Genia Blum’s Essays of the Decade
Arts, Culture, Gender, Society, Women. I don’t remember every single thing I read. Is something missing? Let me know @geniablum.
“How to Build an Intellectual” (Slice / Longreads), Hedia Anvar
“6 truths and a lie about Belarus” (Matador Network), Sonya Bilocerkowycz
“Beyond Gimmicks” (Creative Nonfiction Magazine), Renée E. D’Aoust
“Swan, Late” (Longreads), Irina Dumitrescu
“Cyprus Pride” (Bellingham Review), Joanna Eleftheriou
“The Fairytale” (Granta), Jennifer Kabat
“Contrast Study” (Vela Magazine), Leslie Kendall Dye
“Notes on the Death of Oxana Shachko” (The Paris Review), Jacqueline Feldman
“The Nothing Between Your Legs” (Autostraddle), Jane Eaton Hamilton
“Strange Flowers” (The Manifest-Station), Karrie Higgins
“What You Have Seen: Art and Absolution at Bayreuth” (VAN Magazine), Alison Kinney
“How to Suppress Women’s Criticism” (Electric Literature), Carmen Maria Machado
“Native American Lives Are Tragic, But Probably Not in the Way You Think” (Mother Jones), Terese Marie Mailhot
“Trash Talk: On Translating Garbage” (The Paris Review), Lina Mounzer
“Fan Mail: A Lyric Essay in Five Acts” (Passages North), Lisa Nikolidakis
“The Aesthetic Beauty of Math” (The Paris Review), Karen Olsson
“Ballet School” (The Antioch Review), Jessica Raimi
“Dance Me to the End of Love” (Longreads), Abigail Rasminsky
“On Basquiat, the Black Body, and a Strange Sensation in My Neck” (The Paris Review), Aisha Sabatini Sloan
“A Multiplicity of Gray” (Moss Lit), Monet Patrice Thomas
Dorothy Chan’s 10 Favorite Poems of the Decade (2010-2019)
When Russell asked me to select my top ten favorite poems of the decade, I was flattered, of course, but I was also a little freaked out. Because I’m reading and teaching poetry constantly, it feels like an especially impossible task to choose only ten favorites for one whole decade. So, I did what I always do when I freak out (in an excited way): I sat on my bed and ordered McDonald’s. I ate a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, drank a Dr. Pepper, listened to the CATS soundtrack, and watched SNL videos. I know. You’re probably wondering what food and videos has to do with poetry, but at night, I let my mind wander poetically, and after a little bit of adjusting, I can finally get to a point where everything makes sense.
I thought about what I value in a poem. I love a sexy poem. I love a breathless poem. I love a timeless poem. The list goes on and on. I love a great variety. Anyway, here are some of my favorites—this list is not exhaustive. I’ve chosen a favorite from each year. Happy 2020.
2010: Vera Pavlova, “Am I lovely? Of course!”
We start this list off with so much feeling. So much. Really though—lines like “caress and tame my soul, / that godly swallow / you love to no end.” Are you lovely? Yes, you are. Oh, so lovely.
2011: Evie Shockley, “her tin skin”
Evie Shockley’s the new black was one of the first poetry collections I ever read. It’s still one of my favorites, and the sounds in this poem are simply so so seductive.
2012: Paisley Rekdal, “Self-Portrait as Mae West One-Liner”
Isn’t that just a killer title? Really. Anything Mae West is a win in my book, and “I’m / tangible, I’m gin” just might be my new favorite line(s).
2013: Randall Mann, “Postcard: Advice to a Young Poet”
I swear that this is the best thing you’ll see all day. Randall Mann, you’re awesome. The best kind of writerly advice is one that says, “Keep going.” Also, please please read Mann’s The Illusion of Intimacy.
2014: Kim Hyesoon, “A Stuffy Poet and a Precocious Lover”
First of all, do you HAHA at the title? More importantly, I love this poem with its ars poetica narrative. Another Kim Hyesoon masterpiece that’s filled with quirk.
2015: Denise Duhamel, “Florida Doll Sonnet”
You think you could get through a Dorothy list without a sonnet? Think again. Also, I have a soft spot for Fiorucci. Ka-Ching! Denise Duhamel. Ka-Ching!
2016: Alice Fulton, “Claustrophilia”
Alice Fulton forever. That’s all. Who wouldn’t be hooked with this opening line, “It’s just me throwing myself at you.” Fulton’s one of my forever favorite poets. She’s also one of my role models.
2017: Rosebud Ben-Oni, “I Guess We’ll Have to Be Secretly in Love with Each Other & Leave It at That”
I’m in love with Rosebud Ben-Oni’s collection turn around, BRXGHT XYXS. Also, this poem’s title comes from The Royal Tenenbaums. Wes Anderson is his own genre. Rosebud Ben-Oni is her own genre.
2018: Nabila Lovelace, “The S in ‘I Loves You, Porgy’”
Oh, my goodness. I taught this poem, along with the rest of Sons of Achilles, in my Intermediate Poetry Class this semester. To say that my students and I love this poem would be an understatement.
2019: Imani Davis, “The Devil Wears Prada”
Men do have their seasons. Imani Davis, you’re a badass. If this is 2019, I can’t wait for 2020.
I consider this to be a favourites list rather than a best of 2010–19 list. These are books that I’ve returned to, felt drawn to look at again, and which perhaps even changed my own poetic practice. In alphabetical order:
Nin Andrews, Why God Is a Woman, BOA Editions, 2015: Part allegory, part funhouse mirror, all clinical dissection of the patriarchy.
Simon Armitage, Paper Aeroplane: Selected Poems, 1989–2014, Faber, 2014: I can’t deny that when I look back at most of Armitage’s work so far, I reflexively smile, grimace slightly, and nod knowingly. In the best way possible.
