Summer Reading Lists - Julia Shipley

Julia Shipley is a a true friend, a blast of sunshine on any cloudy day, and a fantastic poet. We were so pleased she could participate in this year's Poetry & Pie.

Julia also happens to be a voracious and eclectic reader. Below she shares some of what she's trying to read this summer when she's not working on her farm. Thank you so much, Julia!

(Want more summer reading recommendations from Poetry & Pie poets? Check out Didi Jackson's beautiful list!).


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Between May and November, most of my days are devoted to food: raising it, growing it, harvesting it, and preserving it. On the one hand I’ll be honest: my subscription to People magazine is the thing you'll find me reading on summer evenings. However, I also long to grow intellectually and also to feel less alone in my fields and bean rows and so here’s who is keeping me company.

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The Hungry Ear: Poems of Food & Drink, edited by Kevin Young

Poet-farmer (wonder woman) Taylor Katz turned me on to this anthology which is, yes, delicious! There are six poems explicitly about potatoes and three devoted to onions. Young’s book is more than a potluck—every poem is intriguing, and happily some of my favorite poets—Yosef Komunyakaa, Campell McGrath, Rita Dove, and Ruth Stone—can be found herein bringing something great to the table.

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The Dream of Reason, by Jenny George

Jenny is one of my poetry crushes. I came across her work in lit mags and then yearned for her first book which came out in April. In Dream of Reason there are pigs and prairies and "the black structures of cattle that [have been] carried away in trucks." Her work is full of compassionate witness turned into elegant lyrics that alternately caress and sucker punch.

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The Eclogues, by Virgil

Yeah, I know, this sounds kinda pretentious, but this ancient Roman knew his stuff. His Georgics constitute a true “field guide” with lines like, “Don’t plant your vineyard sloping toward the sunset.” His Eclogues were the prequel to The Georgics. Also the word “eclogue" means approximately “shepherds conversing.” These poems were composed in times of political upheaval. Hmmm—rural citizens in duress testifying in crazy times? Why does that sound familiar?

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One Writer's Beginnings, by Eudora Welty

I recently re-read Welty’s story “Where is the Voice Coming From?” first published in The New Yorker in 1963 immediately after the murder of Medger Evers. Again, I am trying to understand these times by going to literature that tackles other specific mayhems. Ms. Welty wrote with the force of tornadoes and doves—I want to understand more about where her voice is coming from.