Happy National Poetry Day! In the US, this is the day we celebrate all forms of poetry—the perfect opportunity to share some of my recent favorites. All three are by Edward Hirsch, and I have the Cake & Hyperbull show to blame for that. Co-hostess Amy Zoellers and I have started a challenge each show where we pick a random form out what has become one of my favorites, but it’s $160 for the hardback and $17 for the Kindle version. I sprung for the ebook. So my number one favorite poetry craft book as of today is…

A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch And here’s why (from Amazon): “Hirsch has delved deeply into the poetic traditions of the world, returning with an inclusive, international compendium. Moving gracefully from the bards of ancient Greece to the revolutionaries of Latin America, from small formal elements to large mysteries, he provides thoughtful definitions for the most important lyrical vocabulary… shot through with the enthusiasm, authority, and sheer delight that made How to Read a Poem so beloved, A Poet’s Glossary is a new classic.” At $160 —$17 for an ebook—if you ever see this in a used bookshop, grab it. You can read more about it on Amazon here.

Which brings me to why this second book is a new favorite, even though I just ordered it. The Essential Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch! Yes! When I went to Amazon today to drool over the expensive original, I found this new version published for a very affordable $9.99. Thank you, Mr. Hirsch—for the good of poetry-kind!

From Amazon: When Edward Hirsch’s A Poet’s Glossary was first published in 2014, it was hailed as “an instant classic that belongs on the bookshelf of every serious poet and literature student.” Now Hirsch selects the most important material from that extraordinary volume for The Essential Poet’s Glossary (The Washington Post)… knowing how a poem works is crucial to unlocking its meaning—entries will deepen readers’ relationships with their favorite poems and open greater levels of understanding in each new poem they encounter.” Read more about it on Amazon here.

And because I tend to go on tangents, my final favorite lately is also by Hirsch: How to Read a Poem: And Fall in Love with Poetry. I’ve been going through this one slowly with the intent to write a review for next National Poetry Month (April 2022). I bought it because I really wanted a hard copy of The Poet’s Glossary, but $160. This was my consolation book. I haven’t gotten far into it, but I can see why Hirsch can command high prices. I look forward to sharing the review.

From Amazon: “Read a poem to yourself in the middle of the night. Turn on a single lamp and read it while you’re alone in an otherwise dark room or while someone sleeps next to you. Say it over to yourself in a place where silence reigns and the din of culture—the constant buzzing noise that surrounds you—has momentarily stopped. This poem has come from a great distance to find you.” So begins this astonishing book… a masterful work by a master poet, this brilliant summation of poetry and human nature will speak to all readers who long to place poetry in their lives but don’t know how to read it.” Read more about it on Amazon here.

Those are the three poetry books I’ve been obsessed with lately. Have you read any books by Hirsch? I haven’t read any of his actual poetry books yet, but I think I need to. If him discussing poetry is this good, I can only imagine how fantastic his poetry is. I just hope they aren’t all $160. That would really Hirsch. 😂

By Angela Yuriko Smith

Angela Yuriko Smith is a third-generation Shimanchu-American and award-winning poet, author, and publisher with 20+ years of experience as a professional writer in nonfiction. Publisher of Space & Time magazine (est. 1966), producer of the Exercise Your Writes YouTube podcast, two-time Bram Stoker Awards® Winner, and HWA Mentor of the Year for 2020, find her at angelaysmith.com.

  1. I read “Gabriel: a poem” (In memory of his son) by Hirsch and then I read “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” by Dylan Thomas (for his father). How do these powerful poems compare? If this were a college class, I think I’d enjoy writing a contrast/comparison essay. Contrast between them practically shouts!
    Thanks for bringing Hirsch to my attention. I listened to Dylan reading his poem (recording from the late 40’s, I think). Maybe there’s a way his should be read which differs from how Edward’s poem should be read?

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