This season’s books tackle a variety of crises—personal, political, and ecological—with a notable interest in how language can be wielded to shape the world around us.

Top 10


Sharon Olds. Knopf, Oct. 15, $28.95, ISBN 978-0-525-65693-7

Olds has long made a career of addressing the taboo and reconsidering the mundane. The Pulitzer Prize–winning poet considers political consciousness and internal lives through “arias,” each defined by its own particular music.

The Dolphin: Two Versions, 1972–1973

Robert Lowell, edited by Saskia Hamilton. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Nov. 19, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-0-374-53827-9

Hamilton’s new edition of this 1974 Pulitzer Prize–winning book includes scans of Lowell’s original manuscript, offering an unprecedented look into one of the most important and complicated figures in modern American poetry.

Father’s Day

Matthew Zapruder. Copper Canyon, Sept. 3, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-55659-578-3

The fifth book from Zapruder investigates what it means to be a father and citizen amid the 21st century’s uncertainties. His humor and lyrical precision lend themselves to questions about the present and our collective future.


Reginald Dwayne Betts. Norton, Oct. 15, $26.95, ISBN 978-0-393-65214-7

In his third book, Betts, who spent eight years in prison for a carjacking that he committed at 16, tells the story of one man’s journey, investigates society’s most pressing issues, and examines life after incarceration.

A Fortune for Your Disaster

Hanif Abdurraqib. Tin House, Sept. 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-947793-43-9

In the anticipated follow-up to The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, Abdurraqib considers large-scale loss alongside daily disappointments, heartbreak and forgiveness, and history and the future, offering a prismatic record of these times.

Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers

Jake Skeets. Milkweed, Sept. 10, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-520-5

The debut from a winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series is preoccupied with violence and the exploitation of natural resources. Rooted in Navajo history and the New Mexican landscape, Skeets’s poems find beauty in ravaged landscapes.

Nervous System

Rosalie Moffett. Ecco, Oct. 1, trade paper, $14.99, ISBN 978-0-06-293021-7

A winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series, Moffett writes about the human body and nature with precision and psychological depth, rendering a world rich with unexpected energies.

The Problem of the Many

Timothy Donnelly. Wave, Oct. 1, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-1-940696-49-2

Contemporary and capacious in their scope, Donnelly’s poems examine civilization, calling upon figures including Alexander the Great and Prometheus in the poems’ wild, imaginative examinations.


Rachel Zucker. Wave, Sept. 3, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-1-940696-86-7

Zucker, a writer of maximalist scope and a formal innovator, navigates the personal and political with wide lyrical sweep in this hybrid book of poetry, memoir, and essay. Marriage, motherhood, and grief are considered with humor and heartbreaking clarity.

Summer Snow: New Poems

Robert Hass. Ecco, Jan. 7, $27.99, ISBN 978-0-06-295002-4

In his first new book since 2010, one of the most distinguished poets in America explores loss and desire with his trademark gift for describing the natural world.



I Offer My Heart as a Target/Ofrezco Mi Corazan Como Una Diana by Johanny Vázquez Paz (Dec. 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-61775-763-1). Winner of the Paz Prize for Poetry, this dual-language book explores perseverance and survival in the face of violence, displacement, and defeat.

American Poetry Review

Vantage by Taneum Bambrick (Sept. 24, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-0-9860938-0-7). Through a fictionalized account of the poet’s work as the only woman on a six-person garbage crew around the reservoirs of two massive dams, Bambrick records the violence against both people and the environment she has witnessed along the Columbia River.

Alice James

Half/Life: New & Selected Poems by Jeffrey Thomson (Oct. 8, trade paper, $21.95, ISBN 978-1-948579-04-9). Combining new poems and those from previous volumes, this selection showcases Thomson’s lyric exploration of memory, nostalgia, desire, mythology, history, and science.

BOA Editions

Tracing the Horse by Diana Marie Delgado (Sept. 10, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-942683-87-2). Set in Southern California during the 1980s and ’90s and combining lyric and prose poems, Delgado’s debut follows a young Mexican-American woman as she faces drug and familial abuse and discovers her own power.

