It’s 2023… Let’s Give You Some New Poetry To Read!
There are some poems that are classics for a reason. Your go to. The ones that you are familiar with and know the emotions they will spark. However, can you really grow and develop without looking towards the future? Or heck, if not the future how about the present? These collections give you all of that. Prerelease, current, and past favorites all bound up in a shiny new package. This compliation of New Poetry To Read 2023 has debut poets destined to be famed and veterans whose work already speaks for them. Check back in throughout the years as we continue to grow this list!
Promises of Gold by José Olivarez; David Ruano (Translator)
First on our list of New Poetry To Read 2023, we have a book that promises more than just gold. Promises of Gold is a collection of poems addressing every kind of love. It hits on self, brotherly, romantic, familial, and cultural love. The poems deep dive into the invisible forces of gender, capitalism, religion, migration, and so on. Written in English and combined with a Spanish translation by poet David Ruano, Promises of Gold explores many forms of love and how ‘a promise made isn’t always a promise kept,’. As Olivarez grapples with the contradictions of the American Dream.
Reviews for Promises of Gold:
“Promises of Gold is a quintessential poetry collection for our times. A compassionate and searing exploration of the complexities of love, loss, injustice, healing, immigration, and the American Dream.” – Alyssa Raymond, Copper Dog Books
“Promises de Gold brought me to tears at a laundromat. An exceptional collection, a reflection of my upbringing and of those before me. Jose Olivarez accomplished what he set out to do, “to write poems that make my people feel safe, seen, or otherwise loved.” Olivarez brings to light the impact of love outside of romance, how it shapes us, and the sincere and complicated familial bond within the diaspora. May this collection reach far and wide, especially those of us who need a moment of respite, si Dios quiere.” Vina Castillo from Kew and Willow Books
Couplets: A Love Story by Maggie Millner
Second to start reading, and ss the name suggests, Couplets! A collection of prominently (but not exclusively!) features rhyming couplets. These poems strike a perfect balance of delight and drama while propelling the narrator through her exploration of relationships, queerness, and polyamory. That said, the occasional departures away from couplets and into prose lend the collection breathing room and theatricality that I loved.
Reviews for Couplets: A Love Story:
“A dazzling, genre-bending debut about one woman’s coming-out, coming-of-age, and coming undone”- Theo Henderson from Third Place Books in Seattle, WA
“What a thrill, what a surprise, what a delight Maggie Millner’s brainy, effusive debut COUPLETS is. With rare daring and wit, Millner demonstrates how a formal constraint (in this case, rhyming couplets) applied to something as unruly as a love story can prove positively liberating. I can’t wait to put this book in readers’ hands just so we can argue over whether it’s a poetry collection or a novel, or whether the distinction even matters in light of this author’s singular talent.” – Maritza Montanez from Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn, NY
Collected Poems by Ellen Bryant Voigt
Ellen Bryant Voigt has created a body of work distinguished for a multitude of things. These include formal precision, rigorous intelligence, and meticulous observation of nature, history, and domestic life. Her collections have been from eight extraordinary volumes spanning five decades and a huge following. From the subtly evocative images of Claiming Kin (1976) to the mosaic of sonnets and voices conjuring a prescient narrative of the 1918 influenza pandemic in Kyrie (1995) to fierce encounters with mortality in the National Book Award finalist Shadow of Heaven (2002) and the propulsive inventions of Headwaters (2013), the evolution of Voigt’s astonishing creative and technical mastery is on full display. This definitive collection showcases the brilliant career of “a quintessential American elegist” (Katy Didden, Kenyon Review).
From “Apple Tree”
O my soul,
it is not a small thing,
to have made from three,
this one, this one life.
