The first book of poems I ever bought and read was John Updike's Collected Poems. I was probably seventeen, and I had been really taken by his poem in our English textbook, "Dog's Death."

The first book of poems I bought that changed my life was The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara.

It continues to change my life.


  1. Mmm, Charlie. Nice post.

    First: Leaves of Grass. I was 15. I bought my first classical album, something including Mozart's clarinet concerto, the same day, and went home and listened to it while I read Whitman, and felt very intellectual. ::gasp::

    Changed my life: I had to think about this one. It's a book I haven't read in a long time, may only have read once or twice since it changed me. Rimbaud's Illuminations. I was 17. My late fee library fine was $56.00.

  2. I was a late book-buying bloomer . . . I guess the first single volume of poetry I bought was Thom Gunn's The Man with Night Sweats—it was for an Intro. to Poetry course my freshman year.

    It was also the first volume of poetry that changed my life, though my teacher at the time deserves a lot of credit for that.

  3. I'm older than most people who stop by here. I recall that the first book of "modern" poems that rockd me was "Coney Island of the Mind." a little later came Don Allen's monumental anthology "The New American Poetry."

  4. First, & so changed my life: The Collected Poems of T.S. Eliot: 1909-1935. What can I say, 'Prufrock' and 'Preludes' blew me out of my 18-year-old mind. I was confused, joyous confetti.

    First to change my life: Rebecca Wee's Uncertain Grace. 'I believe in a source. I do. A soul.' It's fair to say mine might not be the path of poetics if our paths hadn't weaved that same year.