As marginalized communities whose lives have been deeply affected by battles over physical borders stake out more prominent positions in U.S. poetry, examining these borders has become a central concern.
Arcana: A Stephen Jonas Reader
Stephen Jonas, edited by Garrett Caples and Derek Fenner. City Lights, Apr. 16 (trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-791-8)
Jonas (1921–1970) was an influential, underground, gay African-American poet. This is the first selection to appear in 25 years from this pioneer of the serial poem and mentor to fellow poets.
Ron Padgett. Coffee House, July 2 (trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-549-1)
Written over one season in a Vermont cabin, these poems from the legendary Padgett use daily minutiae to consider consciousness and the passage of time in a clear light.
I: New & Selected Poems
Toi Derricotte. Univ. of Pittsburgh, Mar. 26 (trade paper, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-8229-6583-1)
Derricotte, who is widely recognized for her direct reckonings with history, identity, racism, and sexual themes, delivers her first new work since 2011 in what is also her first retrospective volume.
Harmony Holiday. Fence, June 18 (trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-944380-12-0)
Holiday, one of the most daring and innovative poets currently working, sets herself the task of writing an explicitly black female epic hero into the Western canon.
Morgan Parker. Tin House, Feb. 5 (trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-947793-18-7)
Parker delivers a third collection that connects themes of loneliness, displacement, grief, ancestral trauma, and objectification, while exploring troubling tropes and stereotypes of black Americans.
Paisley Rekdal. Copper Canyon, Apr. 12 (trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-567-7)
As she mulls themes of pain, violence, art, and voicelessness, Rekdal radically rewrites many of the myths central to Ovid’s Metamorphoses, updating many of his subjects while remaining true to the original work.
The Octopus Museum
Brenda Shaughnessy. Knopf, Apr. 9 (hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0-525-65565-7)
Shaughnessy’s gaze was fixed largely on her past in So Much Synth. Now, she turns to the future, imagining what follows the current age of environmental destruction, racism, sexism, and polarizing politics. (Shaughnessy is married to PW’s director of special editorial projects, Craig Teicher.)
Franny Choi. Alice James, Apr. 2 (trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-99-2)
Choi, a veteran of the slam circuit, investigates queer, Asian-American femininity in her second collection through a series of Turing test–inspired poems grounded by questions arising out of the intersections of technology, violence, erasure, gender, and loneliness.
The Tiny Journalist
Naomi Shihab Nye. BOA, Apr. 9 (hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1-942683-72-8)
Nye brings her Palestinian-American identity to the fore in a collection inspired by the story of Janna Tamimi, the “youngest journalist in Palestine.” Nye puts a human face on war and the violence that divides people.
The Year of Blue Water
Yanyi. Yale Univ., Mar. 26 (trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-0-300-24264-5)
The winner of the 2018 Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, Yanyi’s debut weaves together descriptions of experiences of immigration as a Chinese-American and of racism, mental wellness, and gender from a queer and trans perspective.
New-Generation African Poets: A Chapbook Box Set (Sita), edited by Kwame Dawes and Chris Abani (May 7, hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-1-61775-717-4). Akashic’s annual project to identify the best poetry written by African poets working today enters its fourth year with this limited edition box set that includes works by 10 poets.
To the Wren: Collected & New Poems by Jane Mead (June 4, trade paper, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-948579-01-8) chronologically follows the poet’s course through 27 years and seven books. Mead’s heartfelt reflections on loss, madness, danger, isolation, and self-identity weave pain and joy, entering spaces too often ignored.
Soft Magic by Upile Chisala (Feb. 26, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-1-4494-9954-9). Malawian storyteller Chisala blends poetry and prose in this five-part healing journey through aspects of the self, joy, blackness, gender, matters of the heart, spirituality, survival, and the experience of diaspora.
Tonguebreaker by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha (Apr. 9, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-55152-757-4) continues her excavation of working-class, queer, brown, femme survivorhood and desire in this fourth collection. The Lambda Literary Award winner dreams of an unafraid femme futures while living through hate crimes, the suicides of queer kin, and the rise of fascism.
