2012: Best Poetry Collections of the Year

Wow.  It’s been another great year of poetry reading! On Wednesday, I listed my chapbook picks of the year. Below, I have listed some of my choice selections concerning full length collections of poetry, although I have to admit that it was hard to narrow my list down to ten books.  As noted, throughout this past year, I have provided longer reviews with some of these books, so you can click on the listed links for more information.

The Wishing Tomb by Amanda Auchter (Perugia Press)  New Orleans takes center stage in Auchter’s second poetry collection.   Exploring the Crescent City’s deep history through  a strong lyrical voice, Auchter presents a diverse and mysterious past that has created this resilient city.

 Notes to the Beloved by Michelle Bitting  (Sacramento Poetry Center Press)  Winner of the 2011 Sacramento Poetry Center Book Contest, Notes to the Beloved is collection that makes the familiar, including everyday fairy tales and portraits of wayward boys,  just a bit more surreal.

 Red Army Red by Jehanne Dubrow (Triquarterly) In her fourth full-length collection, Dubrow remembers the Cold War from behind the Iron Curtain in a variety of works intertwining coming-of-age stories with the larger, more political world.

 Plume by Kathleen Flenniken (University of Washington)  Flenniken grew up next door to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state and worked at Hanford for three years as a civil engineer and hydrologist. Plume is a collection of poems that explore both the poet’s place in this world, as well as Hanford’s role in a larger part of America’s nuclear history.  See my review here.

The Pattern Maker’s Daughter by Sandee Gertz Umbach (Bottom Dog Press) Part exploration of place and history, part coming-of-age narrative, Gertz’s debut collection of poetry brings the reader to the heart of working-class Pennsylvania with her thoughtful narratives of growing up near Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  See my complete review here.

In Broken Latin by Annette Spaulding-Convy (University of Arkansas Press) A woman’s spiritual journey is chronicled in Spaulding-Convy’s semi-autographical collection of poems that includes both narratives and lyrical musings.  See my complete review here.  

Paradise, Indiana by Bruce Snider (LSU Press) A book length elegy mourning the death of a beloved cousin, these poems also explore Midwestern life in its gritty elegance.  I posted a more complete review here.

The Death of Flying Things by Gabriel Welsch (WordTech)  Welsch returns to rural Pennsylvania (a favorite place of mine, if I do say so myself) in his second collection, where he explores both the wonder and tragedy of  rural life.

Notes from the Journey Westward by Joe Wilkins (White Pine Press) Blending both historical and personal pasts, Wilkins returns to the hardscrabble landscape of the American west, depicting the lives of the people who live there.

The Road to Happiness by Johnathon Williams (Antilever Press) In his debut collections, Williams goes on a road trip through the landscape of rural Arkansas, chronicling a family’s past through narrative poems full of gravel and grit.



  1. mdoallas Said:

    So pleased to see Amanda Auchter’s collection here. I reviewed it on my blog. Kathleen Fleniken’s ‘Plume’ is another standout.

    I appreciate your selections and look forward to reading some of the other poets you list here.

  2. kweyant Said:

    Thanks for stopping by!

  3. joe.robert.wilkins Said:

    Thanks, Karen, for the good words!

  4. Karen, you are so kind–thank you! I am mighty honored, especially in this excellent company. xx M

  5. So many books to read! I haven’t read any of these yet! Thanks for the reviews so I know what to pick up at AWP next year!

  6. Gabe Welsch Said:

    Thanks for the nod, Karen! I know you read a lot of poetry, so I am very humbled to be on this list. Thanks again!


  7. kweyant Said:

    Joe, Michelle, and Gabe — loved your work!
    Bernadette — I never get caught up with my reading. Looking forward to your new book in 2013!

  8. Karen, thank you for the mention. I’m honored to be included in such a wonderful group of poets!

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