Friday, September 12, 2008

Poetry Titles

Michael Atkinson has an enjoyable piece on the Poetry Foundation website about the titles of poetry collections. He says, "A gangbusters poetry book title should not only cook with language, but echo and sing of the real world in ways new to us. Ideally, it should suggest that a feast is before you, and that it will taste of ideas and humankind and beauty." It was enough to send me to my bookshelves to create my own top-ten list of titles culled from my collection. The quality of the poetry in the books had no bearing on the ranking. I just tried to credit the most engaging titles.

1. Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O’Hara
2. What Narcissism Means to Me by Tony Hoagland
3. Elegy for the Southern Drawl by Rodney Jones
4. Talking Dirty to the Gods by Yusef Komanyakaa
5. The Palm at the End of the Mind by Wallace Stevens
6. Saints of South Dakota by Katharine Whitcomb
7. The Theory & Practice of Rivers by Jim Harrison
8. The Night World and the Word Night by Franz Wright
9. Dime Store Erotics by Ann Townsend
10. A Hummock in the Malookas by Matthew Rohrer

Honorable Mention (three titles that aren’t technically eligible by my self-imposed rules, but that I want to recognize anyway): God Hunger by Michael Ryan (used to own the book, but no longer do), First Course in Turbulence by Dean Young (never owned the book), and The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir by Richard Hugo (one of the all-time great titles by a master of great titles; I own Making Certain It Goes On, his collected poems, which includes The Lady in Kicking Horse Reservoir).

1 comment:

Martian Bracelets said...

What a list. The Palm at the End of the Mind!