The poetry oracle offered us a vision in which the all-knowing spirits advised us to save our money for early September and make room on our poetry shelves, because clearly we’re going to need it.
The Complete Poems of A.R. Ammons: Vols. 1 & 2
A.R. Ammons, edited by Robert M. West. Norton, Oct. 31
The rich, startling body of work of this American innovator is authoritatively presented as a whole for the first time, including more than 100 previously uncollected poems.
Don’t Call Us Dead
Danez Smith. Graywolf, Sept. 5
Smith transcends elegy in this intimate, humorous, and biting collection in which he writes of desire, mortality, white supremacy, and more.
I Know Your Kind
William Brewer. Milkweed, Sept. 12
Appalachian poverty and American opioid addiction receive empathetic treatment in Brewer’s blistering yet beautiful debut collection.
Sam Sax. Penguin, Oct. 3
Sanity, heterosexuality, masculinity, normality, and more come under scrutiny in Sax’s debut, an exploration of addiction, desire, and mental health.
Nicole Sealey. Ecco, Sept. 12
Sealey’s lithe, musical, and elegant debut turns particularities of race, sexuality, gender, myth, history, and embodiment into a universal examination of the human condition.
Evie Shockley. Wesleyan Univ., Sept. 5
Insisting on the power of art, Shockley traces the various forms of violence that cross racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexual, national, and linguistic boundaries.
Christine Kitano. BOA, Sept. 12
Using family history as a springboard, Kitano illuminates aspects of the immigrant experience and speaks for the silenced and displaced.
Javier Zamora. Copper Canyon, Sept. 12
Zamora contends with the realities of borders and immigration, having traveled himself unaccompanied from El Salvador to the U.S. at age nine.
We’re On: A June Jordan Reader
Edited by Christoph Keller and Jan Heller Levi. Alice James, Sept. 12
This volume of poetry, prose, letters, and more reveals the depth of Jordan’s expansive political vision and moral witness.
While Standing in Line for Death
CAConrad. Wave, Sept. 12
Responding to the murder of his boyfriend, Conrad developed a new series of (Soma)tic poetry rituals, detailed here along with their resulting poems.
Miami Century Fox by Legna Rodríguez Iglesias, trans. by Eduardo Aparicio (Nov. 7, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-61775-589-7). This smart, delightful, and seductive dual-language (Spanish and English) collection by the 2017 winner of the Paz Prize for Poetry is a loving and sly portrait of Miami and the immigrant experience in the 21st century.
Calling a Wolf a Wolf by Kaveh Akbar (Sept. 12, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-67-1). This highly anticipated debut boldly confronts addiction and traces the strenuous path of recovery. Akbar details craving, control, the battle for sobriety, and the questioning of the self and its instincts within the context of this constant fight.
We’re On: A June Jordan Reader, edited by Christoph Keller and Jan Heller Levi (Sept. 12, trade paper, $21.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-35-0). Poet, activist, and essayist Jordan (1936–2002) was a prolific, pioneering black American writer of expansive political vision and moral witness. Featuring poetry, prose, letters, and more, this volume reveals the scope, complexity, and novelty of her work.
Hanging on Our Own Bones by Judy Grahn (Aug. 15, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-9890361-3-9) gathers seven nine-part poems from throughout the Lambda Award winner’s illustrious career. Grahn weaves real-life with goddess mythology to construct modern interpretations of the lamentation form and arouse a meaningful social critique.
Wild Beauty: New and Selected Poems by Ntozake Shange (Nov. 14, hardcover, $21, ISBN 978-1-5011-6993-9). The poet, novelist, and playwright draws from her experience as a feminist black woman in America to craft unapologetic, deeply emotional, groundbreaking poems in English and Spanish about pain, beauty, and color.
R E D by Chase Berggrun (Nov. 7, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-9914298-8-2). Erasing Bram Stoker’s Dracula all the way down to its psychoanalytic residue, Berggrun unearths a narrative of both gender transition and the uncanny political and metaphysical transitions entailed by the metamorphosis of individual into chorus.
The Living Theatre by Bianca Tarozzi, trans. by Jeanne Foster and Alan Williamson (Nov. 14, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-942683-51-3). In this first U.S. publication, the celebrated Italian poet vividly chronicles Italy’s rich history from her childhood memories of WWII under Mussolini, through harsh postwar conditions and mid-century changes, to the present.
Sky Country by Christine Kitano (Sept. 12, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-942683-43-8) channels real and imagined immigration experiences of family members from Korea and Japan. Kitano’s poems speak for the historically silenced and displaced, and elicit longing for home and hunger for human connection.
