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Poetry to Read This Spring

13 minute read

Best New Poetry for Spring

The spring season brings with it a sense of renewal and growth, making it an ideal time to embrace the fresh perspectives and innovative approaches found within the pages of these new poetry collections.

As spring breathes new life into the world, so too do the poetry books releasing this season! You will find a mosaic of emotions, perspectives, and voices waiting to be explored. With each turn of the page, embark on a journey of introspection, encountering poems that challenge preconceptions, celebrate diversity, and illuminate the human experience in all its complexity. Engage with language as both an art form and a conduit for empathy and understanding.

Reader, I by Corey Van Landingham

Release Date: April 16

A brand new collection from multi-award-winning poet Corey Van Landingham.

Reader, I draws its title from the conclusion to Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre: “Reader, I married him.” Spanning the first years of a marriage, the speaker in Reader, I both courts and eschews nuptial myths, as its speaker–tender and callous, skeptical and hopeful, daughter and lover–finds a role for herself in marriage, in history, in something beyond the self.

A Year of Last Things: Poems by Michael Ondaatje

Release Date: March 19

From one of the most influential writers of his generation, a gorgeously surprising poetry collection about memory, history, and the act of looking back

Following several of his internationally acclaimed novels, A Year of Last Things is Michael Ondaatje’s long-awaited return to poetry.

From his poem “His chair, a narrow bed, a motel room, the fox
At the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles Sam Cooke was shot dead.
‘See that shadow on the wall . . .’ All those motels and hotels
in literature and song, where X wrote this,
where Y got drunk, where Z overdosed.
The one Hank Williams was driven past, dead already in his car.
The Slavianski Bazaar Hotel in “The Lady with a Dog,”
where Dmitri imagines their dark but hopeful future.
The Hôtel de ville de Courtrai, where Verlaine shot Rimbaud.
The Casa Verdi in Milan, where retired opera singers were welcomed
along with various heteronyms of Fernando Pessoa in their afterlife.

There’s Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension by Hanif Abdurraqib

Release Date: March 26

There's Always This Year: On Basketball and Ascension - Abdurraqib, HanifA poignant, personal reflection on basketball, life, and home–from the author of the National Book Award finalist A Little Devil in America

“Mesmerizing . . . not only the most original sports book I’ve ever read but one of the most moving books I’ve ever read, period.”–Steve James, director of Hoop Dreams

There’s Always This Year is a triumph, brimming with joy, pain, solidarity, comfort, outrage, and hope. No matter the subject of his keen focus–whether it’s basketball, or music, or performance–Hanif Abdurraqib’s exquisite writing is always poetry, always profound, and always a clarion call to radically reimagine how we think about our culture, our country, and ourselves.

Modern Poetry: Poems by Diane Seuss

Release Date: March 5

Modern Poetry: Poems - Seuss, DianeDiane Seuss’s signature voice has become one of the most original in contemporary poetry. Her latest collection takes its title, Modern Poetry, from the first textbook Seuss encountered as a child and the first poetry course she took in college. Many of the poems make use of the forms and terms of musical and poetic craft – ballad, fugue, aria, refrain, coda. Seuss provides a moving account of her picaresque years and their uncertainties, and in the process, she enters the realm between Modernism and Romanticism, between romance and objectivity, with Keats as ghost, lover, and interlocutor.

Woke Up No Light: Poems by Leila Mottley

Release Date: April 16

Woke Up No Light: Poems - Mottley, LeilaA poignant and rousing debut book of poetry from the former Youth Poet Laureate of Oakland, CA – Leila Mottley. Mottley is the acclaimed, best-selling author of the novel Nightcrawling.

Mottley follows her trailblazing first novel with a perfectly pitched first collection of poems that demonstrate her spark and scope. woke up no light reckons with themes of reparations, restitution, and desire. Moving in sections from “girlhood” to “neighborhood” to “falsehood” to, finally, “womanhood,” these poems are the breathing life of a Black girl as she grows into adulthood, simultaneously youthful and profound.

woke up no light confirms Leila Mottley’s arrival and demonstrates the enduring power of her voice–brave and distinctive and thoroughly her own.

Kitchen Apocrypha: Poems by Gregory Emilio

Release Date: April 12

Kitchen Apocrypha: Poems - Emilio, GregoryGregory Emilio’s Kitchen Apocrypha delves richly and sensuously into food as sustenance, ritual, pleasure, and temptation. Drawing upon his food service experiences, Emilio contemplates hunger, abundance, community, and solitude through the lens of culinary arts. He navigates meals ranging from sacred family recipes to unassuming roadside diners, sprinkling biblical and mythological allusions throughout. Central to his narrative is a deep reverence for food’s power to nourish not just the body, but the spirit and human connection as well. A finalist for the 2021 Able Muse Book Award, Kitchen Apocrypha offers a feast both earthy and sublime.

With My Back to the World: Poems by Victoria Chang

Release Date: April 2

With My Back to the World: Poems - Chang, VictoriaA new collection of poetry inspired by the work of Agnes Martin, exploring topics of feminism, art, depression, and grief, by the author of the prizewinning collection Obit.

