people poetry

  1. On The Pulse of Morning
  2. I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
  3. A Brave and Startling Truth
  4. Phenomenal Woman
  5. Still I Rise
  6. The Rock Cries Out to Us Today
  7. A Conceit

Maya Angelou was the first “adult” poet to whom I was introduced; we watched Clinton’s inauguration in 8th grade and heard her read On The Pulse of Morning. Our teacher gave us copies of it and I made my whole family listen to me read it that night at dinner.

This list represents my favorite poems by Dr. Angelou, although it might as well be all of them.  I am so grateful to have lived in her time, to have been audience to her work, and be inspired by not only her poems, but her powerful voice as a woman.



eve     Magpie House
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  1. Habitation, Margaret Atwood
  2. since feeling is first, e.e. cummings
  3. Resignation, Nikki Giovanni
  4. Instructions for Life in the New Millennium, his holiness the 14th Dali Lama
  5. The Life that I Have, Leo Marks
  6. i carry your heart with me (i carry it in), e.e. cummings
  7. I am Offering This Poem, Jimmy Santiago Baca
  8. A Blessing for Wedding, Jane Hirshfield

I’ve been sorting through romantic poetry for an impending wedding (not mine!) and chose my favorites. I’ll forever be a sucker for e.e, but The Life That I Have makes me cry.

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  1. Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex * But Were afraid To Ask (Watch it now!)
  2. E.E. CummingsW‘ poem Self-Excoriation 1, 2, and 3.
  3. The Revolution of Everyday Life, Raoul Vaneigem (Read it for free; just follow the link!)
  4. “Nashville Blues,” Doc Watson
  5. Days of Heaven
  6. Patti Smith is a new fascination after reading Just Kids
  7. Five Easy Pieces
  8. Lolita, Vladimir Nobokov
  9. The entire album of Graceland by Paul Simon has saved my life more than once. It can make the worst day better.
  10. Eating Animals, Jonathan Safran Foer

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  1. Madness and Civilization, Foucault
  2. The Thin Red Line
  3. Little Earthquakes, Tori Amos
  4. A Clean Well Lighted Place, Hemmingway
  5. The I Hate to Cook Book, Peg Bracken (“…pretty much every word she wrote”)
  6. Words for the Wind, Theodore Roethke
  7. The Best of James Taylor(I’m not sure my dad could actually drive without this playing)
  8. Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke
  9. Zoolander
  10. Self-Help, Lorrie Moore

“A cousin posted a list here than posted about you on Facebook–another cousin has since added a list; it’s so interesting to see what they wrote…this is a way of knowing them. It just never came up at family reunions while I was perfecting my angst ridden teenager & they were refusing to take off the water wings & get out of the pool.”

Laura Ramage     Portland, Or
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  1. The Band, all their albums but especially The Last Waltz
  2. Dr. Dog, albums Fate and Shame, Shame
  3. How Green Was My Valley, Richard Llewellyn
  4. The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck
  5. Singing with Megan Smith of Misner & Smith
  6. Bass Lake in Point Reyes National Seashore
  7. True StoriesThe Talking Heads
  8. Woody GuthrieW
  9. ShakespeareW
  10. In My Craft Or Sullen Art, Dylan ThomasW


Read a little more about Sam Misner (the silly way I came to know him) in the Magpie Blog!

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  1. French films, especially Amélie & La Femme Nikita
  2. This House of Sky, Ivan Doig
  3. Brown Eyed Girl” * Van MorrisonW
  4. English Premier League Football, Arsenal (see Fever Pitch by Nick Hornby)
  5. Best in Show
  6. Straw for the Fire: From the Notebooks of Theodore Roethke or pretty much any poem he ever wrote
  7. The Sweetest Thing” & ”Running to Stand Still” U2
  8. i thank you God for most this amazing day… E. E. CummingsW
  9. Romeo + Juliet ( Shakespeare, Zefferelli & Baz Luhrman)
  10. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, E.L. Konigsburg

*follow the link to hear Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” on youtube!

