The 811: What is Found There


We’ve got three talented local poets reading their work at The Urbana Free Library tomorrow - Ethan Madarieta, William Gillespie and Matthew Murrey. They’ll be reading their own poems, of course, but in addition they’re each bringing along an armful of poetry by others that they will also read (mostly from the 811s - that is, the 2nd floor poetry section at the library).  Everyone attending the program will get a booklist of recommendations and there will be a book display featuring these titles.  It’s a fantastic range of recommendations including work that is edgy, tender, subtle, traditional, experimental.  Here’s a few samples of their recommendations.

AN ATLAS OF THE DIFFICULT WORLD: POEMS 1988-1991 (Recommended by William Gillespie)

Adrienne Rich, 1991

Adrienne Rich, although from an old-school Ivy League generation that allowed her to publish most of her books through large publishing houses (back when they still did a bit of that) is such a bad-ass that she declined the National Medal of the Arts, saying, in her refusal speech, “The very meaning of art, as I understand it, is incompatible with the cynical politics of this Administration.” Let the words in this book sink in—those that aren’t delivered with sledgehammers—and wonder what the materials are.

DARK HORSES: POETS ON OVERLOOKED POEMS (Recommended byEthan Madarieta)

Edited by Joy Katz and Kevin Prufer, 2007

The University of Illinois Press released this idiosyncratic volume in 2007. A number of poets, many of them more overlooked than the poets they recommend, rediscover for us too often neglected poems, and share brief descriptions of their choices. Although blindly picking a volume from the shelf at Priceless Books might reveal some real gems of overlooked poetry, the curation and commentary in this volume is too interesting not to check out.

LEADBELLY (Recommended by Matthew Murrey)

Tyehimba Jess, 2005

Jess taught at the University of Illinois for several years, and he is not only a talented writer, but also an inspired reader of his poems. Leadbelly brings the story of the talented and troubled bluesman Huddie Ledbetter to life with poems that are daring, troubling, musical, complex and just wonderful. It’s hard to believe that Leadbelly was Jess’ first book.

Join us tomorrow (Sunday, May 11) at 2:00pm to get a copy of the entire booklist.