Friday, May 14, 2010

250 Near Perfect Books of Poetry

This weekend the "Near Perfect Books of Poetry" list hit the milestone number of 250. It all started back just two years ago and has grown to quite an expansive list. It even spawned a "German Near Perfect Books of Poetry" list. The last two volumes added this weekend were two books by Gary Snyder. Hard to believe the list had come this far without an appearance by one of the 20th century's predominant poets.

A nice byproduct of all this is I've given away hundreds of issues of Lilliput Review to those making suggestions for the list. The offer still stands - 2 free current issues of Lillie for a suggestion of a near perfect book of poetry. There are many poetry readers out there and, no doubt, some of you will notice that your favorite volume of poetry is not included. Here's the list. Something missing? Let me know, either via a comment or directly at "lilliput review AT gmail DOT com (spelled out to avoid pesky harvesting bots).

Certainly, when it comes to lists there is plenty to quibble about here. What this is intended as, however, is a resource for folks looking for some poetry to read that actually moved someone. Period. Nothing definitive. Do some titles not belong here? Sure. Are there monumental gaps? Absolutely no doubt. This is a reader created list and as such it comes, warts and all, without apology. It's a communal effort with the aforementioned byproduct: 2 free issues of a small press magazine that glories in the short poem.

Later this week, I'll be adding one of my "new" favorite books of poems, Paradise Poems by Gerald Stern. And, yes, I was moved.

The List

The Clean Dark by Robert Adamson

The Golden Bird by Robert Adamson

Selected Poems by Anna Akhmatova

The Fall — Jordie Albiston

A Nostalgist's Map of America by Agha Shaid Ali

Chrysanthemum Love by Fay Aoyagi

The Double Dream of Spring by John Ashbery

Rivers and Mountains by John Ashbery

Some Trees by John Ashbery

Salute--to Singing by Gennady Aygi

Restoration Poems by Ed Baker

Pencil Flowers by Johnny Baranski

Back Roads to Far Towns by Bashô, translated by Cid Corman and Kamaike Susumu

Bashô And His Interpreters by Makoto Ueda

On Love and Barley by Bashô, translated by Lucien Styrk

The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire (any & all translations)

Weeping for Lost Babylon — Eric Beach

Actual Air by David Berman

The Sonnets by Ted Berrigan

Complete Poems, 1927-1979 by Elizabeth Bishop

Silence In The Snowy Fields by Robert Bly

Turkish Pears in August by Robert Bly

Kerrisdale Elegies by George Bowering

The Pill Versus The Springhill Mine Disaster by Richard Brautigan

Poems of Madness & Angel by Ray Bremser

Life Supports by William Bronk

Moment to Moment by David Budbill

The Last Night of the Earth Poems — Charles Bukowski

Mockingbird Wish Me Luck by Charles Bukowski

Complete Poems by Basil Bunting

Dreaming of Robert de Niro — Grant Caldwell

Thirst by Patrick Carrington

Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey by Hayden Carruth

Fear of Dreaming by Jim Carroll

Woman Haiku Master by Chiyo-ni

California Poems by James Koller

The Art of Drowning by Billy Collins

Sailing Alone Around the Room by Billy Collins

Selected Poems by Robert Creeley

Places/Everyone by Jim Daniels

Totem by Luke Davies

Forth A Raven by Christina Davis

And Her Soul Out of Nothing by Olena Kalytiak Davis

Variations by Bill Deemer

Loba by Diane Di Prima (Wingbow, Penguin)

Revolutionary Letters by Diane di Prima

Griffon by Stephen Dobyns

Hello La Jolla by Ed Dorn

Small Favors by Barbara Drake

Space Before A by Barbara Drake

Streets of the Long Voyage — Michael Dransfield

Drifting Boat: Chinese Zen Poetry, tr. J. P. Seaton & D. Maloney

The Caged Tiger by Louis Dudek

Rapture by Carol Ann Duffy

Roots and Branches by Robert Duncan

What Goes On: Selected & New Poems by Stephen Dunn

Miracles of the Sainted Earth by Victoria Edwards Tester

Things Stirring Together or Far Away by Larry Eigner

The World and Its Streets by Larry Eigner

Then, And Now by Ted Enslin

The Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot

Prufrock and Other Observations by T. S. Eliot

The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot

Rebellion is the Circle of a Lover's Hand by Martin Espada

Tryst by Angie Estes

Donna Juanita and the Love of Boys, by Gabrielle Everall

Against the Forgetting by Hans Faverey

Coney Island of the Mind by Lawrence Ferlighetti

The Whole Song: Selected Poems by Vincent Ferrini

Gathering the Tribes by Carolyn Forché

From the Country of Eight Islands, ed. by Hiroaki Sato & B. Watson

From the Other World: Poems in Memory of James Wright, ed. by B. ---Hendrickson & R. Johnson

West-Running Brook by Robert Frost

A bud — Claire Gaskin

Poet in New York by Frederico Garcia Lorca (trans. by B. Bellitt)