“Thanks for the advice about getting stuck on producing the ”ultimate” list. I could either create 30 different lists of ten or spend way too much time trying to make a perfect one–which takes some of the fun out of it. This is a great idea for a site The only difficulty was to not just create a list made up entirely of other people’s top ten.”


Laura Bardon     Portland, OR
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  1. Already Dead, Denis Johnson
  2. Enter Wu-Tang (36 Chambers), Wu-Tang Clan
  3. Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, Ludwig Wittgenstein
  4. Canticle V (The Death of St. Narcissus), T.S. EliotW
  5. The Celebration
  6. Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Wilco
  7. Oblivion: Stories, David Foster Wallace
  8. Lonesome Crowded West, Modest Mouse
  9. Marcel Duchamp*
  10. Hocus Pocus, Kurt Vonnegut

*follow the link to a cool website about Marcel Duchamp!


Mac Smith   Student   Bellingham, WA
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  1. Infinite Jest, David Foster Wallace
  2. “Echidna’s Arf” and “Don’t you Ever Wash that Thing?” from Frank Zappa’s Roxy & Elsewhere
  3. Rock My Religion, Dan GrahamW
  4. Darkness/Light/Darkness,* Jan SvankmajerW
  5. Coast to Coast AM with George Noory (10:00 every night on 640 KFI)
  6. Nourishing Traditions: The Cookbook, Sally Fallon
  7. The Shock Doctrine, Naomi Klein
  8. The World is a Beautiful Place,* Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  9. The Wonderful World That Almost Was, Paul Thek
  10. Mr. Show

Read Greta’s thoughtful explanations in The Magpie Blog!

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  1. The Station Agent
  2. any poetry by Pablo Neruda read in a sunny window
  3. Nice Girls Don’t Explode
  4. 311, 311
  5. Everything Is Illuminated, Jonathan Safran Foer
  6. Dazed & Confused
  7. Legend, Bob Marley
  8. Only by the Night, Kings of Leon
  9. How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk
  10. Aquemini, Outkast
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  1. Nocturne #2 in E flat, Chopin
  2. The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
  3. Every single Valdemar novel, Mercedes Lackey
  4. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Anne Bronte
  5. Love Me If You Dare
  6. The Age of Innocence, Edith Wharton
  7. In the Hand of the Goddess, Tamora Pierce
  8. Look at Miss Ohio,” sung by Band of Heathens
  9. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116W
  10. She’s a Wild One,” Evangeline

“My most treasured books, songs, movie and sonnet. I had to cheat on #3 – all of her books are so good that I could not narrow it down to just one.”

Bree   Student   Berkeley, CA
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  1. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  2. Self Pity,” D.H. Lawrence
  3. Charles BukowskiW
  4. Midnight Run
  5. Purple Rain
  6. BrooklynW, New York
  7. Final Draft
  8. Paper, Pencil and Ink
  9. GoodFellas
  10. The Alchemist, Paul Coelho
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  1. The Denial of Death, Ernest Becker
  2. Hamlet, William Shakespeare
  3. Hit ‘Em Up,” Tupac Shakur*
  4. silence, e.e. cummings
  5. Verdi’s Requiem, Guiseppe Verdi*
  6. Bedroom in ArlesW, Vincent van Gogh
  7. Check Your Head, Beastie Boys
  8. Charles BukowskiW
  9. The Garden of Eden, Ernest Hemingway
  10. Ode to Joy, Ludwig van Beethoven*
  11. Presto (Summer) from The Four Seasons, Antonio Vivaldi*

*watch and listen! (especially Ode to Joy…)

“I put eleven, because I could not retract anything, but I also didn’t want to add anything after eleven. So, I think my magpie list has eleven. I hope that doesn’t break any rules. And if it does, please let me re-do it, so I can subtract the one that really should be retracted, which could take several hours of epic self scrutiny.”

