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Best Poetry Books of 2013

Updated on December 19, 2013

The "Best Of" List

Any "Best Of" list is necessarily going to be incomplete and unable to satisfy everyone, and this is particularly the case with poetry, a genre of writing that can be highly specialized and includes many "camps" that have widely different ideas about what makes for "good poetry". Despite the difficulty of creating any definitive list, it can be useful to get an idea of what type of poetry is being lauded. This list is meant to congregate a few of the poetry collections that have appeared across several lists in a variety of poetry styles and from a variety of writers whose books have come out from both major publishers and small presses. Take a look below to get an idea of the poetry landscape in 2013, and see links below to more poetry lists.

The Rise In the Fall

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Rise In the Fall by Ana Božičević

Ana Božičević's Rise In the Fall shows up on several "best of" lists for 2013. Božičević's language is both colloquial and playful, and she uses her delightful language to discuss everything from pop culture detritus to cultural revolution. This book is both a delight to read and a complex exploration of language and culture from the unique perspective of an immigrant. Check out a poem by Ana Božičević from The Academy of American Poets and an in-depth review of Rise In the Fall.

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The Metaphysical Dog by Frank Bidart

Frank Bidart has had a long, successful career, but his most recent book, The Metaphysical Dog, has received critical acclaim from several well-known sources and was a finalist for the National Book Award. This book is a lyrical and beautiful meditation on major metaphysical questions about who we are, how we know who we are, and what it means to be human. Check out Bidart's interview for the National Book Award as well as his poems at Poetry Magazine.

Poetry Reading by Frank Bidart

Portugeuse by Brandon Shimoda

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Portuguese by Brandon Shimoda

Brandon Shimoda's collection, out from small press Octopus Books, is a complex and dense exploration of identity told through narrative poems. Check out a few of Shimoda's poems from Word Riot and an interview about the book.

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Incarnadine by Mary Szybist

Mary Szybist's collection, which often uses the Biblical figure of Mary to explore personal identity and the desire for transcendence, is both accessible to poetry readers who prefer a more straightforward poem but also somewhat mysterious and hard to pin down. Her elegant and lyrical lines will delight lovers of language. Learn more about Mary Szybist's poetry on her Poetry Foundation page.

Honorable Mentions

A few other well-received books this year, by both new poets and well-known figures in the poetry world, include No Object by Natalie Shapero, What I've Stolen, What I've Earned by Sherman Alexie, Revelator by Ron Silliman, and Revenge by Christie Ann Reynolds.

Best Poetry of the Year

Obviously, the poetry collections listed above are only a sampling of poetry collections that have been published in 2013. Since poetry (and all art) is a subjective topic, review several different best-of lists for the best sampling of "must read" collections. Here are a few lists from well-regarded sources:

Publisher's Weekly

Slate

Flavorwire

Small Press Distribution

2013 Poetry Selections

Have You Read Any of These Poetry Collections in 2013?

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