With My Back to the World engages with the paintings and writings of Agnes Martin, the celebrated abstract artist, in ways that open up new modes of expression, expanding the scope of what art, poetry, and the human mind can do. Filled with surprise and insight, wit and profundity, the book explores the nature of the self, of existence, life and death, grief and depression, time and space. Strikingly original, fluidly strange, Victoria Chang’s new collection is a book that speaks to how we see and are seen.

Night of the Hawk: Poems by Lauren Martin

Release Date: May 14

Night of the Hawk: Poems - Martin, LaurenIfá. Nature. Illness. Love. Loss. Misogyny. Aging. Africa. Our wounded planet. In this sweeping yet intensely personal collection, Lauren Martin tells the untold stories of the marginalized, the abused, the ill, the disabled–the different. Inspired by her life’s experiences, including the isolation she has suffered as a result both of living with chronic illness and having devoted herself to a religion outside the mainstream, these poems explore with raw vulnerability and unflinching honesty what it is to live apart–even as one yearns for connection.

Ghost Man on Second by Erica Reid

Release Date: March 29

Ghost Man on Second - Reid, EricaA debut poetry collection centered on strained family relationships and the search for new homes.

Erica Reid’s debut collection, Ghost Man on Second, traces a daughter’s search for her place in the world after estrangement from her parents. Reid writes, “It’s hard to feel at home unless I’m aching.” Growing from this sense of isolation, Reid’s poems create new homes in nature, in mythology, and in poetic forms–including sestinas, sonnets, and golden shovels–containers that create and hold new realizations and vantage points. Reid stands up to members of her family, asking for healing amid dissolving bonds. Throughout Ghost Man on Second, the poems portray Reid’s active grappling with home and confrontation with the ghosts she finds there.

Ghost Man on Second is the winner of the 2023 Donald Justice Poetry Prize, selected by Mark Jarman.

The Principle of Rapid Peering by Sylvia Legris

Release Date: April 2

The Principle of Rapid Peering - Legris, SylviaThe title of Sylvia Legris’ melopoeic collection The Principle of Rapid Peering comes from a phrase the nineteenth-century ornithologist and field biologist Joseph Grinnell used to describe the feeding behavior of certain birds. Rather than waiting passively for food to approach them, these birds live in a continuous mode of “rapid peering.” Legris explores this rich theme of active observation through a spray of poems that together form a kind of almanac or naturalist’s notebook in verse.

Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves by J Drew Lanham

Release Date: April 2

Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves - Lanham, J. DrewFrom J. Drew Lanham, MacArthur “Genius” Grant recipient and author of Sparrow Envy: A Field Guide to Birds and Lesser Beasts, comes a sensuous new collection in his signature mix of poetry and prose.

Joy Is the Justice We Give Ourselves is a lush journey into wildness and Black being. Lanham notices nature through seasonal shifts, societal unrest, and deeply personal reflection and traces a path from bitter history to the present predicament. Drawing canny connections between the precarity of nature and the long arm of racism, the collection offers reconciliation and eco-reparation as hopeful destinations from our current climate of division. In Joy is the Justice We Give Ourselves, Lanham mines the deep connection to ancestors through the living world and tunes his unique voice toward embracing the radical act of joy.

Death Styles by Joyelle McSweeney

Release Date: April 2

Death Styles - McSweeney, JoyelleA record of daily bewilderments and accidental concessions to hope after a momentous loss.

In this follow-up to her award-winning collection, Toxicon and Arachne, Joyelle McSweeney proposes a link between style and survival, even in the gravest of circumstances. Setting herself the task of writing a poem a day and accepting a single icon as her starting point. Sometimes unlikely starting points like River Phoenix, Mary Magdalene, or a backyard skunk. McSweeney follows each inspiration to the point of exhaustion and makes it through each difficult day. In frank, Death Styles navigates the opposing forces of survival and grief, finding a way to press against death’s interface, to step the wrong way out of the grave.

Blue Atlas by Susan Rich

Release Date: April 2

Blue Atlas - Rich, SusanBlue Atlas, the sixth book of poems from award-winning poet Susan Rich, is her most original work to date.

Portal by Tracy Fuad

Release Date: March 1

Portal - Fuad, TracyA poetry collection exploring inheritance and reproduction through the lenses of parenthood, etymology, postcoloniality, and climate anxiety.

Fuad’s second collection of poems probes the fraught experience of bringing a new life into a world that is both lush and filled with gloom. PORTAL documents a life that is mediated, even at its most intimate moments. Flattening interfaces of technology in which language is no longer produced only by humans. The voices here are stalked by eco-grief and loneliness, but they also brim with song and ecstasy. Reveling in the strangeness of contemporary life while grieving losses that cannot be restored. Through Fuad’s frank, honest poetry, PORTAL vibrates with pleasure and dread.

