20 poetry books (and more) that keep me in love with poetry

What are 20 poetry books, CDs, readings, memoirs or video recordings that made you fall in love with poetry, the stuff that made you think: I want to do this, I need to do this. What are the influences that kept you going? Don’t put down the stuff that you think you’re “supposed,” to like, but list the core ones, the ones that opened all of this up for you.

NOTE: The original meme (from Eduardo Corral’s blog) only mentioned books but I’m not down with limiting poetry to just what’s found in books. ¿Tu sabes?

20 Poetry Books (in no particular order)
1. Where a Nickel Costs a Dime by Willie Perdomo
2. Alabanza: New and Selected Poems 1982-2002 by Martín Espada
3. Burning Down the House: Selected Poems from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe’s National Poetry Slam Champions by Roger Bonair-Agard, Stephen Colman, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Alix Olson, and Lynne Procope
4. Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, edited by Tony Medina and Louis Reyes Rivera
5. So Often the Pitcher Goes to Water Until It Breaks by Rigoberto González
6. Sonnets from the Puerto Rican by Jack Agüeros
7. The Latin Deli: Prose and Poetry by Judith Ortiz Cofer
8. Aloud: Voices from the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Edited by Miguel Algarín and Bob Holman
9. Martín & Meditations on the South Valley by Jimmy Santiago Baca
10. Poeta en San Francisco by Barbara Jane Reyes
11. Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive by Patrick Rosal
12. Veinte Poemas de Amor y Una Cancion Desesperada de Pablo Neruda
13. Blood Dazzler by Patricia Smith
14. A Poetry Handbook by Mary Oliver
15. The Iceworker Sings and Other Poems by Andrés Montoya
16. Poeta en Nueva York by Federico García Lorca
17. Border-Crosser with a Lamborghini Dream by Juan Felipe Herrera
18. The Splinter Factory by Jeffrey McDaniel
19. The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros
20. Crazy Melon and Chinese Apple by Frances Chung

10 Recordings (in no particular order)
1. The United States of Poetry: Created by Joshua Blum and Bob Holman (DVD)
2. Reading and Commentary at Harvard University: William Carlos Williams (MP3)
3. NYC Slams: Taylor Mali, Beau Sia, Roger Bonair-Agard, Bassey Ikpi, Guy LeCharles Gonzales, Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Yolanda K. Wilkinson, Morris Stegasorus, Kirk Nugent, Felice Belle, Lynne Procope, Marty McConnell, and Bryonn Bain (CD)
4. Palabra: A sampling of contemporary Latino writers from the SFSU Poetry Center: Octavio Paz, Gloria Anzaldua, Jimmy Santiago Baca, Jose Montoya, Lorna Dee Cervantes, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Carlos Fuentes, Gary Soto, Francisco Alarcon, Ernesto Cardenal, Lucha Corpi, Luis Rodriguez, Bernice Zamora, Ana Castillo, Juan Felipe Herrera, Demetria Martinez, Elba Sanchez (VHS)
5. Now the Dead Will Dance the Mambo: Martín Espada (CD)
6. 5 past 13: A Little Bit Louder vol. 1: Suheir Hammad, Patricia Smith, Bob Holman, Staceyann Chin, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Willie Perdomo, Dawn Saylor, Emanuel Xavier along with Elana Bell, Oscar Bermeo, Roger Bonair-Agard, Peter James Conti, Edward Garcia, Guy LeCharles Gonzalez, Sabrina Hayeem-Ladani, Stephen Maher, Marty McConnell, Raymond Daniel Medina, GinnaKarla Nicolas, Ishle Yi Park, Lynne Procope and Rachelle Street (CD)
7. Smoking Lovely: Willie Perdomo (CD)
8. A Natural History of Chicano Literature: Juan Felipe Herrera (YouTube)
9. From a Reading at San Francisco State University, 4 March 1965: Amiri Baraka (MP3)
10. SlamNation: Directed by Paul Devlin (DVD)

10 Live Poetry Readings (in no particular order)
1. Open Mic at “a lil bit louder” (Bar13, NYC) August 13, 2001
2. Martín Espada at the Acentos Bronx Poetry Showcase (Bruckner Bar & Grill, the Bronx) October 13, 2005
3. Jimmy Santiago Baca at the Alameda Juvenile Justice Center (San Leandro) and the Cesar Chavez Library (Salinas) November 6 & 8, 2008
4. Robert Bly, John Hammond, Alan Kushan, Elizabeth Bassford, John Rodriguez, Raymond Daniel Medina, Mara Jebsen and Abena Koomson at the WORD Festival (Lehman College, the Bronx) October 25, 2003
5. Nathaniel Mackey and Hafez Modirzadeh at the deYoung Poetry Series (deYoung Museum, SF) September 7, 2007
6. In The Grove: Pákatelas, Book Release Party and Homage to Andrés Montoya (Arte Américas, Fresno) April 10, 2008
7. Willie Perdomo’s Smoking Lovely book release tour (Various venues throughout NYC) October-November, 2003
8. The National Poetry Slam 2002 (Minneapolis, MN) August 13-17, 2002
9. Amiri Baraka at the Holloway Series, Lunch Poems, and Cave Canem/Poetry for the People readings (UC Berkeley) October 31 & November 1, 2008
10. Pink Pony West featuring Oscar Bermeo and Rich Villar (Cornelia Street Café, NYC) August 26, 2005

3 Memoirs (in no particular order)
1. A Place to Stand by Jimmy Santiago Baca
2. Down These Mean Streets by Piri Thomas
3. Always Running by Luis J. Rodriguez

Books I Read in January

january book1
Originally uploaded
by songbirdmama

Wow, I don’t think I have ever read this much hard fiction since high school but it’s a good break outside of the poetry box with the dual high points of Junot Díaz’s eclectic lingua franca of the New Hersee/Dominicano experience and Djuna Barnes’ solid everywoman prose essay style of 1911-1930 New York City.

