Poetry fans have much to look forward to this spring, while many poets look hard and longingly at the past or extend old stories into the present. What’s unusual about this season, though, is the publication of what’s sure to be, at least in poetry terms, a bestseller: Red Doc> by Anne Carson is a follow-up to her now legendary novel-in-verse, The Autobiography of Red, taking it’s leading man, a demon named G, into today’s technologically bewildering world; even people who don’t read poetry will read it.

Lookout, too, for a few famous names, like Charles Simic, whose New and Selected Poems: 1962–2012 is his first book (though this his third retrospective collection, following separate selections from earlier and later work) to draw poems from his entire career. Another career-spanner is The Unknown University, which offers all the poems of Roberto Bolaño in English for the first time; surely, Bolaño was a far better novelist than he was a poet (though he loved poetry more), but, at the very least, these poems will deepen his many fans’ experience of the brilliant novels. Also looking back at the past is David Lehman’s Best American Poetry series, which presents The Best of the Best American Poetry, editor Robert Pinsky’s picks for the best poems from the preceding 25 years’ worth of annual volumes.

A few major writers have new books this season, most notably Frank Bidart, whose Metaphysical Dog takes a harsh look at the poet’s own past and at the mid- and late-20th–century years through which he passed. Pulitzer-finalist Forrest Gander meditates on dance, among other topics, in Eiko and Koma, while experimental poetry legend Lyn Hejinian looks back at her own seminal work My Life with a new edition, featuring a complementary set of new poems, entitled My Life and My Life in the Nineties. Kwame Dawes, a prolific writer of poetry, fiction, and other genres, may find himself much more well known after the publication of his first selected poems, Duppy Conquerer.

The most exciting books, however, may be the ones from writers in mid-career. Stephen Burt, one of today’s most prominent critics of poetry, will publish Belmont, his third book of poems, showing some of the more surprising sides of suburban family life. Meanwhile, Mary Szybist, whose National Book Critics Circle–finalist debut came out a decade ago, returns with a breathtaking second book, Incarnadine, a book of religious poems that even the godless will love. There’s lots more where these came from, but these 10 should be enough to get you started on a new year in poetry.

PW’s Top 10: Poetry

Red Doc>. Anne Carson. Knopf, Mar.

New and Selected Poems: 1962–2012. Charles Simic. HMH, Mar.

The Unknown University. Roberto Bolaño. New Directions, May

Best of the Best American Poetry. David Lehman and Robert Pinsky. Scribner, Apr.

Metaphysical Dog. Frank Bidart. FSG, Apr.

Eiko and Koma. Forrest Gander. New Directions, June

My Life and My Life in the Nineties. Lyn Hejinian. Wesleyan, Apr.

Duppy Conquerer. Kwame Dawes. Copper Canyon, Apr.

Belmont. Stephen Burt. Graywolf, June

Incarnadine. Mary Szybist. Graywolf, Feb.

Poetry Listings

BOA Editions Ltd.

(dist. by Consortium)

The Stick Soldiers by Hugh Martin, foreword by Cornelius Eady (Apr. 16, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1938160066). An Iraq war veteran explores war, masculinity, and return to civilian life in this Poulin Prize–winning debut.

Refuge by Adrie Kusserow (May 14, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1938160080). An anthropologist writes poems about globalization, culture, war, and fieldwork across the world.

Light and Heavy Things: Selected Poems by Zeeshan Sahil, translated by Christopher Kennedy, Mi Ditmar, and Faisal Siddiqui (June 11, paper, $16, ISBN 978- 1938160127). The first U.S. translation of a major contemporary Pakistani poet.

City Lights Publishers

(Dist. by Consortium)

Joie de Vivre: Selected Poems 1992–2012 by Lisa Jarnot (May 14, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0872865983). A selection from 20 years of poetry from one of the key avant-garde women poets of the post-Language generation.

Coach House Books

(dist. by Consortium)

book of variations: love - zygal - art facts by bp Nichol (Apr. 16, paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1552452721). This book returns to print three seminal texts by one of the 20th century’s most inventive poets.

Coffee House Press

(dist. by Consortium)

The Loving Detail of the Living & the Dead by Eleni Sikelianos (Apr. 16, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1566893244). These beautifully crafted poems investigate the intersections of the living and the dead in stunningly simple language.

