Lighthouse Reads: April Edition

Editor's Note: We'll periodically bring readers a round-up of books recommended by Lighthouse staff.

I’ve never been one to read aloud, but since having my son I’ve started reading poems aloud to him, mostly because he needs attention and I need poems. To that end, I loved Gregory Pardlo’s Digest. The voices of his poems are generous and varied, and the way he shapes his syntax from poem to poem makes each read with different cadence, a different tone. While very smart, his work is really approachable, and you end up really feeling for his speakers, especially when they’re talking about being a father (and being fathered).—Genna Kohlhardt, Assistant Director of Adult Programs

Action Books is always publishing authors that expand my idea of what poetry can be, especially books in translation, and their latest doesn’t disappoint. Translated from Spanish by Katherine M. Hedeen and Victor Rodriguez Núñez, Prepoems in Postspanish and Other Poems, by the Ecuadorian poet Jorgenrique Adoum, is magnificent. Wild worldplay (what a translation feat!), fierce experimentation, and lyrical swings between the beautifully melancholy and acid comedy and anti-establishment passion, we english-readers should consider ourselves lucky.—Torin Jensen, Program and Content Coordinator

I will sing the praises of Don Mee Choi forever, and I’m particularly fond of her most recent, DMZ Colony, which won the National Book Award for poetry last year. Her work is always about borders (linguistic, national, genre) and DMZ Colony uses poems, prose, drawings, and photographs to explore her relationship to Korea's Demilitarized Zone, her family’s history, her relationship to history, history’s relationship to language, and translation’s relationship to it all. She’s really influenced by Raúl Zurita’s Sky Translations, which if you haven’t seen, you should definitely check out. And, it’s one of those books of poetry that is secretly very funny.—Genna Kohlhardt, Assistant Director of Adult Programs

Roy G. Guzman’s debut, Catrachos: Poems, is a humorous and inventive collection of poems, a queer-coming of age story, an immigration narrative, and so much more. An experiment in form, an exploration of identity. The excellent “Queerodactly” from the collection can be read here.—Manuel Aragon, Community Engagement Manager


As a poet, I am often surprised by how impatient I can become with poems. What are they up to? If you can relate, I encourage you to check out John Brehm’s wonderful anthology, The Poetry of Impermanence, Mindfulness, and Joy. Born partly from Brehm’s lifelong practice of meditation, the poems in this collection are wonderfully grounding. They aren’t tricky, and they inspire their readers to notice and celebrate the astounding beauty of the everyday world. Here’s one poem from the anthology that I particularly love:


By Phillip Larkin

What are days for?
Days are where we live.
They come, they wake us
Time and time over.
They are to be happy in.
Where can we live but days?

Ah, answering that question
Brings the priest and doctor
In their long coats
Running over the fields.

—Kim O'Connor, Young Writers Program Co-Director