Subscriber-Only Content; You must be a PW subscriber to access the Table-of-Contents Database.

Subscribers can click the "login" button below to access the Table-of-Contents Database. (If you have not done so already, you will need to set up your digital access by going here.)

Or for immediate access you can click the "subscribe" link below.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries) , Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

For any other questions about PublshersWeekly.com, email service@publishersweekly.com.

Login or

I Love It Though

Alli Warren. Nightboat, $15.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-937658-60-1

With “one foot in the office the other lolling/ about the field,” Warren (Here Come the Warm Jets) probes at what “lies between/ want and need.” Amid the comforting concreteness of fact and the energetic forces of dream and instinct, Warren sings “of something that cannot speak/ its name though its signature is everywhere.” Her poems are lean and energetic—most do not exceed a page—but they can be slippery and bewildering in their tight-packed complexity. In “A Better Way to Zone,” for instance, she instructs the tide to “bring some/ little green thing to dust/ behind my eyes// Touch the hotpoint/ and drag the tongue/ over the fat belly/ of a flapping fish.” Warren directs her aptitude for rhyme and aural texture to conveying the shape and expression of human desire (“we have nothing/ between gasps/ of great need”), as well as the political structures that have evolved through these hungers: given the tendency of borders to “burst open under their/ propensity for feasting,” Warren encourages readers to “embrace your finitude/ as the end of accumulation.” (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/17/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
For the Scribe

David Wojahn. Univ. of Pittsburgh, $15.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-0-8229-6454-4

In his formidable ninth collection, Wojahn (World Tree) catalogues extinctions personal, cultural, and ecological. “Assume, dear vagabond, you are permitted/ One last survey,” he writes in the opening poem, an elegy for his father. As longtime readers might expect, Wojahn’s own “last survey” impresses with both its diversity and detail. Bristling with quotations and historical artifacts, his rhythmic lines capture bluesmen as well as they do woodpeckers. In the title poem, he writes “inscription/ Is a form of weaving,” and indeed, his brocaded compositions often have the richness of tapestry. Whether examining Glenn Beck or laundry robots, his “burnished effusions” relentlessly hone in on the specific. In a book so focused on death and violence, such specificity can grow exhausting, even ghoulish, as in one voyeuristic sequence about lynching. But at his best—in heartfelt laments for other poets, and unhinged fantasias that put Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Johnson, and Ronald Reagan in conversation—Wojahn moves and fascinates, drawing readerly attention to the “auguries of apocalypse” all around, however “small in scale.” “God of stench & musk,” Wojahn writes in one gloriously open poem about Pan and Xanax, “how well you know our recent century/ where art & terror have so freely & relentlessly conjoined.” (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/17/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Flayed City

Hari Alluri. Kaya, $16.95 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-885030-47-4

Alluri (Carving Ashes) paints textual cityscapes that rise above particular locations in his electrifying second collection. In these poems “the city” elevates into a transformative chant, creating something mythical beyond buildings and land. The text itself also transforms; Alluri moves between short stanzas, paragraphs reminiscent of memoir, and beguiling long lines. He measures the stretch between two continents and the complications of immigration, including the cultural expectations to become part of another group: “In the city I just left, I wrapped and wore my lu¯ngi in broad daylight on the regular to show off my scorn for assimilation, inside my flat where it was most rampant.” Alluri interrogates the incongruities between lived experiences and the ways that the present is bound to a past marked by family, memory, and geography. Inside these parameters Alluri locates contingencies of displacement and lineage: “Every generation wishes for itself a better mop.” This is a sharp, intimate collection full of aunties and uncles, tender brotherhoods, street sweepers and street dogs, and a longing marked by time and distance: “Gradual, the petitions of things we cannot find—lightning storms as everyone enjoys, but from afar.” (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/17/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
Field Theories

Samiya Bashir. Nightboat, $15.95 trade paper (112p) ISBN 978-1-937658-63-2

In her third collection, Bashir (Gospel) displays an intriguingly multivalent approach to the objectivities and subjectivities of black experience reflected in her multimedia collaborations. A series of recurring “coronagraphs” become a tunnel through which the figures of John Henry and his wife Polly Ann speak, forming a sonnet crown that brings new life to an American myth. They are interspersed with four sections structured on the laws of thermodynamics and bearing voices of denizens trapped in a capitalist matrix, “An anthropocene/ of wannabe hepcats” who “pay// defense department rates/ for a sandwich; unremember// memorable jingles.” Bashir’s experimental visual gestures, such as a bullet-hole riddled prose poem on the law of probability, resonate as bluesy meditations on cosmic entropy’s presence in the irreversible occurrences of American lives. While fans of Kevin Young will appreciate the pop of unexpected end rhymes and a present-tense narrative impulse, those of the more associative Ashberian school will enjoy such playful titles as “Universe as an infant: fatter than expected and kind of lumpy,” which features a private visit with Groucho Marx. Whether depicting the faces of marginalized citizens at late-night truck stops or cross-sectioning “bloodstreaks through musculoskeletal structure,” Bashir positions the slings and arrows of black American life as both empirically observable and available for radical, and movingly layered, interpretations. (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/17/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
Cold Pastoral