Hera Lindsay Bird, Hera Lindsay Bird, Victoria University Press, 2016: One of the great simile-makers of our time. With this ability Bird can (and often does) make poems that yo-yo about zanily, with only her deft touch keeping them under control.
Patricia Lockwood, Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals, Penguin, 2014: Contains both the funniest and most piercing poems of the mid-2010s (‘The Father and Mother of American Tit-Pics’ and ‘Rape Joke’).
Anthony Madrid, I Am Your Slave Now Do What I Say, Canarium, 2012: Is this book seven years old already? It seems like only yesterday that it sprang into the world like a glitter-covered Athena emerging from a cake shaped like Zeus’s head.
Geoffrey Nutter, Cities at Dawn, Wave, 2016: A poet whose work I have always admired. His poetry is rococo yet cleanly cut, like an embroidered Nehru jacket.
Claudia Rankine, Citizen: An American Lyric, Graywolf, 2014: Much of what happened in anglophone poetry in the second half of the decade seems hard to imagine without Citizen.
James Tate, The Government Lake, Ecco, 2019: No one must ever know how much I long to ape Tate’s late prose poems, because if they do I will look small and unoriginal.
Wendy Trevino, Cruel Fiction, Commune Editions, 2018: Makes the grinding work of politics seem clearer, and expressions of solidarity seem more lapidary, than perhaps we deserve.
Luke Wright, What I Learned from Johnny Bevan, Penned in the Margins, 2016: A verse play for one performer that highlights the yawning gulf between principles and praxis in the politics of the British left. Sadly, it’s even more relevant today than when it was written.
Joe Linker’s Top 10 Websites of the Decade
Berfrois is erudite and fun
so must be number one,
while Queen Mob’s Tea House
putting the mice before the cats
comes in at number two.
Number 3 is Caleb Crain’s
Steamboats are Ruining Everything
Number 4 is Spitafield’s Life
Number 5 is Alex Ross with
The Rest is Noise
Number 6 is Gracia & Louise
Number 7 is Sultan’s Seal
Number 8 is Yoani Sanchez
Number 9 is Peter Molin “Time Now”
And I would be remiss to miss at ten
The Coming of the Toads
Nicholas Rombes’ Movies of the Decade
Creepy (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016)
I don’t think it was that great of a decade for movies, so there are only 7.
They are, in order of goodness:
1 / Toni Erdmann (Maren Ade, 2016)
2 / Neighboring Sounds (Kleber Mendonça Filho, 2012)
3 / Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)
4 / Creepy (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2016)
5 / The Blackcoat’s Daughter (Oz Perkins, 2015)
6 / A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2014)
7 / 24 Frames (Abbas Kiarostami, 2017)
An editor asks me to write about my “top ten stories of the decade”, interpreted however I please. I don’t want to research anything right now. I’m in Agra and tired. My eyes are full of the Fort and the shops and so many other sights. How can I write a list without research? What is a story, anyway? Can I interpret the word “story” in a silly way, as the levels of a building, or something like that? Or maybe I can compile a list of lies, the ten best lies, or stories, I’ve told this decade. If only I could remember them; if only I lied more, for the sake of this exercise. “A likely story” is a phrase that I enjoy. The ten best opt-outs, cop-outs, fake-outs of the decade. Maybe I’ll just send in this text. Story is fiction, story is the creation of a world. Ten tiny worlds, ten bullet-thoughts fired. I used to hate this word “story”. To my ears it sounded so prim, so condescending, so pat. So sickly sweet, a confection spun for an adult’s idea of children, a salesperson’s spiel. Until I reconciled myself to its meaning as a possible representation of facts. Can I describe the decade as a representation of facts, as abstraction or metaphor? (What’s the story) morning glory? This decade is a beautiful shining otter flicking off water drops, getting us all wet. This decade is a slightly wobbly roller chair that still keeps spinning. This decade is a snoring human with moments of better and worse apnea. This decade hums along like an angry refrigerator. This decade is a hotel key that opens just one door of infinite possibilities. This decade loves and schemes like a Mughal ruler’s three hundred mistresses. This decade is a post-Deep Blue game of human chess. This decade is a shower nozzle that sprays out different intensities of water and sediment. This decade is an errant bird, gone astray yet making its way. This decade asks for the number of a trouser-pressing service. This decade packs too many boxes and bags onto its cart, then kicks a horse to pull it. This decade is red sandstone and cool white marble and many people clambering onto few palanquins, as poets leap like monkeys over the parapets, or pack home five into a groaning tuk-tuk. I could go on. “And so forth” could be the name for the book of all stories, A Few Fictions by The Decade. But you said only ten, right? Farewell, two thousands. “This” decade bleeds into “that”, in our ever-shifting storied present.
Devon Walker-Figueroa’s Ten Haikus for Ten Game-Changing Video Games of the Last Decade
Pissed-off bird blobkins
don’t pluck their eyebrows. Die, pigs!
Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
(Bethesda Game Studios)
Yetis and dragons
are jerks! Comforting
to steal merchants’ pants.
Climb tapestries till
your light grows illegible.
Snow replaces sand.
(Might and Delight)
Wild fires pursue you
who can kick a fox’s ass.
Save those badger kits!
You require no face.
Paradox made a palace
of your mind, your place.
The planets have plans.
Even failure is magic.
An onion plays sax.
Puts the “play” in “plague.”
Water laughs at gravity.
So hard to unplug.
Fortnite Battle Royale
Nice axe! Dance if you
fell, like rain, into battle!
The storm’s eye closes.
Shadow of the Colossus
(SIE Japan Studio)
A phantom’s servant,
you’ve so much nothing to lose.
Restless idols roam.
The future is tense.
You’re the last of your mind, girl.
The pain worm rises!