We are making our lives up "here on this bridge / between starshine and clay" (Lucille Clifton). Addressing tough circumstances tenderly, this book is about life--what we inherit, what we create, what shapes us, what's possible.
Author: Angela Ball
Publisher: University of Pittsburgh Press
Release Date: 2017-12-11
Talking Pillow celebrates love as amazement, sustenance, and the progenitor of scarce-believable loss. The book centers around the sudden death of the author’s long-time partner and travels outward to events in the world at large. Imagining themselves into multiple times, places, and lives, the poems comically explore the possibilities of attachment between people and the absurdity of death’s sudden intrusion. Antic and often funny, these poems converse with all that we care about, fear, and fail to understand.
Author: Anthony Grooms
Publisher: Univ of South Carolina Press
Release Date: 2018-03-01
Inspired by true events, The Vain Conversation reflects on the 1946 lynching of two black couples in Georgia from the perspectives of three characters—Bertrand Johnson, one of the victims; Noland Jacks, a presumed perpetrator; and Lonnie Henson, a witness to the murders as a ten-year-old boy. Lonnie’s inexplicable feelings of culpability drive him in a search for meaning that takes him around the world, and ultimately back to Georgia, where he must confront Jacks and his own demons, with the hopes that doing so will free him from the grip of the past. In The Vain Conversation, Anthony Grooms seeks to advance the national dialogue on race relations. With complexity, satire, and sometimes levity, he explores what it means to redeem, as well as to be redeemed, on the issues of America’s race violence and speaks to the broader issues of oppression and violence everywhere. A foreword is provided by American poet, painter, and novelist Clarence Major. An afterward is written by T. Geronimo Johnson, the bestselling author of Welcome to Braggsville and Hold It ’Til It Hurts.
How does one in mourning converse with those absent, yet ever present? How is a motherless daughter conceived? What befalls those who succumb to waves of grief akin to contractions of birth? You Envelop Me is woven from contemplative practices that permit us to approach the unimaginable. The world with the beloved removed is permanently altered, perhaps most significantly in the way the living learn that indispensable vision occurs beyond the visible world.
Author: Mike Smith
Publisher: Wtaw Press
Release Date: 2017-09-14
Genre: Literary Collections
Literary Nonfiction. Essays. A moving nonfiction debut by Mississippi Delta poet Mike Smith, this memoir-in-essays, AND THERE WAS EVENING AND THERE WAS MORNING: ESSAYS ON ILLNESS, LOSS, AND LOVE, tracks the loss of Smith's first wife to cancer after the birth of the second child, offering a portrait of marriage, family, and tragedy. In honest, and at times darkly comic terms, Smith documents the strange set of coincidences between his first wife's illness and his stepdaughter's similar battle the year his second marriage began, and examines blended families, remarriage, helping children find ways to cope with the loss of a parent, and the influence of spirituality upon loss. Author Tony D'Souza calls Smith "a reflective and precise writer, [who] invites us to walk each step with him as his heart is annihilated." Beth Ann Fennelly, author of Heating & Cooling, says, "What a gift Mike Smith has given us... His prose is nuanced, his voice considered and considerate, his wisdom hard-earned but never bitter. There is beauty and solace here and gorgeous imagery. Smith has written a book for all of us who are dying--which is to say, all of us who are living, and our lives will be the better for having read it." Author Julianna Baggott's writes: "What I love most is that this isn't a book about learning to let go but instead learning that the heart can expand to hold more love..."
"Every line resonates with a wind that crosses oceans."—Jamaal May "Zamora's work is real life turned into myth and myth made real life." —Glappitnova Javier Zamora was nine years old when he traveled unaccompanied 4,000 miles, across multiple borders, from El Salvador to the United States to be reunited with his parents. This dramatic and hope-filled poetry debut humanizes the highly charged and polarizing rhetoric of border-crossing; assesses borderland politics, race, and immigration on a profoundly personal level; and simultaneously remembers and imagines a birth country that's been left behind. Through an unflinching gaze, plainspoken diction, and a combination of Spanish and English, Unaccompanied crosses rugged terrain where families are lost and reunited, coyotes lead migrants astray, and "the thin white man let us drink from a hose / while pointing his shotgun." From "Let Me Try Again": He knew we weren't Mexican. He must've remembered his family coming over the border, or the border coming over them, because he drove us to the border and told us next time, rest at least five days, don't trust anyone calling themselves coyotes, bring more tortillas, sardines, Alhambra. He knew we would try again. And again—like everyone does. Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador and immigrated to the United States at the age of nine. He earned a BA at UC-Berkeley, an MFA at New York University, and is a 2016–2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.
