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3 books our poetry reviewer Tess Taylor is excited about


Our poetry reviewer Tess Taylor recommends lots of activities to enjoy fall - making soup from scratch, tucking into a cozy sweater and, of course, frolicking in some well-crafted words. She's brought us three books she's excited to share. Here's Tess, starting with Sandra Lim's collection "The Curious Thing."

TESS TAYLOR, BYLINE: What is fun about these poems and delightful is the way that they have this very interior elliptical quality, as if they're being narrated by the very wise, very wry protagonist of a Russian novel. I want to read a poem called "The Protagonists."

(Reading) At one time, I asked for everything. When I saw how my love was squandered, I would secrete venom. But now I sing of the fat, sleepy little censor who has replaced me, whose disappointments create the life of the house. What does the human heart love - to go, to have so far to go in deepest night? The challenge now is to convey the supreme gaiety of the heart. It is a stone flung from a volcano.

There's a twist at the end, and there's a very interesting balance of oddness and mystery. There is a kind of amazing sort of population of the imagination and the heart in this poem.

"Two Murals" by Jesus Castillo is exactly that. It's two very long, sprawling poems that kind of comment on the moment that we're in right now. This is the first mural. The first mural is called "Variations On Adonis," and Adonis is a Syrian poet who is kind of considered the T.S. Eliot of poetry in Syria right now.

(Reading) The Empire's statesmen polish their pens between regimes. Somewhere, Lincoln leads his people past genocides, fields, and Juarez becomes a statue gazing forever at his country's red horizon.

This third book that I want to talk about is actually a prose book that's a rerelease of one of the great books by one of our great poets, Lucille Clifton, who passed away in 2010. And this is actually a book called "Generations," and it's a short family memoir that she first published in 1976. And it's being rereleased now because Lucille Clifton is amazing, and because this is this powerful book about looking for family and family roots. And what is beautiful in this book is the sounds of the voices and the sounds of the voices of family coming through the story and the story layering on itself. And she says something beautiful at the end.

(Reading) Things don't fall apart. Things hold. Lines connect in thin ways that last and last, and lives become generations made out of pictures and words just kept. We come out of it better than they did, Lou (ph), my daddy said. And I watch my six children and know we did.

Robert Frost said that to read a poem, you must read it in light of all the other poems ever written. And what I think he means by that is not that you have to read every poem ever written, but that you get to begin somewhere, and guided by your pleasure, you get to continue and continue and continue.

CORNISH: Poetry reviewer Tess Taylor with her recommendations for some newly released books by poets - "Generations" by Lucille Clifton, "Two Murals" by Jesus Castillo and "The Curious Thing" by Sandra Lim.

(SOUNDBITE OF BRIAN ENO'S "A CLEARING") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.