How to Love a Country by Richard Blanco (Mar. 26, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-8070-2591-8). The renowned inaugural poet surveys immigration, gun violence, racism, LGBTQ issues, and more in poems that interrogate America’s past and present, grieve injustices and note flaws, and celebrate the country’s ideals and hopes.
When I Walk Through That Door, I Am by Jimmy Santiago Baca (Feb. 19, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-8070-5935-7). Poet-activist Baca immerses readers in an epic narrative poem that imagines the experience of motherhood in the context of immigration, family separation, and ICE raids along the U.S.-Mexico border.
Braille Rainbow by Mike Barnes (May 21, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-77196-221-6) draws on the poet’s own experience of mental illness and his years of caring for his mother in her dementia. Barnes traces perception across the sensory spectrum, as well as the arc of learning about the world and about oneself.
Night Angler by Geffrey Davis (Apr. 30, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-942683-78-0). The winner of the 2018 James Laughlin Award, Davis’s humorous, tender, and grace-filled second collection evolves as a love letter and rumination on what it means to raise family in America.
War/Torn by Hasan Namir (Apr. 10, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-77166-493-6) summons prayer, violence, and the sensuality of love in this brazen and lyrical examination of religion and masculinity. Namir revisits tenets of Islam and dictates of war to break the barriers between the profane and the sacred
More Gone: City Lights Spotlight No. 18 by Edmund Berrigan (May 14, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-766-6). Written in a distinctive mix of New York quotidian and postlanguage abstraction, Berrigan’s third collection and follow-up to his memoir Can It! documents the poet’s search for domestic tranquility amid the city that never sleeps.
All Day I Dream About Sirens by Domenica Martinello (Apr. 10, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-55245-382-7) sees the poet fall under a siren spell as she wrestles with enduring cultural fascinations with siren and mermaid narratives. Spanning geographies, economies, and generations, the work chronicles and reconfigures the male-centered epic as well as women’s bodies and subjectivities.
Exiles of Eden by Ladan Osman (May 7, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-544-6) looks at the biblical story of Adam and Eve, charting displacement and alienation from its mythological origins to the present in a formally experimental collection steeped in Somali narrative tradition.
The Hammer by Adelaide Ivanova, trans. by Chris Daniels (Apr. 1, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-934639-27-6). The Berlin-based Brazilian poet nails her bold proclamations to the forehead of a rape culture both literary and very real, creating spaces for intimacy amid a universe of oppressions.
Lima : : Limón by Natalie Scenters-Zapico (May 21, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-531-8) illuminates the sweet and sour of the immigrant experience through sharp verse and intense anecdotes as the poet sets her unflinching gaze on life as a woman on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
The Tradition by Jericho Brown (Apr. 2, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-55659-486-1) details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown distills poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma with stunning clarity.
No Matter by Jana Prikryl (July 23, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-984825-11-7) argues for the necessity of vision in a time of darkness, and captures the experience of being human in the late days of empire. Utilizing forms both traditional and invented, Prikryl voices the shifting anxieties and fortitude of the powerless.
The Chasers by Renato Rosaldo (May 3, trade paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-4780-0477-6) shares the experiences of the poet and his group of Mexican-American high school friends as they grew up, graduated, and fell out of touch, conveying the realities of Chicano life on the borderlands from the 1950s to the present.
Nouns & Verbs: New and Selected Poems by Campbell McGrath (Apr. 2, hardcover, $24.99, ISBN 978-0-06-285414-8) brings together 35 years of exapansive and imaginative writing, charting the territory the poet has explored and offering hints of where he’s headed in startlingly inventive new poems.
One Thing—Then Another by Claire Kelly (Apr. 16, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-77041-455-6) moves from east to west, flood to aridity, poverty to comfort, and small town to city in an accessible, funny collection that gets to the heart of the feelings of disruption that often accompany relocation.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Oblivion Banjo: Selected Poems by Charles Wright (Apr. 23, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-374-25101-7). This new selection spans Wright’s decades-long career to showcase his defining themes and images: the affinities between writer and subject, human and nature; the tenuous relationship between description and actuality; and the search for a truth that transcends change and death.