Michael Blackman     Los Angeles, CA
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  1. The Calvin and Hobbes 10th Anniversary Book, Bill Watterson
  2. LEGOs
  3. Desiderata, Max Ehrmann
  4. The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald
  5. The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark, Carl Sagan
  6. The Problem of Those Who Wait ” (from Beyond Good and Evil), Fredrich Nietzsche
  7. When I Heard the Learn’d Astronomer, Walt Whitman
  8. The Hubble Deep FieldW image*
  9. Sleeping with One Eye Open,” Mark Strand**
  10. The Colbert Report

*follow the link. seriously.

**listen to Mark Strand discuss his poem on “Weekend America.”

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1. bicycles
2. Maira Kalman
3. The Black Stallion
4. Balint Zsako
5. knitting
6. Tanya Davis
7. the short films of Sadie BenningW
8. the website of Miranda JulyW
9. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, Barbara Kingsolver
10. skinny dipping

“Thanks so much for the nice words about my work. It’s lovely to know that it reaches people in far away places.”

Read about Andrea’s work, “How To Be Alone,” and my own experience with self-induced solitude, in The Magpie Blog!

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  1. This Must Be The Place,” Talking Heads
  2. Wrecking Ball, Emmylou Harris
  3. Raising Arizona
  4. the first chapter of “East of Eden,” John Steinbeck
  5. estuaries
  6. an empty truck
  7. the term “civil twilight” and the actual civil twilight
  8. national brand narrow ruled eye-ease paper
  9. Four Quartets, T.S. Eliot
  10. pinon

“this was the quickest this floodgate ever opened…back and forth between the things that feel like they’ve ALWAYS been there and the things that MOST RECENTLY arrived. it feels like what i would stuff in my bag immediately pre-apocalypse. …now i wanna put the word ‘apocalypse’ on there.”

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  1. Ohad Benchertrit
  2. red lipstick
  3. raw milk
  4. barmW
  5. synchronicity
  6. asynchronicity
  7. Frank Stitt
  8. your heart within my heart (?)
  9. Sista Nella Flo
  10. Milo Minderbinder
  11. Mac Wellman
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  1. Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
  2. East of Eden, John Steinbeck
  3. I Can Write The Saddest Verses,”* Pablo Neruda
  4. Bluebird,”* Charles Bukowski
  5. The Princess Bride
  6. Tombstone
  7. Deadwood
  8. Mad Men
  9. Green Onions, Booker T & The MG’s
  10. Evil (Is Going On),” Howlin’ Wolf

*Follow the links to read the poems!

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  1. Patti Smith( “poetry and song”)
  2. Cate Blanchett (“especially in Hedda Gabler at BAM“)
  3. Henrik IbsenW
  4. Anais NinW
  5. Mysore styleW Ashtanga Vinyasa YogaW
  6. 80s Movies (“especially Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,  and The Breakfast Club“)
  7. My Daughter, Sadie
  8. Jerry GarciaW
  9. Graceland, Paul Simon (“my desert island CD that always makes me happy”)
  10. Honesty and Inner Strength
Jessica Mei Gershen     Los Angeles, CA
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  1. The Way Things Work, David Macaulay
  2. Mountaineering: The Freedom of the Hills, The MountaineersW
  3. King’s QuestW, Roberta Williams
  4. The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
  5. The Road Not Taken, Robert FrostW
  6. Natural Capitalism, Amory B. Lovins
  7. The Goonies
  8. “Embryo,Black Sabbath
  9. A People’s History of the United States, Howard Zinn
  10. The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

Tripp H.     Durham, NC
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  1. Mary OliverW
  2. Carolyn KizerW
  3. Marilynne RobinsonW
  4. Michelle Obama’s speech about Fear
  5. Raymond CarverW
  6. Youssoupha
  7. Ma RaineyW
  8. Edith PiafW
  9. Judith Warner, NYT
  10. Ugly Betty (the character)

“Your question is great and it kind of weirded me out because it is exactly one that I have been asking myself for MONTHS now as I try to finish up my Master’s Thesis in English Lit.”

Colette Hayes   Library Assistant   San Francisco, CA
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