Top 10 Reviewed Poetry Books of 2019 Announced (And Other Tidbits)

top 10

  • Lit Hub surveyed the best reviewed books of 2019 in the poetry world (east of Eden, as they say), coming up with ten books all poetry fans should have read by now.

Me? I’m batting .200 on this list—enough to earn me a ride on the bench if this were baseball.

Still, there’s always time to work on my fielding and get reading. Two weeks and two days remain to the year, after all, and who says the best poetry of 2019 has to be read in 2019, anyway? The year 2020 makes for a terrific back-up plan.

Want to check your reading against the list? For each book, a tally of rave reviews, positive reviews, mixed reviews, and pans are provided. Of course, in this case, pans are few and far between. They’re all in my kitchen cabinets, in fact.

Curious? You can visit Lit Hub’s list here.

  • “There are presently no open calls for submissions.” I often see this the first week of the month. Which month, you ask? Why, the one following the “Free Open Reading Period,” of course!
  • Do we really want 2020 to arrive? Judging by the political ads we’re already enduring on TV, no.
  • Boycotts. Nothing is more effective, but you need critical mass. Take Facebook (please!). Founder Mark Zuckerberg is wrapping himself up in freedom of speech by deciding politicians (and politicians only) are allowed to lie, lie, lie all they want on Facebook. The real reason is not freedom of speech, of course. It’s dollars. Controversy, outrage, and hate all generate traffic, and that’s the bottom line as far as Zuckerberg is concerned. It’s all about himself and his wallet, the country be damned (and, by God, it is).
  • I thought Americans would drop out of Facebook by the millions after Zuckerberg’s stunt, but I underestimated one very big thing. Addiction. It’s easy to take a bye on your principles when you’re addicted to something.
  • Did you click the link above? If not, know that the most positively reviewed poetry book of the year was Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic.
  • #2 is Jericho Brown’s The Tradition.
  • And #3 is Sally Wen Mao’s Oculus. There. You just cheated. Have you read the top three?
  • Not on the list: National Book Award Winner in Poetry, Arthur Sze’s Sight Lines.
  • People are getting busy. The last 10 days before 25 December are crazy. Used to be you could just follow stars with your camel, putting up at an oasis night to night. Simplicity like that is history, sadly.
  • After seven months, I just contacted a poetry market that promised a 3-month turnaround on submissions. At least the editor was kind enough to respond personally. He said they were caught up with poetry contest submissions and had let the general submissions slide.
  • New cash cow for poetry periodical survival: CONTESTS! (Can you say “ka-ching.”?)
  • New poverty driver for poets: CONTESTS! (Can you say “declined”?)
  • Somebody today: “Happy Ides of December.” Me today: “No, Ides only happen in March, May, July, and October.” Somebody today: “Happy 15th of December.” Me today: “And to you as well!”
  • I haven’t watched a Christmas movie on TV yet. Someone told me I was a Scrooge for this simple reason. But…but…Christmas spirit is not wrapped up in a movie, is it? And who gets to define whom as “Scrooge”? I thought that right was reserved for Charles Dickens!
  • Speaking of Christmas movies, my wife, a fan of the Hallmark Channel (God save us, everyone!), has seen 1,429 Christmas movies so far this year.
  • Or thereabouts.