What Sparks Poetry

Books We’ve Loved

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.

Unfolding does not, inherently, mean disruption. Like a poem, we’re asked by Lao-tzu to approach the world to find the harmony between existence and non-existence. And as a series of poems, the Taoteching moves beyond its genre because it not only is an aesthetic object, but a manual for living, both as an individual and as a society.

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Reading Kim’s collection in 2022 is a self-education on Korea’s historical past and its influence on contemporary Korean/Korean American life. It remains relevant especially in the context of the ongoing rise in anti-Asian racism. (Those of us who self-identify as Asian American know that this racism is not new.)

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Awareness of what we are part of, an element of, an organism within, is essential to knowing oneself and one’s placement. There is duty inherent to place; balance, sustenance, reciprocity, preservation, protection, beingness, belonging to or being a good guest within. Every step taken has impression.

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When I was a little girl on the rooftop and daydreamed I conducted an orchestra of trees dancing far away from economic and political crises caused by oil and the air incessantly tousled our hair to the beat of common heart.

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Dearest Tre, it is 45 degrees Celsius this afternoon here in the Mojave Desert. I'm missing you, when do you arrive? The intense heat makes things seem further away; how is it doing that? Here is a new poem for you.

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In Cree epistemology, land is a sentient being; we are co-constituted with it. A Cree ecopoetics, in my mind, is a poetics of the land, a way of acknowledging the sovereignty of land and water and animal and plant life...

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The power of the bird is not only its chirp and trill, but the richness of its name which alters our lips in pronouncing it: albatross, kestrel, blackbird, screech owl...

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The metabolism of our bodies is connected to the metabolism of the planet. We transform, reshape, or “write” our environment by polluting it, by changing nutrient flows and biogeochemical cycles. In response, our environment “writes” us...

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We consider that creative-artistic activity provides resistance to oppression, because it is from this perspective that we can demonstrate the damage caused to nature, the violence done to the defenders of the environment.

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We are both a part of that natural sphere and stand distinctly apart within it, in our creaturely and industrial/technological dominance over it. You are both part of that sphere, and stand painfully apart, with your consciousness, language, cumbersome car and computer.

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Living and writing on the unceded Coast Salish territories, also known as Vancouver, for the past quarter of a century, I have a responsibility to this land and its peoples. My lifelong homework is to learn how respect is enacted and renewed with the Tsleil-Waututh, the Musqueam, the Squamish...

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In order to understand that all living beings are alike, no matter how dissimilar we may seem, we must transform our relationship with nature and assume a new stance; we must situate ourselves neither above nor below the other creatures on Earth, but beside them.

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Can a poem create the conditions to eliminate forest fires, erosion, petrotoxicity, flooding, and imminent ruin? Ask me again on a day further away from the changing face of the moon. Today I am mercurial, skeptical and optimistic, bereft and full of breath.

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