The Poetry Concierge Recommends

. . . a poem for Katie of 5cities6women!

Katie, in addition to being a blogger and all-around awesome human, is also my friend and neighbor, and she kindly reminded me last weekend that I meant to start up the Poetry Concierge (I sure need a logo, don’t I?).

I’m delighted that Katie wrote in with answers to the Poetry Concierge questionnaire so we can kick off the series in style.

1. When you read fiction, who’s your go-to author?

Not to be difficult, but I don’t have a go-to author for fiction. Lately, I just grab whatever new, well-reviewed or personally recommended stuff I can find. When I was reading lots of short stories, I read everything I could by Stacey Richter and TC Boyle and Lorrie Moore, but now I’m on novels and it’s all random.

2. If you read nonfiction, which subjects are most likely to interest you? (cultural history, science, biography, memoir, survival stories?)

Memoir, history, anthropology, travel stories

3. If you were stuck on a desert island for a week, which five books would you bring to keep you entertained?

Catch-22 (read it); Sea of Hooks (reading it); Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Tryptich (reading it very slowly); Americanah (want to read it); My Date with Satan (read it)

4. If you were on a five-year mission to Mars, which five books would you bring to keep you sane?

5 books for 5 years? Yikes! Ok, for fiction, Catch-22 again, Jazz, and Cloud Atlas; for nonfiction, Wade Davis’s The Wayfinders (just seems appropriate), and a TBD book on dealing with claustrophobia

5. What kinds of questions are most likely to keep you up at night? (death, the nature of love, politics, environmental issues, meaning of life, end of the world, justice and injustice, etc?)

Nothing keeps me up at night because I’m possibly narcoleptic. I guess if I had to pick something though, I’d say meaning of life and death, and whether I’m doing the right things to make the most of my time here on this planet.

6. If you’ve read poetry before, what have you liked? What have you disliked?

I’ve always liked the WWI poets and the Beats, especially Diane diPrima. I like ee cummings, and TS Eliot but often feel like I don’t fully understand him. I’ve liked the little bit of Catherine Pierce I’ve read recently, but I don’t generally speaking have an allegiance to any particular poet or style – though I’m always really impressed with a good villanelle.


Ok, so here’s hoping I get this right. Based on Katie’s answers, I’m recommending:

“Myth,” by Natasha Trethewey

Why? Well, here are a few reasons:

  • It’s a modified villanelle
  • As a modified villanelle that works like a palindrome, its structure is repetitive and circular, qualities associated with Catch-22 (as I understand it; I admit to never having read the novel). The attention to form often characterizes the poetry of World War One, as well.
  • It meditates on the meaning and perception of death, and the permeability of sleep
  • Natasha Trethewey is the current Poet Laureate of the United States — she’s the real deal.

Katie, I hope you like “Myth”!


Would you like the Poetry Concierge to make a recommendation for you? Check out the introductory post, and send your answers to the questionnaire, along with the name and/or blog you’d like posted with the reply, to rosemaryandreadingglasses [at] gmail [dot] com.

18 thoughts on “The Poetry Concierge Recommends

      • You are not kidding. I used to teach technical writing classes at the college level, and I remember one excruciating experience when a student pretty much forced me to take home her poetry to read. I tried “I don’t know very much about poetry,” but she even brought in her husband to say “You’re the person we trust to read it and tell us if it’s any good.” Well, it wasn’t. But people don’t seem to understand that free verse and just writing anything down are different things. I suggested that she practice first by using a set verse form and trying rhymes (without telling her “This stinks!”). She looked at me like I was a Martian!

  1. Nicely chosen, oh Poetry Concierge! I’d never heard of that poem, but I liked it immediately and also intend to read it again and again. And I’m now putting Natasha Trethewey on my book-reading list.

    Thank you, and I will be recommending your services to others 🙂

  2. Pingback: The Poetry Concierge Recommends Margaret Atwood | Rosemary and Reading Glasses

  3. Pingback: The Poetry Concierge Recommends: Robert Frost | Rosemary and Reading Glasses

  4. Pingback: The Poetry Concierge Recommends: Dorothy Parker | Rosemary and Reading Glasses

  5. Pingback: The Poetry Concierge Recommends: Two Books (oh my!) | Rosemary and Reading Glasses

  6. Pingback: The Poetry Concierge Recommends: Sharon Olds | Rosemary and Reading Glasses

  7. Pingback: The Poetry Concierge Recommends: Two Books, This Time Per Request | Rosemary and Reading Glasses

  8. Pingback: The Poetry Concierge Recommends: Rose, by Li-Young Lee | Rosemary and Reading Glasses

  9. Pingback: No Joke: The Poetry Concierge Returns – Rosemary and Reading Glasses

What's on your mind? Leave a comment here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s