36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem by Nam Le

Release Date: March 1

36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem - Le, NamAn explosive, devastating debut book of poetry from the acclaimed author of The Boat

In his first international release since the award-winning, best-selling The Boat, Nam Le delivers a shot across the bow with a book-length poem that honors every convention of diasporic literature–in a virtuosic array of forms and registers–before shattering the form itself.

Making use of multiple tones, moods, masks, and camouflages, Le’s poetic debut moves with unpredictable and destabilizing energy between the personal and the political. As self-indicting as it is scathing, hilarious as it is desperately moving, this is a singular, breakthrough book.

Silver: Poems by Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Release Date: March 5

Silver: Poems - Phillips, Rowan RicardoRowan Ricardo Phillips’s fourth collection is a book as lustrous as the metal of its title.

These luminous, unsparing, dreamlike poems are as lyrical as they are virtuosic. “Not the meaning,” Phillips writes, “but the meaningfulness of this mystery we call life” powers these poems. It reverberates through several styles (blank verse, elegy, terza rima, rhyme royal, translation, rap). Silver reimagines them with such extraordinary vision and alluring strangeness that they sound irrepressibly fresh and vibrant. From beginning to end, Silver is a collection that reflects Phillips’s guiding principle – “part physics, part faith, part void.” That all is reflected in poetry and poetry is reflected in all.

Fugitive/Refuge by Philip Metres

Release Date: April 9

Fugitive/Refuge - Metres, PhilipDynamically pairing traditional and experimental forms, Philip Metres traces ancient and modern migrations in an investigation of the ever-shifting idea of home.

In Fugitive/Refuge, Philip Metres follows the journey of his refugee ancestors. In a vivid exploration of what it means to long for home. The collection draws on both ancient traditions and innovative forms–odes and arabics, sonnets and cut-ups, prayers and documentary voicings, heroic couplets and homophonic translations. It confronts the perils of our age: forced migration, climate change, and toxic nationalism.

Acts: Poems by Spencer Reece

Release Date: May 28

Acts: Poems - Reece, SpencerA book of poems that reckons with love in all its forms. By the priest and poet Spencer Reece–his first collection in ten years.

Spencer Reece, a poet and an Episcopal priest, suffuses his poetry with tenderness, humanity, and a wonderous alchemy of beauty and sorrow.

Acts is the product of a decade of work and of a life acutely lived. The poems are also an homage to the letter itself, to its art and its waning means of connection across distance. In Acts, Reece confronts grief and love, loneliness and self-acceptance, with honesty, artful lyricism, and, above all, a true and luminous grace.

Host by Lisa Fay Coutley

Release Date: March 12

Host - Coutley, Lisa FayIn raw, lyrical poems, Host explores parasitic relationships and considers their consequences. How much control do we have over our lives? To what extent are we being controlled? And how much does it matter in the end? Revealing the unvarnished pain of mistreatment Lisa Fay Coutley examines legacies of abuse in poems that explore how trauma parasitizes bodies, infecting the text, repeating in language and image the injuries the body has been subjected to.

Mirror Nation by Don Mee Choi

Release Date: April 2

Mirror Nation - Choi, Don MeeElegiac and haunting, Mirror Nation completes the KOR-US trilogy, along with Hardly War (Wave Books, 2016) and the National Book Award-winning DMZ Colony (Wave Books, 2020).

A spinning Mercedez Benz ring outside Choi’s Berlin window prompts a memory of her father on the Glienicker Bridge between Berlin and Potsdam, which in turn becomes catalyst for delving into the violent colonial and neocolonial contemporary history of South Korea, with particular attention to the horrors of the Gwangju Uprising of May 1980. Here, photographs, news footage, and cultural artifacts comingle with a poetry of grief that is both personal and collective. Mirror Nation is a sorrowful reflection on how a place can hold a “magnetic field of memory,” proving that history doesn’t merely repeat itself. History is ever present, chiming the hours in a chorus against empire.

Bad Mexican, Bad American: Poems by Jose Hernandez Diaz

Release Date: March 5

Bad Mexican, Bad American: Poems - Hernandez Diaz, JoseThis collection of poems showcases the unique style that has made him a rising star in the poetry community.

Bad Mexican, Bad American demonstrates how having roots in more than one culture can be both unsettling and rich. Van Gogh and Beethoven share the page with tattoos, graffiti, and rancheras. Quetzalcoatl shows up at Panda Express. A Mexican American child who has never had a Mexican American teacher may become that teacher. A parent’s “broken” English is beautiful and masterful. Blending reality with dream and humility with hope, Hernandez Diaz contributes a singing strand to the complex cultural weave that is twenty-first-century poetry.

New and Selected Poems by Marie Howe

Release Date: April 2

Marie Howe’s poetry transforms penetrating observations of everyday life into sacred, humane miracles. This essential volume draws from each of Howe’s four previous collections.

As the world awakens from its winter slumber, you are encouraged to seize the opportunity to explore these new poetry books this spring.






Looking for more? Try these poetry collections from a previous spring.