Poetry Advocacy

How do we get the vital news not only from poems, as William Carlos Williams famously wrote in his poem “Asphodel,” but also of them? Many poets are skillful at promoting their work and connecting with a larger audience, but the sheer number of books published each year makes it nearly impossible to know about all of the good work out there, and a diminishing number of poetry reviews compounds the problem. We are grateful for David Axelrod and basalt, for embracing our idea of a column wherein we review recent books of poetry that we love and want to advocate for. Along the way, we hope to advocate for poetry itself—the reading and writing of it, as a force for good in the world.

As friends and fellow poets living in Montana, we thought it natural that we begin by reviewing each other’s most recent published book, Tami Haaland’s What Does Not Return and Melissa Kwasny’s Where Outside the Body is the Soul Today. We know this is not the usual way of doing things. We will write with full disclosure about if and how we know featured poets. On the other hand, ours is not a project aimed at promotion or marketing. We hope to use the books we choose as a platform to explore individually and collaboratively what we are surprised at, moved by, and what means the most to us.

–Tami Haaland & Melissa Kwasny