In the spring we saw the release of a handful of retrospective collections—"Selecteds," as we call them—by heavyweight poets like Robert Pinsky and Charles Wright; those kinds of doorstoppers are fun, but there are no new poems in them. In the fall, however, we’ll have slim yet substantial volumes of new poems by a few big names as well as lesser known, but not lesser, writers.
Meghan O’Rourke’s second volume of poems, Once, is sure to get a lot of attention, in part because of the success of her just released memoir, The Long Goodbye. Poetry is O’Rourke’s first calling, and these accessible yet sharp-edged poems deal with some of the same themes as the memoir—the loss of a beloved mother, the process of grieving—but also take a citizen’s view of life in contemporary America. Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort will bring out her second book in English, Collected Body, also sure to find lots of readers from her previous collection and very successful reading tour of the U.S. for her last book.
Three beloved poets in more advanced stages of their careers also have new books that may win high praise. Touch by Henri Cole continues an exploration that has stretched over several books into how the pains and pleasures of desire can be fit into a sonnet-like shape. W.S. Di Piero, who moves with Nitro Nights from Knopf to Copper Canyon, brings his watchful critic’s eye—he writes a great deal about visual art—to a set of new poems. Victor Hernandez Cruz offers In the Shadow of Al-Andalus, his poetic look at the influence of Islamic art in Spain, Puerto Rico, and North Africa.
And speaking of art, the major surrealist painter and widow of Max Ernst, Dorothea Tanning, who is now 100 years old, will publish her second collection of poems, Coming to That, in September, filled with glimpses of the kind of bent reality she creates so powerfully.
There are, of course, a couple of retrospective books to look out for: Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems by Tess Gallagher, who offers a summation of her powers to date, and Dear Prudence: New and Selected Poems by David Trinidad, who has mixed pop and high culture like no one else. And while we’re discussing summations, this fall will also see the release of Last Poems by Hayden Carruth, who, after a long and storied career, died in 2008; this collection presents his final unpublished work.
And no poetic season would be complete without an anthology. This time there’s something unusual and powerful: Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, edited by Sheila Black, Jennifer Bartlett, and Michael Northen, in which literary writers from across the disability and aesthetic spectrums speak out.
PW’s Top 10 Poetry
Meghan O’Rourke. Norton, Oct.
Valzhyna Mort. Copper Canyon, Sept.
Henri Cole. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sept.
W.S. Di Piero. Copper Canyon, Nov.
In the Shadow of Al-Andalus
Victor Hernandez Cruz. Coffee House, Nov.
Coming to That
Dorothea Tanning. Graywolf, Sept.
Tess Gallagher. Graywolf, Sept.
New and Selected Poems
David Trinidad. Turtle Point, Sept.
Hayden Carruth, intro. by Stephen Dobyns, afterword by Brooks
Haxton. Copper Canyon, Jan.
Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability
Edited by Sheila Black, Jennifer Bartlett, and Michael Northen. Cinco Puntos, Sept.