Carnegie Mellon Univ.
Sometimes We’re All Living in a Foreign Country by Rebecca Morgan Frank (Oct. 17, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-88748-625-8) blurs personal and regional histories through the paths of tornadoes, guns, suburban sprawl, and the urge to escape the place from where one comes. Frank voices the perpetual outsider’s search for a sense of place.
Heaven Is All Goodbyes: Pocket Poets No. 61 by Tongo Eisen-Martin (Sept. 12, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-745-1) ranges from corner store to dilapidated school, downtown alley to prison, recording the voices that struggle in postindustrial black America. Eisen-Martin captures the choir living in oppression and transience, invisible to and dismissive of the mainstream bourgeoisie.
Invocation to Daughters: City Lights Spotlight No. 16 by Barbara Jane Reyes (Nov. 14, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-747-5). Writing in an English inflected with Tagalog and Spanish, the feminist experimental poet offers prayers, psalms, and odes for Filipina girls and women trying to survive and make sense of their own situations.
My Ariel by Sina Queyras (Oct. 10, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-55245-354-4) reimagines and engages directly with Sylvia Plath’s classic text, poem by poem. Queyras investigates and breaks open the cultural norms and poetic forms and procedures that can define women’s lives.
Beneath the Spanish by Victor Hernandez Cruz (Oct. 10, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-489-0) probes how languages intersect and inform each other, as well as how language and music shape experience. Cruz moves from his native Puerto Rico to Manhattan and Morocco, singing his personal history.
Thousands by Lightsey Darst (Nov. 14, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-492-0). In these precise, rich, confessional poems, Darst wrangles with the types of common moments in life that tend to feel forbidding, overwritten, underwritten, or silenced.
Barbie Chang by Victoria Chang (Nov. 14, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-516-5) explores racism, sexism, and the disillusionment of love through a reimagining of Barbie. Chang unmasks Barbie’s cultural artifice, raising to greater prominence the struggles of Asian-American experience
Unaccompanied by Javier Zamora (Sept. 12, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-511-0). The author was nine years old when he traveled 4,000 miles unaccompanied, from El Salvador to the U.S., to be reunited with his parents. He imbues the hot-button political issues of immigration and border crossings with heart-wrenching intimacy and firsthand experience.
Ordinary Beast by Nicole Sealey (Sept. 12, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-0-06-268880-4). Virgin Islands–born and Florida-raised, Sealey examines race, sexuality, gender, myth, history, and embodiment in these intellectual, experiential, and playfully subversive poems. Sealy’s eyes are ever open to the natural world, to the pain and punishment of existence, to the origins and perils of humankind.
Faber & Faber
Stranger, Baby by Emily Berry (Aug. 7, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-571-33132-1) expresses love, anger, tenderness, and violence in poems powered by grief. Berry’s poems relate mourning, recrimination, exhilaration, and the space where familiarity meets strangeness and despair becomes a kind of celebration.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
A Scattering and Anniversary by Christopher Reid (Oct. 10, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0-374-25426-1) pairs the U.K. poet’s 2009 collection, a lamentation for his late wife, with new poems written to commemorate the 10th anniversary of her death. Reid explores the stages of grief and the emptiness that remains after bereavement.
So Where Are We? by Lawrence Joseph (Aug. 22, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0-374-26667-7) encounters the 21st century’s issues of political economy, labor and capital, racism, and war. Joseph presents an intimate, sensuous language of beauty and love for the post-9/11 era.
The Children Are Reading by Gabriel Fried (Sept. 5, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-94-9). These poems are written through the lens and with the cadences of children (or adults trying to remember being children). Fried inhabits childhood spaces, physical and imaginative, through the looking-glass of grownup longing.
Starshine & Clay by Kamilah Aisha Moon (Sept. 5, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-95-6). Addressing tough circumstances tenderly, Moon writes what we inherit in life, what we create, what shapes us, and what’s possible. Imbued with a tenacious hope, Moon’s poems run the gamut between human striving and suffering.
Advice from the Lights by Stephen Burt (Oct. 3, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-789-4). Stephen is sometimes Stephanie and sometimes wonders how his past and her past are their own collective memory. Burt’s collection is part nostalgia, part confusion, and part ongoing interrogation of the nature of adulthood.
Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith (Sept. 5, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-785-6) confronts America, where every day is too often a funeral and rarely a miracle. Striving to replace grief and suspicion with love and longevity, Smith writes of desire, mortality and an HIV positive diagnosis, as well as forms of racial violence, particularly police brutality.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Collected Poems by Galway Kinnell (Dec. 5, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-544-87521-0) brings together for the first time the life’s work of this Pulitzer Prize winner, MacArthur Fellow, and National Book Award winner. Spanning 65 years of intense, inspired creativity, this volume, which includes previously uncollected poems, is an essential collection.
Silencer by Marcus Wicker (Sept. 5, trade paper, $15.99, ISBN 978-1-328-71554-8) crosses the personal and the political as modern hip-hop meets traditional verse. In Wicker’s Midwest the muzzle is always on, and silence and daily microaggressions chafe at the faith of a young man grieved by images of gun violence and police brutality.
Love in the Last Days: After Tristan and Iseult by D. Nurkse (Sept. 12, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-451-49480-1). The former poet laureate of Brooklyn reconsiders the Tristan and Iseult story as an earthy yet elegant contemporary requiem. Nurkse produces an Iseult who has more power than she wants over Tristan’s imagination, and a Tristan who early on recognizes his fate.
Poet in Spain by Federico Garcia Lorca, trans. by Sarah Arvio (Nov. 7, hardcover, $40, ISBN 978-1-5247-3311-7). This is a major new translation of the poetry of Lorca.
I Know Your Kind by William Brewer (Sept. 12, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-495-6). Selected for the 2016 National Poetry Series by Ada Limón, this blistering debut reveals the depths of the American opioid epidemic and poverty in Appalachia. Brewer demonstrates empathy for the lost and the bereaved, the enabled and the enabler, the addict and the burdened family.
The Interrogation by Michael Bazzett (Sept. 18, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-493-2). In this darkly humorous and unsparingly honest catechism of the self, Bazzett ponders the cruelties and wonders of a modern life. These poems are surreal and vulnerable, suffused with yearning, uncertainty, and desire.
A Good Cry: What We Learn from Tears and Laughter by Nikki Giovanni (Oct. 24, hardcover, $19.99, ISBN 978-0-06-239945-8) offers readers an intimate, affecting, and illuminating look at Giovanni’s personal history and the mysteries of her heart. She describes the joy and peril of aging, recalls the violence of her parents’ life, and pays homage to her influences and students.
Magnetic Point: Selected Poems by Ryszard Krynicki, trans. by Clare Cavanagh (Sept. 15, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2500-7). With this splendid selection from a half-century of marvelous poems, a major Polish poet appears in English at last. A distinctive combination of mysticism, compression, and wit shapes Krynicki’s writing, from the early dissident poems to his late haiku.
Time of Gratitude by Gennady Aygi, trans. by Peter France (Dec. 15, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2719-3). This moving collection from Aygi, compiled by his longtime translator and friend, pays tribute to some of the writers and artists who sustained the great Russian poet through hardships from the 1960s into the early 1990s.
New Issues Poetry & Prose
Subwoofer by Wesley Rothman (Oct. 17, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-936970-50-6) makes audible the deep bass of history through poems of vibrant, honest listening. Rothman explores the ways that race, privilege, history, and music comment on one another, and intertwine.
Silk Poems by Jen Bervin (Oct. 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-72-4) takes silk as subject and form, exploring its cultural, scientific, and linguistic complexities. Bervin’s composition corresponds to the DNA structure of silk, modeled on the way a silkworm applies filament to its cocoon.
Some Beheadings by Aditi Machado (Oct. 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-73-1) examines the geophilosophy of lyric poetry. Machado projects her mind into the landscape, asking three questions: “How does thinking happen?” “What does thinking feel like?” “How do I think about the future?”
The Complete Poems of A.R. Ammons: Vol. 1, 1955–1977 by A.R. Ammons, edited by Robert M. West (Oct. 31, hardcover, $49.95, ISBN 978-0-393-07013-2). One of the 20th century’s most innovative and enduring bodies of poetry is collected in its entirety for the first time, from Ammons’s visionary 1955 debut through his daring work of the 1970s.
The Complete Poems of A.R. Ammons: Vol. 2, 1978–2005 by A.R. Ammons, edited by Robert M. West (Oct. 31, hardcover, $49.95, ISBN 978-0-393-25489-1). The second volume rounds out Ammons’s rich middle phase and startling later work. The complete edition offers authoritative texts of every published poem and includes more than 100 previously uncollected poems.
