These new poetry titles are the ones we could not wait to get our hands on this week.
Build Yourself a Boat by Camonghne Felix
Description: This is about what grows through the wreckage. This is an anthem of survival and a look at what might come after. A view of what floats and what, ultimately, sustains.
Build Yourself a Boat redefines the language of collective and individual trauma through lyric and memory.
All Its Charms by Keetje Kuipers
Description: A luminous new collection from Keetje Kuipers, All Its Charms is a fearless and transformative reckoning of identity. By turns tender and raw, these poems chronicle Kuipers’ decision to become a single mother by choice, her marriage to the woman she first fell in love with more than a decade before giving birth to her daughter, and her family’s struggle to bring another child into their lives. All Its Charms is about much more than the reinvention of the American family―it’s about transformation, desire, and who we can become when we move past who we thought we would be.
Library of Small Catastrophes by Alison C. Rollins
Description: Library of Small Catastrophes, Alison Rollins’ ambitious debut collection, interrogates the body and nation as storehouses of countless tragedies. Drawing from Jorge Luis Borges’ fascination with the library, Rollins uses the concept of the archive to offer a lyric history of the ways in which we process loss. “Memory is about the future, not the past,” she writes, and rather than shying away from the anger, anxiety, and mourning of her narrators, Rollins’ poetry seeks to challenge the status quo, engaging in a diverse, boundary-defying dialogue with an ever-present reminder of the ways race, sexuality, spirituality, violence, and American culture collide.
Candy Cigarette: Womanchild Noir by Kristin Garth
Description: “Kristin Garth’s work is a vulnerable piece of writing, connected with hybrid memoirs. It is filled with sonnets upon sonnets of language that is precise, detailed, and profound—her words hitting us like punches in the guts. The poems in this book are as naked as the clothes Garth removes as a stripper; layer upon layer of pain, abuse, and self-worthlessness echo in the imagery, yet there is a constant flash of light throughout the darkness.
Candy Cigarette is a brave and bold book which reveals Garth’s poetic ability to capture a particular time of her life and to step back to reflect upon the effect it had; Garth conveys this dark period of hers with rhymes and rhythm. Her style and voice make the reader delve into the seedy strip clubs with her; to feel the eyes of her clients on her; and to perceive the essence of what sex feels like without any connections.
Kristin Garth has a voice of a woman who has a real story to tell. It’s not make believe, it is raw, and uncut. Cross your legs and read this intimate tale of an American woman’s journey into the dark underworld, and how she made it out alive.”
– Christina Strigas, Love & Vodka
Arcana by Stephen Jonas
Description: Arcana: A Stephen Jonas Reader is the first selection of his work to appear in 25 years. With a biographical introduction and a postscript delving into recent discoveries concerning the poet’s birthplace and background, Arcana is a crucial corrective to our understanding of post-war American poetry, restoring Jonas to his rightful place among the period’s vanguard. Featuring previously uncollected and unpublished work, a section of never-before-seen facsimiles from notebooks, and a generous selection from his innovative serial poem Exercises for Ear (1968), Arcana is a much-needed retrieval of an overlooked American poet, as well as a valuable contribution to African American and Queer literature.
After Following by Burt Bradley
Description: After Following is a collection of poems inspired by what the author Burt Bradley describes as poet whisperers: from Rumi to Kerouac, Ecclesiastes to Philip Levine, Emily Dickinson to Mary Oliver. These writers and numerous others’ lives and work serve as guides in shaping the poet’s ways of seeing and reflecting upon wildness in the world. Often this is expressed in poems depicting the severe beauty of Wyoming as well as the wide-open spaces of the inner life.
To speak of wildness, following Gary Snyder, is to speak of wholeness, in which hierarchies of value evaporate as well as the separation between the sacred and profane. The poems in After Following pay homage to a host of literary mentors, at times directly as in “A Belated Letter to James Wright,” “Postcard to William Stafford.” Other poems are more allusive, like “Rain, A Wyoming Love Song” (after T.S. Eliot) and “A Long Way from Amherst” (following Emily Dickinson).
After Following describes the process a poet develops in his or her craft. Beginning with reading and learning from the masters, great and small, following in their footsteps, after which one finds his own path, while acknowledging the mentors who served as his guides.
HERE: Poems for the Planet, edited by Elizabeth J. Coleman
Description: HERE: Poems for the Planet is a lovesong to a planet in crisis. Summoning a chorus of over 125 diverse poetic voices, this anthology approaches the impending environmental crisis with a sense of urgency and hopefulness. Now more than ever is the time for this book as it seeks to galvanize readers, students, teachers, philanthropists and everyday people to address the realities of climate change head on and become individual catalysts for change. Here looks at the world with a renewed sense of courage, fighting fear that so often leads to indifference and cynicism. The anthology also includes an activist guide, created in tandem with the Union of Concerned Scientists, and an introduction by His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. With these poems, we hope you will see with new eyes what the astronauts saw the first time they peered down from space at our tiny world.
Heart the Size of a Loosening Fist by Orooj-e-Zafar
Description: Orooj-e-Zafar is heavily in love with life, though it’s clear that often times life is a bad lover. Their depictions of nature, relationships, family, and survival will leave you believing any of us can make it despite the odds.
Pet Sounds by Stephanie Young
Description: A book of unruly love poems about complicated sexuality, precarity, and kinship.
Working from the sticky interface of property and sex, Stephanie Young takes up the question of passing when narrow definitions of family on offer by the law and capitalist social relations leave out so much. With a cast of characters that includes lovers and exes, Troilus and Cressida, Van Morrison and the Grateful Dead, Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala, Pat Parker and Judy Grahn, the orca Tilikum and his captors, Pet Sounds is at once a book of confessional economics, music criticism disguised as poetry, and a complicated coming out story. These poems pulse with the pleasures and grief of making a home inside structures that don’t fit―on land whose value climbs ever upward in the frenzy of speculation.
Chinatown Ghosts by Jim Wong-Chu
Description: Jim Wong-Chu was the founder of the Asian Canadian Writers’ Workshop which spawned many literary stars, including Madeleine Thien, Denise Chong, and Wayson Choy. When he passed away in 2017, at the age of sixty-eight, he left not only a void in the Asian Canadian writing and publishing community but also a legacy of his own work that was never fully recognized.
Jim’s poems speak eloquently to the Chinese experience in North America, both historical and present-day. This book includes Jim’s evocative Chinatown photographs, revealing the soul of a community threatened by gentrification and displacement.
Weeping Gang Bliss Void Yab-Yum by Devendra Obi Banhart
Description: This poetry collection is at turns surreal, pious, silly, and heartbreaking, but always true to its own logic, even as it creates and expands that logic as it goes. It’s the most personal work Devendra Banhart has ever created.
It weaves together awed autobiographical sketches so that a distinct sensibility and experience emerge, while simultaneously setting the reader free to traverse an imaginative wilderness. The poems each stand on their own as distinct and bizarre singular shards, while also accruing resonance.
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be Devendra? Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be yourself? This book.