I know that a lot of readers of Regular Rumination come here for poetry recommendations on Wednesdays (I hope!), but today for National Poetry Month I have an extra suggestion for you! The poet I want to feature today is Claudia Emerson. I’ve told you in the past how I come across the poems and poets I want to feature on my blog, and I’ve told you that I have a few favorites to share, and Claudia Emerson is one of them. She won the Pultizer in 2006 and is the Poet Laureate of Virginia.
One thing I love about poetry is that a lot of what is published out there is available online. Unlike a novel, you can read full poems in a variety of places around the internet. You can read a little bit or you can read a lot, without leaving the comfort of your computer chair or spending a lot of money. I think it’s a wonderful thing and really I have no excuse for not reading more of it. I’d like to point you to a couple places where you can read Claudia Emerson’s poetry online, but you really can’t go wrong with any of her books. I have read some of them and they are absolutely amazing.
You can read four of her poems at Verse Daily, PBS has an excellent interview with her after she wont he Pultizer, including a really beautiful poem entitled “Artifact”. There are also three more of her poems to read on PBS’s Poetry Series website. Poet’s Spotlight, featuring five poems.
As someone who writes poetry, I feel as though I can’t escape the things I write about and I end up writing the same poem over and over again, just in a different shape. Looking at it from my perspective, it gets pretty boring. So I am forever awed by the incredible variety of topics and shapes that Claudia Emerson’s poetry takes. Her book Pinion: An Elegy is a book-length poem from the perspective of one woman named Rose. Late Wife, the Pulitzer Prize winning collection, is a series of poems to and about her first husband and her second husband. PBS’s interview addresses this book specifically, but it deals with the love and loss of her first marriage in divorce and her second husband’s late wife. Her newest collection of poetry is Figure Studies, a collection of poems in three parts. “All Girls School” is about a fictional girl’s boarding school, “Gossips” is a series of poems voiced by women about other women, and finally, “Early Lessons” is narrated by children about the older women they observe.
As my professor, mentor and friend, Claudia Emerson has influenced me greatly as a poet and a person. I hope that you will take the time out of your day for National Poetry Month to read one of the poems I have linked to here. They are unforgettable poems that have meant a lot to me as a reader and a writer of poems. Enjoy!