Favorite Books of 2017

My favorite books published in 2017 include Nina Riggs’ stunning and beautiful memoir written in her last living days, The Bright Hour; Kanishk Tharoor’s imaginative story collection, Swimmer Among the Stars; Hala Alyan’s expansively drawn novel depicting generations of displacement and discovery, Salt Houses; Zeina Hashem Beck’s second full-length poetry collection that sings with power and urgency, Louder than Hearts; and Melissa Febos’ lyric, layered memoir, Abandon Me.

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Scattered to the Wind

dandelion-in-wind

If, like me, you’ve been haunted by headlines and images of people risking all to flee desperate conditions in the Middle East, perhaps you might want to understand more — Who are they, What are their stories, their motivations, their fates? The second of my Ploughshares blogs discusses three novels that take us there, into the heart of the migration crisis and the lives of individuals caught up in it.

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Strange and Wild

BallerinaI read a craft tip recently from the poet Maggie Smith (author of The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, Tupelo Press 2015, among other works) that really resonated with me:

Sometimes the best thing I can do to improve a poem is to loosen my grip on it. It sounds a bit counterintuitive, but if you tie up every loose end, if you scrub all the strangeness and wildness out of it, you can revise the life right out of a poem if you’re not careful. You can put its light out.

(more of Maggie Smith’s wise words here on Diane Locward’s Poetry Newsletter)

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