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A Girl After My Own Heart

Poetry Friday: Poets' Letters and Memoirs

Over the years I've enjoyed many poets' autobiographies and books of letters. So why not make a list of favorites! The following titles are for adults, but some teenagers might like them, too, particularly the ones by Eileen Simpson, Jackie Kay, Mary Karr, and Natasha Trethewey.

Poets in Their Youth, by Eileen B. Simpson (Random House, 1982) Berryman, Lowell, Schwartz, et al.

Red Dust Road: An Autobiographical Journey, by Jackie Kay (Atlas, 2010). Kay's search for her biological parents, one in Scotland, the other in Nigeria.

Lit, by Mary Karr (Harper, 2009). Karr's road to sobriety.

Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, by Natasha Trethewey (University of Georgia Press, 2010) Trethewey returns to her hometown, where her mother was killed and her brother incarcerated.

The Virgin of Bennington (Riverhead, 2001) and Dakota: A Spiritual Geography (Ticknor & Fields, 1993), by Kathleen Norris

Randall Jarrell's Letters (Houghton Mifflin, 1982). Mary Jarrell, editor.

One Art: Letters, by Elizabeth Bishop. Robert Giroux, editor. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994)

Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009)

Heaven's Coast, by Mark Doty (Harper Collins, 1996)

The Triggering Town: Letters and Essays on Poetry and Writing, by Richard Hugo (Norton, 1979)

A Wild Perfection: The Selected Letters of James Wright. Anne Wright and Saundra Rose Maley, editors. (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2005). I read half of this one and got overwhelmed several years ago, but want to return to this book and finish it. 

I may have to revise as I remember more. What are your favorites?

Today is Poetry Friday on many of the children's literature blogs. Karen Edmisten is rounding up the posts at Karen Edmisten: The Blog With The Shockingly Clever Title. For an explanation of Poetry Friday, check here


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Thanks for the list. I saw a few I'm going to order.

Oh, I remember reading Poets in Their Youth, probably on your recommendation, way back when on a train somewhere in New England. (Maybe some combination of visiting you in the city and Jane in Boston?) Loved it. Also loved the Mary Karr ones, though I think the first one best.

About "Beyond Katrina"... well, I lack the proper words to describe it, just great.

He's not a poet, but I just finished (and loved) THE STORY OF CHARLOTTE'S WEB by Sims.

Linda, I'm glad to hear you saw some that interested you.

Michelle, I have been talking about that book for years! I remember Jane read it, too.

Ondrej, she's awesome, isn't she!

Mary Lee, I must look for that one. Thanks for the tip!

We have Poets in Their Youth on our bookshelf -- great one. Lots of great titles here, thanks!

You're welcome, Karen. I found even more poetry-related goings on to check out at the roundup, too.

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