In the spring we saw the release of a handful of retrospective collections—"Selecteds," as we call them—by heavyweight poets like Robert Pinsky and Charles Wright; those kinds of doorstoppers are fun, but there are no new poems in them. In the fall, however, we’ll have slim yet substantial volumes of new poems by a few big names as well as lesser known, but not lesser, writers.
Meghan O’Rourke’s second volume of poems, Once, is sure to get a lot of attention, in part because of the success of her just released memoir, The Long Goodbye. Poetry is O’Rourke’s first calling, and these accessible yet sharp-edged poems deal with some of the same themes as the memoir—the loss of a beloved mother, the process of grieving—but also take a citizen’s view of life in contemporary America. Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort will bring out her second book in English, Collected Body, also sure to find lots of readers from her previous collection and very successful reading tour of the U.S. for her last book.
Three beloved poets in more advanced stages of their careers also have new books that may win high praise. Touch by Henri Cole continues an exploration that has stretched over several books into how the pains and pleasures of desire can be fit into a sonnet-like shape. W.S. Di Piero, who moves with Nitro Nights from Knopf to Copper Canyon, brings his watchful critic’s eye—he writes a great deal about visual art—to a set of new poems. Victor Hernandez Cruz offers In the Shadow of Al-Andalus, his poetic look at the influence of Islamic art in Spain, Puerto Rico, and North Africa.
And speaking of art, the major surrealist painter and widow of Max Ernst, Dorothea Tanning, who is now 100 years old, will publish her second collection of poems, Coming to That, in September, filled with glimpses of the kind of bent reality she creates so powerfully.
There are, of course, a couple of retrospective books to look out for: Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems by Tess Gallagher, who offers a summation of her powers to date, and Dear Prudence: New and Selected Poems by David Trinidad, who has mixed pop and high culture like no one else. And while we’re discussing summations, this fall will also see the release of Last Poems by Hayden Carruth, who, after a long and storied career, died in 2008; this collection presents his final unpublished work.
And no poetic season would be complete without an anthology. This time there’s something unusual and powerful: Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, edited by Sheila Black, Jennifer Bartlett, and Michael Northen, in which literary writers from across the disability and aesthetic spectrums speak out.
PW’s Top 10 Poetry
Meghan O’Rourke. Norton, Oct.
Valzhyna Mort. Copper Canyon, Sept.
Henri Cole. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Sept.
W.S. Di Piero. Copper Canyon, Nov.
In the Shadow of Al-Andalus
Victor Hernandez Cruz. Coffee House, Nov.
Coming to That
Dorothea Tanning. Graywolf, Sept.
Tess Gallagher. Graywolf, Sept.
New and Selected Poems
David Trinidad. Turtle Point, Sept.
Hayden Carruth, intro. by Stephen Dobyns, afterword by Brooks
Haxton. Copper Canyon, Jan.
Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability
Edited by Sheila Black, Jennifer Bartlett, and Michael Northen. Cinco Puntos, Sept.
No Grave Can Hold My Body Down by Aaron McCollough (Sept., paper, $17.50, ISBN 978-1-934103-22-7). Poems combine literary modernism with a take on the music of John Fahey.
Shakespeare’s Love Sonnets, illus. by Caitlin Keegan (Dec., hardcover, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-8118-7908-8). Twenty-nine of the bard’s most romantic sonnets are included in this beautiful hardcover, all of them lovingly illustrated by the talented Caitlin Keegan. Pretty and contemporary, the illustrations tastefully accentuate the depth of sentiment in each sonnet.
Cinco Puntos Press
Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability, edited by Jennifer Bartlett, Sheila Black, and Michael Northen (Sept., paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-1-935955-05-4). The first high-quality anthology of poetry by American poets with physical disabilities. The book crosses poetry movements and speaks to and about a number of disabilities including cerebral palsy, deafness, blindness, and aphasia due to stroke.