The First Flag by Sarah Fox (Apr. 16, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1566893268). Equal parts affirmation, indictment, and essay, these poems speak against an insidious patriarchy that places limits on our bodies, sexualities, and selves.

Sing This One Back to Me by Bob Holman, introduction by Alhaji Papa Susso (May 14, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1566893251).. From West Africa to New York City, the oral tradition comes alive through collaborative storytelling of Holman and legendary griot Papa Susso. 3,500-announced first printing.

Spiral Trace by Jack Marshall (June 11, paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1566893275). With one eye unflinchingly trained on his own mortality, a soulful philosopher-poet laments a ravaged planet.

Copper Canyon Press

(dist. by Consortium)

Elegy Owed by Bob Hicok (Apr. 16, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-1556594366). Hicok’s poems jump from devastation to jubilance with “a laughter as old as humanity itself.”—the New York Times

Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems by Kwame Dawes (Apr. 16, paper, $20, ISBN 978-1556594236). “The miracle of empathy,” Dawes once said in an interview, “is the ultimate aim of my writing,” and these poems bear that out.

Alight by Fady Joudah (May 14, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1556594229).. Joudah, an ER physician who works with Doctors Without Borders, and also a winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize, is a master storyteller who refuses to dramatize or withhold.

Rough Day by Ed Skoog (June 11, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1556594342). “Skoog’s poetry is so ambitious...it knows how to fishtail with images and turn with ease,” says a reviewer in The Stranger.


(dist. by PGW)

Modernist Women Poets: An Anthology, edited by Robert Hass and Paul Ebenkamp (Apr. 9, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1619021105). The 20th century was a time of great change, particularly in the arts, but seldom explored were the female poets of that time. Hass and Ebenkamp have put together a comprehensive anthology of poetry featuring the poems of Gertrude Stein, Lola Ridge, Amy Lowell, Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhov, and others.

Faber & Faber

(dist. by Macmillan)

The Bees by Carol Ann Duffy (Mar. 12, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0865478855). Duffy, one of the U.K.’s most cherished poets and a winner of the Costa Book Award, writes “beautiful and moving poetry for the real world” (the Guardian).

Rapture by Carol Ann Duffy (Mar. 12, paper, $14, ISBN 978-0865478862). A second collection, simultaneously published with The Bees. Winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize.

Farrar, Straus & Giroux

The Word on the Street: Rock Lyrics by Paul Muldoon (Feb. 19, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0374261085). A vibrant new collection of poems—that also double as rock songs—from the Pulitzer Prize–winning poet.

Song & Error by Averill Curdy (Mar. 19, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0374280611). A lush, lyrical debut from a vibrant new poetic voice.

Silverchest by Carl Phillips (Apr. 2, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0374261214). A bracingly beautiful new collection from the author of Double Shadow.

Metaphysical Dog by Frank Bidart (Apr. 30, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0374173616). A vital, searching new collection from one of the finest American poets at work today.

Graywolf Press

Incarnadine by Mary Szybist (Feb. 5, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1555976354). The highly anticipated second book by the poet Mary Szybist, author of Granted, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The Exchange by Sophie Cabot Black (May 7, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1555976415). The is the first collection in a decade from a poet of craft and cunning.

Belmont by Stephen Burt (June 11, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1555976446). A quirky poetic take on fatherhood and suburban life from Burt, one of the most important critics now writing, as well as one of the most interesting poets.

The Year of What Now by Brian Russell (July 9, paper, $15, ISBN 978-1555976484). A debut poetry collection by the winner of the Bakeless Poetry Prize.

Airmail: The Letters of Robert Bly and Tomas Tranströmer by Robert Bly and Tomas Transtromer (Apr. 2, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1555976392). Over 25 years of illuminating letters between the National Book Award–winning poet Robert Bly and the Nobel Prize–winning poet Tomas Tranströmer.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

New and Selected Poems: 1962–2012 by Charles Simic (Mar. 26, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0547928289). The first ever career-spanning volume of new and selected poetry from one of our most celebrated and acclaimed poets.

The Gone and the Going Away by Maurice Manning (Apr. 23, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-0547939957). Pulitzer finalist Manning returns us to the beloved and lamented lives and landscape of the hill people of his native Kentucky in this new book.

