A Little Bit of Everything: My Favorite (Mostly Small Press) Poetry Books of 2014

Lisa Jarnot, Joie De Vivre: Selected Poems 1992-2012 
(City Lights, Spotlight Series, No. 9)

City Lights Editor Garrett Caples has done a marvelous job curating the Spotlight Series, the SF press’ state-of-the-genre contemporary equivalent to their counter-cultural identifying Pocket Poets Series. Lisa Jarnot’s Joie De Vivre is an excellent career-to-date selection from the Brooklyn-based poet’s first four books, capturing her musical, pastoral, wide-eyed, animally (ok, not a word) lyricism. I was delighted to find some of my personal favorites republished here (including “What I Want to Do” from Night Songs, “Song of the Chinchilla” and a worthy heap of “Sea Lyrics” from Ring of Fire, the lean balladry of Black Dog Songs’ “Greyhound Ode”). Perhaps the most pleasant surprise, though, is the generous helping of visual poetry and Stein- and Buffalo-inspired prose poems from Jarnot’s Some Other Kind of Mission, her 1992 debut from Burning Deck. These early pieces reveal a tougher, though no less musical, side to Jarnot’s oeuvre. The book ends with a selection of new work, including “Amedillin Cooperative Nosegay”, a dazzling 16-page finale that recalls the final day-dream montage of An American in Paris. David Henderson writes of the poem’s “crescendo resolution, (as) the expanse of her well-earned landscape becomes a realized space in proper necessity for the scope of her delightfully unpredictable poetic.” I frequently recommend Jarnot to uninitiated-though-poetically-curious friends, and Vivre is the perfect sampling of greatest hits: the joyous, generousness of Jarnot’s everyday heraldry is fully on display here.

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Please check back throughout the month of December as I continue to count down my favorite poetry titles of 2014. 

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