Early in Arundhati Roy’s novel The Ministry of Utmost Happiness, one practitioner of herbal remedies “believed that poetry could cure, or at least go a long way towards curing, almost every ailment. He would prescribe poems to his patients the way other hakims prescribed medicine.” Later, one woman — Tilo — tells her lover, “Let’s read a poem before we sleep.”
I’ve inconsistently adopted Tilo’s habit of reading a little bit of poetry before bed or sometimes at other times. So where does a decided non-expert find great poetry?
I identified ten lists of the best poetry collections published in 2017. Between them, they recommend a whopping — not a word I’ve read in many poems — 110 collections. But just 10 collections are recommended on at least 3 lists. So here they are, the “top 10” poetry collections from 2017. You can find the full list of 100 collections here. May your soul be either soothed or agitated as you read, depending on the collection!
1. Don’t Call Us Dead, by Danez Smith (recommended on 5 lists)
2. Whereas, by Layli Long Soldier (4 lists)
And the remaining 8 of the top 10 are all tied for third, recommended on 3 lists each.
3.1 Half-Light: Collected Poems 1965-2016, by Frank Bidart
3.2 When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, by Chen Chen
3.3. My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter, by Aja Monet
3.4. Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver, by Mary Oliver
3.5. Nature Poem, by Tommy Pico
3.6. Good Bones, by Maggie Smith
3.7. Afterland, by Mai Der Vang
3.8. Phrasis, by Wendy Xu
Have you read any of these? Or others? What do you think?