Classic poets and newer voices offer solace and thought-provoking commentary for modern readers.
Edited by Susan Barba, illus. by Leanne Shapton (Abrams) $29.99
Organized by species and botanical family, this compendium of poems, essays, and letters spans from the 18th century to the present. Works by Lucille Clifton, Natalie Diaz, T.S. Eliot, Louise Glück, Walt Whitman, and many others comprise a literary field guide illustrated with abstract watercolors.
A Hundred Lovers
Richie Hofmann (Knopf) $29
For those who aren’t afraid of all the feels: in a collection that bears witness to the richness of sexuality and explores the entrapments of shame, the devastation of heartbreak, and the difficult emotional work that relationships require, Hofmann catalogs the tastes, textures, scents, and sounds of queer love, sex, and heartache.
Charles Baudelaire, trans. from the French by Richard Sieburth (Yale Univ.) $30
Sieburth, professor emeritus of English, French, and comparative literature at NYU, brings together and provides context for the first English collection of unfinished works written in the last six years of Baudelaire’s life. The great modernist’s dyspeptic musings are a tonic for anyone suffering from a surfeit of holiday cheer.
Ovid, trans. from the Latin by Stephanie McCarter (Penguin Classics) $38
The first female translator of the epic in more than 60 years, classicist McCarter speaks not just to other academics but to a broad readership. She clarifies the language around Ovid’s explorations of power, violence, and gender, illuminating what ancient verse can reveal about the current moment and how art can be used as a way of
Edited by Henry Hughes (Everyman’s Library) $18
Deltas, rapids, riverbeds, and more get their due in this anthology, whose works span themes, continents, and millennia: “Hymn to the Nile” is an ancient appreciation of the lifeblood of Egypt; John Dryden observes “the silver Thames” in “London After the Great Fire, 1666”; and former U.S. poet laureate Natasha Tretheway recounts a fly-fishing trip in Canada with her father in 2012’s “Elegy.”
Time Is a Mother
Ocean Vuong (Penguin Press) $24
Critically lauded as well as commercially successful, MacArthur “genius grant” recipient Vuong returns to poetry after the 2019 novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous. His second collection considers the reverberations of his mother’s death in poems that speak to grief, family, the power of memory, and the personal and public aspects of American life.
[To] the Last [Be] Human
Jorie Graham (Copper Canyon) $22
This volume brings together four works—Sea Change, Place, Fast, and Runaway—by Pulitzer winner Graham, whom the Poetry Foundation has called one of the most celebrated poets of the American postwar generation. Composed between 2002 and 2020, the poems serve as a lyric testament to her writing on climate change and loss, while also celebrating the beauty and gifts of the world.
Uncollected Poems, Drafts, Fragments, and Translations
Gary Snyder (Counterpoint) $20
Composed during some the most productive years of Snyder’s six-decade career, these previously uncollected and unpublished works by the Pulitzer-winning Beat poet sing with history, politics, and place, offering new glimpses into Snyder’s verse. The pieces showcase his passion for environmentalism and capture his ecstatic focus and compressed vision, as well as his irrepressible energy.
Woman Without Shame
Sandra Cisneros (Knopf) $27
Cisneros’s first poetry collection since 1995’s Loose Woman sweeps through her life with blunt observations and heartfelt prayers. The author, a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient best known for her novel The House on Mango Street, reckons with her sometimes difficult past while embracing the freedom that comes with self-acceptance.
Mary Jo Salter (Knopf) $28
Addressing the bewildering present while reminding of past (and future) pleasures, Salter conjures a rich cast of characters and literary allusions, her fine ear on display at every turn. Those feeling screen fatigue (i.e. most of us) will find her direct and unfailingly imaginative works a thorough pleasure.