It’s been a great summer of reading. It’s also been the summer of second books, with a lot of second collections by many of my favorite poets. If you have not read these great books, put them on your fall reading list.
The Wishing Tomb by Amanda Auchter (Perugia Press) New Orleans takes center stage in Amanda Auchter’s second poetry collection. Exploring the Crescent City’s deep history through a strong lyrical voice, readers learn about Fred Staten, a nightclub performer who was also considered as the King of Voodoo; Sister Francis Xavier Herbert, an Ursuline nun who was the first woman pharmacist in America; and Maryann Albert, the mother of Louis Armstrong. The tragedy of Hurricane Katrina also is present in this collection, although it is not the focus, as Auchter dives into the diverse and mysterious past that has created this resilient city. (First Book: The Glass Crib)
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 containing poems that are caught between the lyric and the narrative. Whether she is describing a wife watching her husband untangle holiday lights or retelling Alice in Wonderland’s fall through the rabbit hole, Bitting creates magic, making familiar stories just a little bit surreal. My favorite poem “Boys Like You” can actually be found online here. (First Book: Good Friday Kiss)
The Children by Paula Bohince (Sarabande Books) Fans of the Scrapper Poet know how much I love Paula Bohince’s work, and her second collection, The Children, did not disappoint. Writing serene pastorals, Bohince plucks elements from the natural world — bees, milkweed pods, dogwood — to create a world of isolated beauty. Still, with poems like “Everywhere I Went That Spring, I Was Alone” anyone reading this book will wander away feeling just a little bit lonely. (First Book: Incident at the Edge of Bayonet Woods)
Home Burial by Michael McGriff (Copper Canyon Press) A work of gritty working-class landscapes, Michael McGriff’s Home Burial details places and people of hardship. Whether he is describing a pastoral-like scene of deer bones and rats or retelling a story about catfishing, McGriff draws the reader into a world of tough and stubborn living. (First Book: Dismantling the Hills)
The Death of Flying Things by Gabriel Welsch (WordTech) Gabriel 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 where interactions between humans and the natural world are favorite subjects. (First Book: Dirt and All Its Dense Labor)