Summer Reading Lists - James Crews

James Crews

James Crews

Today's summer reading list comes from poet James Crews, who will be reading at our Poetry & Pie event on July 29.

James' first collection of poetry, The Book of What Stays (University of Nebraska Press, 2011) won the 2010 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry. Michael Simms of Coal Hill Review calls The Book of What Stays "one of the very best original books of poetry I've read in years." James' second book, Telling My Father, will be released this fall by Southeast Missouri State University Press. 

We couldn't be more thrilled that James is joining us for Poetry & Pie. I hope you'll be there to hear his reading, too.

Thank you for sharing your list with us, James!

James Crews' Summer Reading List


Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear by Elizabeth Gilbert. Whether or not you loved Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert's Big Magic is an incredibly practical guide for anyone striving to live a more creative life (especially while holding down a day-job). I have enjoyed reading a few of her short chapters before bed and waking refreshed, ready to face the blank page again each morning.


Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape by Lauret Savoy. Trace has been on my reading list for months, but I finally found the time this summer to delve into this complex yet gorgeously written exploration of race, identity, and landscape in America. Savoy masterfully weaves her own personal history with the natural history of our own often-troubled nation as she searches for evidence of her ancestors and meditates on name and place in America. Here is a sample from the book that feels especially timely:

"A wiser measure of the ecological footprint would include people, or at least their labor. It might factor in the losses of relationships with land or home, losses of self-determination, and losses of health or life. What if the footprint measured, over time, on whom and what the nation's foot has trod--that is, who has paid for prosperity?"

The World Is Round: Poems by Nikky Finney. Because I'm currently co-editing an anthology of environmental poetry by LGBTQIA writers entitled Queer Nature, I recently returned to the work of Nikky Finney and was thrilled to discover the compassion and fearlessness of the poems in The World Is Round. Many poetry readers will know Head Off & Split, Finney's National Book Award-winning collection, but the rest of her risky, unflinching body of work deserves more attention as well.