bookish posts

Top Ten Tuesday: Books for poetry fans

This is a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. You can find out more and follow along there!

April is National Poetry Month, a thing that I love. I thought it would be fun to suggest some prose books for poetry fans. These are all books which use language in a way that seems somewhat poetic to me, either compressed and opaque, or rich and lush.

An Inheritance of Ashes by Leah Bobet: One of my favorite books from last year–Bobet’s use of language is masterful and she has a gift for unusual and expressive turns of phrase that perfectly capture the essence of what she’s conveying without being overblown. {my review}

Sorrow’s Knot by Erin Bow: Bow is a poet as well as a prose writer and I think it shows most in this 2012 book. As I said in my review, “The overall effect of the language in Sorrow’s knot is one of spareness, economy. There’s not a word out of place or misused. Words have weight and echoes. And yet, at least for me, the effect was also not one of an overt style that intruded.” {review}

A Thousand Nights by E.K. Johnston: Johnston has already shown herself to be a writer who uses language deftly. In Story of Owen/Prairie Fire, it’s the way Siobhan experiences music and the world. In A Thousand Nights, it’s the narrator’s life in the desert which shapes how she tells the story. They’re really deliberate choices which at the same time feel very organic to the particular story being told. {my review}

The Brides of Rollrock Island by Margo Lanagan: I initially struggled with The Brides of Rollrock Island and yet, even at the time, I appreciated and was immersed in Lanagan’s prose. She combines gorgeous, keenly-crafted descriptions with realistic dialogue for a really fascinating effect. {my review}

Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin: I think of Voices as poetic, not so much because of the language itself–though there are certainly moments that are beautifully written–but because it has something of the feel of a poem. The connections and meanings are not always obvious; the reader is asked to work a little to make sense of them. {my review}

All Our Pretty Songs (and sequels) by Sarah McCarry: Lush, gorgeous prose. All Our Pretty Songs is the first in this loosely connected trilogy, but it was perhaps the third book, About a Girl, which impressed me the most. The descriptions of the world, of the inner landscape of the characters, and the strange lovely, dangerous things they encounter are all wonderful.

The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia McKillip: McKillip always writes dense, beautiful prose, but in this book in particular, the relationships between the sections reminds me of poetic breaks between lines. Like Voices, the connections are not always apparent and there’s a tension that requires attention to resolve. {my review}

The Turtle of Oman by Naomi Shihab Nye: Nye is a poet, so it’s not surprising that this realistic middle grade story feels so intensely personal and evocative. Nye captures the inner landscape of Aref as he faces his imminent move to the US, as well as the outer landscape of the home he has always known. {my review}

A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar: This is a lovely, thoughtful book about all kinds of things, including family, myth, and the effects of colonialism. As I said in my review, “Samatar’s language is dense and beautiful, with occasional moments of iridescent beauty.” There’s a sequel out this year and I’m excited! {my review}

The Girls at the Kingfisher Club by Genevieve Valentine: One of the things I often love about poetry is the sense of voice and, although this is prose, Valentine creates both a distinct, beautiful voice, and powerful imagery. The narration feels deliberate and careful and at the same time wildly exciting. {my review}


By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

5 replies on “Top Ten Tuesday: Books for poetry fans”

Thank you for the lovely list! I think I’ve read about half of these and enjoyed them all, which means I should probably get around to reading the other half. Probably Sorrow’s Knot – I have yet to read any Erin Bow, though with you, Brandy, and Charlotte all liking her books, I’m sure I’d enjoy them, too.

I love Erin Bow’s books, but warning–they have ALL made me cry! Very good, though!

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