Rebecca Dunham. Milkweed, $16 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-57131-478-9

Dunham (Glass Armonica) examines three water-related disasters in her fourth book, a collection of documentary-pastoral lyrics addressing the BP Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill, Hurricane Katrina and the flooding of New Orleans, and the lead-poisoning crisis in Flint, Mich. She constructs a narrative of living in a time of spectacular ruin, ecological disaster, and insidious chemical endangerment, with the poet/speaker both proximal to and removed from their effects. To do this Dunham switches between poems of meditation and description (“Feather-vaned, the smoke/ flows up, black-// blooded as the oil plumes/ that will soon unwind// below.”), and those incorporating government documents, travel notes, media interviews, product descriptions, and other sources (“Used according to directions, Roundup/ poses no risk to people, animals,// or the environment. Just Pump-n-Go.”). She focuses less on ecology or landscape than on the human element of these events—rig workers, cleanup and rescue crews, children living in a poisoned world—and her experiences viewing them from afar or traveling to do research. Dunham makes it clear that beyond her and others’ personal experiences, humans have become subject to a ruin of their own making: “The only thing worse than the disaster itself is what happens when the world decides it’s over,” she writes. “All fixed. It’s a fact any survivor knows.” (Mar.)

Reviewed on 02/17/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
The Trembling Answers

Craig Morgan Teicher. BOA, $16 trade paper (88p) ISBN 978-1-942683-31-5

“Every turning toward is a turning away,” writes poet and critic—also PW’s director of digital operations—Teicher (To Keep Love Blurry) to open his fourth collection, an affecting examination of the trade-offs that parenthood, adulthood, and art require. Looser than his previous work but just as perceptive, the book pulses with the acute anxieties of raising a child who has “a body not built// to work.” Its tender, open poems document Teicher’s mortal responsibilities—“I can divide all life/ into breath and waiting/ for the next breath,” he observes in one—and offer a chance to escape them, to muse during the “calm in the troughs/ between.” For example, “Edgemont” takes a long look back on the poet’s suburban childhood (“Nothing’s so poignant now as then,/ and mostly I’m relieved”) while a number of others offer genuine insight on verse as a vocation. Poetry is “never enough,” he writes in one of several poems titled “Why Poetry: A Partial Autobiography”: “my lamentation/ did not un-injure my son or/ get me back my job.” This is a modest book, but also a rare, undeceived one. It offers only what it can, which may be all that poetry can hope to: small joys and hard-won wisdom. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/17/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
Hard Child

Natalie Shapero. Copper Canyon, $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN 978-1-55659-509-7

As she transitions into parenthood, Shapero (No Object) contemplates the long investments and fleeting attachments humans make in their turmoil-ridden lives, exuding both mischievousness and melancholy while maintaining a sort of crude optimism. Now a new mother, her admission in the title poem that “there isn’t one/ human tradition I would choose to carry/ forward” reveals as much about her poetry as her lack of interest in doing things conventionally. For a collection in which God appears so frequently, it’s remarkably irreverent. Shapero’s humor generally derives from dark places, as in her tendency toward self-deprecation. “I revere all variants/ of the human/ form, save for my own,” she writes, “being myself composed in haste and subject to uncoupling.” It’s less fatalism than recognition of the limits of the individual: “why is any feat/ so drastically diminished by the presence of/ a second coursing bloodstream, second blur/ of facial features?” Her tight, mainly brief poems work autonomously in the collective, sometimes explicitly linking with their neighbors into loose semblances of narrative. And amid unusually lithe movements, Shapero demonstrates an ability to follow observations to unexpected ends (which is perhaps related to her background in law). “I don’t/ contain within me half enough life to power/ a dog,” Shapero claims, but the evidence in these delightful poems proves otherwise. (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/17/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
Afterland: Poems

