Poetry by the numbers

Since mid-April 2011, when I began tracking books I read via LibraryThing, I’ve hashtagged 569 books with “poetry”. This category includes the obvious things like collections, chapbooks, and anthologies of poetry; but also literary criticism related to poetry, anything about translating poetry, interviews with poets (often by other poets), biographies of poets, memoirs of poets, and the occasional other type of book written by a poet (such as SFF).

I like quantifying things when I can, so let’s estimate that each of these 569 books contained an average of 40 poems, giving me 22,760 poems I’ve read in 7 years [an annual average of ~3,250].


I’ve been working on indexing volumes 1, 2, and 3 of the personal “anthology” I named A***********a [an Anishinaabemowin word].

Currently, there are 551 entries.

Now, some of these entries date from before I discovered LibraryThing, and I do not, at this moment, know how many. [10 entries.] Anything poetry before LibraryThing, though, I just randomly ran across — I wasn’t seeking out books of poetry.

So a rough approximation of how much of the poetry I’ve read in the last 7 years, that I’ve liked enough to want to live with it so as to learn from it, could still be derived from: 551/22,760, yielding ≈ 2.42%.


In A***********a, there are currently 390 poets.

For exactly 90% of them (n = 351), I like 1 or 2 of their poems that I’ve read.

For the remaining 10%, I like 3–13 (poems).


3 poems:

Captain Awkward’s Hulk-ku, Sherman Alexie, James Baldwin, Robert Bringhurst, Nikky Finney, Ross Gay, Michael S. Glaser, Jeff Greer, Layli Long Soldier, Margaret Noodin, Cees Nooteboom, Eunice Odio, Adrienne Rich, Edward Sanders, Kim Stafford, Tomas Tranströmer, David Wagoner.

[6 women, 11 men]

[3 First Nations poets, 3 Black American poets; 3 translated into English, from: Dutch, Spanish, Swedish; at least 3 are QUILTBAG]


4–6 poems:

A.R. Ammons, e.e. cummings, Joy Harjo, Nazim Hikmet, Vicente Huidobro, Josephine Jacobsen, Juan Ramón Jiménez, Richard Kenney, Stephen Kuusisto, Rose Lemberg, Travis Macdonald {visual}, Czesław Miłosz, Naomi Shihab Nye, Mary Oliver, Muriel Rukeyser, Kay Ryan, Jo Walton.

[1 nonbinary person, 7 women, 9 men]

[1 First Nations poet, 2 disabled poets, 4 poets translated into English, from: Turkish, Spanish, French, Polish; at least 3 are QUILTBAG]


7–9 poems:

Billy Collins, Lorine Niedecker, Wisława Szymborska.

[2 women; 1 man]

[1 poet translated into English from Polish]


10+ poems:

Lucille Clifton, William Stafford

[1 woman, 1 man]

[1 Black American poet]


Genders represented, then, are 1 fellow nonbinary person, 16 women and 22 men.


Time to read more poetry!


Updated 10.31.2018:

Per LibraryThing, I’ve now read 661 books hashtagged “poetry”.

A week ago, I began volume 5 of A***********a: there are now 507 poets; and 761 entries.

I’d like to make special mention of 24 poets whom (so far) I’ve liked only 1 of their poems, but that 1 poem changed how I perceive the world. Thank you, and please write more! ~ Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, Vytautas Bložė, Shelly Boyd, Derrick Weston Brown, Cathy Bryant, Rosario Castellanos, Alexander Chin, Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Richard Dauenhauer, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Jimmie Durham, Mari Evans, Diane Glancy, Tyehimba Jess, Etheridge Knight, Yusef Komunyakaa, Elsa Lakew, Michael Matheson, Oriah Mountain Dreamer, dg nanouk okpik, Tommy Pico, Bogi Takács, Susana Thénon, and Lisa Berube Wilson.

[8 are First Nations; 5 are Black Americans; 3 poets translated into English, from Lithuanian and Spanish.]

[2 nonbinary persons, 13 women, 9 men]

As the numbers grow, listing the poets with 3 poems I liked seems too unwieldy.

But I can add 11 more poets to 4–6 poems liked: Mary Beath, Babette Deutsch, Natalie Diaz, Nikky Finney, Ada Limón, Hansjörg Mayer {concrete}, Margaret Noodin, Adrienne Rich, Lola Ridge, May Swenson, and Nayyirah Waheed.

[10 women, 1 man]

Ursula K. Le Guin joins the 7–9 group.

And Lucille Clifton has the distinction of being the only writer with entries in all 5 volumes.


