It’s happened again: while you were busy worrying about all the unimportant things—taxes, say, or a sacred religious holiday—National Poetry Month has snuck up on you, and you’re plum out of fresh verse. Not to worry! You can turn that literary/civic/ethical lapse to your advantage by picking up a brand new volume you couldn’t have picked up any sooner than the first two weeks of NPM 2012.
For the traditionalist:
Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel by Lenore Kandel (North Atlantic, $35; ISBN 978-1583943724).
The daringly sexual poetry of Lenore Kendal, author of The Love Book, has long been overshadowed by the work of men for whom she served as a muse: Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Snyder among them. This volume brings together 80 works by the late poet, many of them never before published. April 10
For the devout:
The Poems of Jesus Christ trans. from the Greek by Willis Barnstone (Norton, $26.95; ISBN 978-0393083576).
Filling the spot on April’s Venn diagram where NPM meets Easter, poet-translator-religious scholar Willis Barnstone goes back to the Greek in order to recapture the poetry of the Gospels, casting the words of Jesus as individual poems. Now Available
The Poetry of Kabbalah: Mystical Verse From the Jewish Tradition trans. from the Hebrew (et al.) and annotated by Peter Cole (Yale Univ., $30; ISBN 978-0300169164).
Poet-translator Peter Cole presents the first major English-language collection of poems from the traditional texts of Jewish mysticism, writing that originated on three different continents over a 1,500-year span. Alongside the translation, Cole includes commentary as well as the text in its original language. April 10
For the kids:
Forget-Me-Nots: Poems to Learn by Heart selected by Mary Ann Hoberman (Little Brown/Tingley, $19.99; ISBN 978-0-316-12947-3).
Featuring illustrations by Michael Emberly and poems selected by the former children’s poet laureate, this picture book is not strictly for children, covering Forst, Sandburg, and Keats as well as Silverstein, Grimes, and Dahl. Now available
For the parents:
To What Miserable Wretches Have I Been Born?: Revenge Poetry for Babies and Toddlers by Suzanne Weber (Atria, $16; ISBN 978-1451660654).
Author-screenwriter-comedian Suzanne Weber steps out from behind her comic/literary alter-ego Anita Liberty for this collection of poems from the POV of a preternaturally sophisticated baby, whose list of grievances includes “I’ve Never Seen This Man Before in My Life,” “I’m Not Okay,” and “You’re Starting to Scare Me.” April 10
For the movie fan:
The Day the World Ends: Poems by Ethan Coen (Broadway, $13; ISBN 978-0307956309).
The book-writing half of the esteemed Coen Brothers filmmaking team releases his second volume of poetry. The blogs have been writing generally positive things about it, though his first book of poems, The Drunken Driver Has the Right of Way, which features 24 pages of filthy limericks, was roundly panned. Now available
And for the poetry-averse:
The Book of Madness and Cures by Regina O'Melveny (Little, Brown, $25.99; ISBN 978-0-316-19583-6).
The fiction debut from Regina O’Melveny is a 16th-century adventure with a medical mystery that takes readers from Venice to Morocco. With an emphasis on lyricism, a whimsical streak, and a “fancifully piebald” structure, this is not a run-of-the-mill historical. April 10
Narcopolis by Jeet Thayil (Penguin Press, $25.95; ISBN 978-1-59420-330-5).
Poet Jeet Thayil also makes his fiction debut, a 30-year-long tour through the violent, narcotics-saturated underworld of Bombay, featuring a cast of offbeat characters, a healthy preoccupation with philosophy, and efficient-yet-mesmerizing prose (see our excerpt). April 12