Sun in Days by Meghan O’Rourke (Sept. 19, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-393-60875-5) gives voice to the experience of illness, the permanence of loss, and recuperative moments of grace. O’Rourke considers the frailty of the body, the longing for a child, and the philosophical questions raised when the biological self goes dramatically awry.
from unincorporated territory [lukao] by Craig Santos Perez (Oct. 3, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-041-0). Native Chamorro poet Santos Perez unveils the fourth book in his series about his homeland, Guåhan (Guam), and his current home, Hawaii. He utilizes eco-poetic, decolonial, diasporic, indigenous, documentary, epic, and avant-garde modes to weave stories of creation, birth, migration, food sovereignty, and parenting.
Of Annunciations by Ewa Chrusciel (Oct. 3, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-039-7) maps the biblical event of annunciation onto the current migration crises. Chrusciel’s series of prayers, laments, and lullabies quivers on the brink between openness to the other and the terror the other brings out in us.
Madness by Sam Sax (Oct. 3, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-14-313170-0). Selected for the 2016 National Poetry Series by Terrance Hayes, Sax’s debut explores and explodes the linkages between desire, addiction, and the history of mental health. These poems trouble the static categories of sanity, heterosexuality, masculinity, normality, and health.
Rift of Light by William Logan (Oct. 3, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-14-313182-3). The dry, witty, skeptical, dark, and acidic poems of Logan’s 11th collection prove a constant and informing delight. A master of free verse as well as formal poetry, Logan showcases powerful feeling embedded in language.
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver by Mary Oliver (Oct. 10, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-399-56324-9). The Pulitzer Prize winner presents a personal selection of her best work in this definitive collection spanning more than five decades. Oliver provides readers with an extraordinary collection of her passionate, perceptive, and much treasured observations of the natural world.
Radioactive Starlings by Myronn Hardy (Oct. 17, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-0-691-17709-0). In these formally varied poems, Hardy explores the complexities of transformation, cultures, and politics, as well as divergences between the natural world and technology, asking what progress means when it destroys the places that sustain us.
Witch Wife by Kiki Petrosino (Dec. 12, hardcover, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-946448-03-3) captures the poet conjuring spells, obsessive incantations to exorcise or celebrate memory, to mourn the beloved dead, to conjure children or keep them at bay, and to faithfully inhabit one’s given body. Petrosino’s poems are also concerned with womanhood in America, particularly women of color.
The Bosses by Sebastian Agudelo (Oct. 17, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-9899797-4-0) focuses on the seen and unseen authority figures who dictate the boundaries of our lives, contemplating power structures from a historical exploration of the role authority plays in our lives to the current managerial culture.
Commodore by Jacqueline Waters (Oct. 1, trade paper, ISBN 978-1-937027-91-9). In this book about care, Waters reveals both its multidirectionality and the hierarchy it creates. The poems are about coming very close to your subject, intent on discerning shades of sentiment, full of nostalgia for things you didn’t really enjoy when they happened.
Univ. Of Iowa
Attributed to the Harrow Painter by Nick Twemlow (Nov. 1, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-60938-541-5) reckons with fatherhood, the violence of nostalgia, poetry, and the commodity world of visual art as his poems frantically cycle through responses to the speaker’s son’s remark on a painting by Julian Schnabel that it “looks like garbage.”
Supply Chain by Pimone Triplett (Nov. 1, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-60938-537-8). Equal parts celebration and lament for the mechanisms humans shape and are shaped by, Triplett’s extravagantly musical works reveal the poet as an entangled mediator among registers of public and private, intimate and historical, voicings.
Univ. of Pittsburgh
Darwin’s Mother by Sarah Rose Nordgren (Nov. 1, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8229-6516-9). With a keen sense of irony that rejects anthropocentrism, and an imagination that is both philosophical and playful, Nordgren delivers poems marked by a tireless curiosity about the intricate workings of life, consciousness, and humankind’s place in the universe.
In the Still of the Night by Dara Wier (Oct. 10, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-940696-56-0). This raw and fluid exploration of grief records Wier’s reckoning with the unraveling of her world and her new consciousness after a great loss, doing so with intelligence, clarity, honesty, and immediacy.
While Standing in Line for Death by CAConrad (Sept. 12, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-1-940696-54-6). After his boyfriend Earth’s murder, Conrad developed new (Soma)tic poetry rituals to overcome his depression. This new book details those rituals and their resulting poems, along with other political actions and exercises that testify to poetry’s ability to reconnect alienated humans to their planet.
semiautomatic by Evie Shockley (Sept. 5, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8195-7743-6) insists that art can feed the spirit and reawaken the imagination. Shockley’s poems trace a vast web of connections between the kinds of violence that affect people across racial, ethnic, gender, class, sexual, national, and linguistic boundaries.
Correction: An earlier version of this review misstated the title of the book Starshine & Clay.