Refusing Heaven by Jack Gilbert

Kaddish by Allen Ginsberg

The Wild Iris by Louise Glück

Insects of South Corvallis by Charles Goodrich

Without by Donald Hall

The Haiku Anthology, 3rd edition, edited by Cor van den Heuvel

Letters to Yesenin by Jim Harrison

Braided Creek: a Conversation in Poetry by Jim Harrison & Ted Kooser

book of resurrection by mark hartenbach

Essential Haiku edited by Robert Hass

Station Island by Seamus Heaney

My Life by Lyn Hejinian

Best of Adrian Henri

Barbarian in the Garden by Zbigniew Herbert

Phosphorus by Alicia Hokanson

Spring Essence by Xuan Hu'o'ng Ho, translated by J. Balaban

The Never Ending by Andrew Hudgins

Working on My Death Chant by Albert Huffstickler

Weary Blues by Langston Hughes

Birthday Letters by Ted Hughes

Crow by Ted Hughes

Tales from Ovid by Ted Hughes

Tread the Dark by David Ignatow

The Dumpling Field by Kobayashi Issa, trans. by Lucien Styrk

A Few Flies and I: Haiku by Issa

Inch by Inch by Issa, translated by Nanao Sakaki

Jade Mountain: anthology of Chinese Poetry, ed. by W. Bynner

Lost World by Randall Jarrell

The Beginning of the End by Robinson Jeffers

The Book of the Green Man by Ronald Johnson

Hojoki by Kamo Chomei

The Ancient Rain by Bob Kaufman

Flowers of a Moment by Ko Un

Book of Haikus by Jack Kerouac

The Saint of Letting Small Fish Go by Eliot Khalil Wilson

Knock Upon Silence by Carolyn Kizer

The Essential Etheridge Knight by Etheridge Knight

Three Way Tavern by Ko Hun

The Art of Love by Kenneth Koch

New Addresses by Kenneth Koch

Geography of the Forehead by Ron Koertge

Pleasure Dome by Yusef Komunyakaa

All This Everyday by Joanne Kyger

The Blood of the Air by Philip Lamantia

O Taste and See by Denise Levertov

The Sorrow Dance by Denise Levertov

What Work Is by Philip Levine

Lord Weary's Castle by Robert Lowell

For the Union Dead by Robert Lowell

The Lost Lunar Baedeker by Mina Loy

Verso by Pattie McCarthy

Touch to My Tongue by Daphne Marlatt

dogwood & honeysuckle by john martone

ordinary fool by john martone

After All by William Matthews

The Nice Narrows: New and Selected Poems by Samuel Menashe

Asian Figures by W. S. Merwin

The Lice by W. S. Merwin

The Shadow of Sirius by W. S. Merwin

The Vixen by W. S. Merwin

At Dusk Iridescent by Thomas Meyer

Sixty-Seven Poems for Downtrodden Saints by Jack Micheline

Temple Dusk by Mitsu Suzuki

Cuttlefish Bones by Eugenio Montale

Forever Home by Lenard D. Moore

The Dillinger Books (various) by Todd Moore

Deadly Nightshade by Barbara Moraff

The Gallows Songs by Christian Morgenstern

Cloudless at First by Hilda Morley

Eyes: the Poetry of Jim Morrison

The True Keeps Calm Biding Its Story by Rusty Morrison

Naked Poetry: Recent American Poetry, ed. by Stephen Berg

New American Poetry, 1945-1960, ed. by Donald Allen

Twenty Love Poems & A Song of Despair, Pablo Neruda tr. Merwin

Next Room of the Dream by Howard Nemerov

Call Me By My True Names by Thich Nhat Hanh

Still Water by bpnichol

The Granite Pail by Lorine Niedecker

My Friend Tree by Lorine Niedecker

100 Love Sonnets by Pablo Neruda

Collected Poems by Frank O'Hara

Lunch Poems by Frank O'Hara

American Primitive by Mary Oliver

Dream Work by Mary Oliver

Owl and Other Fantasies by Mary Oliver

West Wind: Poems & Prose Poems by Mary Oliver

Only Companion: Japanese Poems of Love and Longing, translated by Sam Hamill

Why Not by Joel Oppenheimer

100 Poems from the Chinese, ed. by Kenneth Rexroth

The Dead and the Living by Sharon Olds

Strike Sparks by Sharon Olds

The Distances by Charles Olson

In Cold Hell, In Thicket by Charles Olson

Spearmint and Rosemary by Charles Olson

The Ink Dark Moon by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, trans. by Jane Hirshfield and Mariko Aratani

Primitive by George Oppen

The Yellow Floor by Gil Ott

Right under the big sky, I don't wear a hat by Hosai Ozaki, tr. Hiroaki Sato

Great Balls of Fire by Ron Padgett

Notes Towards a Family by John Perlman

Three Years Rings by John Perlman

Ariel by Sylvia Plath

Collected Poems by Sylvia Plath

Plath: Poems by Sylvia Plath (Everyman's Library Pocket Poets)

