Your Friday Five: Poetry Month

Southeast LibraryStaff Picks

Your Friday Five: Poetry Month

Celebrate Poetry Month with Books About Poets and Their Worlds

Poetry Month can be celebrated in a variety of ways. Yes, you can and should take the time to read and write poetry at any of the numerous events happening around the city. But what if you do that year round?

Perhaps you would enjoy reading more about some of the famous poets of the past. Below are five books that showcase the men and women behind the poems and illustrate how the people, events, and world around these artists shaped them and their work.

Chaucer’s Tale by Paul Strohm
Strohm writes a compelling and engaging narrative of the events in Chaucer’s personal and professional life that led to his most famous literary work – The Canterbury Tales. Focusing on one problematic year, 1386, whose events Strohm refers to as Chaucer’s Crises, the issues facing Chaucer as a civil servant at the hands of various royal political factions will seem eerily familiar to today’s Washington residents.  

Young Romantics: The Tangled Lives of English Poetry’s Greatest Generation by Daisy Hay
The most famous of the English Romance poets are connected in myriad ways, some that are well-known and others that are not, which Hay lays out in chapters focusing on the various relationships of the group members. From the early days of The Examiner newspaper to the early death of Lord Byron, Hay ably depicts the friendships and feuds that tie together some of the greatest names in English poetry.  

Poe-Land: The Hallowed Haunts of Edgar Allan Poe by J. W. Ocker
Poe is one of the most famous American poets, the acknowledged father of modern detective stories and a master of horror and science fiction, and yet he remains something of an enigma. In Poe-Land, Ocker follows in Poe’s footsteps, traveling the East Coast to visit the places where Poe lived, worked, and – literally – left pieces of himself behind.

The Brontes: Wild Genius on the Moors: The Story of a Literary Family by Juliet Barker
The Brontes, especially Anne, Charlotte, and Emily, are often written about in single subject biographies. Barker argues that the only way to truly understand these writers is to look at them as a tight knit family.

Using unpublished manuscripts and other historical documents, Barker writes a compelling family biography that disproves a number of myths regarding various Brontes and gives a clearer picture of these fascinating historical figures.

Yeats’s Worlds: Ireland, England and the Poetic Imagination by David Pierce
Part biography of the poet, part literary criticism of his work, and part history of the world in which Yeats lived, Yeats’s Worlds takes the readers on a vivid journey through Ireland and England during the late 1800s and early 1900s and the life that Yeats led. Pierce includes more on George Yeats, the poet’s wife, than most biographers creating a more inclusive and well-rounded picture of the influences on the man and his work beyond politics.