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.

36-37. (in the queue)
Arias by Sharon Olds / 2019, Alfred A. Knopf

35. (in the queue)
The Last Shift by Philip Levine / 2016, Alfred A. Knopf

34. (in progress)
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

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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