Previous month:
September 2021
Next month:
November 2021

Gwendolyn Brooks, on Library Way

Gwendolyn Brooks plaque

A brass sidewalk plaque with a quotation by Gwendolyn Brooks on Library Way, 41st Street between Fifth and Park Avenues, in Midtown Manhattan. The artist is Gregg LeFevre. This and the other 95 plaques honoring a variety of authors (Twain, Yeats, Emily Dickinson, and Lucille Clifton among them) were installed in 1998. Brooks died in 2000. 

The Poetry Friday roundup is at the blog Teacher Dance.

Some poetry bests

Super Slide

Publishers Weekly recently announced its list for best poetry books of the year:

The Essential June Jordan, edited by Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller (Copper Canyon)

Frank: Sonnets, by Diane Seuss (Graywolf)

Playlist for the Apocalypse, by Rita Dove (Norton)

The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void, by Jackie Wang (Nightboat)

A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, by Hoa Nguyen (Wave)


A few weeks ago the National Book Award for Poetry contenders were long-listed; then the finalists were posted. The roster of the latter overlaps with Publishers Weekly on two books.

What Noise Against the Cane, by Desiree C. Bailey (Yale)

Floaters, by Martín Espada (Norton)

Sho, by Douglas Kearney (Wave)

A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure, by Hoa Nguyen (Wave)

The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void, by Jackie Wang (Nightboat)


Last week the T.S. Eliot Prize committee announced the contenders for 2021's award; these books are from British and Irish publishers. I do recognize one name, Kevin Young, as American. Young is the New Yorker's poetry editor and the director of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture.

All the Names Given, by Raymond Antrobus (Picador)

A Blood Condition, by Kayo Chingonyi (Chatto & Windus)

Men Who Feed Pigeons, by Selima Hill (Bloodaxe)

Eat Or We Both Starve, by Victoria Kennefick (Carcanet)

The Kids, by Hannah Lowe (Bloodaxe)

Ransom, by Michael Symmons Roberts (Cape Poetry)

single window, by Daniel Sluman (Nine Arches Press)

C+nto & Othered Poems, by Joelle Taylor (The Westbourne Press)

A Year in the New Life, by Jack Underwood (Faber)

Stones, by Kevin Young (Cape Poetry)


I think of these lists as great starting places for learning more. For instance, Kevin Young's name is the only one I know on the Eliot list, but now I have a bunch of other authors whose work I might like to check out.

The Poetry Friday roundup is at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Photo by ST, 2021.

October in the park

Pond at the park

I am so happy that a search for a poem to go with this photograph has led me to "The Properties of Light," by Eric Gamalinda, which has me looking forward to reading more of his work. The poem begins,

Mid-October in Central Park, one of the elms
has changed early, burning with a light
grown accustomed to its own magnificence,

You can read the rest at the Poetry Foundation.

Before signing off, I'll add another recommendation: Paige Lewis's Space Struck (Sarabande Books, 2019). Publishers Weekly says, "Like the natural environment that they often reference, Lewis’s poems are sincere, strange and vulnerable, a combination that makes this work both fragile and vital." You can hear their wonderful interview with Franny Choi and Danez Smith at the VS podcast here. I'm hoping to recommend a collection of poetry each week, and I'd love to know what you're reading, too. 

The Poetry Friday roundup, with links to more verses and poetry talk is over at Bridget Magee's place.

Photo by ST: The pond, Central Park, mid-October 2021.

Tempest, a poem about tea

Today's post is a rerun of a prose poem I wrote some years back.




Take trip to Ireland. Read Edna O'Brien. Drink lots of tea. Return home. Think of nothing but tea. Make tea with tea bags. Terrible. Not it. Unable to read Edna O'Brien. Lunch with friend who spent year in Australia drinking tea. Friend says bought teapot after similar tea experience. Friend also recommends English Breakfast. Resolve to purchase teapot. Find two-cup teapot for eight dollars. Bargain. Realize loose tea is key. Milk and sugar cubes, too. Buy loose tea in tin at fancy deli. Have never in life made tea without tea bags. Have never made much tea, period. Cast yearning glance at unresponsive Mr. Coffee. Panic. Australian adventurer unavailable for counsel. Remember not knowing how to bake potatoes. Who knew? Fannie knew. Consult Fannie Farmer Cookbook on tea. Fannie knows. Fannie tells. Love Fannie. Boil fresh water. Warm teapot with boiling water. Pour out. Add big spoon of tea, more water. Strategy involved but do okay. Let pot, tea leaves, water sit. Five minutes later—tea. Breathe sigh of relief. Read Edna O'Brien.

by Susan Thomsen
published in Tea: A Magazine


The Poetry Friday roundup for October 8th is at author Irene Latham's blog, Live Your Poem.

Fannie Farmer

Photo by ST. My well-worn copy of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook.