15 of the Past Year’s Best Poetry Books

Clearly, 2014 was a wonderful year for poets and poetry. Here are the most memorable works I had the pleasure of reviewing in the last 12 months.
















Best Book of Poems

  • Medic Against Bomb: A Doctor’s Poetry of War by Frederick Foote (Grayson Books)

Best New Novel

  • Alena by Rachel Pastan (Riverhead)

Best Chapbook

  • Congregation: Poems by Natasha Trethewey (William Meredith Foundation/Dryad Press)

Best Mixed-Media (watercolor/poetry)

  • The Girls in the Chartreuse Jackets by Maria Mazziotti Gillan (Cat in the Sun Books)

Best Adaptation

  • Memorial: A Version of Homer’s Iliad by Alice Oswald; afterword by Eavan Boland (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Best Nonfiction

  • Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York's Legendary Chelsea Hotel by Sherill Tippins (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Best Book on Teaching Poetry

  • Singing School by Robert Pinsky (W.W. Norton & Co.)

Best Anthology

  • Poetry of the First World War: an Anthology, edited by Tim Kendall (Oxford University Press)

Best Posthumous Book of Poems

  • Saudades by José “Joe” Gouveia; introduction by Martin Espada (Casa Mariposa)

Best Re-Issue

  • Skin, Inc. Identity Repair: Poems by Thomas Sayers Ellis (Graywolf Press)

Best Book of Poems with Photography

  • If The Tabloids Are True What Are You by Matthea Harvey (Graywolf Press)

Best Translation

  • Guantanamo by Frank Smith, translated from the French by Vanessa Place (Les Figues)

Best Essays

  • Twenty Poems That Could Save America: and Other Essays by Tony Hoagland (Graywolf Press)  

Best Biography

  • E.E. Cummings: a Life by Susan Cheever (Pantheon Books)

Best Collected Poetry

  • The Collected Poems of Samuel Beckett, edited by Sean Lawlor and John Pilling (Grove Press)

In 2015, Grace Cavalieri celebrates 38 years on air with “The Poet and the Poem,” recorded at the Library of Congress for distribution to public radio. Her latest poetry books are The Man Who Got Away and The Mandate of Heaven.

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