Coffee House

The Intangibles by Elaine Equi (Nov. 12, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-564-4). In a technologically driven world, Equi inventively searches for meaning and poetry outside technology through aphoristic, witty poems.

Safe Houses I Have Known by Steve Healey (Sept. 10, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-1-56689-561-3) traces the anxiety and uncertainty of Healey’s experience as a child during the height of the Cold War, when he learns his father is a spy for the CIA. Subsequent poems explore the burden of national and family mysteries.

Copper Canyon

The Anti-grief by Marianne Boruch (Oct. 8, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-1-55659-568-4). Through vivid imagery that celebrates the world, Boruch meditates on memory and time, and the process of living with, and working through, grief. Boruch’s poems challenge typical associations with the subject, exposing new facets of a universal feeling.

Solar Perplexus by Dean Young (Oct. 1, $22, ISBN 978-1-55659-572-1). The surreal serves Young as he explores the complications of being and the everyday. Through poems that grapple with love and loss, Young investigates life and death, and the thin line that separate the dichotomies of existence.

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Song of Songs by Sylvie Baumgartel (Sept. 24, $23, ISBN 978-0-374-26803-9). Drawing inspiration from the Song of Solomon, Baumgartel’s debut examines the power of love (through sex and desire, as well as spiritual worship) in the domestic sphere and its implications beyond.

Four Way

Erou by Maya Phillips (Sept. 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-945588-38-9) is a debut using the framework of the Greek epic and the hero’s journey to examine family and patriarchy, myth and reality, and to question how people find and situate themselves within their spaces.

In an Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also a Frame by Julia Guez (Sept. 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-945588-37-2). Guez’s collection looks at post-9/11 America, a world caught between dangers and dualities: despair and hope, climate change and the opioid epidemic. Still, Guez looks for light and hope in this perilous, ongoing journey.

Levee by Paul Otremba (Sept. 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-945588-41-9). Houston is a backdrop rich in metaphor in Otremba’s exploration of the intersection of politics and ecology. Otremba searches for meaning in violence both as natural occurrence and as a result of human interference.

Nightshade by Andrea Cohen (Sept. 3, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-945588-35-8). In short poems of economy and precision, Cohen mines the layers of loss in everyday lives to reveal startling, lyric truths.


Heed the Hollow by Malcolm Tariq (Nov. 5, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-64445-009-3). Winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, Tariq’s debut celebrates the mystical and the bodily, exploring the concept of “the bottom” across blackness, sexuality, and the American South.

Love and I by Fanny Howe (Oct. 1, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-64445-004-8). These metaphysical, filmic poems span sceneries across America and Ireland, earth and sky, offering a traveler’s unique sight and relishing in the world’s offerings.

I Will Destroy You by Nick Flynn (Sept. 3, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-64445-002-4). In poems of great lyrical energy and self-inquiry, Flynn’s collection investigates art’s potential to redeem and rebuild, and love’s perseverance in the face of risk.

McClelland & Stewart

Strange Attractor by Anne Simpson (Sept. 10, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-7710-0712-5). The winner of the Griffin Poetry Prize addresses questions of the self, examining its fluidity within a social construct. Through an exploration of illness and death, Simpson asks pressing questions: What informs the self? How does one become known?


Bodega by Su Hwang (Oct. 8, trade paper, $16, ISBN 978-1-57131-524-3). The speaker of these poems comes of age in her parents’ bodega in the Queensbridge projects against the backdrop of the war on drugs and the 1992 Los Angeles riots, giving a voice to those seldom heard and revealing tensions in immigrant communities.

New York Review Books

Say Something Back by Denise Riley (Jan. 14, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-68137-399-7). One of Britain’s most celebrated poets offers a philosophical and immediate meditation on motherhood and grief following the death of her son.


An American Sunrise by Joy Harjo (Sept. 10, $25.95, ISBN 978-1-324-00386-1). Native American poet Harjo explores ancestral suffering and connection to the land, addressing the moments of transcendence and the challenges that come with moving onto her tribe’s original land.

