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Suggestions for the #ReadMorePoems challenge

So you want to read more poems, but you're not sure where to begin, or you love poems and read them all the time, but always want more suggestions? Great! Welcome! This post will be updated frequently and offer suggestions for poems to read for each of the 2016 "#ReadMorePoems" poetry challenge. These categories are not meant to be exhaustive, and they are left intentionally broad. As always, I encourage you to choose divese texts for every category. Don't worry if your picks overlap categories. You can either count that book for multiple categories, or, better yet, choose another book for any overlaps.

1) A book of peoms by a Lambda Lit Award winner or finalst

The Lambda Literary foundation keeps a handy list of past winners and finalists, so I encourage you to browse around over there. Some titles I recommend are Saeed Jones's Prelude to a Bruise and Meg Day's Last Psalm at Sea Level. (Full disclosure: my first book, Mysterious Acts by My People won a Lammy in 2014.)


2) A book of poems by a woman of color

There are so many incredible books of poetry by women of color, and I left this category broad on purpose. I recommend Turn by Wendy Chin-Tanner to start you off.


3) A book of poems by a trans or genderqueer writer

 Oliver Bendorf's book The Spectral Wilderness knocks my socks off. Be sure to check out the amazing anthology Troubling the Line ed. by TC Tolbert and Trace Peterson, too.


4) A chapbook

A chapbook is a short book of poems, around 20 pages, usually staple bound or sewn. It's like a mini book, and many are handmade. Many writers publish chapbooks before (well, and after) their first full-length collection debuts. Dancing Girl Press, Hyacinth Girl Press and Gazing Grain Press are all great chapbook presses. You can't go wrong choosing a title from there.


5) A book of poems in translation

I'm reading Rilke Shake by Angélica Freitas (tr. by Hilary Kaplan) right now, and loving it.


6) A book of poems by a writer not from the USA

I haven't read it yet, but on my list is Uyghurland, the Furthest Exile by Ahmatjan Osman, (Translated from the Uyghur and Arabic by Jeffrey Yang with the author), a poet from Turkistan.  

7) A book of poems by someone from the Midwest or South

Because not everyone lives in NYC, and it is a cruel myth that you need to move to a coast to create art! Ideally you'd pick someone who isn't just in the Midwest or South for grad school, but is actually from there and still living there, but that might be me being picky. I'm born and raised in Iowa and happily returned here as soon as I could. Squares and Rebels press put out some great anthologies of queer Midwesterners: When We Become Weavers ed. by Kate Lynn Hibbard and Among the Leaves by Raymond Luczack, and Douglas Ray edited the amazing The Queer South antohology recently. (Another disclosure: I'm in both Hibbard's and Ray's anthologies.) In terms of single volumes of poetry, I recommend Kristen Stone's Domestication Handbook and Rebecca Lehmann's Between the Crackups.


8) A book of poems by a disabled writer.

Raymond Luczak is one of my favorite poets. Check out his book How to Kill Poetry. There's also an incredible anthology, QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology and Beauty is a Verb, ed. by Sheila Black and Jennifer Bartlett.


9) A literary journal that focuses on poetry.

Yes, you could read Poetry magazine, but let's broaden our horizons a bit, shall we? Check out Adrienne or Assaracus or Nepantla.


10) A book of poems published in the last five years.

When I first suggested this challenge to a friend, he starting naming his favorite books of poems, but none of them had been published after 2000. Most of my suggestions are recently-published books, but if you feel you always read recent publications, switch this around and read something older. How about He Do the Gay Men in Different Voices by Stephen S. Mills , or if you want something older, check out June Jordon


All of these are just some suggestions, and I'd love to keep adding to this list, but I wanted to start off with one or two ideas for each category for anyone who wants to jump right in. Don't forget to use the hashtag #readmorepoems if you share your reading on social media, and stay tuned for the Read More Poems podcast.