reading 100 poetry books in 12-ish months

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Some of the best kind of trouble in my life has come from Jill saying, “Wanna do this?” And then we do this.

Most recently, she lured me in with Danielle Mitchell’s “The Year I Read 100 Books.” I started August 25, and — no matter how good/bad it turns out (I am already behind, for example) — I have decided to document the journey here at my blog.

My reading list is organized with the most recent on top so if, by chance, you stop by more than once for an update, you only have to scroll forever if you have forever to scroll! Note that I’ve extended the time frame to 12-ish months right out of the gate. My days of being so ambitious all the damn time are way behind me. Still, I’m invigorated by the attempt.

UPDATE from October 30, 2020: After 38 books in 14 months, she threw in the towel.

In the Field Between Us by Molly McCully Brown & Susanna Nevison / 2020, Persea Books
To Make Room for the Sea by Adam Clay / 2020, Milkweed Edition
Landscape with Plywood Silhouettes by Kerrin McCadden / 2014, New Issues Press
Emergency Brake by Ruth Madievsky / 2015, Tavern Books
Homie by Danez Smith / 2020, Graywolf Press
Madwoman by Shara McCallum / 2017, Alice James Books
love, robot by Margaret Rhee / 2017, The Operating System
Dirty Bomb by Mark Neely / 2015, Oberlin College Press
Oculus: Poems by Sally Wen Mao / 2019, Graywolf Press
Partial Genius by Mary Biddinger / 2019, Black Lawrence Press
Garments Against Women by Anne Boyer / 2015, Ahsahta Press
Save Our Ship by Barbara Ungar  / 2019, Ashland Poetry Press
Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil / 2018, Copper Canyon Press

25-BOOK MILESTONE: Thoughts after reading 25 poetry books in 3-ish months

Sweet Insurgent by Elyse Fenton / 2017, Saturnalia Books
The Galaxy Is a Dance Floor by Bianca Lynne Spriggs / 2016, Argos Books
The Wynona Stone Poems by Caki Wilkinson / 2015, Persea Books
Mysteries in a World That Thinks There Are None by Gary McDowell / 2016, Burnside Review Press
Some Planet by Jamie Mortara / 2015, YesYes Books
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyonce by Morgan Parker / 2017, Tin House Books
Every Room in the Body by Kerri French / 2017, Moon City Press
Something Like Forgiveness by Rebecca Schumejda / 2019, Stubborn Mule Press
Let’s Not Live On Earth by Sarah Blake / 2018, Wesleyan University Press
Inmost by Jessica Fisher / 2012, Nightboat Books
Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky / 2019, Graywolf Press
every love story is an apocalypse story by Donna Vorreyer / 2016, Sundress Publications
Autoplay by Julie Babcock / 2014, MG Press
By My Precise Haircut by Cheryl Clarke / 2016, The Word Works
Groundspeed by Emilia Phillips / 2016, University of Akron Press
Half-Hazard by Kristen Tracy / 2018, Graywolf Press
The Second O of Sorrow by Sean Thomas Dougherty / 2018, BOA Editions
Misery Islands by January Gill O’Neil / 2014, CavanKerry Press
A Cruelty Special to Our Species by Emily Jungmin Yoon / 2018, HarperCollins
What I Learned at the War by Jeanetta Calhoun Mish / 2016, West End Press
Paradise, Indiana by Bruce Snider / 2016, Pleiades Press
American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin by Terrance Hayes / 2018, Penguin Books
Be Recorder by Carmen Gimenez Smith / 2019, Graywolf Press
In the Pockets of Small Gods by Anis Mojgani / 2018, Write Bloody Publishing
The Octopus Museum by Brenda Shaughnessy / 2019, Penguin Random House



  • UPDATE/WARDROBE CHANGE (09-21-2019) –> When I first launched this post, I was including some quotes and notes with each title, but I have realized a couple things: #1/ that’s going to end up being one hell of a looooong list and #2 / it doesn’t give me room to say what I may want to say about each title. I think my instinct was to make keeping track in this way meaningful without being too time-consuming, but having some kind of response to the books has become more important… even if it slows me down. So I’m giving each of the books its own post (and I backdated the first few to when I finished them). This list, as it accumulates, links to those posts.
  • The featured image in this post highlights a line from In the Pockets of Small Gods by Anis Mojgani


  1. I’ve read 23 so far this year, about to add 2 more, not counting poetry zines, it’s either you READ poetry or WRITE poetry (or something else). Deadlines are made to be broken.

  2. Hi Carolee! I’m so excited that you’re taking up the challenge. As you’ve read, I definitely think it’s a transformative experience and will affect your writing in positive ways. I wouldn’t say one reads or writes poetry, I’d say one reads AND writes, because reading poetry encourages, inspires, and educates you into writing your own poems! There is always time for both. Good luck on your journey! You’ve already tackled some great books, even some difficult ones (Brenda Shaughnessy, for example, is one of the most complex writers of our generation).
    All the best,

    1. thanks for stopping by, danielle! appreciate the challenge you’ve created as a chance to read as much (a little more, actually) as i was reading when i did my MFA. it’s a great idea!

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