True Life: Poems by Adam Zagajewski; Clare Cavanagh (Translator)
Next we have a poetry book that has already reached global acclimates. Adam Zagajewski is one of the most gifted poets of our time and a revolutionary Polish writer and thinker. He turns his gaze to the past with piercing clarity and a tone of wry, lyrical melancholy. He captures the rhythms of a city street on the page and the steady beat of the passage of time against it
“Roads cannot be destroyed // Even if peonies cover them / smelling like eternity”
“We knew / it would be the same / as always // It would all go back to normal”
Reviews for True Life:
“Zagajewski’s poemspull us from whatever routine threatens to dull our senses, from whatever might lull us into mere existence.” -Philip Boehm, The New York Times Book Review
“A stunning, intimate collection by Adam Zagajewski (1945-2021). He’s the most pertinent, impressive, meaningful poet of our time” –Mary Oliver, American Poet
“Zagajewski’s poems are visually rich and startlingly fresh. His poems celebrate those rare moments when we catch a glimpse of a world from which all labels have been unpeeled . . . Indispensable.” —Charles Simic, The New York Review of Books
Nothing Stays Put: The Life and Poetry of Amy Clampitt by Willard Spiegelman
With the publication of her first book of poems in her sixty-third year, Amy Clampitt rose meteorically to fame. She launched herself from obscurity to the upper ranks of American poetry all but overnight. And living a whirlwind eleven years, until her death in 1994. Years later, as renowned poetry scholar Willard Spiegelman wades into her papers and poems. He discovers a woman of dazzling intellect, staunch progressive politics, and an inexhaustible sense of wonder for the world. He’s created an evocative portrait of the beloved and acclaimed poet, whose late-in-life success took the literary world by storm.
Nothing Stays Put is a gift to poetry fans, an inspiration to artists striving at any age. An ode to this most unlikely of literary celebrities, who would publish five acclaimed books and win a MacArthur “Genius Grant” nearly all in the final decade of her life.
I’m Always So Serious by Karisma Price
If you’ve been following us for awhile, you’ll understand why we love this one! Karisma Price’s stunning debut collection is an extended meditation on Blackness, family, and on loss. Anchored in New Orleans and New York City, these poems braid personal and public histories into a cultural reckoning of past and present. In these pages there is grief and there is absence. Karisma Price has created a serious masterpiece, a book “so dark you have no other option but to call it / precious.”
Reviews for I’m Always So Serious:
“Karisma Price speaks with a wink, a sigh, a knitted brow when she says she’s always so serious. She speaks as someone raised on a gumbo of James Baldwin and James Booker, Buckjumping and Brooklyn. She speaks as your phone’s autocorrect, your remixed song lyrics, your friendly neighborhood fortune teller. Price speaks directly to and for you while speaking distinctly for herself. I’m Always so Serious is brilliant.”
—Terrance Hayes, winner of the National Book Award for Lighthead
“In I’m Always so Serious, Karisma Price takes an unflinching look at personal, familial, racial, historical, and national violences in order to celebrate her survival of them. But Price is honest about the cost of that survival. ‘I refuse to make either of us cry in this poem so//I’ll just tell you that the willow weeps.’ These poems are intimate in ways that enlist our inclusion as readers in every line and scene. And yet, they are bold enough to mark and make clear a city as romantic and mythologized as New Orleans. This is a brilliant debut by a poet we should continue to watch.”
—Jericho Brown, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for The Tradition
“I’m Always so Serious is, naturally, bursting with humor. it laughs in the dark. In this stunning first collection, Karisma Price has crafted a voice that’s blunt and sharply observant, witty but earnest, and excitingly flexible. Whether lyrical, formal, or experimental, these poems approach language masterfully, with intimacy and adventure. It flaunts its black aliveness and revels while in anguish.”
—Morgan Parker, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award for Magical Negro
Unshuttered: Poems by Patricia Smith
Over the course of two decades, award-winning poet Patricia Smith has amassed a collection of rare nineteenth-century photographs of Black men, women, and children who, in these pages, regard us from the staggering distance of time. This is one of American literature’s finest wordsmiths doing what she does best–unreeling history to find its fierce and formidable lyric.
