In The Club

Memoirs by Poets

Welcome to In The Club, a newsletter of resources to keep your book group well-met, well-read, and well-fed.

For National Poetry Month, Tirzah and I decided to read YA novels in verse for the Hey YA podcast. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend listening to novels in verse on audiobook. It was soo relaxing, even when the subject matter got a little real. A part from the dulcet tones, I was struck by how the narrative was told in so few words without sacrificing any of the story. It’s this economy of language that attracts me to reading other works by poets. So today, I’ve got a few memoirs by poets for you and your club that will have you marveling at the writing, line by line.

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Nibbles and Sips

chocolate chip cookies on a wire rack

Adobo Cookies by Alden Aspiras

Yes, you read that correctly. The YouTuber got the Filipine dessert recipe from Mayumu by Abi Balingit, a book that just came out this February. I’m all for experiencing new flavor combinations in desserts and am looking forward to trying this one. The NYT also has the recipe from the author of the cookbook. A part from the usual ingredients for chocolate chip cookies, you just need soy sauce, bay leaves, and apple cider vinegar.

book cover how we fight for our lives by saeed jones

How We Fight For Our Lives by Saeed Jones

Award-winning poet Jones builds on the idea of his own identity, showing how to carve out one’s own space means to constantly adjust and kill the old selves. Starting in the south, we read vignettes of Jones’ life as a Black gay boy turned man, and his struggles with familial and romantic relationships. With a blend of poetry and prose, Jones shows how the dynamics of gender, race, sex, and power converge on a Black boy coming-of-age.

cover of You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith

You Could Make This Place Beautiful by Maggie Smith

In poetic stories, Smith examines the dissolution of her marriage and its effects on her and her children. While at first focusing on the personal, she eventually expands to larger discussions of gender roles, which can be pervasive, even in seemingly progressive households.

Catching the Light by Joy Harjo cover

Catching the Light by Joy Harjo

Harjo was the previous United States Poet Laureate and has been a poet for 50 years. In Catching the Light, she distills her experiences as a poet living through the ’60s, as a mother, and as a Native American into poetic episodes that show the importance of the art form. She honors the brokenness that has led to the most beautiful poetry, and details how it has aided the fight against erasure.

book cover ordinary light by tracy k. smith

Ordinary Light by Tracy K. Smith

Smith is a Pulitzer Prize-winning poet who writes her coming-of-age story in Ordinary Light. When she was a girl, Smith spent a summer in Alabama that forever altered her view of the world. Up until that point, she’d grown up with California comforts, but hearing her family’s history with picking cotton and their involvement in the Civil Rights movement created another version of Blackness for her. It’s by considering these contradictions, as well as her new positions on faith and her mother’s illness, that Smith paints a picture of a girl becoming herself.

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I hope this newsletter found you well, and as always, thanks for hanging out! If you have any comments or just want to connect, send an email to or holla at me on Twitter @erica_eze_. You can also catch me talking more mess in the new In Reading Color newsletter as well as chattin’ with my new co-host Tirzah Price on the Hey YA podcast.

Until next time,