Today I did a meme on Facebook that asked me to list the 20 books of poetry that made me want to be a poet. These were my answers:

1. The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills – Charles Bukowski
2. Blood Sugar – Nicole Blackman
3. The Good Thief – Marie Howe
4. Dien Cai Dau – Yusef Komunyakaa
5. Gravedigger’s Birthday – BJ Ward
6. Local Visitations – Stephen Dunn
7. Ariel – Sylvia Plath
8. The Complete Poems – Anne Sexton
9. Tulips & Chmineys – e.e. cummings
10. What Narcissism Means to Me – Tony Hoagland
11. Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive – Patrick Rosal
12. 100 Love Sonnets – Pablo Neruda
13. Next – Lucille Clifton
14. Collected Poems – Edna St. Vincent Millay
15. Leaves of Grass – Walt Whitman
16. Repair – CK Williams
17. What the Living Do – Marie Howe
18. Fuel – Naomi Shihab Nye
19. Correspondence – Kathleen Graber
20. Lunch Poems – Frank O’Hara

It was actually kind of hard to come up with 20 complete books, because I’ve spent so much time studying and reading individual poems. So I thought I’d use this space, where I am apparently self-involved and over-interested in myself, to ramble a bit about the 20 poems that really changed things for me.

1. “For Jane: With All the Love I Had, Which Was Not Enough” – Charles Bukowski
2. “Theme for English B” – Langston Hughes
3. “I Cannot Live With You (640)” – Emily Dickinson
4. “Love Is Not All” – Edna St. Vincent Millay
5. “At the Smithville Methodist Church” – Stephen Dunn
6. “Afterlife” – Joan Larkin
7. “Rap Music” – Tony Hoagland (scroll down the page for the poem)
8. “What the Angels Left” – Marie Howe
9. “Citrus City” – Patrick Rosal (pardon the blog entry; note that the spacing of the poem is not correct, either)
10. “she being brand” – e.e. cummings
11. “Errata” – Charles Simic
12. “With Mercy for the Greedy” – Anne Sexton
13. “Poppies in July” – Sylvia Plath
14. “5.8.1942: In Memory of Janusz Korczak” – Jerzy Ficowski (from the anthology Holocaust Poetry, ed. Hilda Schiff)
15. “My Mother’s Last Cigarette” – BJ Ward (from Gravedigger’s Birthday)
16. “Red Berries” – Jane Hirshfield
17. “I Go Back to May 1937” – Sharon Olds
18. “Herbert White” – Frank Bidart
19. “Ellen West” – Frank Bidart
20. “The Lost Baby Poem” – Lucille Clifton

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