books books books!

March 14, 2023

If you didn’t attend AWP and bring home a huge stack of books (or even if you did!), here’s a new assortment of poetry-book recommendations:

plenty to read

January 31, 2023

Further recommendations for your overburdened bookshelf:

If you’ve been moved by a book of poetry, recent or otherwise, leave a comment with the author and title!

the last of the best

December 31, 2022

Here is the last of the 2022 best-of posts, and the last post of 2022.

Thank you for visiting The Poetry Department, for leaving your comments, and for adding your poetry to the riches of life here in Cascadia, here on Earth. More poetry in 2023!


December 28, 2022

We will probably have one more “best-of” list before the end of the year, but meanwhile, the pundits continue to suggest worthwhile titles for your overburdened shelf. Here are a few more:

‘Tis the season. Cozy up with a book.

Best-of season No. 3

December 22, 2022

Here’s the third round of recommendations for the best poetry books of 2022:

Your recommendations and comments are always welcome!

books, books, books!

November 19, 2022

Pretty soon we will start seeing the annual best-of lists, but for the moment we still have plenty of book recommendations jumping off the shelf. Here’s another batch:

books for fall…

October 29, 2022

The poetry books, and lists of recommended titles, just keep coming!

Cozy up with a poetry book (or two)… and happy reading!

This is a guest post by Sheila Sondik

Do you have stacks of unread poetry books? If you’re reading this blog, I’d guess that you do. The poet Nicole Sealey pledged to read a book of poems every day in August 2017 and has inspired other poetry lovers to do the same every August since. I decided to give The Sealey Challenge a try this year.

I did it! I read 31 books in August! A half dozen or so were by friends, some were by very well-known poets (Ada Limón, Ilya Kaminsky), and the rest were mostly new to me. So many exciting discoveries from my own bookshelves! I was swept up in the glory of poetry.

The most delightful surprise was finding Short Journey Upriver Toward Ōishida, a book I don’t remember acquiring, a discard from the Penetanguishene Public Library in Ontario (in spite of its winning the 2004 Governor General’s Award for English-language Poetry). The whimsical Hiroshige print on the cover may have been what led them to misclassify it as a juvenile book. That print was what caught my eye, and the contents are filled with references to Bashō and his trip to the far north of Japan, as well as a Tanizaki short story. One section of this book is written in the haibun form, combining prose and haiku-like poetry. A multipage prose poem features a full-fruited persimmon tree, passed by chance on a drive. That reminded me of our persimmon tree in Berkeley, which gave our family so much joy. There are also many poems in Roo Borson’s book that were written walking along rivers on repeated visits to Australia. Before the pandemic, I visited Australia several times to see my grandchildren. The Sealey Challenge worked in its mysterious way to bring me to many books like this one that have special meaning for me.

There’s no bureaucracy overseeing The Sealey Challenge. Just gather your stash and read. I found it fun to join the Facebook group to get a glimpse of what others were reading. I posted a weekly photo of what I’d read. The only thing I might change next year is to read some longer collections, that may need more than one day to complete. After all, who’s counting?

. . . . .
Sheila Sondik’s Sealey Challenge list, alphabetically:

Hifsa Ashraf, her deep-rooted scars
Hifsa Ashraf, Wildflowers
Rick Barot, The Galleons
Allison Blevins, Letters to Joan
Roo Borson, Short Journey Upriver Toward Ōishida
Marianne Boruch, Bestiary Dark
Cid Corman, nothing doing
Geffrey Davis, Night Angler
Giorgio de Chirico, Geometry of Shadows
Deborah Digges, Rough Music
Nava Etshalom, The Knives We Need
Linda Gregerson, Canopy
Joan Naviyuk Kane, Dark Traffic
Ilya Kaminsky, Dancing in Odessa
Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic
Laura Kasischke, Space, in Chains
Danusha Lameris, Bonfire Opera
Ye Lijun, My Mountain Country
Ada Limón, The Carrying
Ada Limón, The Hurting Kind
Nancy Chen Long, Wider Than the Sky
Amy Miller, Astronauts
Jim Moore, Prognosis
Joan Murray, Dancing on the Edge
Hoa Nguyen, A Thousand Times you Lose Your Treasure
Bethany Reid, Sparrow
Masayo Saito, Snow Bones
Caroline N. Simpson, Choose Your Own Adventure
Judith Skillman, Oscar the Misanthropist
Sarah White, Iridescent Guest
Charles Wright, Caribou

. . . . .

Sheila Sondik is a Bellingham printmaker and poet. Her poem “At Tennant Lake” was a Merit Award winner in this year’s Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. Her website is


October 18, 2022

It’s a little terrifying to know how many poetry books there are to read. But we wouldn’t want you to miss out, so we’ll keep supplying these lists of recommended titles. (And by the way, we’ll hear soon from a poet who did the big gulp: 31 poetry books in a month as part of the Sealey Challenge.)

more to read

September 27, 2022

Looking for something to read? Here are some more suggestions:

Feel free to add your must-read poetry titles in the Comments.

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