2018

At the end of yesterday’s post, I listed the half-dozen books by poets that I would recommend from the shelves of 2018’s publications. Not everybody has enough time, however, especially during the holidays, to peruse an article, so I am providing the “short list” version today, with best wishes for the holiday week! Once again, I would emphasize that not a single one of the books on my list of favorites yesterday made any list by other critics. The politics of book reviewing appears to be just as fragmented as our political landscape. Today, I am expanding my initial list to a total of ten titles, which does reflect some overlapping, discrete preferences.

If This Is Paradise, Why Are We Still Driving by Brendan Lorber (Subplot)

(and in authorial alphabetical order)
Wobble by Rae Armantrout (Wesleyan)
Feeld by jos Charles (Milkweed)
by Ewa Chrusciel (Omnidawn)
Shell Game by Jordan Davis (Edge Books)
City of the Future by Sesshu Foster (Kaya Press)
American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes (Penguin)
Ghost Of by Siana Khoi Nguyen (Omnidawn)
Wade in the Water – Tracy K. Smith (Graywolf)
Sidebend World by Charles Harper Webb (University of Pittsburgh)

Of course, one is always trying to catch up with one’s stack of book to read. The particular book I am most looking forward to reading in the near future is Like by A. E. Stallings (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), and hope to review it sometime in January, 2019. Its absence from the above list should not be taken as an indication of its likely quality. Unfortunately, though, I am not on any book reviewing list, and do not receive any free copies of books.

In many ways, it’s unfair to compare huge collections of poetry with individual collections under 120 pages. I am, therefore, picking two large volumes I would highly recommend separate from shorter collections.
Another Way to Play: Poems 1960-2017 by Michael Lally (Seven Stories)
Monument: Poems New and Selected by Natasha Trethewey (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Note: A few weeks ago, I posted a review of Webb’s book, and for those wishing to read additional commentary on it, here are some links:

Sidebend World by Charles Harper Webb

Postscript: I certain wish the companies that control keyboard instructions would not require me to correct their decisions about what I want to appear on the screen. When I type Mr. Lorber’s last name, I would like it to remain Lorber, and not suddenly appear as Lobber. In the same manner, when I type “Sidebend World,” I would prefer that “Sidebend” not to show up on the screen as “Sideband”! I suppose I should be grateful that Mr. Lorber and Mr. Webb did not each decide on the other’s titles, so that I had to correct the following “suggestion: “Sideband World” by Brendan Lobber.