Matthew Siegel’s Summer Reading List

Before I fell in love with it, many of my earliest adventures in poetry reading were spurred on (okay, okay, required) by my teachers and professors. It took longer to fall than I’d care to admit, but I can only imagine the process would have been a little quicker had Matthew Siegel been my instructor. This summer he’s busy teaching gifted high school students at Stanford, and this is a look at what he’s assigned.

And how jealous of these kids am I!

If Birds Gather Your Hair for Nesting by Anna Journey: This is a book that continues to impress me each time I read it. Imagistically, these poems soar. They are both confident and vulnerable. Poems that make me want to write poems. Poems that make me want to be a better poet.

Please by Jericho Brown: This is another book I teach from regularly, especially when I am teaching literature to musicians. To say these poems talk about music and love and distance and identity would not be saying nearly enough. I love this book.

We the Animals by Justin Torres: His is a book that will beat you about the face and heart. Justin’s stories have made me weep openly. This book goes straight for gut.

Self Help by Lorrie Moore: A contemporary classic I’m reading for the first time. Lots of second person stories that really work and the ones that aren’t blend right in. Family drama. Love stories. Things of the heart.

Siegel’s poems appear in our Summer 2011 issue.

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