Pagan Virtues by Stephen Dunn (Nov. 19, $26.95, ISBN 978-1-324-00231-4). The Pulitzer Prize winner writes with bold humor and thoughtfulness on ethics, death, and human nature.


Civil Bound by Myung Mi Kim (Oct. 1, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-071-7) explores the mechanisms of language—and its impact on civilization—through a consideration of ecology, capitalism, military powers, and colonialization, unearthing patterns and revealing how words perpetuate inequalities.

Running to Stand Still by Kimberly Reyes (Oct. 1, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-072-4). Examining the Black female body through histories and stories, Reyes offers a lyric of restless music. Her preoccupation with the gaze of others and storytelling extends beyond boundaries, creating a layered narrative of power and self.

Variations on Dawn and Dusk by Dan Beachy-Quick (Oct. 1, trade paper, $13.95, ISBN 978-1-63243-070-0). A work of ekphrasis based on Robert Irwin’s Untitled (Dawn to Dusk) set in the desert of Marfa, Tex., draws inspiration from the sun as it warms, cools, colors, and shifts, resulting in a series of poems whose patterns are informed by their subject: light.

Penguin Books

Fear of Description by Daniel Poppick (Oct. 1, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-0-14-313438-1). A winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series explores the years since the 2016 election through the eyes of a group of poets moving from Iowa to Brooklyn. Narrative prose poems investigate friendship, grief, and writing, searching restlessly in precarious times.

Forage by Rose McLarney (Sept. 3, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-0-14-313319-3). With an ecopoetic sensibility, McLarney examines the South, animals, water, and the environment to consider ecological change and the role of humans in the natural world.


Dispatch by Cameron Awkward-Rich (Dec. 10, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-89255-503-1). The winner of the 2018 Lexi Rudnitsky Editor’s Choice Award responds to racial and gendered violence in the U.S. from the 19th century to the present day, posing pressing questions about storytelling and the media.

Or What We’ll Call Desire by Alexandra Teague (Aug. 20, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-89255-499-7). Playfully blending pop culture with high art and mythic and historic female figures, Teague contemplates the role of the self in a patriarchal culture alongside a more personal consideration of family history and mental illness.

Still by Sandra Meek (Jan. 21, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-89255-505-5). Reimagining the Renaissance concept of the studiolo, a room displaying cabinets of wonder, Meek juxtaposes human objects and natural artifacts to consider the will to survive through oppression and violence.

Princeton Univ.

Before Our Eyes: New and Selected Poems, 1975–2017 by Eleanor Wilner (Sept. 10, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-0-691-19333-5) gathers more than 30 new poems alongside selections from the seven previous books from Wilner, winner of the 2019 Frost Medal, that explore memory and myth, and confront history to find a meaningful path forward.


American Faith by Maya C. Popa (Nov. 5, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-946448-46-0). Popa’s debut examines the impact of public violence on private life, placing its insistence on hope and beauty in the face of what confounds America. Popa is the poetry reviews editor at Publishers Weekly.

Space Struck by Paige Lewis (Oct. 8, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-946448-44-6). Nature, science, and religion intersect in Lewis’s debut, asking profound questions about the universe and our natural world.

Your New Feeling Is the Artifact of a Bygone Era by Chad Bennett (Jan. 14, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-946448-48-4). A winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize incorporates technologies synonymous with modern life with a personal, communal, and thoughtful consideration of loss and queerness in America.

Tin House

Feed by Tommy Pico (Nov. 5, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-1-947793-57-6). Exploring the separation between solitude and loneliness, the fourth book in Pico’s Teebs tetralogy asks universal questions through poems of formal and tonal diversity rich with striking juxtapositions.

Univ. of Florida

The Insistence of Harm by Fernando Valverde, trans. by Allen Josephs and Laura Juliet Wood (Oct. 17, trade paper, $16.95, ISBN 978-0-8130-6435-2). The acclaimed young Spanish poet and leader of the Spanish Poetry of Uncertainty movement deals with the subject of death and lost love. This bilingual edition offers readers some of his latest lyric poems exploring the world’s many “harms.”

