Most of 2016 was merely sickening, before the year ended up as painful as a boot kick to the exposed duodenum. Nor am I in the mood to affirm the permanence or enduring power of much of anything: I’m too busy gaining weight, erupting at my children, and losing touch with my friends. These days, it’s a morning highlight when I find a sweater on the floor that already has a shirt inside it. But when we reëmerge someday from our underground silos, nurtured by Tang and protein capsules and married to our first cousins, the following books may also have survived:
Robyn Schiff, “A Woman of Property.” Schiff’s poems are raids upon the jittery, troubled mindscape of a person whose good fortune hides incipient terror. Keyed-up is the new dejected, and Schiff is a kind of Coleridge, embowered by her anxieties.
Rosmarie Waldrop, “Gap Gardening.” Waldrop, who is in her eighties, writes experimental poems whose paradoxes and thought-forms bristle on the page.
Adrienne Rich, “Collected Poems.” Rich’s great work from the nineteen-seventies, eighties, and nineties—the period when she had supposedly ditched beautiful writing for strident politics—is due for a thorough reassessment. Rich retrofitted the American lyric idiom to the exploration of trauma.
Jana Prikryl, “The After Party.” A first book often ends childhood: Prikryl’s gorgeous, elegiac work borrows from folklore its bright aesthetic and swift, severe logic of causation.