Collected Early Poems by Ezra Pound

The Yuan Chen Variations by F. T. Prince

Collected Poems by Sally Purcell

Droles de Journal by Carl Rakoski

Raising the Dead by Ron Rash

The Waiting Room at the End of the World by Jeff Rath

zen tele-grams by paul reps

The Heart's Garden, The Garden's Heart by Kenneth Rexroth

One Hundred Poems from the Chinese tr. by Kenneth Rexroth

Book of Images by Rainer Maria Rilke

New Poems (1908), the Other Part by Rainer Maria Rilke (tr. Snow)

Uncollected Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke (trans. by Edward Snow)

The Concrete River by Luis Rodriquez

Say Uncle by Kay Ryan

Rainswayed Nights by Max Ryan

Awesome Nightfall by Saigyo

Poems of a Mountain Home by Saigyo

The Kingdom by Frank Samperi

Quadrifariam by Frank Samperi

Spiritual Necessity by Frank Samperi

Chicago Poems by Carl Sandburg

Investigative Poetry by Ed Sanders

Grass and Tree Cairn by Santoka, translated by Hiroaki Sato

The Morning of a Poem by James Schuyler

Buffalo Head Solos by Tim Seibles

Hammerlock by Tim Seibles

Selected Poems by Anne Sexton

The Sonnets by William Shakespeare

Itinerary by Reginald Shepherd

Sweeping the Light Back into the Mirror by Nathan Shepherdson

Selected Poems by Masaoka Shiki

Axe Handles by Gary Snyder

Turtle Island by Gary Snyder

Elements of San Joaquin by Gary Soto

The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You by Frank Stanford

China Basin by Clemens Starck

Journeyman's Wages by Clemens Starck

Traveling Incognito by Clemens Starck

The Steel Crickert, variations/translations by Stephen Berg

The Color Wheel by Timothy Steele

Harmonium by Wallace Stevens

Bunch Grass by Robert Sund

New Math by Cole Swenson

Poems New and Collected by Wisława Szymborska translated by S. Baranczak and C. Cavanagh

View with a Grain of Sand by Wisława Szymborska

Poems to Eat by Takuboku, translated by Carl Sesar

Memoir of a Hawk by James Tate

Return to the City of White Donkeys by James Tate

Collected Poems - Dylan Thomas

Bittersweet by James Tipton

Here, Bullet by Brian Turner

Goodstone by Fred Voss

Argonaut Rose by Diane Wakoski

Cap of Darkness by Diane Wakoski

Collected Greed Parts 1-13 by Diane Wakoski

Inside the Blood Factory by Diane Wakoski

Helping the Dreamer by Anne Waldman

Hermit Poems by Lew Welch

The Hotel Wentley Poems by John Wieners

Scenes of Life at the Capital by Philip Whalen

Severance Pay by Philip Whalen

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Blues and Roots/Rue and Bluets by Jonathan Williams

Paterson by William Carlos Williams

Spring and All by William Carlos Williams

The Prelude by William Wordsworth

Sinking of Clay City by Robert Wrigley

Littlefoot by Charles Wright

The Beforelife by Franz Wright

Walking to Martha's Vineyard by Franz Wright

The Branch Will Not Break by James Wright.

Selected Poems by James Wright

This Journey by James Wright

Radiant Silhouette by John Yau

The Tower by W.B. Yeats

Elegy on Toy Piano by Dean Young

River of Stars by Yosano Akiko, tr. S. Hamill & K. Matsui Gibson

Where Time Goes by Sander Zulauf

even Mount Fuji
makes the list...
New Year's inventory
translated by David G. Lanoue



Greg said...

congrats on the 250! can't believe it was 2 years ago when you started it....

John Grochalski said...

i think once i finish "Summer of Proust" this year, i may take a stab at reading this list. Thanks for creating it!

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Greg, yup, time flies - the 1 year anniversary for the Sunday Service is just around the corner, too.

Jay, Summer of Proust sounds like a great project ... every time I read another crappy post-modern bullshit modern novel I wonder why don't I just read Proust again?

Jim H. said...


As a(nother) service to your readers, you should post a list of crappy post-modern bullshit modern novels.



Charles Gramlich said...

And I have so few of these. I guess that's good when you think of all the good reading I can now look forward to.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


I don't think I have enough bandwidth for that list. Hardy and Proust are looking awful glitzy right now.

Thanks, Charles, as always.

Lyle Daggett said...

Not to spoil the party, but I found Rexroth's "100 Poems from the Chinese" listed twice. (The second listing is a little further down in the list, with the title spelled out, i.e. "One Hundred Poems..." The actual book gives the title as "100 Poems from the Chinese," the first way it's listed here.

My suggestions for the list:

The Movie at the End of the World by Thomas McGrath
Hard Country by Sharon Doubiago
She Had Some Horses by Joy Harjo
The Republic of Poetry by Martin Espada
As Is by Sheryl Noethe
Eating the Pure Light: Homage to Thomas McGrath edited by John Bradley

A disclosure on the last item above -- the anthology Eating the Pure Light includes one poem by myself, along with poems by some 70 other contributors.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...


Thanks very much for the correction, which I've made. I've added Gerald Stern's "Paradise Poems" to the list, as I threatened to do in the post, to keep the balance and, in fact, have about 7 more suggestions since this post went up which I will be adding later this week.

I very much appreciate the close reading.