Mai Der Vang. Graywolf, $16 trade paper (96p) ISBN N 978-1-55597-770-2

In this sinewy and unflinching debut, winner of the 2016 Walt Whitman Award, Vang shares the story of the Hmong diaspora who were forced out of Laos and into exile as a result of America’s secret war of the 1960s and ’70s: “This is a phantom attack/ that never happened, but our fallen know it did.” Vang refers to the U.S. recruitment of Hmong fighters to fight the People’s Army of Vietnam alongside Americans. As a result of Laos’s key location in the Vietnam War, areas of the country were subjected to years of bombing. “What ends the deepening numbers,” she writes, “resounding into night, a planeload/ releases every eight minutes forever.” Vang explores the depths of her inherited trauma (“I dig for my finest blouse, placenta/ of my home. It sleeps beneath// the bedpost,/ calling as the heartbeat underground”) and she shares the experience of the Hmong diaspora by chronicling the physical displacement of her people and a deep and reverberating spiritual disruption. Vang suffuses her poems with unnerving details of strife, which her attention to emotion and texture keep from feeling lifeless or exploitative. “Hmong people say one’s spirit can run off,/ go into hiding underground,” Vang writes, and she calls “for what left/ to come back,// and for the found/ to never leave.” (Apr.)

Reviewed on 02/17/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
Nature Poem

Tommy Pico. Tin House, $14.95 trade paper (80p) ISBN 978-1-941040-63-8

Pico (IRL) centers his second book-length poem on the trap of conforming to identity stereotypes as he ponders his reluctance to write about nature as a Native American. This is “fodder for the noble savage/ narrative,” he writes as ignorant people ask, “do I feel more connected to nature/ bc I’m NDN.” Other similarly problematic expectations are wryly discussed: “An NDN poem must reference alcoholism, like// I started drinking again after Mike Brown and Sandra Bland and Charleston/ I felt so underwater it made no sense to keep dry.” As an extension of this dilemma, Pico poses questions about what is natural human behavior: Is it natural for a football player to assault his girlfriend? Is colonialism natural? What about the feeling one gets while listening to Beyoncé’s “Mine”? Pico’s alter-ego “Teebs” remains in constant motion, leaping from the dentist’s office to drag queen karaoke night to the movie theater: “I’m an adult I only let myself have/ candy at the movies/ so I’ve been going to the movies A LOT.” In making the subliminal overt, Pico reclaims power by calling out microaggressions and drawing attention to himself in the face of oppression, “the way the only thing more obvious than your body/ is leaving yr shirt on in the pool.” Agent: Lauren Smythe, Inkwell. (May)

Reviewed on 02/17/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
My Temporary Life

Martin Crosbie. CreateSpace, $12.99 trade paper (340p) ISBN 978-1-4699-6562-8

The first section of this gripping debut—the first volume in a trilogy—takes a serious, disquieting look at the sometimes sordid realities of adolescence and adulthood as he depicts the bullying, bad parenting, and violence encountered by a smart and sensitive young man. The novel begins in 1976, when 13-year-old Malcolm Wilson lives with his aloof father in Scotland during the school year and with his promiscuous Canadian mother in Vancouver during the summer. Malcolm and his best friend, Hardly, are targets of trickery and beatings by schoolmates; a particularly unnerving incident occurs in their refuge, an old tree. The one time Malcolm fights back, he accidentally strikes a teacher. He moves to Vancouver and, helped by the kindness of his wealthy summer employer, attends a private school. The second section, set 20 years later, is a fast-paced, romantic thriller with sleuthing, a dark secret, and a vile, maniacal character. Malcolm, now 34, lives a comfortable, drama-free life as an unmarried accountant until he meets the lovely Heather Postman, whose mysterious secret sends them off on a suspenseful caper . Malcolm can’t get at Heather’s secret and doesn’t know whom to trust. Crosbie’s novel captivates from the get-go with spine-tingling drama and penetrating character portrayals that send a strong message about family, and friends who become family. (BookLife)

Reviewed on 02/17/2017 | Details & Permalink

show more
X
Stay ahead with
Tip Sheet!
Free newsletter: the hottest new books, features and more
X
X
X
Email Address

Password

Log In Lost Password

Parts of this site are only available to paying PW subscribers. Subscribers: to set up your digital access click here.

To subscribe, click here.

PW “All Access” site license members have access to PW’s subscriber-only website content. Simply close and relaunch your preferred browser to log-in. To find out more about PW’s site license subscription options please email: pw@pubservice.com.

If you have questions or need assistance setting up your account please email pw@pubservice.com or call 1-800-278-2991 (U.S.) or 1-818-487-2069 (all other countries), Monday-Friday between 5am and 5pm Pacific time for assistance.

Not Registered? Click here.