Happy new year: here is our favorite Good riddance 2016 literature / by Washington Square

It's not difficult to list the reasons why 2016 was a rough year. We lost numerous icons of pop culture and artistry, elected the first POTUS who will simultaneously produce the Celebrity Apprentice and we saw civil and political unrest worldwide. But today is a new day, a new year, and here are our favorite good riddance poems and books to shake free of a heavy 365 days.

Francisco Márquez 
Second Year Poetry

The Wild Iris by Louise Glück. I got broken up with twice, got the heart broken on the eve of the year, the American political world was shook and my friend’s, my mother’s immigration threatened, my heroes murdered by life, and I can’t blame a year, but I can blame a world’s problems.

Julie Block
Second Year Fiction

Can I just have "This is the Year of Our Fucking Discontent"?  

Alexandria Hall
Web Editor, Second Year Poetry

In a year that felt like a poorly written apocalyptic novel, there is at least some comfort in well-written apocalypses. "The end of the world / Proved to be nothing drastic // when everything was made of plastic," writes Elizabeth Bishop in "The Moon Burgled the House..." As we brace ourselves for whatever 2017 may have in store for us, lets bid adieu to this hellish year and let out "a long sigh--sweet / sigh—"

Alisha Kaplan
Web Editor, Second Year Poetry

My most beloved F*** You poem is “Badly Chosen Lover” by Rosemary Tonks. Most people have never heard of her, and of those who have, many were surprised to learn of her death in 2014, having assumed she was already long gone. Tonks, one of my favorite poets, was a notable part of literary society in 1950s London and considered one of the best female poets of her generation. Then she disappeared. She became a recluse so devoted to religion that she burned her poetry and read only the bible. We could, in retrospect, look at “Badly Chosen Lover” as a condemnation of Tonks’ first life as a modern, metropolitan poet. But I prefer to take the poem at face value: a strange, visceral, knife-twisting-in-the-gut middle finger to an ex-lover. What most jolts my heart is the moment of bare candor when Tonks writes: “My spirit broke her fast on you.” Goddamn, that line gives me shivers every time. 

P.S. You may have a lot to regret this past year, as I surely do, but you won’t regret going over here to listen to Rosemary Tonks read “Badly Chosen Lover.”

Hannah Gilham
Assistant Web-Editor, First Year Fiction

Ah 2016; if only we could have descended into Alice Notely's haunting The Descent of Alette rather than this year's swirling political and cultural despair. Exploring Notely's epic piece of poetry as she paints the mythical post-modern feminist underground subway reminds us of the beauty in dark and strange places.

Razmig Bedirian
First Year Fiction

“This siege will extend until we teach our enemies the paradigms of our Jahili poetry.”  Mahmoud Darwish. 

Wilson Ding
First Year Fiction

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times...it was the worst of times. Dickens (assist: Wilson)

Colin Dekeersgieter
Second Year Poetry

"I know, / if thou were not granted to sing thou would'st surely die." 

"When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", Whitman's elegy to Lincoln, reminds us of the poet's ability to condition their own mourning through poetic perception. It also demands that we mourn honestly, by which is meant continuously. Whitman's "I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring" calls us back to Chaucer, whose traveler's set out each April to properly mourn at the shrine of the Archbishop of Canterbury. This practice of remembrance is quickly fading due to the world's many distractions. Whitman teaches us to never forget our losses, big and small, but instead to commemorate them perennially in whatever way we choose. 2016 was difficult in many ways, but do not be blind to the world's beauty. Remember the losses and keep an eye on the lilacs.  

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/45480