At this time of year it is quite common to see lists of “top books” or “best books” of the season, year, etc. Fellow poet and friend, Jacob McArthur Mooney, has put together a list of ten of his favourite collections of poetry from the last decade over at his space on the web. What sets this list aside from all the others you see at this time of year is the thoughtful commentary Mooney provides with each entry (that’s not to say you have to agree with every point, of course). He’s two books in at my last visit and I would suggest to anyone to check in and see where the list goes over the next couple of weeks.
This has, of course, put the same idea in my own head. Upon looking through the shelves in search of my own favourite collections, I was struck by how obviously “Canadian” my poetry exposure has been over the last couple of years. By this I mean that most of the poetry collections I have purchased and read in the last few years are books by Canadian poets. I’m on the fence as it relates to how I feel about this: on the one hand I am thrilled that our own national literature has engaged me to this extent, but I also wonder what exactly I’m missing out on in other areas if this is where my focus has been. This is not to say I don’t read poets from other countries, but it does speak quite directly to where my reading interests lie.
For this reason, I believe I will focus on five of my favourite books of Canadian poetry from the last decade for the purposes of this “best of” list. I pick only five as a way of restricting how lengthy the list may get and to allow me to think what really engages me as a reader of poetry. The list will be in no particular order, but will rather display five titles that on any given day I may consider to be truly good books. This list will also, as might be expected, reflect my own biases and focus on works that have influenced me directly as a writer.
So, tune in over the next while to see where this goes. Like Mooney, I will toss the ball into your court and invite you to think about your own favourite books (if poetry isn’t your thing, then go with novels, short fiction, or any other genre). Should be fun.