The mainstream and the underrepresented, the indigenous and the immigrant, the modern and the ancient all find their space in poetry, in the play of language. These poets pose much-needed challenges to language and its operation.
Monica Youn. Graywolf, Sept. 6
A blackacre is a legal fiction, a hypothetical estate. It also marks a lawyer’s initiation into a centuries-old tradition of legal indoctrination. Youn uses it to suggest landscape, legacy, personal allotment—a tract of land, a work of art, a heritage, a body, a destiny.
Safiya Sinclair. Univ. of Nebraska, Sept. 1
Sinclair explores Jamaican childhood and history, race relations in America, womanhood, otherness, and exile. She evokes a home no longer accessible and a body at times uninhabitable.
Marie Ponsot. Knopf, Aug. 2
Ponsot’s stunning lifework is gathered in one volume, spanning 1956 to 2016. In examining the powerful underground life of women, her poetry is both practical and profound.
Anne Carson. Knopf, Oct. 25
Presented as individual chapbooks that can be read in any order and that float inside a transparent case, Carson’s latest mixes voices, time periods, and structures to explore in-between spaces.
House of Lords and Commons: Poems
Ishion Hutchinson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sept. 20
Hutchinson returns to the difficult beauty of the Jamaican landscape with remarkable lyric precision, arranging the contemporary continuum of home and abroad into a wonderment of cracked narrative sequences and tumultuous personae.
Tommy Pico. Birds LLC, Sept.
Pico asks what happens to a modern, queer, indigenous person alienated from ancestral language, religion, and history. Though compelled toward “boys, burgers, booze,” he begins to suspect there is perhaps a more ancient goddess calling to him through art.
Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001–2015
Rae Armantrout. Wesleyan Univ., Aug. 2
These potent, compact meditations on our complicated times reveal Armantrout’s observant sensibility, lively intellect, and emotional complexity. This generous volume affirms her reputation as one of our sharpest and most innovative writers.
Shara McCallum. Alice James, Jan. 10
McCallum’s poems bridge the gaps between life stages. Who shapes our identity, and who is in control here? How do we recognize, acknowledge, and honor the changing of who we are?
Lisa Robertson. Coach House, Oct. 11
Robertson takes up earlier concerns with form and literary precedent, and turns toward the timeliness of embodiment. Here the poem speaks with the body’s mortality, its thickness, its play.
Violet Energy Ingots
Hoa Nguyen. Wave, Sept. 13
In her first collection since Red Juice: Poems 1998–2008, Nguyen returns to poems of dailiness and raw humanity. Her language hops and skips, vivid with color, in turn political, ecological, funny, spiritual, and tender.
Contradictions in the Design by Matthew Olzmann (Nov. 15, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-27-5). These political poems employ humor to challenge American cultural norms, focusing primarily on racism, social injustice, and inequality. Simultaneously, the poems reach a deeper, personal level as Olzmann carefully deconstructs identity and the human experience, piecing them together with unflinching logic and wit.
House of Water by Matthew Nienow (Oct. 11, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-64-0). This debut highlights fatherhood at its peak as it juggles the uncertainty and deeper meaning of everyday life. The hesitant yet curious voice of the poems are deeply entrenched in the familial, yet also refreshingly open about the crush one feels when ideals crash down.
Madwoman by Shara McCallum (Jan. 10, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-28-2). Haunting, alarming, transformative, and elusive, McCallum’s poems bridge the gaps between life stages: girl, woman, and mother. Who shapes our identity, and who is in control here? How do we recognize, acknowledge, and honor the changing of who we are?
World of Made and Unmade by Jane Mead (Sept. 13, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-32-9). Mead’s fifth collection candidly and openly explores the long process that is death as she cares for her elderly mother in her final weeks of life. These resonant poems discover what it means to live, die, and come home again.
Human Achievements by Lauren Hunter (Oct., trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-0-9914298-5-1). Written in response to a Halina Pos´wiatowska poem that begins
“I think it’s hard to write poetry,” these poems deal with moments of mostly perceived (and a few actual) failures and the idea that human experience is, in and of itself, “success”—that, within those parameters, failure is necessary.
IRL by Tommy Pico (Sept., trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-9914298-6-8) asks what happens to a modern, queer, indigenous person alienated from ancestral language, religion, and history. Though compelled toward “boys, burgers, booze,” he begins to suspect there is perhaps a more ancient goddess calling to him through art.
The Day’s Last Light Reddens the Leaves of the Copper Beech by Stephen Dobyns (Sept. 13, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-942683-16-2). Focusing on the hard, ephemeral truth of mortality, these poems grip and guide readers into a state of empathy, raising the question of how one lives and endures in the world.