Skins of Columbus by Edgar Garcia (May 30, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-944380-10-6). Garcia records the results of a poetic experiment, based on reading Christopher Columbus’s journals from the three months of his first voyage to the Americas, designed to intervene in the psychic processes of colonialism and open new dreamscapes.
Birches by Carl Adamshick (Feb. 15, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-945588-24-2) toggles between internal reflections on loss and autobiographical narratives in a linked sequence of poems about the death of a family matriarch. Adamshick’s brief, conversational poems cross boundaries of time and consciousness into the realm of grief.
The Book of Ruin by Rigoberto González (Mar. 4, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-945588-32-7). What happened on this land and how does it shape the narrative of the days to come? González asks this crucial question to bring out long-hidden stories and reveal a more complete story of the Americas.
Is, Is Not by Tess Gallagher (May 7, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-841-9). Guided by humor, grace, and a deep inquiry into the natural world, Gallagher’s poems upend notions of linear time, evoke the spirit and sanctity of place, and hover at the threshold of language’s limits.
Little Glass Planet by Dobby Gibson (May 21, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-842-6) seeks to transform the everyday into the revelatory while exulting in the strangeness of the known and unknowable world. Gibson’s aphoristic, allusive, and collagic poems point past borders and toward collectivity.
Days & Days by Michael Dickman (Mar. 19, hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-525-65547-3). Driven by image and shape, Dickman’s meditation on days and how people live them in the 21st century touches on parenthood, childhood, local natural habitats, graffiti culture, roses, romantic love, and more.
Lethal Theater by Susannah Nevison (Feb. 18, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-8142-5516-2) interrogates the rituals of violence that underpin the American prison system, domestically and abroad. These poems expose the psychological and physical pain felt by the incarcerated, and complicate the act of bearing witness to the spectacle of punishment.
Tap Out by Edgar Kunz (Mar. 5, trade paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-1-328-51812-5) reckons with working-class heritage through poignant, troubling portraits of blue-collar lives, mental health in contemporary America, and what is conveyed and passed on through touch and words—whether violent or simply absent.
Another Last Day by Alex Lemon (Mar. 12, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-451-2) renders the moments of an ordinary day in raw, nearly hallucinatory detail. Lemon’s speaker seeks beauty amid grimness in a book-length sequence populated by visions and ghosts, and marked by a deep vulnerability.
Tsunami vs. the Fukushima 50 by Lee Ann Roripaugh (Mar. 12, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-485-7) takes a piercing, witty, and ferocious look into the Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster. Readers will meet its survivors and victims, as well as the figure of the tsunami, framed as part hero and part supervillain.
In Her Feminine Sign by Dunya Mikhail (July 30, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-8112-2876-3) slips between the poet’s childhood in Baghdad and her present life in Detroit, between ground zero and a mass grave, in a collection informed by the Arabic suffix ta-marbuta, which indicates a feminine word or sign.
Personal Volcano by Laura Moriarty (May 7, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-96-0). In this meditation on ecopoetics and climate change, Moriarty confronts the sublime physical presence of volcanoes, her own direct experience of them, and the history of volcano-related catastrophes around the world.
Pet Sounds by Stephanie Young (June 30, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-94-6). This long lyric poem about and against ownership probes the interface of property, sex, and family. Young digs into romantic love, kinship, class passing, nonhuman companions, urban development, literary tradition, and more.
A Frank O’Hara Notebook by Bill Berkson (Feb. 26, hardcover, $45, ISBN 978-1-949484-01-4) shares a personal account of Frank O’Hara in the prime of his creative life in New York, told through notes, images, and poems by his friend, the late poet Berkson (1939–2016).
Judgment Day by Sandra M. Gilbert (Mar. 12, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-393-35632-8). Bringing together the physical and metaphysical, the elegiac and the celebratory, Gilbert’s 10th collection features meditations on current events as well as the sacred turnings of time, great works of art, and the personal crises that reshape lives.