Univ. of Nebraska

Hard Damage by Aria Aber (Sept. 1, trade paper, $17.95, ISBN 978-1-4962-1570-3) considers Afghan-American relations through lyric and documentary poems drawing from materials that date to the 1950s. The book’s middle sections feature a lyric essay in fragments, expanding the modes and forms available with which to interrogate her subject.

Univ. of Nevada

Refugia by Kyce Bello (Sept. 4, trade paper, $14.95, ISBN 978-1-948908-34-4). Bello’s debut won the 2018 Test Site Poetry Series Prize and contemplates climate change and changing landscapes in the author’s home of northern New Mexico. Drawing on the power of imagination, Bello writes urgently against a backdrop of crisis.

Univ. of New Mexico

The Music of Her Rivers by Renny Golden (Sept. 1, trade paper, $18.95, ISBN 978-0-8263-6077-9). Golden’s poems pay homage to the Rio Grande and the Chicago and Illinois Rivers through documenting people, place, and history.

Univ. of Notre Dame

Splinters Are Children of Wood by Leia Penina Wilson (Sept. 30, trade paper, $15, ISBN 978-0-268-10618-8). Winner of the Ernest Sandeen Prize, Penina’s second book interrogates the role played by the world, and Samoan and Western myths, in shaping what it means to be a girl.

Univ. of Pittsburgh

The Book of Daniel by Aaron Smith (Oct. 1, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-0-8229-6596-1). Direct, confessional poems examine art, sex, and grief as Smith considers the world and its resistance to tenderness.

Life in a Country Album by Nathalie Handal (Oct. 15, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-0-8229-6594-7). Through a consideration of pop culture, migration, borders, and the larger global context, Handal questions the meaning of “home” in an increasingly polarized world.

Ringer by Rebecca Lehmann (Sept. 24, trade paper, $17, ISBN 978-0-8229-6595-4). A winner of the 2018 Donald Hall Prize for Poetry from AWP addresses womanhood and female identity, combining an exploration of the physical, sexual, and political violence faced by women with an ecopoetical examination of the landscapes of rural America.

Univ. of Washington

The Grief of a Happy Life by Christopher Howell (Oct. 2, $19.95, ISBN 978-0-295-74616-6). Exploring the relationship between memory and imagination, Howell considers how happiness and grief offer life meaning, calling on Aeneas, St. Theresa, Ovid, Kierkegaard, and other thinkers in the process.


Dunce by Mary Ruefle (Sept. 3, $25, ISBN 978-1-940696-85-0). A master of observation, Ruefle revisits the poetic practice central to her work as an essayist. She writes about the mysteries of experience with her trademark wit and surprising imaginative sensibility.

Grief Sequence by Prageeta Sharma (Sept. 3, trade paper, $20, ISBN 978-1-940696-88-1). Narrative poems about the sudden loss of Sharma’s spouse to cancer capture grief and the impulse to make physical and poetic sense of trauma and suffering.

Wayne State Univ.

Teacher/Pizza Guy by Jeff Kass (Aug. 26, trade paper, $16.99, ISBN 978-0-8143-4715-7) chronicles the poet’s experiences teaching, directing, and delivering pizza over the 2016–2017 school year through poems that shed light on the competing responsibilities faced by many middle-class workers and educators.

Wesleyan Univ.

Atopia by Sandra Simonds (Nov. 5, trade paper, $15.95, ISBN 978-0-8195-7904-1) weaves recorded dialogue with the language of social media, news reports, and other modes and registers to examine the social and political stakes of the current moment.

Yale Univ.

A Greek Ballad: Selected Poems by Michalis Ganás, trans. by David Connolly and Joshua Barley (Sept. 24, $38, ISBN 978-0-300-23334-6). The first English-language translation of the renowned Greek poet explores the Greek civil war he witnessed as a young child, and his subsequent exile in Eastern Europe, through folklore, autobiography, and mythology.

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Correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the title of Jake Skeets's Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers. It also listed an incorrect publisher for Song of Songs.