Books to Add to your Reading List

The reading list is a selection of books that will provide hours of informative and inspirational reading for poets and writers.

Against Forgetting

Against Forgetting is the landmark anthology by the formidable poet and essayist Carolyn Forché.  It is a selection of over 100 poets who according to Forché, endured conditions of historical and social extremity in various forms including torture, state censorship, political persecution and states of war.    The editor, through the text and selections, reveals the way in which tragic events leave marks on the imagination and provides useful guidelines on how to transform writing of a political and social nature from diatribe to sustainable poetic works.  It features, amongst others, the work of our own South African poet Breyten Breytenbach.


The Making of a Poem

In The Making of a Poem, renowned poets Mark Strand and Eavan Boland provide a lucid and easily accessible guide to the mysteries of writing poems in various traditional forms.  Sonnets, ballads, the villanelle and the sestina are among some of the forms covered by them in this rich selection of poems that demonstrate the power and possibility of each of the forms.  Essential reading for any poet.


The Wisdom of the Heart

The masterful letter writer and voracious reader, Henry Miller’s, The Wisdom of the Heart, will immerse you in a collection of his short stories, profiles and literary essays. Standout chapters include, The Absolute Collective, Uterine Hunger and The Cosmological Eye. His writing is a commentary on the universality of the human condition.

What is Found There

I have recently devoured Adrienne Rich’s, What is Found There: Poetry and Politics. It is a selection of Rich’s essays on the relation of poetry to politics and art and philosophy and contains jewels of information and insights that will leave you inspired and contemplating for days.

Break Blow Burn

Camille Pagalia’s, Break, Blow, Burn, is an inspired selection of well-known poems, accompanied by concise commentaries that read as self-standing pieces of writing. Taking poetry out of pretentious theory, these summaries embrace poetry in its form as a visual construct that lasts and which illuminates human universals.