Monday, November 29, 2010

Poet Tara Betts recommends books for the holidays

Tara Betts is author of Arc & Hue. Leave her a comment in this post if you'd like to win a free, autographed copy of her debut poetry collection (read a review here).

Everything below is from Tara:

The holidays always mark a lull for me that lets me read uninterrupted. Here are a few of the titles on my shelf that I thought might be good holiday gifts in fiction, poetry and books for kids. I’ll be curling up with them to avoid the cold this season.

The Fiction Section

Some Sing, Some Cry by ntozake shange & Ifa Bayeza is the first collaborative novel between these sisters. Bayeza is an accomplished playwright, and shange is the author of for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf.

Daughters of the Stone by Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa tells the story of several generations of an Afro-Puerto Rican family facing their struggles and relying on traditions that affirm them. I heard Llanos-Figueroa speak and read from this novel. Her words on page and in person are lush and intense.

How to Escape from a Leper Colony by Tiphanie Yanique is a debut collection of short stories. This is on my winter reading list, but if her prize-winning chapbook “The Saving Work” is any indication of how amazing this collection is, then it’s worth reading!

The Poetry Section

I devour poetry, so, here are some collections I’d like to share.

Kaffir Lily by Bianca Spriggs is a debut collection filled with visceral lines and rich images.

Running the Dusk by Christian Campbell is another first poetry collection that recently won the U.K.’s coveted Aldeburgh Prize.

Ruth Forman’s Prayers Like Shoes is her third collection. Prayers Like Shoes is published by Whit Press, a small press for work by women involved with the Hedgebrook writers retreat.

Thomas Sayers Ellis’ Skin, Inc. is his second collection that features varied images by the author. Ellis topples the well-worn notions of identity politics and performance poetry.

Conversion by Remica Bingham won the Naomi Long Madgett Prize a couple of years ago, but I think this is a book that speaks as a close observer of the world who notices family, history, land and the literature that shaped her.

Books for Young Readers

I recommend Virginia Hamilton’s The People Who Could Fly, She Stories, and Sweet Whispers, Brother Rush since Christmas is for the kids! Keep Climbing, Girls by the late Beah Richards is a book that I’ve given to little girls that I know. It may be good for the women and girls in your life too. If you don’t know Beah Richards, she gave the moving monologue in movie “Beloved” about loving and kissing your own hands.

I’m looking forward to checking out Zora and Me by Victoria Bond and T.R. Simon. This fictional account of young Zora Neale Hurston as a detective has me excited about her adventures. I haven’t seen a young black detective since Billy Jo Jive and Suzy Sunset were on “Sesame Street.”


rhapsodyinbooks said...

I love Virginia Hamilton - I didn't know about "The People Could Fly"- it looks wonderful. And I love the cover of Daughters of the Stone - I think I would get that book for the cover alone!

wdjenkins1 said...

As a girl, I read a ton of mysteries with girl detectives, but I never found one with a girl who looked even remotely like me. From what I've read, "Zora and Me" sounds wonderful!

Anonymous said...

Great list Tara!

Anonymous said...

Great list, thanks. Also, congrats on your book and the excellent review.

Doret said...

I loved Daughters of the Stone.

The author did the Women Writers of Color feature at Color Online, back in April

Her answers are great

Thanks so much for the poetry suggestions.

Dusky Literati said...

These are really great suggestions. Thanks for posting.

Carleen Brice said...

I am really loving getting recommendations for books outside my limited little sphere. Thanks Tara!

Tara said...

Thanks for all the kind words and the link to Ms. Llanos Figueroa's interview. Also, isn't it great to genre-jump, Carleen? That really feeds/jumpstarts my writing in such a powerful way and feels a little bit like a break.