In some ways, poetry can be the most intimate gift that one can give but also one of the most thoughtful and lasting; unlike some novels, a well-loved, humourous or provocative collection can be dipped into again and again and often becomes a companion for life. So stuff some stockings with these Dewey picks:
Found by Souvankham Thammavongsa
These spare poems were inspired by a scrapbook that the poet's father kept while he lived in a refugee camp in Thailand.
Sitcom by David McGimpsey
Mischievous, generous and side-splittingly funny, this collection of wry soliloquies and sonnets begins with a milestone birthday. One of the Q&Q's Best Books of 2007
All Our Wonder Unavenged by Don Domanski
A poet explores the implicit relationship between the matter and spirit and the interconnectedness of the universe. Winner of the Governor General's Award for Poetry, 2007.
The Door by Margaret Atwood
I love the bite Atwood delivers in her poetry and short stories; I think she's at her best in these two literary forms. This is her first collection of poetry in over a decade.
Conversation Pieces: Poems that Talk to Other Poems selected by Kurt Brown and Harold Schechter
Everyman's Library publishes The Pocket Poets series - lovely, tiny, little volumes perfect for slipping in a purse or pocket. This anthology is a lot of fun. The editors have paired poems that are direct, conscious responses to other, mostly famous poems. Some are parodies, others are worshipful tributes. And some are deliciously nasty. I particularly like Ezra Pound's "A Pact" which starts out with "I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman - /I have detested you long enough." This is followed by Charles Harper Webb's "Another Pact" that begins, "You've cowed me long enough, Ezra, with your red/ beard and fascist eyes./I don't need you to teach me How to Read./ Tom Sawyer did that years before I'd heard of you. "
The Stray Dog Cabaret: A Book of Russian Poems translated by Paul Schmidt
The Stray Dog Cabaret opened in St. Petersburg in 1912 and was a club where Russia's bohemian artists drank, talked, debated, played music and read their work on its open stage. This short anthology contains wonderful pieces by some of Russia's best known poets and writers, including Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Marina Tsevetaeva, Boris Pasternak, and Alexander Blok.
Poet’s Corner: The One and Only Poetry Book For the Whole Family compiled by John Lithgow
I normally stay away from celebrity books, but this one was so good I couldn’t resist! Lithgow, a poetry enthusiast since childhood, has compiled a collection of works from fifty different poets. The book is arranged in alphabetical order according to the poet’s last name and are each introduced by Lithgow, who also provides definitions, historical tidbits, favourite poems, further readings and interesting websites to visit to further the learning experience (like a Dorothy Parker site on which you can listen to the poet reading her favourite poems). Lithgow’s essential criterion for inclusion in the collection is that ‘each poem’s light shines more brightly when read aloud’. Keeping with this idea, the book comes packaged with a MP3 CD containing a selection of poems read by Lithgow and other celebs, including the fabulous Helen Mirren, Glenn Close, Susan Sarandon, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, and more.
Forage by Rita Wong