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner Books

A Clown at Midnight by Andrew Hudgins (June 11, paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0544108806). National Book Award finalist Hudgins offers a meditation on humor, ruminating on the consolations and terrors, delights, and discomforts of laughter.


The Oldest Word for Dawn: New and Selected Poems by Brad Leithauser (Feb. 19, hardcover, $27.95, ISBN 978-0307959652). From one of our most widely admired poets: a generous selection from his five acclaimed books of poetry, and an outstanding group of new poems.

Red Doc> by Anne Carson (Mar. 5, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0307960580). A follow-up to the internationally acclaimed poetry bestseller Autobiography of Red that takes its mythic boy-hero into the 21st century to tell a story all its own of love, loss, and the power of memory.


The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, trans. from the Italian by Clive James (Apr. 1, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0871404480). Renowned poet and critic James presents the crowning achievement of his career: a monumental translation of Dante’s The Divine Comedy.

The Fabliaux, translated by Nathaniel E. Dubin (June 10, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0871403575). Bawdier than The Canterbury Tales, The Fabliaux is the first major English translation of the most scandalous and irreverent poetry in Western literature.

The Late Parade by Adam Fitzgerald (June 17, hardcover, $23.95, ISBN 978-0871406743). The first debut collection of poetry from the recently relaunched Liveright imprint.


(dist. by PGW)

The Strangest of Theatres: Poets Writing Across Borders by Jared Hawkley, Susan Rich, and Brian Turner (Apr. 9, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1938073267). The Strangest of Theatres explores how poets who are willing to venture beyond our borders can serve as envoys to the wider world and revitalize American poetry in the process.

Open the Door: How to Excite Young People about Poetry by Dorothea Lasky, Jesse Nathan, and Dominic Luxford (Apr. 9, hardcover, $26, ISBN 978-1938073281). This one-of-a-kind mixture of essays, interviews, and lesson plans gathers the best thinking about how we can impart the value and joy of poetry to kids.

Milkweed Editions

(dist. by PGW)

The Hundred Grasses by Leila Wilson (Apr. 2, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1571314475). Wilson writes from the periphery of an open field in this extended investigation into longing and loss, love and doubt.

New Directions

(dist. by Norton)

Hello, the Roses by Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge (Apr. 24, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0811220910). Berssenbrugge makes her New Directions debut with this breathtaking new collection.

The Unknown University by Roberto Bolaño, translated by Laura Healy (May 24, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-0811219280). A deluxe edition of Bolaño’s complete poetry.

The Beautiful Contradictions by Nathaniel Tarn (June 28, paper, $10.95, ISBN 978-0811220958). An inspiring take on mythology, history, and anthropology.

Eiko and Koma by Forrest Gander (June 28, paper, $10.95, ISBN 978-0811220941). Pulitzer finalist Gander’s mesmerizing series of poems— hinging on a dance schematic—captures and extends Eiko & Koma’s performances with lyrical intensity and vividness.

Vale Ave by H.D. (June 28, paper, $10.95, ISBN 978-0811221078). A hymn to Eros that charts the course of two lovers who each seek the other across cultures, myths, and centuries from a major voice of literary Modernism.

New York Review Books

(dist. by Random House)

Alexander Vvedensky: An Invitation for Me to Think by Alexander Vvedensky, trans. from the Russian by Matvei Yankelevich and Eugene Ostashevsky (Apr. 2, paper, $12.95, ISBN 978-1590176306). Vvedensky was co-founder with Daniil Kharms of one of the most obscure, yet fascinating, playful, and revolutionary Russian avant-garde literary movements, dubbed OBERIU. His avowed task was “the poetic critique of reason,” and he claimed “time, death, and God” as the themes of his freewheeling poems.

Penguin Books

Gossamurmur by Anne Waldman (Mar. 26, paper, $18, ISBN 978-0143123088). A fascinating new work from an internationally renowned poet who crosses lines between performance, spoken word, and literary epic.

Anatomy of Melancholy and Other Poems by Robert Wrigley (Mar. 26, paper, $18, ISBN 978-0143123071). A powerful new collection from an award-winning poet.