My Marriage A to Z: A Big-City Romance by Elinor Nauen (Dec., paper, $9.95, ISBN 978-1-935955-04-7), a prose poem written in dictionary form, is a unique chronicle of life within marriage.
CITY LIGHTS PUBLISHERS
Waifs and Strays by Micah Ballard (Sept., paper, $13.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-544-0). In this second full-length collection by Cajun poet Ballard, the obsessions of the Metaphysical poets meet a streetwise take on contemporary San Francisco.
Coffee House Press
Song I Sing by Bao Phi (Oct., paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-56689-279-7) is a rhapsodic exploration of immigration, race, and class by Vietnamese-American phenom and National Poetry Slam star Bao Phi.
Whorled by Ed Bok Lee (Sept., paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-56689-278-0). This feverishly graceful collection weaves the voices of cultural and spiritual mutants into songs of loss and longing, confrontation and celebration.
In the Shadow of Al-Andalus by Victor Hernandez Cruz (Nov., paper, $16, ISBN 978-156689-277-3) explores the nexus of Islamic artistic influences in Spain, Puerto Rico, and North Africa.
Exhibit of Forking Paths by James Grinwis (Nov., paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-56689-280-3), a National Poetry Series winner, elegantly fuses poetry with circuitry.
Copper Canyon Press
Happy Life by David Budbill (Sept., paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-374-1) continues the author’s popular poetic ruminations on life in remote New England—an outward survey of a forested mountain and an introspection of self-reliance, anonymity, and the creative life.
Last Poems by Hayden Carruth, intro. by Stephen Dobyns, afterword by Brooks Haxton (Jan., paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-381-9). A morally engaged and fearless volume that combines Carruth’s last poems with the concluding poems from each of his previous volumes.
Nine Acres by Nathaniel Perry, intro. by Marie Howe (Sept., hardcover, $14, ISBN 978-0-9833008-0-9). Selected by Howe from more than 1,000 submissions, Nine Acres is the winner of the 2011 American Poetry Review/APR Honickman First Book Prize. The 52 poems in this cycle take their titles from chapters of a 1930s small-scale farming handbook, creating a handbook for living.
Nitro Nights by W.S. Di Piero (Nov., paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-55659-380-2) marries a streetwise, working-class sensibility to an intellectual rigor and precise language in poems that stare down depression, failed love, and urban nightlife.
Collected Body by Valzhyna Mort (Sept., paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-372-7). In her first collection composed in English, Belarusian poet Mort writes about everything from sex and relatives to violence and fish markets, insisting on vibrant, dark truths.
Songs of Unreason by Jim Harrison (Oct., hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-1-55659-389-5). This new collection explores what it means to inhabit the world in atavistic, primitive, and totemistic ways, using interconnected suites, brief lyrics, and rollicking narratives.
The Book of Hours by Marianne Boruch (Aug., paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-55659-385-7). Endearingly strange, unsentimental, and uniquely structured, in true Rilkean fashion, this book questions the meaning and significance of everything from the flaws of human interaction to perfect posture.
We Almost Disappear by David Bottoms (Aug., paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-331-4). Rooted in the customs of Southern families and people, with undertakers, bluegrass musicians, daughters, elderly parents, and practicing karate, Bottoms’s poems are generous, insightful, and lean headlines into family wisdom.
Clavics by Geoffrey Hill (Oct., hardcover, $29.95, ISBN 978-1-907587-11-5). A new collection of poetry from the Oxford professor of poetry, Clavics is intended as a tribute to early 17th-century poetry and music.
The Flower of Youth: Pier Paolo Pasolini by Mary di Michele (Sept., paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-1-77041-048-0) presents the poetic history of a young gay man in WWII-era Italy.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Traveler: Poems by Devin Johnston (Aug., hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0-374-27933-2) offers a new collection of poems from one of America’s brightest young talents.
One Thousand Nights and Counting: Selected Poems by Glyn Maxwell (Sept., hardcover, $27, ISBN 978-0-374-22648-0). A comprehensive selection from "a poet of immense promise and unforgettable delivery," according to Joseph Brodsky.
