James Galvin’s Reading List

Much of my reading is involved with my teaching, so right now I am immersed in The Collected Poems of both Yeats and Frost. The class is about prosodies and architectures, and the kinds of decisions a poet makes when writing stichic verse as opposed to strophic verse. I am reading Vendler on Yeats, and Brodsky and Auden on Frost. As for contemporary poetry, I read it all the time, currently a terrific new book by Jane Mead called The Usable Field, and W.S. Merwin’s newest collection, The Shadow of Sirius. I think it may be his best book, which is saying a lot. In fiction, my favorite writer is Faulkner, but my favorite book is Moby Dick. I say book instead of novel because it is more than half non-fiction. I go back and back to Faulkner and Melville as I do to Dante and Shakespeare. Speaking of Moby Dick, Dan Beachy-Quick has a wonderful book coming out called A Whaler’s Dictionary. As for contemporary fiction, I don’t read that much of what’s written in America, though I do love the short stories of Deborah Eisenberg and James Salter. I also love Jesus’ Son, by Denis Johnson, and Blood Meridian and The Road, by Cormac McCarthy. I spent three months in New Zealand recently, where, when I wasn’t “tramping”, I read everything by Haruki Murakami. Other recent reads include Berger (he says that is “a fiction” but I don’t believe him. It’s amazing), Huellebecq, Bolaño, Boll, and Sebald. For non-fiction, I like Alexandra Fuller.

James Galvin is the author of seven books of poetry and two of prose. When he isn’t living in Wyoming, he teaches at the Iowa Writing Workshop. His poem “My Sister” appeared in the November/December 2008 Orion magazine.


  1. I’d like to know the Berger book Mr. Galvin refers to here: “Other recent reads include Berger (he says that is “a fiction” but I don’t believe him. It’s amazing)…”


  2. I read Berger’s latest “From A to X” a couple months back. It consists entirely of letters from a woman to her imprisoned lover. Maybe it’s this book?

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