Twenty books of poetry from 2011 that belong on your shelf. (This was originally two posts of ten titles each, but I've consolidated them into one list.)
Chris Alexander, Panda (Truck Books)
It's like conceptual poetry, only fun. From the very conceptualistically-oriented Truck Books, which also released Kristen Gallagher's We Are Here (also recommended) this year.
Bruce Andrews, You Can't Have Everything ... Where Would You Put It! (Veer Books)
Another hopped-up avalanche of hard-Language hooks from the King of Pop!
Rae Armantrout, Money Shot (Wesleyan UP)
Win the Pulitzer Prize, then name your next book Money Shot. Badass!
Guy Bennett, Self-Evident Poems (Otis Books/Seismicity Editions)
Not much more than a series of dumb reflexivity jokes. I couldn't put it down.
Megan Boyle, Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee (Muumuu House)
Funny, moving, gross, rakish, sexy, astute.
Brandon Brown, Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus (Krupskaya Books)
Disclosure: I haven't really read it. I ordered it from SPD a few days ago and it hasn't arrived yet. It's on this list because of how freaking EXCITED IN ADVANCE I am about it.
Sommer Browning, Either Way I'm Celebrating (Birds, LLC)
It's like poetry, only fun. Includes cartoons!
Robin Brox, Sure Thing (BlazeVOX [books])
One of my weaknesses as a reader is to glance at things on the page sometimes and lose interest if no obvious flash catches my eye at the level of diction or reference--in other words, if the work is heavily dependent on voice. Big mistake! When these poems are read attentively (preferably aloud), they thrum with textural and tonal intensity.
Benjamin Friedlander, Citizen Cain (Salt Publishing)
It's like flarf, only good. Seriously, though, this book fearlessly explores the zones of inappropriateness that flarf sometimes is only rumored to explore, and comes out of them with something like scars. There are structures of feeling here that don't have names yet.
Uyen Hua, a/s/l (ingirumimusnocteetconsumimurigni)
It's like, a great example of how a poet can be visibly influenced by O'Hara and not just sound like one of countless NY School retreads.
Ish Klein, Moving Day (Canarium Books)
Ish Klein isn't like anyone else! This book is superb, and if you've never seen her read live, you should as soon as possible.
Bill Luoma, Some Math (Kenning Editions)
It's like having your brain Simonized with meth juice, only legal (so far). Do it! Do it!
Donato Mancini, Buffet World (New Star Books)
With this collection, vispo whiz Mancini departs from elegance and craft dazzle in favor of whacked-out dadaist abandon. It's all over the map, but it's a cool map, so no problem.
Bern Porter, Found Poems (Nightboat Books)
It's about time a sizeable selection of this amazing writer's works were made widely available in a highly attractive print edition. The only flaw is that the pages are just thin enough so that the images on the back show through a little bit.
Ariana Reines, Mercury (Fence Books)
Passionate, painful, unafraid.
Ariana Reines, Coeur de Lion (Fence Books)
Yes, Reines is on the list twice. And this book is actually a reprint of the Mal-O-Mar edition from 2007. But it still has to be on here. For some weird reason, her 2006 debut The Cow didn't resonate with me when it came out; thankfully, her two releases this year have caused me to go back to it and see how powerful it is too.
Steve Roggenbuck, Download Helvetica for Free.Com (www.downloadhelveticaforfree.com)
This was available as a paperback too, but as far as I can see it's now just online. Roggenbuck is a precocious showman, and I think about twelve maybe, but there's a real visionary textual sensibility at play here. I love this work!
Camille Roy, Sherwood Forest (Futurepoem)
It's like New Narrative, only in verse. Actually, some of it is prose. More to the point, it's got everything you want from that genre: swagger, melancholy, and lush personal expression as raggedly formal as an old hotel's velvet-lined foyer.
Dana Ward, This Can't Be Life (Edge Books)
I can't even begin to do justice to this remarkable collection here. If I am worth anything as a human being I will write a full review soon, but for now, let me just quote from his poem "Between Here & There": "I want to / tear the heart out of style / & put it between / utter thrall & the infancy / of all things impure." Without being entirely sure what that means, I'm pretty sure he's achieved it.
Craig Dworkin & Kenneth Goldsmith, eds., Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (Northwestern UP)
It has some problems, as others have pointed out. But it's still a chunky hunk of interesting texts. Also, I'm in it.
For publishers whose sites contain no info for the title, I link to SPD.