Touch: Poems by Henri Cole (Sept., hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0-374-27835-9), whose last three books have shown a continuously mounting talent. In his new book, written with an almost invisible but ever-present art, Cole continues to render his human topics—a mother’s death, a lover’s addiction, war—with a startling clarity.
The Iliad, trans. by Stephen Mitchell (Oct., hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-1-4391-6337-5). From the consummate translator, renowned for translating Rilke and Tao Te Ching, a vivid new translation of Western civilization’s foundational epic.
The Rest of the Voyage: Poems by Bernard Noel, trans. by Elena Rivera (Oct., paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-600-2) is the winner of the Robert Fagles Prize for contemporary poetry in translation.
Coming to That: Poems by Dorothea Tanning (Sept., paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-55597-601-9). The second collection of poems by the centenarian visual artist Dorothea Tanning, who is "our most surprising new poet," says Edward Hirsch, in the Washington Post Book World.
Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems by Tess Gallagher (Sept., hardcover, $28, ISBN 978-1-55597-597-5) is the poet’s definitive collection, featuring 40 years of work and 20 new poems.
Vanishing-Line: Poems by Jeffrey Yang (Sept., paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-55597-594-4). The second poetry collection from the award-winning author of An Aquarium.
Everyday People by Albert Goldbarth (Jan., paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-55597-603-3) is the not-at-all-everyday new poetry collection from a two-time winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Imaginary Logic by Rodney Jones (Oct., hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-0-547-47978-1). This collection of 35 new poems will reinforce Jones’s reputation as one of America’s most versatile narrative poets.
Night of the Republic by Alan Shapiro (Jan., hardcover, $21, ISBN 978-0-547-32970-3). The 10th collection of poems from Alan Shapiro, author of Song and Dance and Old War.
The Back Chamber by Donald Hall (Sept., hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-0-547-64585-8). The first, full-length volume of poems in a decade by the former poet laureate of the United States.
The Blue Tower by Tomaz Salamun, trans. by Michael Biggins (Oct., hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-0-547-36476-6). A new collection by the internationally acclaimed Slovenian poet.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Mariner Books
The Wrecking Light by Robin Robertson (Aug., paper, $13.95, ISBN 978-0-547-48333-7). A new collection of poetry by the acclaimed U.K. poet.
Mercer Univ. Press
Writing on Napkins at the Sunshine Club: An Anthology of Poets Writing in Macon, edited by Kevin Cantwell (Sept., paper, $27, ISBN 978-0-88146-251-7). Family, elegy, music, love, exile, and the deep chord of religion are among the themes of this anthology, which includes an introduction by the poet laureate of Georgia, David Bottoms.
The City, Our City by Wayne Miller (Oct., paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-445-1). The poet’s third collection takes readers on a tour of an imaginary city that could be any city, and no city at the same time.
Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhoven, edited by Irene Gammel and Suzanne Zelazo (Oct., hardcover, $34.95, ISBN 978-0-262-01622-3). The first major collection of poetry written in English by the flabbergasting and flamboyant Baroness Elsa, "the first American Dada."
Found Poems by Bern Porter (Sept., paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-9822645-9-1) is a landmark collection of the work of an influential figure in concrete and experimental poetry.
The Death of King Arthur: A New Verse Translation by Simon Armitage (Dec., hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-393-07397-3). King Arthur comes to vivid life in this gripping poetic translation by the renowned poet and translator.
Once by Meghan O’Rourke (Oct., hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-393-08062-9). This second book of poems is a moving exploration of loss and redemption by the author of the acclaimed memoir The Long Goodbye.
(DIST. BY IPG)
Three Novels by Elizabeth Robinson (Sept., paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-890650-51-3) offers a new collection of verse and prose poetry from a celebrated experimental poet.
Last Verses by Jules Laforgue, trans. from the French by Donald Revell (Sept., paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-890650-54-4) provides a new translation of what many consider the first free verse poetry in French, rendered beautifully by American poet and translator Revell.
