"I'll calm down when you tell me where I can get the latest Paul Muldoon title!"
Welcome to 'Our writers read', where we throw out a question related to poetry and ask readers to jump up and catch it. Got a question you'd like answered? Drop it in the comments section for use in the near future.
We asked New Poetries VI contributors, "Which book of poetry published in the last decade is most often on your bedside table?"
Joey Connolly: Ooga Booga by Frederick Seidel is probably the most persistent offender. In several senses. But if I'm allowed to equivocate then I wouldn't rule out Jen Hadfield's Nigh-no-place or Timothy Donnelly's The Cloud Corporation either.
Adam Crothers: There have been some hefty and valuable Collecteds published in the last decade, and I suspect that Ciaran Carson’s and Frederick Seidel’s have spent more time in my unruly stack (‘on my bedside table’) than any slim volume. But I’m interpreting the question as referring to discrete books of new poems by single authors, and so the correct answer is likely to be Paul Muldoon’s Horse Latitudes (Faber and Faber, 2006). I started reading him sometime after the 2002 publication of Moy Sand and Gravel, making Horse Latitudes the first new Muldoon I bought. And its publication coincided with the beginning of a doctoral dissertation in which he would feature prominently. So, even if one disagrees (as one should) with the occasional suggestion that my poems are overly indebted to this wonderful writer, it may not be surprising that I’ve spent a long time with this book. The image on the Faber hardcover’s dust jacket — George Stubbs’s Mares and Foals without a Background, c.1762 — is the image I most strongly associate with Muldoon’s poetry and indeed with my efforts to say interesting things about it. It’s far from an easy collection, and looking at it now for the first time in a while makes it clear that we need to become reacquainted: ‘everything’, one poem says of Bob Dylan but could say as accurately of its author, ‘seems to fall within his range’, and as such Horse Latitudes is not a book to be thrown overboard. I doubt I’ll outlive its usefulness.
Caoilinn Hughes: Don Paterson's Rain.
J. Kates: Poetry published in the last decade is very seldom on my bedside table, where I prefer classics — right now (I know it’s boring, but true) reading through Shakespeare once again — but books of contemporary poetry are always beside my seat in the Little Room, where right now Robert Gray’s Cumulus holds pride of place.
Nyla Matuk: Maureen McLane’s This Blue, Don Coles’ Where We Might Have Been, Lavinia Greenlaw’s 2003 book, Minsk, and Annie Freud’s The Mirabelles.
Lesley Saunders: I've two books that have become pretty much indispensable and they're like mirror images of each other. Anne Carson's Decreation (2006) and Medbh McGuckian's My Love Has Fared Inland (2008) are constant reminders for me of what can be accomplished with and through and in language. McGuckian plays with grammar and semantics, twists meanings and sense, in the service of psychological / spiritual clarity — her poems are like persons with whom she is having an intense dialogue; whilst Carson deploys an apparently straightforward quasi-colloquial register, mouthed by a series of ironic personae, to express difficult and often very dark emotions / experiences. Whenever I feel my own language is becoming clagged or clichéd, I turn to them.
Claudine Toutoungi: The Old Woman, the Tulip and the Dog by Alicia Ostriker.
Rebecca Watts: If I may extend the decade just a little: Jacob Polley's The Brink (2003).