The End of Pink by Kathryn Nuernberger (Sept. 13, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-942683-14-8). Equal parts fact and folklore, these poems populated by strange characters—Bat Boy, automatons, taxidermied mermaids, snake oil salesmen, and Benjamin Franklin—look to the marvelous and the weird for a way to understand childbirth, parenthood, sickness, death, and joy.
Primitive: The Art and Life of Horace H. Pippin by Janice N. Harrington (Oct. 11, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-942683-20-9). Reflecting on the art and life of Horace H. Pippin—the best-known African-American artist of his time—Harrington critiques current perceptions surrounding African-American folk art, as well as the absence of key African-American history in present-day curricula.
And Then We Became by Devorah Major (Nov. 15, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-726-0). Reaching from the kitchen table to the stars, Major ruminates on humanness. Questions of culture, ethnicity, and gender—and the denial of their borders—infuse these poems, rich with social and political commentary, and filled with compassion, love, anger, and hope.
Save Twilight: Selected Poems: Pocket Poets No. 53 by Julio Cortázar, edited and trans. by Stephen Kessler (Aug. 9, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-709-3). A master of modern fiction, Cortázar was also a prolific poet who in his final months assembled his life’s work in verse. This new, expanded edition includes nearly 100 new pages of poems, prose, and illustrations.
3 Summers by Lisa Robertson (Oct. 11, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-55245-330-8) takes up her earlier concerns with form and literary precedent, and turns toward the timeliness of embodiment. What is form’s time? Here the form of life called a poem speaks with the body’s mortality, its thickness, its play.
Blindsight by Greg Hewett (Nov. 1, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-56689-448-7). In poems that are witty, touching, and introspective as well as formally inventive, readers find the poet losing his sight, becoming a parent, easing toward middle age with a sense of calm and inevitability.
So What So That by Marjorie Welish (Dec. 6, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-56689-456-2) uses the page not as a surface upon which to buoy language, but as a core construction of the poem, in visual and kinetic relationship with text. One of our most challenging and rewarding poets, the pleasure is to simply marvel.
The Tortoise of History by Anselm Hollo (Aug. 2, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-56689-444-9). In this posthumous collection from Finland-born poet and translator Hollo (1934–2013), the prolific avant-garde great’s spare, sly, lyrical acumen is on display a final time.
Banana Palace by Dana Levin (Oct. 11, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-55659-505-9) uses humor, jump-cut imagery, and pop culture references in preparation for the approaching apocalypse. Against a backdrop of Facebook, cat memes, and students searching their smartphones for a definition of the soul, Levin draws upon a culture of limited attention spans as it searches for greater spiritual meaning.
Imaginary Vessels by Paisley Rekdal, photos by Andrea Modica (Nov. 15, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-55659-497-7), questions how identity and being inhabit metaphorical and personified “vessels,” whether blown glass and soap bubbles or skulls unearthed at a mental institution. Rekdal’s intellectually inquisitive and carefully researched poems delight in sound, meter, and head-on engagement.
One Man’s Dark by Maurice Manning (Oct. 11, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-1-55659-474-8) searches through layers of dreams, imagination, and memory to reconnect with oneself and one’s place in the cosmos. Drawing deep from his Kentucky roots, Manning peoples his poems with ordinary and extraordinary rural characters, as he gives voice to a region well-loved and full of tradition.
Run the Red Lights by Ed Skoog (Nov. 15, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-503-5). These plainspoken poems rediscover the relationship between talking and thinking as they weave among enthusiastic jags about sex and love, theater, music, New Orleans, numbness, ghosts, wolves, history, violence, rescue, art, marriage, mothers, fathers, and children.
The Wug Test: Poems by Jennifer Kronovet (Oct. 11, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-0-06-256458-0). In a collection named for a method by which a linguist discovered how deeply imprinted the cognitive instinct toward acquiring language is in children, Kronovet questions whether words are objects we should escape from or embrace.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
House of Lords and Commons: Poems by Ishion Hutchinson (Sept. 20, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0-374-17302-9). The winner of the 2013 Whiting Writers’ Award in poetry returns to the difficult beauty of the Jamaican landscape with remarkable lyric precision. These poems arrange the contemporary continuum of home and abroad into a wonderment of cracked narrative sequences and tumultuous personae.
God’s Breath Hovering Across the Waters by Henry Israeli (Oct. 4, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-76-5) begins with Arno Penzias’s discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, from there exploding into a meditation on Israeli’s mother’s untimely and tragic death. Memories, history, war, horror movies, space exploration, and more expand and contract, intersect and repel, throughout the arc of the collection.
