Best Poetry Books/Chapbooks of 2008

We asked small press editors what their three favorite books of the year were, and the results are really interesting. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I guess I was picturing some sort of consensus. Instead, of the 25 books/chapbooks nominated, only two were mentioned even twice. The “clear-cut” favorite--garnering two first place votes--was Kate Greenstreet’s This is Why I Hurt You, from Lame House Press. End Notebook by Geoffrey Olsen (Petrichord Books) was the other, receiving a second and third place vote. So what this ended up being is a comprehensive “25 Books/Chapbooks You Should Read” list, as opposed to another tired “Best of” list. Shame on us.

Anyway, here are the books that received one first place vote each:

David Gitin’s Rites (Anchorite Press), Brandon Shimoda’s The Alps (Flim Forum Press), Nathalie Stephens’ At Alberta (Book Thug), Karen Volkman’s nomina (BOA Editions), Micah Ballard’s Parish Krewes (Bootstrap Press), CJ Martin’s Lo, Bittern (Atticus/Finch), and Claire Hero’s afterpastures (Caketrain).

Second place vote getters:

Landis Everson’s When You Have a Rabbit (Cy Gist Press), Andrew Joron’s The Sound Mirror (Flood Editions), Chris Vitiello’s Irresponsibility (Ahsahta Press), Daniela Olszewska’s Jane Doe (Dancing Girl Press), Barrett Gordon’s evening (House Press), Kate Colby’s Unbecoming Behavior (Ugly Duckling Presse), Sandra Simonds’ Warsaw Bikini (Bloof Books), and GC Waldrep’s One Way No Exit (Tarpaulin Sky).

Third place vote getters:

Brett Price’s Trouble With Mapping (Flying Guillotine Press), Carolyn Guinzio’s Quarry (Free Verse Editions), Renee Gladman’s To After That (Toaf) (Atelos), Sampson Starkweather’s City of Moths (Rope-A-Dope Press), Kim Chinquee’s Oh Baby: Flash Fictions and Prose Poetry (Ravenna Press), Devin Johnston’s Sources (Turtle Point Press), Danielle Prafunda’s My Zorba (Bloof Books), and Rebecca Loudon’s Cadaver Dogs (No Tell Books).

A rebellious fourth place vote went to:

Mark Lamoureux’s Astronomy Orgonon (BlazeVox Books).

It also ended up being quite a collection of presses; only one (Bloof Books) had even two nominees. And I was glad to see two of my favorite books of the year get their props--Chris Vitiello’s Irresponsibility (Ahsahta Press) and Sampson Starkweather’s City of Moths (afterall, I chose it for Rope-A-Dope Press’ Golden Gloves Chapbook Series).

Thanks to all the editors who responded and of course to all of the poets and publishers who made these books possible.