Obviously, I read a lot of poetry books. But I also read a lot of books that fall into the literary nonfiction genre including history books, journalism, nature writing, and memoirs — especially memoirs. So what better way to celebrate National Poetry Month than by blogging about three memoirs by contemporary poets?
Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl by Sandra Beasley (Random House, 2011) Sandra Beasley is allergic to dairy, soy, egg, beef, shrimp, pine nuts, cucumbers, cashews, cucumbers, and mustard. As a child, Beasley was declared by a nutritionist as “not really designed to survive” — but she did survive, and her memoir is a journey about living in a world where a simple kiss, tinged with cupcake frosting, could kill. Sandra Beasley is the author of the poetry books Theories of Falling and I Was the Jukebox.
One More Theory About Happiness by Paul Guest (HarperCollins, 2010) When he was twelve years old, a bicycling accident left Paul Guest as a quadriplegic. This memoir is a journey of sorts. Never sentimental, but often times funny, Guest’s memoir explores the meanings of healing and hope. Guest is the author of the poetry books, The Resurrection of the Body and the Ruin of the World, Notes for My Body Double, and My Index of Slightly Horrifying Knowledge.
The Mountain and the Fathers by Joe Wilkins (Counterpoint, 2012) Joe Wilkins lost his father at a young age, and his memoir details this emotional loss in the prologue of his book. However, this memoir is not written in traditional linear structure in order of chronological events. Instead, The Mountain and the Fathers is a collection of essays about the author’s relationships with both the men in his life and the harsh landscape that makes up his world. Set in the backdrop of the “Big Dry” of Eastern Montana, Wilkins book has been compared to the works of Norman Maclean and Jim Harrison. Joe Wilkins is the author of the poetry collection, Killing the Murnion Dogs.
All three books should be added to your reading list! And if you have any suggestions for memoirs by poets, please drop me a note. I’m always looking for more good reading.