Recent poets of interest

Wasn’t sure how to briefly define this group, which consists of poets who’ve written poems that I ran across after the election, and have been taking comfort in.


  1. Mary Alexandra Agner, American science writer, poet
  2. George Bilgere, American poet; born 1951
  3. Alberto Blanco, Mexicano architect, art critic, poet; born 1951
  4. Lisa M. Bradley, Tejana poet and novelist; {@cafenowhere}
  5. Rosario Castellanos, 1925–1974, Mexicana ambassador, journalist, essayist, poet
  6. Elicura Chihuailaf, Chilean translator, poet; born 1952 (writes in both Spanish and Mapuche)
  7. Lucha Corpi, Mexicana poet and novelist; born 1945
  8. Diane Der-Hovanessian, American poet, daughter of Armenian immigrant parents; born 1932
  9. Ber Grin (Itsik Grinberg), 1901–1989, Ukrainian essayist, playwright, actor, poet (emigrated to USA)
  10. Jerzy Harasymowicz, Polish land surveyor, forester, poet; 1933–1999
  11. Keçecizade ‘Izzet Molla, 1785–1829, Turkish poet
  12. Margaret Noodin, American poet, Anishinaabemowin language teacher; born 1965
  13. Achy Obejas, Cuban-American journalist, novelist, poet; born 1956
  14. Elise Paschen, American editor, poet; born 1959
  15. Ricardo Pau–Llosa, Cuban-American essayist, art critic, novelist, poet; born 1954
  16. Nigoghos Sarafian, 1905–1973, Armenian typesetter, poet
  17. Abraham Sutzkever, 1913–2010, Lithuanian Jewish poet. NYTimes: “greatest poet of the Holocaust”
  18. Arthur Sze, American translator, poet of Chinese descent; born 1950
  19. Vahakn Tavtian, Armenian poet; born 1923
  20. Jorge Teillier, 1935–1996, Cuban editor, poet
  21. Adam Zagajewski, Polish poet; born 1945

Poem: friendsgiving

I’m thankful for:



trees & tendrils

plants in pots, in my household and not



rivers I have loved


hills and boulders

mountains, near and far


having had relationships with 2 grandparents


living in Maryland

Loch Raven forest

Cali (1939–1998)

Rosemary (1917–1998)

Heidi (c. 1976–1994)

having known Paul W (1968–1993)

poetry in translation

salamanders in the Smokies

earthworms everywhere

golden afternoon sunlight


“occasional spiders”




pretty colors


the kindness of strangers

walking in darkness


serendipity  /  synchronicity  /  surprise

being me





Poem: subtle stitchery

My native tongue is writing letters.

I explain who I am and why you matter to me.

I attempt to comfort.

I describe place, time.

I muse on kinship, affiliations.

I embroider threads connecting us.



Now that it feels like the world is ending,

What can I do but read and think and dream?

Ponder the past.

Imagine a future.

And write letters.





Poem: Signs seen from Chincoteague, 2016

Coffee & Karma

Orbital ATK

Donate Your Boat

Shoe Show

Pocomoke River

Wine Liquor Cordials

50,000 Songs in a Row!

Dover, Delaware 68 miles

If You Love Someone, You Need Life Insurance

Ward Museum of Wildfowl Art

Harriet Tubman UGRR

Bay Bridge 42 miles

Speed Awareness Zone — next 3 miles

Rural Life Museum

Wanted Guitar Player

The Best U-Turn You’ll Ever Make!

Asparagus / Double Yolk Eggs

New Blood

Mariners Church





Poem: Signs seen to Chincoteague, 2016

Easton — 2nd most livable city in Maryland

Choptank River

The Pretzel Factory

Snow Hill Road

Pop-Pop’s Produce

Mitchell’s Martial Arts (on the move)

Passerdyke Creek

Smith Island Cakes Ordered Here

Natural Resources Police Fishing Rodeo May 7


Littering is Illegal

Drive Thru Vape and Smoke Outlet

NASA Badging and Deliveries

Caution: Low Flying Aircraft, High Noise Area

Wildflowers — Do Not Mow


Sandy Pony Donuts

Ham Cabbage Breakfast

Prohibited: Nudity

No Fishing From Bridge





Poem: seeking the misplaced

You’re whose child now?

Sister to wolves, moonbeams, and mushrooms

Made in the image of no one you know

This dilemma

Ask me a riddle

Experience hard green apples in memory

Onto what door have you fallen?

Parent the monster within. Befriend it.

Forced to sit still, stay where you’re not welcome

No great matter

Shouting silences

Near the mountains of my youth

The parrot




Poem #140, written 10.14.2015