What Sparks Poetry is a serialized feature in which we invite poets to explore experiences and ideas that spark new poems.

In Books We’ve Loved, we asked our editorial board members and select guest editors to reflect on a book that has been particularly meaningful to them in the last year, with the intention of creating a list of book recommendations for our valued readers.

Martin Mitchell on Ellen Bryant Voigt's <em>Messenger</em>
Photo: Martin Mitchell
Ellen Bryant Voigt
My grandfather killed a mule with a hammer, or maybe with a plank, or a stick, maybe it was a horse—the story varied in the telling. If he was planting corn when it happened, it was a mule, and he was plowing the upper slope, west of the house, his overalls stiff to the knees with red dirt, the lines draped behind his neck.
Derek Sheffield
That bright of the blue sky variety raising every racket of mower and blower, backhoe and whacker. . .

Oak

Atsuro Riley
You could loop a rope there Nearabout the bicep Whap you up a wide horsehead knot to grip.   To ride good Rid fear Let's not feature no blackflow flowin' down below.
Peter Jay Shippy
Because the navigator didn't understand that the crease in the map depicted a crease in the sea, the ship had to weigh anchor.

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