In Review

Best Books of 2013
Noah Eli Gordon

When I sat down to make a list of books that have thus far into 2013 moved me, something compelling happened. It was starting to shake out all local, so I let it simmer for a sec, came back, and yes, that’s what I got. Here. Denver, Boulder, Ft. Collins—what’s called the Front Range. The longer I do this—this writing thing, the poetry world and all its ancillary playgrounds, virtual, in print, digital, actual, etcetera, the longer I’m in it, the less I care about New York & San Francisco, the less I envy anyone her surrounding legionaries. That we don’t simply do aesthetic affinities here, don’t get into the hipper than thou, more political than thou take down thing is a point of pride. Everyone and anyone is welcome here, you know. The sky’s so big in these parts why waste time drawing circles around ourselves. What I mean is that there is in the Front Range a shared sense of dedication to this art, to its histories, to the many-headed creature poetry’s become. Here, we all come at it with shapes that don’t quite stack into something fully recognizable, but that’s not our job. The easiest place not to see the mountain is when you’re standing there, right on top of it.

image of Manual of Woody Plants

Phil Cordelli. Manual of Woody Plants. Ugly Duckling Presse.

Phil lives in Denver. I met Phil at a bar in NYC on my way to Denver in 2005. When he said, “Denver is lonesome for her heroes,” I didn’t then realize it was a quote.

image of The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead

Eleni Sikelianos. The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead. Coffee House Press.

Eleni lives in Boulder. I met Eleni in Denver in 2005. Unlike the cover of her then new-ish Green Integer book, she was a nonsmoker.

image of To Anacreon in Heaven and Other Poems

Graham Foust. To Anacreon in Heaven and Other Poems. Flood Editions.

Graham lives in Denver. I met Graham in Iowa City in 2004. He was taller than his picture.

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Bin Ramke. Aerial. Omnidawn Publishing.

Bin lives in Denver. I met Bin in Denver in 2005. He was shorter than his picture.

image of Little “g” God Grows Tired of Me

Aby Kaupang. Little “g” God Grows Tired of Me. Spring Gun Press.

Aby lives in Ft. Collins. I met Aby at her house in Ft. Collins in 2006. She fed me a soy dog.

image of Imago for the Fallen World

Matthew Cooperman & Marius Lehene. Imagio for the Fallen World. Jaded Ibis Press.

Matthew lives in Ft. Collins. I met Matthew in Ft. Collins in 2006 when he brought me out to CSU for a reading. I remember the sudden quizzical arch of his eyebrow signaling to me that the now spiraling abstraction of an answer I was preforming for someone during the Q&A portion of the reading should perhaps be brought to an abrupt halt. I haven’t read at CSU since.

image of Presidents and Other Jokes

Sommer Browning. The Presidents and Other Jokes. Future Tense Books.

Sommer is my roommate. I met Sommer in Denver in late January of 2010. After spending a total of 19 hours together, we were married the following month upon her return from New York City.

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HR Hegnauer. Sir. Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs.

HR lives in Denver. I met HR in Denver in 2010 at a reading I gave the night after Sommer & I were married. I don't remember this very well.

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Mathias Svalina. The Explosions. Subito Press.

Mathias lives in Denver. I met Mathias in Lincoln, Nebraska in 2006. His pipes burst the next day, but he fed me soy chorizo anyway. Years later, he introduced me to Sommer.

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Chris Pusateri. Common Time. Steerage Press.

Chris lives in Boulder (I think). Chris & I were supposed to get a beer back in 2006. I’m pretty sure we still haven’t yet met.

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Anne Waldman. Gossamurmur. Penguin.

Anne lives in Boulder (& elsewhere). I met Anne at Naropa in 2005. What I love about Anne is that she treats everyone with the same genuine kindness and deep presence, no matter if she’s talking with a student or an international celebrity.

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Michael Flatt. Absent Receiver. Spring Gun Press.

Mike used to live in Denver. I met Mike in 2007 in Boulder when he gave an introduction for a reading of mine. Later, I gave him some books and made him promise to give me his first book when it came out, which—five years on—he did!

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Serena Chopra. This Human. Coconut Books.

Serena lives in Denver. I can’t remember exactly when I met Serena, but I think it was 2007, in the living room of Julie Carr & Tim Roberts, where we had a wonderful poetry reading group.

image of domina Un/blued

Ruth Ellen Kocher. domina Un/blued. Tupelo Press.

Ruth lives in Boulder. I met Ruth in 2009 during my campus visit for the job I now have at CU Boulder, although I'd met her voice on speakerphone a few months earlier. The two matched beautifully.

image of Contrapunta

Christopher Kondrich. Contrapuntal. Free Verse Editions.

Chris lives in Denver. I met Chris in 2009, at my old apartment during what used to be our weekly poker game. I’m pretty sure that he never won.

Also, do check out past & future books by all the wonderful poets in the front range area (forgive me if I've left anyone out):

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Noah Eli Gordon lives in Denver. He teaches poetry, publishing, and nonfiction courses in the MFA program at CU Boulder, where he currently directs Subito Press. With Joshua Marie Wilkinson, he edits Letter Machine Editions. His most recent book is The Year of the Rooster. More info here: