There are some big retrospectives (Bidart, Dove, Rich) on the slate this spring; mother (Notley) and son (Berrigan) drop new books; and one could do worse than just picking up anything from Copper Canyon, Graywolf, or Wave.
Poetry Top 10
The Black Maria
Aracelis Girmay. BOA Editions, Apr. 12
Girmay elegizes and celebrates life as she investigates African diasporic histories, the consequences of racism within American culture, and questions surrounding human identity.
Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems, 1995–2015
Kevin Young. Knopf, Feb. 2
This rich and lively gathering of highlights from the first 20 years of an extraordinary career is interspersed with “B sides” and outtakes.
Certain Magical Acts
Alice Notley. Penguin, June 7
The winner of the 2015 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize explores the world and its difficulties, from the recent economic crisis and climate change to the sorrow of violence and the disappointments of political systems.
Collected Poems: 1950–2012
Adrienne Rich. Norton, Mar. 28
This collection traces Rich’s poetic evolution from the formally exact and decorous to her later radical-free-verse form and feminist and political content.
Collected Poems: 1974–2004
Rita Dove. Norton, May 16
Gathering poems across 30 years and seven books, this volume showcases the wide-ranging diversity that earned Dove a Pulitzer Prize, the position of U.S. poet laureate, a National Humanities Medal, and a National Medal of Art.
Come in Alone
Anselm Berrigan. Wave, May 10
Written as infinitely looping sentences around the page, Berrigan’s poems act as a frame to space, outrunning thought with quickness, openness, humor, and protest.
Half-light: Collected Poems 1965–2016
Frank Bidart. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, June 21
The volume encompasses all of Bidart’s previous books and includes a new collection, “Thirst,” in which he austerely surveys his life, laying it plain for readers before venturing into something new and unknown.
Night Sky with Exit Wounds
Ocean Vuong. Copper Canyon, Apr. 12
In his haunting and fearless debut, Vuong reflects upon his family in exile, a reverential queer love, and his personal adoption of a sometimes inexplicable nation.
Sjohnna McCray. Graywolf, Apr. 5
Winner of the 2015 Walt Whitman Award, McCray’s debut movingly recounts a life born to a Korean mother and an American father serving during the Vietnam War.
So Much Synth
Brenda Shaughnessy. Copper Canyon, May 10
Composed of equal parts femininity, pain, pleasure, and synthesizer, Shaughnessy’s fourth collection is punctuated by subversions of idiom and cliché as she approaches middle age and revisits the memories, romances, and music of adolescence.
(dist. by Consortium)
The Big Book of Exit Strategies by Jamaal May (Apr. 12, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-24-4). May’s new poems explore parallel landscapes of the poet’s interior and an insidious American condition, exposing a fractured self and the violent acts blindly accepted as part of being alive.
Driving Without a License by Janine Joseph (May 10, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-18-3). In this politically charged and candid debut, readers follow the chronicles of an illegal immigrant speaker over a 20-year span as she grows up in the foreign and forbidding landscape of America.
Play Dead by francine j. harris (Apr. 12, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-938584-25-1). Lyrically raw and dangerously unapologetic, harris’s latest challenges readers to look at their cultivated selves as products of circumstance and attempts to piece together patterns amid dissociative chaos.
Shaler’s Fish by Helen Macdonald (Feb. 2, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-0-8021-2463-0). With her masterful ear for musical phrasing and idiosyncratic way of seeing the world, Macdonald crafts a joyous celebration of the natural world and a profound meditation on being alive in it.
(dist. by Consortium)
The Black Maria by Aracelis Girmay (Apr. 12, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-942683-02-5) investigates African diasporic histories, the consequences of racism within American culture, and questions surrounding human identity. Girmay elegizes and celebrates life, wrestling with the humanistic notion of seeing beyond: seeing violence, seeing grace, and seeing each other better.
Trouble the Water by Derrick Austin (Apr. 12, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-942683-04-9). These intimate, sensual poems interweave pop culture and history—moving from the Bible through several artistic eras—to interrogate what it means to be fully human as a “queer, black body” in 21st-century America.
Carnegie Mellon Univ.
Adult Swim by Heather Hartley (Feb. 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-88748-607-4). Engaging, playful, and possessing a dark sense of humor, the brutal and beautiful, the sensual and spiritual, live side by side in poems that shift from lyric through sonnet to elegy.
Dated Emcees by Chinaka Hodge (June 7, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-702-4) bridges the distance between lovers of urban music and readers of traditional poetry. Form blends with content as Hodge examines her intimate life through the lens of rap’s best-known orators, characters, archetypes, and songs, blurring the line between the lived and imagined.
Out of Print: City Lights Spotlight No. 14 by Julien Poirier (Apr. 12, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-87286-704-8) is a bicoastal volume reflecting Poirier’s years in New York and return to his Bay Area roots, like a meetinghouse between late New York School and contemporary California surrealism.
(dist. by Consortium)
Songs from a Mountain by Amanda Nadelberg (May 10, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-56689-434-0). Panoramic narratives drawn from events long past, daily commutes past shipyards, long walks—invitations to a new sense of scale. Nadelberg makes melodic poems out of crystalline moments and short lines that are just the littlest bit scrambled.
They and We Will Get into Trouble for This by Anna Moschovakis (Mar. 15, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-420-3). The poet measures words and invents new forms; she writes from a mode of inquiry, friction, and barbed naiveté, insisting that “how must I live in the world” is a question we can never tire of confronting.
Voice’s Daughter of a Heart Yet to Be Born by Anne Waldman (June 14, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-56689-438-8) serves as an Anthropocene meditation on, among other things, William Blake, Occupy, Nepali virgins whose feet never touch the ground, aesthetics, and the mundanity of Anne at her desk.
(dist. by Consortium)
Alamo Theory by Josh Bell (Apr. 12, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-399-4). Bell’s unnerving and darkly funny second collection of poems inhabits various personae—including a prominent series starring the garrulous and aging rock star Vince Neil from Mötley Crüe—through which Bell examines paranoid, misogynist, and murderous elements within contemporary American culture.
Eventually One Dreams the Real Thing by Marianne Boruch (July 12, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-1-55659-491-5) displays a historical omnipresence as Boruch looks unabashedly at the brutality of recent history and converses with Dickinson, envisions Turner painting, and empathizes with Arthur Conan Doyle.
Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong (Apr. 12, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55659-495-3). In his haunting and fearless debut, Vuong walks a tightrope of vulnerability and reflects upon his family in exile, a reverential queer love, and the personal adoption of a sometimes inexplicable nation.
Sex & Love & by Bob Hicok (May 10, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-55659-475-5) attempts the impossible task of confronting love and its consequences, in which “everything is allowed, minus forever.” Switching gracefully between witty confessions and blunt confrontations, Hicok muses on age, distance, secret messages, and, of course, sex.
So Much Synth by Brenda Shaughnessy (May 10, hardcover, $22, ISBN 978-1-55659-487-8). Composed of equal parts femininity, pain, pleasure, and synthesizer, Shaughnessy’s fourth collection is punctuated by subversions of idiom and cliché as she approaches middle age and revisits the memories, romances, and music of adolescence.
Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda by Pablo Neruda, trans. by Forrest Gander (Apr. 12, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-1-55659-494-6). Originally composed on napkins, playbills, receipts, and notebooks, Neruda’s lost poems are full of eros and heartache, complex wordplay and deep wonder. Dynamic English translations are presented with the Spanish text and full-color reproductions of handwritten poems.
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Half-light: Collected Poems 1965–2016 by Frank Bidart (June 21, hardcover, $35, ISBN 978-0-374-12595-0) encompasses all of Bidart’s previous books, and also includes a new collection, “Thirst,” in which the poet austerely surveys his life, laying it out plain for readers before venturing into something new and unknown.
If You Can Tell by James McMichael (Feb. 2, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0-374-17518-4). In this poignant new collection, McMichael takes up what it might mean that the word was in the beginning, before which there may not have been “empty/ space,/ even,/ nor the thought of it.”
Mz N: The serial: A Poem-in-Episodes by Maureen N. McLane (May 17, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-0-374-21887-4). Acclaimed poet, memoirist, and essayist McLane charts a new path into vital genre-bending territories. Neither a verse novel nor a verse memoir, it is the growth of one poet’s mind switchbacking its way through American English.
Observations by Marianne Moore, edited by Linda Leavell (Apr. 5, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-374-22686-2). Moore’s groundbreaking book has been unavailable to the general reader since its original publication in the 1920s, but this reissue allows readers to feel the untamed force of Moore’s most dazzling innovations.
The Swimmer by John Koethe (Mar. 15, hardcover, $23, ISBN 978-0-374-27232-6). Koethe’s poems—always dynamic and in process, never static or complete—luxuriate in the questions that punctuate the most humdrum of routines, rendering a robust portrait of an individual: complicated, quotidian, and resounding with truth.
(dist. by UPNE)
The Halo by C. Dale Young (Mar. 1, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-68-0). This dark, quasi-autobiographical profile of a man/monster’s maturation from adolescence to adulthood explores an accident that temporarily paralyzes him and exposes him to human weakness all the way to his transformation into something more powerful than even he realizes.
How the End Begins by Cynthia Cruz (Mar. 1, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-67-3) is a chronicle of the struggle between the opposing worlds of the material and the unseen. Cruz juxtaposes the world’s seductions and incessant clamoring for more with the invisible world: the quiet, the call of the desert, and the pull to faith.
The Taxidermist’s Cut by Rajiv Mohabir (Mar. 1, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-935536-72-7) centers the pressures of being a queer brown youth awakening sexually in a racist, anti-immigrant matrix. This is a collection of twisted love stories-as-slits that exposes the meat and bone of trauma and relief.
Look by Solmaz Sharif (July 5, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-744-3) asks readers to see the ongoing costs of war as the unbearable loss of human lives and also insidious abuses against everyday speech. Sharif’s debut exposes the devastating euphemisms deployed to sterilize the language, control its effects, and sway our collective resolve.
99 Poems: New & Selected by Dana Gioia (Mar. 1, hardcover, $24, ISBN 978-1-55597-732-0) gathers work from across his career, including a dozen remarkable new poems. Gioia has not ordered this selection chronologically. Instead, his great subjects organize this volume into broad themes of mystery, remembrance, imagination, place, stories, songs, and love.
Rapture by Sjohnna McCray (Apr. 5, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-55597-737-5). Winner of the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets, selected by Tracy K. Smith, McCray’s debut movingly recounts a life born out of wartime to a Korean mother and an American father serving during the Vietnam War.
Blue Laws: Selected and Uncollected Poems, 1995–2015 by Kevin Young (Feb. 2, hardcover, $30, ISBN 978-0-385-35150-8) is a rich and lively gathering of highlights from the first 20 years of an extraordinary career, interspersed with “B sides” and outtakes from this prolific and acclaimed poet.
Dothead by Amit Majmudar (Mar. 29, hardcover, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-101-94707-4). This no-holds-barred collection is both a profoundly satisfying cultural critique and a thrilling experiment in language. United across a wide range of tones and forms, Majmudar’s poems inhabit and explode multiple perspectives, finding beauty in every one.
(dist. by SPD)
The Old Philosopher by Vi Khi Nao (May 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-48-9). Winner of the Nightboat Books Prize for Poetry, these quiet, implosive poems inhabit a nonlinear temporality in which biblical time and political time come together in the same poetic space, allowing current affairs to converse with a more ancient and historical reality.
Remembering Animals by Brenda Iijima (May 3, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-937658-49-6) chronicles the animal in all the complexity of such a categorization, revealing the ways in which bodies are marked and evaluated, used as resource, violated, and occluded from history.
Collected Poems: 1950–2012 by Adrienne Rich (Mar. 28, hardcover, $50, ISBN 978-0-393-28511-6). This collected volume traces the evolution of her poetry, from her earliest work, which was formally exact and decorous, to her later work, which became increasingly radical in both its free-verse form and its feminist and political content.
Collected Poems: 1974–2004 by Rita Dove (May 16, hardcover, $39.95, ISBN 978-0-393-28594-9). Gathering poems across 30 years and seven books, this volume showcases the wide-ranging diversity that earned Dove a Pulitzer Prize, the position of U.S. poet laureate, a National Humanities Medal, and a National Medal of Art.
Mortal Trash by Kim Addonizio (June 27, hardcover, $25.95, ISBN 978-0-393-24916-3). Passionate and irreverent, Addonizio’s poems transport readers into a world of wit, lament, and desire. Whether comic, elegiac, or ironic, the poems are reminders of the beauty and absurdity of time on Earth.
(dist. by UPNE)
The Unfollowing by Lyn Hejinian (Apr. 5, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-015-1) is a sequence of elegies, mourning public as well as personal loss. They are composed entirely of non sequiturs, with the intention of demonstrating, if not achieving, a refusal to follow aesthetic proprieties and rejecting the logic of mortality and of capitalism.
Selected Poems by Keith Waldrop (Apr. 5, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-020-5) gathers work of the quiet major poet and major poet of quiet from between 1968 and 2013. Waldrop never strives; instead, he haunts—his presence is all the more powerful for barely being there, like a ghost discovered in a familiar photograph.
Certain Magical Acts by Alice Notley (June 7, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-0-14-310816-0). The winner of the 2015 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize sets out to explore the world and its difficulties, from the recent economic crisis and climate change to the sorrow of violence and the disappointment of democracy or any other political system.
A Woman of Property by Robyn Schiff (Mar. 29, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-0-14-312827-4) draws formal and imaginative boundaries against boundless mortal threat, staging a boundary dispute where haunting, illusion, the presence of the past, and disembodied voices only further unsettle questions of material and spiritual possession.
(dist. by Norton)
Brooklyn Antediluvian by Patrick Rosal (May 2, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-89255-474-4). Rosal’s fourth collection is ignited by the frictions of our American moment. In the face of relentless violence and deepening racial division, Rosal responds with his own brand of bare-knuckled beauty.
On This Day in Poetry History by Amy Newman (Feb. 8, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-89255-470-6). In her newest feat of poetic innovation, Newman wanders the lives of mid-century poets, including Berryman, Bishop, Lowell, Plath, and Sexton, peeking in on personal moments both sensational and mundane, imagining their consequences for the poets, their readers, and their shared American century.
(dist. by Consortium)
Solarium by Jordan Zandi (Feb. 9, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-941411-17-9). In his debut collection, Zandi combines deceptively simple diction and syntax to explore the complex machinery of the human mind as it interacts with the natural world.
(dist. by Consortium)
The City Keeps: Selected and New Poems 1966–2014 by John Godfrey (May 10, trade paper, $22, ISBN 978-1-940696-31-7). Godfrey’s masterful body of work has sustained its attentive, lovesick, unruly energy for more than 50 years, and this volume brings together the best poems from Godfrey’s 13 collections, plus some previously uncollected work.
Come in Alone by Anselm Berrigan (May 10, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-940696-29-4). Written as infinitely looping sentences around the page, Berrigan’s poems act as a frame to space, outrunning thought with quickness, openness, humor, and protest. They are simultaneously inviting and impermeable, making familiar language uncanny with every turn around the page.
Hardly War by Don Mee Choi (Apr. 12, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-940696-21-8). Choi’s second collection defies history, national identity, and militarism. Using artifacts from her father, a professional photographer during the Korean and Vietnam wars, Choi combines memoir, image, and opera to explore her paternal relationship and heritage.
Olio by Tyehimba Jess (Apr. 12, trade paper, $25, ISBN 978-1-940696-20-1). In his much anticipated second book, Jess ambitiously manipulates poetic forms, weaving sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African-American performers directly before and after the Civil War up to WWI.
Phantom Pains of Madness by Noelle Kocot (May 10, trade paper, $18, ISBN 978-1-940696-30-0). Kocot’s seventh collection describes a break with reality that occurred a decade and a half ago, in vivid, raw language, one word per line. The resulting slender columns are sharply focused and intense.
Scarecrow by Robert Fernandez (Feb. 23, hardcover, $24.95, ISBN 978-0-8195-7650-7). Taking Dante and other cataloguers of failure and ruin (Baudelaire, Trakl, Rimbaud) as its guiding lights, Fernandez charts situations of extremity and madness. It also charts the insistence of time’s passing and with it the awakening to both new and foreclosed possibilities.
The Destroyer in the Glass by Noah Warren (Mar. 29, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-0-300-21715-5). Winner of the 2015 Yale Younger Poets Prize, Warren explores themes of isolation and the desire for human connection in a series of tightly crystallized poems that question the damage we have done in the pursuit of knowledge and self.