Sofia M. Starnes
Poet, Editor, and Translator
The Nearest Poem Anthology

The nearest poem anthology 

The Nearest Poem Anthology was published on March 1, 2014. Please visit the publisher's website,, for complete information about pricing and special offers, although the book also is available through major book sellers.  This collection of 112 poems is
the culmination of a project I initiated during my tenure as Poet Laureate of Virginia. You may read more about it below.

What is The Nearest Poem Anthology? What impelled this project?

We all have a poem with our name on it—not a poem that we've written, but a poem that seems addressed to us with unique immediacy, as if the poet had been thinking of us when he or she wrote the poem. When we find such a poem, the connection is intimate, and we keep the poem close at hand.
Not every poem speaks to us; not every poet has something to say that resonates within us. After all, poetry is an intimate dialogue between the poet and the reader. In the course of that dialogue, the poet eventually recedes, and all that is left is that nearest poem echoing inside the reader, in a chamber that is enlarged and deepened by shared sounds and acquired meaning.
Events as proximate and transformative as this don’t happen all the time. This is what makes each of them such a valued commodity. When they do happen, they matter.
The Nearest Poem Anthology project is aimed at creating a testimony to the immediacy of poetry and its closeness to everyday life.

Here's what the nearest poem anthology contains:
One hundred and twelve poems, each one selected and submitted by a citizen of Virginia, alongside a brief but persuasive essay, by that reader, on why the poem holds a special meaning for him or her.

Contributors come from all regions of the Commonwealth and represent a wide range of professions and avocations, as well as ages and experiences. The youngest contributor is a 7th grader (unless one considers, and I should, a 4 year old, whose grandmother submitted a poem they often read together); the oldest is 97.  Some contributors are well-known Virginians, others are appreciated in the more intimate circles of their lives.

The poems selected also represent a varied range of styles and ages; poems from the 17th century appear near poems by 21st century poets. About half of the poems are in the public domain; the other half represent contemporary writers. 

From the response I received to my call for submissions, I know that ma
ny of us already have our "nearest poem", a poem that accompanied us at a crucial time in our lives or that pushed us to think differently—and more deeply—about decisions we were making. We may have a poem that we return to often, because it allows us to reassess our life, when we most need it, or because it re-energizes us. There may be a poem we keep close at hand, because it brings us peace, or another poem that fulfills an unspoken longing, every time we read it, or simply a poem makes us smile (laugh!) as no other poem can. And there is nothing healthier than that! If you have not yet discovered your poem, I invite you to embark on a poetic search. The anthology may be a good and enjoyable way to start... 
Everyone has a poem with their name on it. My hope is that The Nearest Poem Anthology will encourage you to discover yours. 

Sofia M. Starnes
Poet Laureate of Virginia