Rest in My Shade: A Poem about Roots by Nora Lester Murad and Danna Masad (Feb. 26, hardcover, $20, ISBN 978-1-62371-969-2) narrates a story of displacement, identity, and loss through the figure of an ancient olive tree. The book features artwork by 17 major Palestinian artists living around the world.
The Operating System
Opera on TV by James Brunton (June 1, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-946031-52-5) addresses the role of state institutions and economic structures in making individual lives intelligible, blending poetry and theory to examine the role of aesthetic practice in political subject formation, particularly for queer and trans subjects.
Transitional Object by Adrian Silbernagel (Apr. 14, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-946031-51-8) leads a poetic inquiry—informed by concepts from developmental psychology—into the conditions of personal identity or selfhood, calling into question ideas regarding gender, sexuality, religious beliefs, familial relations, and formative relationships.
The Crazy Bunch by Willie Perdomo (Apr. 2, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-14-313269-1) chronicles a weekend in the life of a group of friends coming of age in East Harlem at the dawn of the hip-hop era. Perdomo, a Spanish Harlem native, portrays his neighborhood through long couplets, vignettes, sketches, riffs, and dialogue.
Ridiculous Light by Valencia Robin (Mar. 12, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-89255-496-6). Winner of the 2018 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry, Robin’s debut peers back to a 1960s childhood in Milwaukee while examining family, race, and art in America today.
Mare Nostrum by Khaled Mattawa (June 11, trade paper, $10, ISBN 978-1-946448-36-1) hinges on an incantatory account of the refugee experience during Operation Mare Nostrum, conducted by the Italian government in 2013 to limit immigration from Africa and the Middle East to European countries.
A Sand Book by Ariana Reines (June 18, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-1-947793-32-3). Focusing on change and quantification, and the relationship between catastrophe and cultural transmission, Reines explores the negative space of what happens to language and consciousness in these strange and desperate times.
Lost Horizon by Nathaniel Farrell (Mar. 1, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-946433-25-1) spirals out from the retail utopia of the American mallscape—a composite of town square, garden, and space station—to catalogue the strange attractions found along America’s byways and within its cultural myths.
Motion Studies by Jena Osman (Mar. 1, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-946433-23-7). These three essay-poems begin as meditations on 19th-century science and end firmly as research into the present, with Osman exploring technologies of knowing other humans and the wider world.
Univ. of Nebraska
The Careless Seamstress by Tjawangwa Dema (Mar. 1, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-4962-1412-6). Winner of the 2018 Sillerman First Book Prize for African Poets, Dema’s debut examines the nature of power and resistance, using gender and labor as a point of departure to animate familiar tropes in unexpected ways.
Univ. of Pittsburgh
Every Ravening Thing by Marsha de la O (Apr. 2, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-0-8229-6575-6) reckons with the far-ranging consequences of violence, especially against women and girls, the freight carried by veterans, and the assault on the natural world in this epoch of the sixth extinction.
Univ. of Washington
Republic Café by David Biespiel (Feb. 1, hardcover, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-295-74453-7) meditates on love during a time of violence, tallying what appears and disappears from moment to moment in a single poetic sequence that details the experience of lovers on the eve of and days following Sept. 11, 2001.
Hear Trains by Caroline Knox (May 7, hardcover, $20, ISBN 978-1-940696-80-5). Knox places her striking diction and syntax on full display as she plumbs the depths of etymology, reading, art, and nature. Unlikely subjects—comma splices, cyanotypes, cupboards, and poppits—connect through shared language.
The Tiniest Muzzle Sings Songs of Freedom by Magdalena Zurawski (Apr. 2, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-940696-84-3). Balancing earnestness and experimentation, detail and abstraction, and lightness with darkness, Zurawski anchors the complexities of an interconnected world in the particulars of human experience.
Wayne State Univ.
Ragged Anthem by Chris Dombrowski (Mar. 11, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-8143-4653-2) delves into the transformation of family, childhood tragedies, and politics from the perspective of midlife. Dombrowski converses with other art forms and artists, and stretches language to its limits in describing the natural world.