Off Message by Joel Brouwer (Oct. 4, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-78-9) probes the troubling corners of globalization with humor, pathos, and verve. Political without being preachy, contemporary without being cloying, funny without being flip, these poems are unafraid to implicate themselves: like us, their speakers are part of the problem, and their struggles highlight the absurdities of broadband capitalism.
The Off-Season by Jen Levitt (Oct. 4, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-77-2) grapples with the question of how to be in the world. Levitt’s poems are populated with signifiers—1990s TV shows, mix tapes, crosstown buses, winter beaches—that trace a trajectory from girlhood to adulthood and bring to the surface feelings and desires that ordinarily stay hidden.
Round Lake by Grace Bonner (Oct. 4, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-74-1) begins with an awakening in solitude, moving through a search for romantic love, and attempting to create a sense of home and family through art and travel. There are elegies: surviving a sibling’s drug addiction, and the losses of a father (to cancer) and a mother (to suicide).
Bestiary: Poems by Donika Kelly (Nov. 1, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-758-0). Winner of the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, Kelly’s debut of love, self-discovery, and travel is a catalogue of encounters with animals, legendary beasts, and mythological monsters—half human and half something else—including the whale and ostrich, the Pegasus and chimera, and the centaur and griffin.
Blackacre: Poems by Monica Youn (Sept. 6, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-750-4). The term blackacre is a legal fiction, a hypothetical estate. It also marks a lawyer’s initiation into a centuries-old tradition of legal indoctrination. Youn uses it to suggest landscape, legacy, personal allotment—a tract of land, a work of art, a heritage, a body, a destiny.
There Now: Poems by Eamon Grennan (Oct. 4, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-754-2). In these short poems of patient listening, looking, and responding, Grennan presents a world of brilliantly excavated moments, and his philosophic gaze manages to allow the ordinary facts of life to take on their own luminous glow.
Collected Poems by Marie Ponsot (Aug. 2, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-101-94767-8). The stunning lifework of this much-admired poet is gathered in one volume, spanning 1956 to 2016. Ponsot values the local and personal as a proving ground for the grand mysteries, and in examining the powerful underground life of women, her poetry is both practical and profound.
Float by Anne Carson (Oct. 25, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-101-94684-8). Presented as individual chapbooks that can be read in any order, and which float inside a transparent case, Carson’s latest mixes voices, time periods, and structures to explore the allure of people, memories, and stories when observed in suggestively in-between spaces.
The Last Shift: Poems by Philip Levine (Nov. 8, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-451-49326-2). The final, posthumous collection of new poems from one of our finest poets, the poems in this wonderful collection touch all of the events and places that meant the most to Levine (1928–2015).
Odes by Sharon Olds (Sept. 20, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-451-49362-0) follows the Pulitzer Prize–winning Stag’s Leap with a stunning book of odes, using the form to address many aspects of herself in a collection that is centered around the female body and female pleasures, and touches on parts of her own story that will be familiar from earlier works.
Not on the Last Day, but on the Very Last: Poems by Justin Boening (Oct. 11, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-487-1). Mothers masquerading as witches and sepulchral bellhops who reveal themselves to be fathers: in Boening’s debut collection, selected for the National Poetry Series by Wayne Miller, nothing is as it seems.
The Hideous Hidden by Sylvia Legris (Sept. 6, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2537-3). In her first full-length collection published in the U.S., the Griffin Prize–winner probes and peels, carves and cleaves, amputates and dissects, to reveal the poetic potential of human and animal anatomy. It’s a richly lyrical collection of poems exploring the body’s minutiae.
New York Review Books
The If Borderlands: Collected Poems by Elise Partridge (Sept. 20, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-68137-036-1). Partridge (1958–2015), who was born in the U.S. but spent her adult years in Canada, was widely admired for her meticulous, glittering craft and scrupulous truth-to-life poems. This posthumous collection includes all her published work, and poems left at the time of her death.
Fleshgraphs by Brynne Rebele-Henry (Sept. 6, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-54-0). A visceral engagement with the politics and poetics of girlhood by a 14-year-old author, these lyrical, experimental, satirical prose fragments enact a potent exploration of queerness, girlhood, and illness against a backdrop of Internet and rape culture.
Hotel ABC by Susan Gevirtz (Oct. 4, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-57-1). Poetry fieldwork done in the trenches of daily life, these poems function as ethnographic notes, exposing the fact that we are all under the thumb of circadian rhythm, struggling to negotiate our shared condition.
Threnody by Juliet Patterson (Oct. 4, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-55-7). Part lamentation, part ode, this urgent and scintillating second collection by poet and activist Patterson examines the beauty and violence of our present ecological moment with a lyric and meditative eye.
Anybody: Poems by Ari Banias (Sept. 20, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24779-4) takes up questions of recognition and belonging: how boundaries are drawn and managed; the ways he and she, us and them, here and elsewhere are kept separate; and at what cost identities and selves are forged.
The Field by Robert Andrew Perez (Oct. 4, trade paper, $11.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-029-8) traces the “I” across a constellation of lyric psychodramas, the voice navigating the traumas of embodiment and the impulses of the out-of-body experience. Perez’s debut addresses the perils of love in an age of persistent angst, or the virtues of love from a persistently anxious mind.
Güera by Rebecca Gaydos (Oct. 4, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-024-3) traces the way touristic desire, folklore, and stereotype transform the languages we speak and the bodies we inhabit. Invoking a Mexican slang term that translates roughly as “white girl,” Gaydos considers how the body’s meaning as a racialized, gendered, and sexualized surface shifts as it crosses borders.
House A by Jennifer S. Cheng (Oct. 4, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-023-6) investigates the tones and textures of immigrant home-building by asking: how is the body inscribed with a cosmology of home, and vice versa? Selected by Claudia Rankine as winner of the 2015 Omnidawn 1st/2nd Book Contest.
Ocular Proof by Martha Ronk (Oct. 1, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-025-0). Taking her title from Shakespeare’s Othello, a play that questions the veracity of what eyes actually see, Ronk explores not only what each of us sees, but also how photographs modify sight as they simultaneously capture, distort, frame, and encourage discovery.
The Sobbing School by Joshua Bennett (Sept. 27, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-14-311186-3). Selected as a winner of the National Poetry Series by Eugene Gloria, Bennett’s mesmerizing debut collection presents songs for the living and the dead that destabilize and defamiliarize representations of black history and contemporary black experience.
Stairway to Heaven by Alison Deming (Sept. 27, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-0-14-310885-6) explores dimensions of grief and renewal after losing her brother and mother. Grounded in her communion with nature and place, she finds a spirit of inventiveness that becomes consolation for losses in family and nature, a means to build again a sense of self and world.
Wannabe Hoochie Mama Gallery of Realities’ Red Dress Code: New and Selected Poems by Thylias Moss (Sept. 13, hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-0-89255-475-1). This new volume from the innovative Moss, a sort of taxonomist-preacher, gathers substantial selections from her previous books and follows them with more than 50 pages of daring new work.
Your Enzymes Are Calling the Ancients: Poems by Karen Donovan (Oct. 18, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-89255-476-8). Published more than 15 years after her Juniper Prize–winning first book, Fugitive Red, the poems in Donovan’s second collection continue to mine the language and systems of science and social science as a way of portraying our lineage of experience.
Scaffolding: Poems by Eléna Rivera (Nov. 1, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-0-691-17226-2) uses the English sonnet as a scaffold to explore daily events, observations, conversations, thoughts, words, and memories—and to reflect on the work of earlier poets and the relationship between life and literature.
The Heronry by Mark Jarman (Jan. 10, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-941411-35-3). Ordinary people seek connections to the natural world and each other in a collection that presents a series of spiritual encounters in the form of praise poems, lyric portraiture, and meditations on faith and belief.
Univ. of Nebraska
Cannibal by Safiya Sinclair (Sept. 1, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-0-8032-9063-1). Colliding with and confronting The Tempest and postcolonial identity, Sinclair’s poems explore Jamaican childhood and history, race relations in America, womanhood, otherness, and exile. She evokes a home no longer accessible and a body at times uninhabitable, often mirrored by a hybrid Eve/Caliban figure.
Power Ballads by Garrett Caples (Sept. 13, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-940696-36-2). A power ballad was a hair metal band’s voyage into soft rock, compromising the integrity of the former, but genuine and trailblazing. Caples’s poems and prose pieces are similarly bizarre and hilarious, in which Dylan and Bowie sit alongside the French surrealists, with occasional turns into heartfelt romanticism.
Violet Energy Ingots by Hoa Nguyen (Sept. 13, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-940696-34-8). In her first collection since Red Juice: Poems 1998–2008, Nguyen returns to poems of dailiness and raw humanity. Her language hops and skips, vivid with color, in turn political, ecological, funny, spiritual, and tender.
Archeophonics by Peter Gizzi (Sept. 6, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8195-7680-4). Archeophonics, defined as the archeology of lost sound, is one way of understanding the role and the task of poetry: to recover the buried sounds and shapes of languages in the tradition of the art, and the multitude of private connections that lie undisclosed in one’s emotional memory.
Partly: New and Selected Poems, 2001–2015 by Rae Armantrout (Aug. 2, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-8195-7655-2). These potent, compact meditations on our complicated times reveal Armantrout’s observant sensibility, lively intellect, and emotional complexity. Including some of her most brilliant pieces, this generous volume affirms Armantrout’s reputation as one of our sharpest and most innovative writers.