Unshuttered is a vessel for the voices of their incendiary and critical era. Smith’s searing stanzas and revelatory language imbue the subjects of the photos with dynamism and revived urgency while she explores how her own past of triumphs and losses is linked inextricably to their long-ago lives.
Reviews for Unshuttered:
“Her work is always timely, powerful, necessary, and at turns heartbreaking.” —Natasha Trethewey, author of Memorial Drive: A Daughter’s Memoir
“Patricia Smith is a masterful poet, performer, and pundit. And while her chosen field is the form and grace of language, her gift to the world that orbits the Black experience is truth.” —Walter Mosley, author of The Awkward Black Man: Stories
“Over the course of her career, Patricia Smith has a reputation for tackling complicated ideas, combining humor and tragedy, and bridging the gap between spoken word and lyrical prose.” —Alex Dueben, The Millions
“A great stage performer and a former national slam poetry champion, Smith is also a performer on the page.” —John S. O’Connor, Harvard Review
A Fire in My Head: Poems for the Dawn by Ben Okri
Ben Okri, a renowned Booker Prize–winning author, presents a powerful collection of poems. They range from covering topics of the day, such as the refugee crisis, Black Lives Matter protests, and COVID-19.”In our times of crisis/The mind has its powers” This book brings together many of Ben Okri’s most acclaimed and politically charged poems.
These include poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa, Barack Obama, Amnesty International, and more. It makes this poetry collection a uniquely powerful collection that blends anger and tenderness with Okri’s inimitable vision.
Ben Okri sound familiar? Maybe you’ve heard of him from these viral poetry reads:
“Grenfell Tower, June 2017” was published in theFinancial Times less than ten days after the fire, and Okri’s reading of it was played more than six million times on Facebook.
“Notre-Dame Is Telling Us Something” was first read on BBC Radio 4, in the aftermath of the cathedral’s near destruction. It speaks eloquently of the despair that was felt around the world.
Time Peels All to Original White: Xueyan Poems by Xueyan
A Chinese poet seeks answers in the sky and the soul in this debut collection. From the first page to the last, the poems are dramatic and deeply spiritual.
Reviews for Time Peels All To Original White:
Inventive, beautiful, and deep, the poems of Time Peels All to Original White muse on subjects of perennial relevance in fresh, literary ways. –Foreword Clarion Reviews
Richly emotional poems of faith, connection, and eternity. The sacred, the eternal, the ecstasy of intimacy: Xueyan binds all this together, in tight, gripping verse. –BookLife by Publishers Weekly
A Chinese poet seeks answers in the sky and the soul in this debut collection. From the first page to the last, the poems are dramatic and deeply spiritual. –Kirkus Reviews
Common Life by Stéphane Bouquet; Lindsay Turner (Translator)
Finally in our lineup, we have a unique one. In three poems, one play, and three short stories, Stephane Bouquet’s Common Life offers a lively, searching vision of contemporary life, politics, and sociality. At a moment at which the fabric of everyday social life is increasingly threatened across the globe, this book is a necessary exercise of the literary imagination.
A wry, cinematic tour through multiple forms: the poem, the vignette, the play–all set in our laughably lamentable contemporary world. With humor and sincerity, Common Life imagines the utopias of collectivity, friendship and love that might enable hope for the present and the future.
Reviews for Common Life:
“Turner’s excellent translation allows these unfailingly imaginative, intriguing, and various pages to scintillate. Readers willing for frequently dramatic shifts in form will enjoy the ride.”—Publishers Weekly
“Stéphane Bouquet is an astonishingly bold poet—at once cosmic and intimate, harsh and hilarious—and he can do it all. With elegies, dramatic dialogues, and narratives, he weaves an ever expanding schema of every day queer life. A life filled with eros and wonder and political awareness. Common Life is multivalent tour de force.”—Peter Gizzi, American poet
Don’t worry! The 2023 Poetry To Read Now list has only just begun. Check back in with us throughout the year for new collections.
Enter the little infinite Winter poetry contest A Letter To Your Love. Contest closes April 2023.
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