Our Favourite Poetry Books 2012

We've been keeping an eye on the other best-of-the-year poetry lists, collating our own ideas and re-reading some of our favourite poetry books that we've read this year. I wouldn't say ours was the definitive list, but it is a list, and we do love poems, so you can probably trust us. Again, so many more we loved, so little time and space to write about them. Any glaring omissions? Tweet us @poetryschool or leave a comment on our facebook page, tell us what we should be reading!




Sam Riviere, 81 Austerities (Faber)

This year's winner of the Forward Prize for best first collection is brilliantly crafted, absolutely modern and skilful response to the dynamics of contemporary poetry. Funny, gifted, lucid; a brilliantly handled, bathetic reaction to the modern plethora of technology, consumerism and emotion. 

William Letford, Bevel (Carcanet) 

Programmes officer Julia, with her literature organisation Jaybird, has been working with William Letford the 'Gaze like an Astronaut' project, and these crisp, airy poems of a young man’s working life are brilliantly direct, and worked very well with the audience. Hear him live if you can too. 

Sharon Olds, Stags Leap (Cape)

The Stags Leap poems telling the story of her divorce are sad, fair and beautiful, and poised perfectly between the stiff and the wobbly upper lip. Pretty heartbreaking stuff.

Oli Hazzard, Between Two Windows (Carcanet)

This has pretty much been on everyone's best of year poetry list, and rightly so. This collection is one of the most formally playful and erudite of the year. Intelligence worn lightly with a true and genuine passion for the exploration of poetry.

Jorie Graham, Place (Carcanet)

Complex and dramatic, far-reaching and formally experimental, Place is an exercise and interrogation on perspective and the self. It was the Forward Prize winner for best collection this year.

Michael Robbins, Alien Vs Predator (Penguin)

This is about the coolest poetry collection to come out since Frank O Hara's Lunch Poems. Completely unafraid of handling GPS, Pizza Hut and smoothies next to appropriations of Larkin, Michael Robbins is a Taylor Swift loving, David Foster Wallace inspired genius.

Kathleen Jamie, The Overhaul (Picador)

A lyrical approach to nature and the world around us, a brilliant attempt at aligning human experience with the untranslatable feeling of the natural and wild. Tense and linguistically dynamic, it is short-listed for the T.S Eliot award this year. 

Jacob Polley, The Havocs (Picador)

Drawing on myth to create riddles and cautionary tales, Jacob Polley's new collection is a lyrical take on the folklore of the North of England. Having grown up on Angela Carter’s feminist re-appropriating of the fairy tale, it’s very interesting to see what a male writer does with them decades later.


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