(Vintage Books, 1996) Ondaatje’s <i>Collected Works of Billy the Kid</i> stands as one of the great contemporary poem cycles (among outlaws, right up there with late lamented Ed Dorn’s seminal <i>Slinger</i>). Fame came via <i>The English Patient</i>, but for pure poetry read his extraordinary <i>Coming through Slaughter</i>, about Billy Boland and the invention of jazz -- this book sings...(Viking Penguin, 1990) Paul Auster was a young poet as well -- his Random House <i>Collection of 20th Century French Poetry</i> is brilliant. (He is the sole U.S. citizen accepted into the Academie Francaise.) For a novel, we recommend <i>Moon Palace</i>, in which the poet protagonist is reduced to making furniture of his book collection... and then, selling the chairs off book by book for food.(HarperCollins, 1995) Also in this milieu is Russell Banks, whose early experimental fiction was published by Angel Hair (see the gorgeous <i>Angel Hair Sleeps with a Boy in My Head: The Angel Hair Anthology</i>, Granary Books, 2001) and whose <i>Rule of the Bone</i> is a <i>Catcher in the Rye</i> for the X (Y?) Generation.(Dalkey Archive, 2000) Originally published in 1977, it’s been reissued! Praise God who does not exist. His poetry lashes unleashings in the exquisite <i>The Reed Reader</i> (Basic Books, 2001). For your listening pleasure, see if you can come up with the hard-to-find <i>Conjure</i> (American Clave, 1985), the best staged poems ever to be musicalized ever. And do not forget <i>Mumbo Jumbo</i> (Scribner, 1996) -- it jes’ grew!(Viking Penguin, 1991) This is the root book, both for the poem-to-novel crossover (“The General’s Dream” chapter is completely unpunctuated) and for the flinging open of culture’s door from/to the Philippines. Hagedorn’s later novel about San Francisco in the 70s &amp; the punk/poetry/performance scene at Mabuhay Gardens, <i>Gangster of Love</i> (Viking Penguin, 1997), is a little-known gem.(Vintage, 1997) Following the daily life of 14-year-old Precious, pregnant with her second child, is by turns inspiring and horrifying, but ever powerful. Try the paperback -- <i>Push</i> underwent a major change between editions, making the already devastating tale into a masterpiece. After, you’ll need Sapphire’s poems, <i>American Dreams</i>, and <i>Black Wings and Blind Angels</i>.(Harmony Books, 1997) Maggie Estep established the MTV poet crown with “Sex Goddess of the Western Hemisphere” and “Hey Baby.” This novel and her stories in <i>Soft Maniacs</i> are guaranteed hilarious, rock’n’roll extreme, sexy sexy, and full-tilt just great writing. (And if you can find one of her CD’s you are one lucky poet!)(St. Martin&#39;s, 2001) Paul Beatty’s another poet who launched out of the Nuyorican Poets Cafe with abrupt stutter cyber poetry and somehow filtered it into a totally brilliant prose style, in which <i>The White Boy Shuffle</i> and <i>Tuff</i> emerge as viscous but thrilling (as in, your mind is racing to keep up with Beatty’s sleek speed racer)... sad but true, up front and haunting.(Viking Penguin, 1999) e.e. cummings invented a poetry that enabled the human mind to grasp immediately what the art was about: to understand the multiplicity of meanings as he played with punctuation, spelling, syntax and form. But he also wrote one solid novel, decribing his harrowing experiences in World War I: <i>The Enormous Room</i>. A great gift for the Cummings fan.(Delta reprint, 1994) The first poet’s novel to be written with Hollywood in mind? That’d be Dickey’s <i>Deliverance</i>. Make a poet’s present from this brawling Southern academic: the novel, which is a mighty good read, the video (or better yet, the DVD), which is downright scarifying, and the “Dueling Banjos” bluegrass soundtrack.