Spectacle & Pigsty by Kiwao Nomura, trans. from the Japanese by Kyoko Yoshida and Forrest Gander (Sept., paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-890650-53-7) is an English translation of the work of a surprising and important contemporary Japanese poet.
Absentia by William Stobb (Sept., paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-14-312018-6) is the second collection from the National Poetry series winner. His wide-ranging poetry features tender realism, jazzy dissonance, luminous descriptions, and, in the words of Donald Revell, a "strange and elegantly accomplished serenity of tensions attenuated to their uttermost."
Terroir by Robert Morgan (Sept., paper, $18, ISBN 978-0-14-312019-3). The author has written 12 books of poetry, along with the bestselling novel Gap Creek. His latest collection is filled with elegantly written poems that celebrate everything from friendship to a fleeting raindrop to the wonder of the everyday.
Seven Stories Press
God Breaketh Not All Men’s Hearts Alike: New & Later Collected Poems by Stanley Moss (Oct., hardcover, $32, ISBN 978-1-60980-345-2). With nearly 75 new poems and over 200 selected from his previous books, this is the book of a lifetime in poetry.
Turtle Point Press
Dear Prudence: New and Selected Poems by David Trinidad (Sept., paper, $19, ISBN 978-1-933527-47-5). This expansive collection brings together both new work and highlights from the poet’s 35-year odyssey chronicling our collective cultural consciousness.
What It Is Like: New and Selected Poems by Charles North (Oct., paper, $20, ISBN 978-1-933527-48-2). This substantial volume—bringing together both new poems and poetry from seven previously published collections—spans more than 40 years of the New York poet’s work, showcasing his ability to draw out wit and lyricism from an adventurous range of poetic forms.
Trafalgar Square Publishing/IPG/Michael O’Mara
Tyger Tyger Burning Bright: Much-Loved Poems You Half-Remember, edited by Ana Sampson (Jan., hardcover, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-84317-594-0). A comprehensive collection of verses from more than 80 poets, from the 13th century to the present day includes such leading luminaries as Burns, Keats, Tennyson, T.S. Eliot, Philip Larkin, and Carol Ann Duffy.
Skyhorse Publishing/Arcade Publishing
Poems for Life: Celebrities Select Their Favorite Poem and Explain Why It Inspires Them, intro. by Anna Quindlen (Nov., hardcover, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-61145-350-8) Even famous people read poetry...
Truant Pastures: The Complete Poems of Harry C. Staley by Harry C. Staley (Sept., paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-4384-3834-4) ponder the conundrums of existence and religious faith in wartime.
Syracuse Univ. Press
Midnight Court/ Cuirt an Mhean Oiche: A Critical Edition by Brian Merriman, edited by Brian O’Conchubhair, trans. by David Marcus (Sept., paper, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-8156-3260-3) is a canonical 18th-century text widely considered to be one of the greatest comic Irish poems.
Univ. of California Press
Ian Hamilton Finlay: Selections, edited and with an intro. by Alec Finlay (Jan., paper, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-520-27059-6). The life and work of Scottish poet Ian Hamilton Finlay, known for his garden, in which poetry, sculpture, and horticulture intersect, illuminates his evolution from plays, stories, and lyrical poems to his Concrete poetry and his emergence as a key figure in the international 1960s avant-garde.
Univ. of New Mexico Press
Begging for Vultures: New and Selected Poems, 1994–2009 by Lawrence Welsh (Sept., paper, $21.95, ISBN 978-0-8263-5018-3). This newspaper journalist, punk rock songwriter, and English teacher, as well as an Irishman living in Texas turned poet, gives voice to the famous, the infamous, and the forgotten.
Ruins by Margaret Randall (Sept., paper, $21.95, ISBN 978-0-8263-5067-1) uses the metaphor of ruins to meditate on time’s movement through memory, cities, history, and the bodies of people who have experienced time’s transformations and traumas.