For the near future, I need to add some grammar/essay writing books into my diet so I can get some more basics down and then start writing/submitting a couple of poetry reviews. Though I’m not sure that what I want to do is an actual poetry book review style review, I would love to find that in-between road of reviewing that would get a person who liked reading Oscar Wao to get to reading some Smoking Lovely. Ya know? Cuz some of the poetry reviews I’m reading seem more interested in talking to people who already have the book in hand as opposed to getting the poetry into new hands. But that’s a rant for another day.

“The real Bronx has nothing to do with facts, as the real Greenwich Village has nothing to do with facts, as no real good woman has anything to do with facts.”
Djuna Barnes from New York: Prose Essays

Working in the Dark: Reflections of a Poet of the Barrio by Jimmy Santiago Baca
City Eclogue by Ed Roberson
Selected Poems by Gwendolyn Brooks
DC: The New Frontier, Vol. 2 by Darwyn Cooke
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz
Swamp Thing Vol. 2: Love and Death by Alan Moore, Stephen Bissette, John Totleben, and Shawn McManus
May Day Speech by Jean Genet
Slapboxing with Jesus by Victor D. LaValle
Facts for Visitors: Poems by Srikanth Reddy
Dark City by Charles Bernstein
The True Story of the Three Little Pigs by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith
New York: Prose Essays by Djuna Barnes


Originally uploaded by lensfodder

My current media list reveals that at my core lives one proud card carrying N*E*R*D. Check it:

• Currently Reading: The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
I’m dead in the middle of a novel that uses all the sci-fi, ghetto, Nueva Yo and literary vernacular I rep day-to-day. This book’s language is so me that even co-workers have commented to me, “Every time I read the diction in this book, I keep hearing your voice.” You best believe I got some thoughts to share when I finish this bad boy.

• Just Viewed: Battlestar Galactica: Season 4.0
We don’t have any network TV in the Loft and rely on the DVDs to catch up on what’s happening with the Cylons and Colonials. The end of Season 3.0 was a bit of a disappointment that had me fearing that the writers had run out of material and were just making it up as they go along (see X-Files post season 5). Even though it took a few episodes, Season 4.0 paid off like a Blackbird in Deep Space Recon and has me anxiously waiting for the next group of DVDs to drop so I can find out what will happen to our favorite rag-tag fugitive fleet. And since I didn’t drop any spoilers, please don’t leave any here.

• Just Read and Reviewed: DC: The New Frontier, Vol. 2
A great two part story that I would recommend to any casual fan of the DC Pantheon.

• About Time: Saga of the Swamp Thing
Just found out that my local library (and every good nerd has a library card) has quite the graphic novel section with some real gems including most of Alan Moore’s run on Swamp Thing.


Goodreads Review: DC: The New Frontier, Vol. 2

DC: The New Frontier, Vol. 2

DC: The New Frontier, Vol. 2 by Darwyn Cooke
Rating: 4 of 5 stars

A great conclusion to Cooke’s “New Frontier” storyline. Cooke’s plot bounces between 50s nostalgia, 60s activism and the dawning of DC’s Silver Age to present a storyline that plays off all we knew and wish we knew about Cold War US Politics and harbors us into the new age of American Politics. Cooke effectively balances a large number of DC staple characters by focusing on the non-superpowered and the human alter-egoes of his characters to create a narrative that doesn’t default to the Big 3 (Superman, The Batman and Wonder Woman) whenever he needs a deus ex machina.

Cooke’s faux naïve interpretation of the DC Universe with 50s Birth of the Cool art design highlights the retro experience that allows us to reimagine these familiar characters and classic origin stories from a fresh perspective.

And, yes, this is a big morality tale but what else do you expect from a good comic!

View all my reviews.

Books I Read in December

Books and Bookshelves
Originally uploaded by geminipoet

Another good month of reading with a nice blend of contemporary poetics, instructional text, some classics, some graphic novels and at least one children’s book for kicks and whistles. In the new year, I’ma try to read at least one novel a month (fiction, non-fiction, young adult, sci-fi) to mix it up a little bit.

Canticle of Idols by Raina J. León
Sleepers Joining Hands by Robert Bly
De:Tales by Fábio Moon & Gabriel Bá
Dark Hours by Conchitina Cruz
Sonnets to Orpheus by Rainer Maria Rilke
Pepper Spray by Paul Martínez Pompa
Trumpets from the Islands of Their Eviction by Martín Espada
Lobster with Ol’ Dirty Bastard by Michael Cirelli
The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
AmeRícan by Tato Laviera
Countdown to Final Crisis Vol. 04 (Various Authors and Artists)
The Making of a Sonnet: A Norton Anthology edited by Edward Hirsch and Eavan Boland
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke