Art fails to be revolutionary if it fails to offer a big tent—if it fails to welcome and celebrate the lives of the dispossessed and the displaced, the invisible and the marginalized. Poetry can’t change the world on its own, but it’s a good place to start.
Mai Der Vang. Graywolf, Apr. 4
The 2016 Walt Whitman Award–winner devastatingly describes the Hmong exodus from Laos; the fate of thousands of refugees, including her family; and Hmong resilience in exile.
Jorie Graham. Ecco, May 2
Graham conjures an array of voices as she explores the limits of the human and the uneasy seductions of the posthuman in her most exhilarating, personal, and inventive work to date.
I Am Flying into Myself: Selected Poems, 1960–2014
Bill Knott, edited by Thomas Lux. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb. 14
Arranged by his friend, poet Thomas Lux, Knott’s work—encompassing surrealistic wordplay, the antipoem, sonnets, sestinas, and haikus—all convenes in this inventive and brilliant book.
The January Children
Safia Elhillo. Univ. of Nebraska, Mar. 1
Depicting displacement and longing while questioning geography, history, nationhood, and home, Elhillo explores the tensions generated by a hyphenated identity.
The Lazarus Poems
Kamau Brathwaite. Wesleyan Univ., June 6
Barbadian legend Brathwaite speaks of appropriation, theft, isolation, and exploitation within the context of an American hegemony intensified by racial politics and ageism.
Tommy Pico. Tin House, May 9
In this complementary volume to 2015’s IRL, Pico’s alter ego, Teebs, confronts the assimilationist, historical, colonial-white ideas that conflate American Indian people with nature.
Afaa Michael Weaver. Univ. of Pittsburgh, Feb. 15
Weaver revisits his origins as a factory worker in his native Baltimore, mining his own experience to chart the lives that inhabit the whole landscape of the American working class.
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé
Morgan Parker. Tin House, Feb. 14
Exploring 21st-century black American womanhood, Parker confronts media, consumption, feminism, and blackness as she weaves between personal narrative and pop culture criticism.
The Trembling Answers
Craig Morgan Teicher. BOA, Apr. 11
Teicher deals with the quotidian realities and responsibilities of art making and family life. His personal narratives illuminate tangled existences of poetry, marriage, and fatherhood.
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities
Chen Chen. BOA, Apr. 11
Interrogating the fragile, inherited ways of approaching love and family from Asian-American, immigrant, and queer perspectives, Chen charts his own path in identity, life, and love.
The Blessing of Dark Water by Elizabeth Lyons (Apr. 11, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-33-6) invokes the voice and perspective of American artist Walter Inglis Anderson, who struggled with bipolar disorder and psychotic episodes, to contend with the complexities of mental illness.
Daylily Called It a Dangerous Moment by Alessandra Lynch (June 13, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-65-7) examines the tensions between the realities of life after trauma and violence, and the beauty of everyday life. Lynch forces readers to recognize her speaker’s endless cycle of attempting to overcome the past without forgetting it.
Reaper by Jill McDonough (Apr. 11, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-26-8) takes a long, hard look at America’s drone program and the havoc it wreaks around the world. McDonough employs nonlinear timelines to explore the increasingly blurred boundaries between human and machine, and whether essential human qualities are being lost.
Lighthouse for the Drowning by Jawdat Fakhreddine, trans. by Jayson Iwen and Huda Fakhreddine (June 13, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-942683-39-1). A major voice in Lebanese and Arabic literature, Fakhreddine receives his first U.S. publication in this dual-language volume. It’s a breakthrough, revolutionary dialogue between foreign, modernist values and classic Arabic tradition.
The Trembling Answers by Craig Morgan Teicher (Apr. 11, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-942683-31-5) deals with the quotidian realities and responsibilities of art making and family life. Teicher’s personal narratives illuminate tangled existences of poetry, marriage, and fatherhood—including the anxiety and beauty of caring for a child with severe cerebral palsy.
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen (Apr. 11, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-942683-33-9) interrogates the fragile, inherited ways of approaching love and family from Asian-American, immigrant, and queer perspectives. Chen embraces the loss, grief, and joy that come with charting one’s own path in identity, life, and love.
Holy Ghost by David Brazil (May 16, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-714-7). Anarcho-socialism meets Christian mysticism in an Occupy veteran’s avant-garde poems. Brazil proposes love as a common denominator while exploring modern economic and social conditions, and recording the findings along the way.
In Memory of an Angel by David Shapiro (Apr. 11, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-713-0) is the first full-length collection in 15 years from a maestro of the second New York School. Shapiro’s erudite poems pursue art historical, architectural, and literary themes, achieving a rare combination of lyrical abstraction and postmodern self-referentiality.
Fugitive, in Full View by Jack Marshall (June 13, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-469-2) roots a lyrical, activist poetry in a deep appreciation for family, love, and beauty. Marshall draws linkages between past, present, and future to advocate for appreciating what we have, and being better stewards of it.
Thousand Star Hotel by Bao Phi (July 11, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-470-8). The father, refugee, activist, and National Poetry Slam finalist confronts the silence around racism, police brutality, and the invisibility of the Asian-American urban poor.
Hard Child by Natalie Shapero (Apr. 11, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-509-7). Musical and argumentative, deadly serious yet tinged with self-parody, Shapero’s poems spar with apathy, nihilism, and mortality, while engaging the rich territory of the 30s and new motherhood.
Where Now: New and Selected Poems by Laura Kasischke (Apr. 11, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-55659-512-7). This long-awaited selected volume presents the breadth of Kasischke’s probing and subversive vision, showcasing her command of the symbolic, with a keen attention to sound in her exploration of the everyday.
Fast by Jorie Graham (May 2, hardcover, $25.99, ISBN 978-0-06-266348-1) is her first new collection in five years and her most exhilarating, personal, and formally inventive to date. Graham conjures an array of voices as she explores the limits of the human and the uneasy seductions of the posthuman.
Scribbled in the Dark by Charles Simic (June 13, hardcover, $22.99, ISBN 978-0-06-266117-3). The Pulitzer Prize winner and former poet laureate brings his signature sardonic sense of humor, piercing social insight, and haunting lyricism to diverse and richly imagined landscapes in a collection of elegiac, irreverent, lyrical new poems.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Distant Mandate by Ange Mlinko (July 11, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0-374-24821-5). This shimmering and vibrant collection shows readers how literature imagines itself through life and how life reimagines itself through literature. Myth is central to these formally engaged poems and throughout Mlinko remains in constant motion.
I Am Flying into Myself: Selected Poems, 1960–2014 by Bill Knott, edited by Thomas Lux (Feb. 14, hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-0-374-26067-5). Arranged by his friend, poet Thomas Lux, Knott’s work—encompassing surrealistic wordplay, the anti-poem, sonnets, sestinas, and haikus—convenes in this inventive and brilliant book.
New Collected Poems by Marianne Moore, edited by Heather Cass White (June 20, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-374-22104-1) offers a way to represent the work of a skillful, singular poet who arranged and rearranged, visited and revisited, most of her existing poetry. Here’s a portrait of Moore’s voice, range, and the modernist culture she helped create.
Perception by Christina Pugh (Mar. 7, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-88-8). A suite of minimalist lyric poems punctuated by prose poems, this collection is rooted in observed objects. Poems inhabit the objects or entities that they contemplate, including paintings and shop signs as well as wallpaper and flower species.
Sacrum by Bruce Bond (Mar. 7, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-86-4) explores the mysteries of the flesh in terms both surreal and philosophical, scientific and metaphysical, personal and broadly cultural. The body, not unlike the mind, is haunted by a simultaneous distance and nearness, intimating some vast underworld for which there is no language.
Unfathoming by Andrea Cohen (Mar. 7, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-84-0) searches the shadow regions of yearning and loss, but takes surprising, sometimes meteoric leaps to land in a place where brightness reigns. Cohen strives to upend her title: to both acknowledge mystery, and, with wile and grace, comprehend it.
Afterland by Mai Der Vang (Apr. 4, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-770-2). The 2016 Walt Whitman Award winner, this collection recounts with devastating detail the Hmong exodus from Laos and the fate of thousands of refugees seeking asylum. Vang tells her family’s story and provides an essential history of the Hmong culture’s ongoing resilience in exile.
Lessons on Expulsion by Erika L. Sánchez (July 11, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-778-8). Poet, novelist, and essayist Sánchez tells her own story as the daughter of undocumented Mexican immigrants. Her debut collection explores what it means to live on both sides of the border—between countries, languages, despair and possibility, and the living and the dead.
Whereas by Layli Long Soldier (Mar. 7, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-767-2). Long Soldier, a member of the Oglala Lakota nation and a winner of the 2016 Whiting Writers’ Award for poetry, confronts the U.S. government in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes, reflecting its officious and duplicitous language back on its perpetrators.
My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter by Aja Monet (May 16, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-60846-767-9). In Monet’s ode to mothers, daughters, and sisters, readers will discover stunning poems that tackle racism, sexism, genocide, displacement, heartbreak, and grief as well as love, motherhood, spirituality, and Black joy.
A People’s History of Chicago by Kevin Coval (Apr. 11, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-60846-671-9) celebrates the history of this great city in the tradition of Howard Zinn, writing of Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods from the perspective of those on the margins, whose stories often go untold.
Orbit by Cynthia Zarin (Mar. 7, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-451-49472-6). Reminding readers that the atmosphere created by particular experiences helps shape and define the orbits people move through, Zarin turns her lyric lens on the worlds within worlds that people inhabit, and how we navigate shared societal predicaments.
Cold Pastoral by Rebecca Dunham (Mar. 14, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-478-9). Bringing the lyric and documentary together, Dunham delivers a searing, urgent collection that unmasks and examines the specter of manmade disasters, including the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the response to Hurricane Katrina, and the Flint water crisis.
Sycamore by Kathy Fagan (Mar. 14, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-473-4). Informed by scientific and mythological research on the sycamore tree, Fagan delivers precise, luminous insights on lost love, nature, and the process of recovery. It’s a rich, meditative collection that documents a painful loss and tenuous rebirth.
Debths by Susan Howe (June 27, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2685-1). The ever-electrifying Howe addresses memory, the “noumenal,” and “remoteness,” in a new collection inspired by, among other things, the art of Paul Thek, the Isabella Stewart Gardner collection, and early American writings.
Gondwana by Nathaniel Tarn (June 27, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2502-1). Demanding radical change in the face of environmental catastrophe, Tarn celebrates bird flight, waves, and innervating light. His collection takes the inverse path of its namesake as its disparate parts cohere into a unified whole.
Field Theories by Samiya Bashir (Apr. 4, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-63-2) wends its way through quantum mechanics, chicken wings, Newports, and love, melding blackbody theory with live Black bodies. Bashir weaves in a heroic crown of sonnets that wonders about love, intent, identity, hybridity, and how one embodies those interstices.
I Love It Though by Alli Warren (Mar. 7, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-60-1) looks hard at the material and affective world of today, including the ordinariness of the sublime and the sublimity and transcendence of the ordinary. Warren’s poems are committed to living in the present, delirious with outrage and hope for something better.
On Walking On by Cole Swensen (Apr. 4, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-66-3) strolls through the work of various writers for whom walking was or is an important element of life. The number of writers who were or are serious walkers is striking, and the connection stretches back to antiquity.
Galaxy Love by Gerald Stern (Apr. 4, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-393-25491-4). The National Book Award winner’s new collection span countries and centuries as he reflects on memory, aging, history, and mortality. These poems showcase the voice of an acclaimed poet celebrating the passions and rhythms of life.
Magdalene by Marie Howe (Mar. 28, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-393-28530-7) imagines the biblical figure of Mary Magdalene as a woman who embodies the spiritual and sensual, alive in a contemporary landscape. Howe’s speaker faces past traumas and navigates daily life, yearning for spiritual guidance.
Whereas by Stephen Dunn (Feb. 21, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-393-25467-9). Incisively capturing the oddities of logic and the whimsies of reason, Pulitzer Prize–winner Dunn considers with grace, humor, and gravity the superstition and sophistry embedded in everyday life.
Precis by José Felipe Alvergue (Apr. 4, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-030-4). In Alvergue’s poetic collage tracing the human effects of the U.S.-Mexico border, he shows the border to be simultaneously a policed realm, neoliberal market, an affective landscape of spectral echoes, and a geography of traces.
Rayfish by Mary Hickman (Apr. 4, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-031-1) adopts and synthesizes the genre conventions of lyric poetry, nonfiction, and criticism, and extends the possibilities of each. Hickman’s prose poems weave art and the body into the viscera of experience.
The Room in Which I Work by Andrew Seguin (Apr. 4, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-035-9). Evoking the life of Nicéphore Niépce, a pioneer of photography, Seguin explores how photography has provided lasting metaphors for how we think, write, and talk about what we see.
Map to the Stars by Adrian Matejka (Mar. 28, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-14-313057-4) navigates the tensions between race, geography, and poverty in America during the Reagan era. In Matejka’s poems, hope is the link between the convoluted realities of being poor and the inspiring possibilities of transcendence and escape.
Proprietary by Randall Mann (May 16, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-89255-481-2) critiques corporate culture, depicting the American materialism that erupted in the 1980s and has metastasized ever since. A daring formalist, Mann uses craft as a way to explore racy subjects with trenchant wit and aplomb.
The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded by Molly McCully Brown (Mar. 7, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-89255-478-2). Haunted by the voices of those committed to the notorious Virginia State Colony, this debut marks the emergence of a poet who grew up in the shadow of the colony, epicenter of the American eugenics movement.
Hothouse by Karyna McGlynn (June 13, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-941411-45-2) takes readers on a tour through the half-haunted house of the contemporary American psyche with wit, whimsy, and candid confession. With lush imagery and au courant asides, these poems surprise and delight.
Poems in the Manner Of by David Lehman (Mar. 7, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-5011-3739-6). The editor of the Best American Poetry series offers an homage to his inspirations, channeling poets from Walt Whitman to Sylvia Plath and also calling upon jazz standards, Freudian questionnaires, and even astrological profiles.
Nature Poem by Tommy Pico (May 9, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-941040-63-8) confronts the assimilationist, historical, colonial-white ideas that conflate American Indian people with nature. Pico’s alter ego, Teebs prefers city lights to the night sky and must reckon with his own identity as a young, queer, urban-dwelling, Indian poet.
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker (Feb. 14, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-941040-53-9) explores 21st-century Black American womanhood and its complexities through a political, pop culture–oriented framework. Parker confronts media, consumption, feminism, and Blackness as she weaves between personal narrative and criticism.
Univ. of Nebraska
The January Children by Safia Elhillo (Mar. 1, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8032-9598-8) depicts displacement and longing while also questioning accepted truths about geography, history, nationhood, and home. Elhillo explores Arabness and Africanness and the tensions generated by a hyphenated identity in those two worlds.
Univ. of Pittsburgh
Scald by Denise Duhamel (Feb. 15, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8229-6450-6) records a journey in which the poet takes on celebrity, sex, reproduction, and religion with her characteristic wit and insight. Duhamel wrestles with her feminist forebears as well as with pop culture figures, artists, and writers to understand our cultural moment.
Spirit Boxing by Afaa Michael Weaver (Feb. 15, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8229-6458-2) revisits his working-class origins as a factory worker in his native Baltimore. Weaver mines his own experience to build a wellspring of craft in poems that extend from his life to the lives that inhabit the whole landscape of the American working class.
Waiting for the Light: New Poems by Alicia Ostriker (Feb. 8, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8229-6452-0) plays host to questions that have no reply. Ostriker immerses herself in the chaos of modern life, in the midst of the dark matter and dark energy of the universe.
Of Mongrelitude by Julian Talamantez Brolaski (Apr. 11, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-940696-44-7) combines Latin, pop culture, etymology, politics, and sex in linguistic experimentation in poems that break language apart from the inside. Brolaski asks the reader to let go of expectations and be open to a sonically immersive experience.
The Others by Matthew Rohrer (May 16, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-940696-40-9). In a matryoshka doll of fictional episodes, readers follow a midlevel publishing assistant over the course of a day. Rohrer’s gripping, eerie, and hilarious novel-in-verse mesmerizes with wildly imaginative tales and resonant verse in a compelling love letter to storytelling.
Because When God Is Too Busy: Haiti, Me, & the World by Gina Athena Ulysse (Feb. 7, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-8195-7735-1). These poems, performance texts, and photographs meld into a lyrically vivid meditative journey that is unapologetic in its determination to name, embrace, and reclaim a revolutionary Blackness that has been historically stigmatized and denied.
The Lazarus Poems by Kamau Brathwaite (June 6, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8195-7687-3). Filled with longing, rage, nostalgia, impotence, wisdom, and love, these poems speak of appropriation, theft, isolation, and exploitation within the context of an American hegemony that intensifies the racial politics and ageism underlying the events described.
Trophic Cascade by Camille T. Dungy (Feb. 7, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8195-7719-1). In this fourth book in a series of survival narratives, Dungy writes of bringing a new life into the world even as her elders are passing on. These poems resonate at a time of massive environmental degradation, violence, and abuse of power.
Simulacra by Airea D. Matthews, (Mar. 28, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-0-300-22396-5). Winner of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets prize, Matthews’s debut crosses historical boundaries and speaks emphatically from a racialized America, where the trajectories of joy and exploitation, striving and thwarting, violence and celebration are constrained by differentials of privilege and contemporary modes of communication.