Omeros by Dereck Walcott
Poets and Poetry–Epic–20th Century
Nobel Prize winner Dereck Walcott’s epic masterpiece, Omeros, is Homeric in scope but entirely Walcott in both its message and poetic technique. The poet tackles the tragedy of colonialism, the subjugation of land and people, specifically, his native island of St. Lucia (“the Helen of the West Indies”) with luminous, natural imagery and a loose yet impactful terza rima scheme.
The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth
Poets and Poetry–20th Century
Written as an exercise to detach from the tedious demands of an economics doctoral program, The Golden Gate explores the complexities of monogamy, marriage, and friendship in 1980s San Francisco. What makes this work so singularly impressive is that Seth is able to utilize the sonnet as a vehicle for conveying an expansive yet nuanced narrative of modern love and loss.
Jane: A Murder by Maggie Nelson
Poets and Poetry–21st Century–Biography
Poet and essayist Maggie Nelson tells the story of her aunt Jane’s short life and murder through a series of poetic, dreamscapes that draw from her aunt’s journal, family memories, and her own exquisite imagination. The result is a haunting biography in verse that both celebrates and eulogizes a young woman whose promising life was mercilessly cut short.