The Big Smoke by Adrian Matejka (May 28, paper, $18, ISBN 978-0143123729). From a prize-winning poet, a new collection that examines the myth and history of the prizefighter Jack Johnson.

Princeton University Press

Glossary of Chickens by Gary J. Whitehead (Mar. 10, paper, $12.95, ISBN 978-0691157467). The latest volume in Paul Muldoon’s Princeton Studies of Contemporary Poets by a whimsical poet.


Best of the Best American Poetry: 25th Anniversary Edition, edited by David Lehman and Robert Pinsky (Apr. 9, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1451658873). Pinsky, distinguished poet and man of letters, selects his top 100 poems from 25 years of The Best American Poetry series.

University Of Chicago Press

The Figure of a Man Being Swallowed by a Fish by Joshua Weiner (Mar. 8, paper, $18, ISBN 978-0226017013). At the heart of Weiner’s new collection is a poem about Rock Creek, a tributary of the Potomac that runs through Washington, D.C.

Recalculating by Charles Bernstein (Mar. 22, hardcover, $25, ISBN 978-0226925288). This is the first full-length collection of new poems in seven years from this pioneer of the Language poetry movement.

Thresherphobe by Mark Halliday (May 1, paper, $18, ISBN 978-0226038704). In his sixth collection, Halliday continues to seek ways of using the smart playfulness of such poets as Frank O’Hara and Kenneth Koch to explore life’s emotional mysteries, both dire and hilarious.

University of Washington Press

Pacific Walkers by Nance Van Winckel (Apr. 1, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0295992815). Van Winckel’s poems take on the voices of the unheard, from John and Jane Does, dead in the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Records, to voices from the pages of a long-forgotten photo album found in a secondhand store. These moving poems span a multifaceted range of narrators.

Wave Books

(dist. by Consortium)

You Good Thing by Dara Wier (Apr. 2, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1933517674). In her first new collection of poetry since 2006, Wier contorts language in an attempt to define the undefinable. Her loose sonnets insist on a living language in the face of death, cycling and vibrant as the water that runs through them.

Flemish by Caroline Knox (Apr. 2, hardcover, $20, ISBN 978-1933517650). A new collection from a poet as quirky and odd as she is traditional.

Advice from 1 Disciple of Marx to 1 Heidegger Fanatic by Mario Santiago Papasquiaro, trans. from the Spanish by Cole Heinowitz and Alexis Graman (June 4, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1933517681). Fierce and visceral, Santiago’s poem is as canonical to Bolaño’s Infrarealism movement as Ginsberg’s “Howl” was to the Beats.

The Rose of January by Geoffrey Nutter (June 4, paper, $16, ISBN 978-1933517698). Casting a wide and strange net, Nutter offers an invitation into an artist’s secret empire.

Wesleyan University Press

(dist. by UPNE)

Sky Ward by Kazim Ali (Feb. 6, hardcover, $22.95, ISBN 978-0819573575). Drunk on the sun and the sea, these poems swoop linguistically, but ground themselves vividly in the daily and real. Ali sounds out the spaces between music and silence, between sky and ocean, between human and eternal, once again reinventing possibilities for the personal lyric and narrative.

Spells: New and Selected Poems by Annie Finch (Mar. 20, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0819572691). Finch’s mysterious voice moves through this collection, revealing insights on love, spirituality, death, nature, and the patterns of time. A feminist and pagan with an extraordinary love and knowledge of poetic craft, Finch has shaped her own innovative and radically traditional aesthetic.

My Life and My Life in the Nineties by Lyn Hejinian (Apr. 11, paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0819573513). This edition includes My Life, the seminal 45-part prose poem sequence first published in 1980, along with a closely related 10-part work titled My Life in the Nineties. This venture into the autobiographical genre explores the many ways in which language shapes our identity, and the world around us.

Yale University Press

Westerly by Will Schutt (Apr. 16, paper, $18, ISBN 978-0300188516). Schutt is the 2012 winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Competition, selected by Carl Phillips.

The Letters of T. S. Eliot: Volume 4: 1928–1929 by T. S. Eliot and Valerie Eliot, edited by John Haffenden (May 14, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-0300187243). T. S. Eliot writes the letters contained in this volume during a period of weighty responsibilities as husband and increasing demands as editor and publisher.