Author: Kaveh Akbar
Publisher: Alice James Books
Release Date: 2017-09-25
“In ‘Heritage,’ a fierce poem dedicated to an Iranian woman executed for killing the man attempting to rape her, award-winning poet Akbar proclaims, 'in books love can be war-ending/...in life we hold love up to the light/ to marvel at its impotence.' Yet if real-life love is disappointing ('The things I’ve thought I've loved/ could sink an ocean liner'), Akbar proves what books can do in his exceptional debut, which brings us along on his struggle with addiction, a dangerous comfort and soul-eating monster he addresses boldly ('thinking if I called a wolf a wolf I might dull its fangs'). His work stands out among literature on the subject for a refreshingly unshowy honesty; Akbar runs full tilt emotionally but is never self-indulgent. These poems find the speaker poised between life’s clatter and rattle, wanting to retreat (‘so much/ of being alive is breaking’) yet hungering for more (‘I'm told what seems like joy/ is often joy'). Indeed, despite his acknowledged disillusion and his failings (‘my whole life I answered every cry for help with a pour'), he has loved, and an electric current runs through the collection that keeps reader and writer going. VERDICT Excellent work from an important new poet.” —Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal, STARRED review “Akbar has what every poet needs: the power to make, from emotions that others have felt, memorable language that nobody has assembled before.” —Steph Burt, The Yale Review “John Berryman and James Wright (and his son Franz Wright) haunt Calling a Wolf a Wolf, but Akbar also has a voice so distinctly his—tinted in old Persian, dipped in modern American, ancient and millennial, addict and ascetic, animal and more animal. In the end, nothing brings man—human or man—down to Earth more than the kingdom of flora and fauna.” —Porochista Khakpour, Virginia Quarterly Review "Kaveh Akbar has evolved a poetics that (often) suggests the infinite within each object, gesture, event. The smallest thing in these poems pushes one up against something intractable and profound. Surface and depth constantly turn into each other. Narrative, the dilemmas of personal history and anguish are handled with equal sophistication. 'Odd, for an apocalypse to announce itself with such bounty.' This is bounty, an intensely inventive and original debut.” —Frank Bidart, author of Metaphysical Dog and Watching the Spring Festival "The struggle from late youth on, with and without God, agony, narcotics and love is a torment rarely recorded with such sustained eloquence and passion as you will find in this collection." —Fanny Howe This highly-anticipated debut boldly confronts addiction and courses the strenuous path of recovery, beginning in the wilds of the mind. Poems confront craving, control, the constant battle of alcoholism and sobriety, and the questioning of the self and its instincts within the context of this never-ending fight. From "Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before": Sometimes you just have to leave whatever's real to you, you have to clomp through fields and kick the caps off all the toadstools. Sometimes you have to march all the way to Galilee or the literal foot of God himself before you realize you've already passed the place where you were supposed to die. I can no longer remember the being afraid, only that it came to an end. Kaveh Akbar is the founding editor of Divedapper. His poems appear in The New Yorker, Poetry, APR, Tin House, Ploughshares, PBS NewsHour, and elsewhere. The recipient of a 2016 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, Akbar was born in Tehran, Iran, and currently lives and teaches in Florida.
The astonishing, powerful debut by the winner of a 2016 Whiting Writers' Award WHEREAS her birth signaled the responsibility as mother to teach what it is to be Lakota therein the question: What did I know about being Lakota? Signaled panic, blood rush my embarrassment. What did I know of our language but pieces? Would I teach her to be pieces? Until a friend comforted, Don’t worry, you and your daughter will learn together. Today she stood sunlight on her shoulders lean and straight to share a song in Diné, her father’s language. To sing she motions simultaneously with her hands; I watch her be in multiple musics. —from “WHEREAS Statements” WHEREAS confronts the coercive language of the United States government in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes, and reflects that language in its officiousness and duplicity back on its perpetrators. Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations. “I am,” she writes, “a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation—and in this dual citizenship I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.” This strident, plaintive book introduces a major new voice in contemporary literature.
Author: Jennifer Chang
Publisher: Alice James Books
Release Date: 2017-10-10
"Some Say the Lark is a piercing meditation, rooted in loss and longing, and manifest in dazzling leaps of the imagination—the familiar world rendered strange." —Natasha Trethewey Chang’s poems narrate grief and loss, and intertwines them with hope for a fresh start in the midst of new beginnings. With topics such as frustration with our social and natural world, these poems openly question the self and place and how private experiences like motherhood and sorrow necessitate a deeper engagement with public life and history. From "The Winter's Wife": I want wild roots to prosper an invention of blooms, each unknown to every wise gardener. If I could be a color. If I could be a question of tender regard. I know crabgrass and thistle. I know one algorithm: it has nothing to do with repetition or rhythm. It is the route from number to number (less to more, more to less), a map drawn by proof not faith. Unlike twilight, I do not conclude with darkness. I conclude. Jennifer Chang is the author of The History of Anonymity, which was a finalist for the Glasgow/Shenandoah Prize for Emerging Writers and listed by Hyphen Magazine as a Top Five Book of Poetry for 2008. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry 2012, The Nation, Poetry, A Public Space, and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at George Washington University and lives in Washington, DC with her family.
Setter, an eminent Harley Street consultant, is trusted and admired by his circle of friends, devoting himself to the rehabilitation of the lonely and the misunderstood. But deep within himself Setter recognizes a latent streak of sadistic cruelty which enables him to perceive the truth about a delinquent youth whom he suspects of having taken part in a particularly repellent and senseless crime. It is for Setter to choose a punishment—and enforce it. An Error of Judgement is a subtle study of human weakness and conflict. Partly a wry social comedy and partly a study in good and evil, it is brilliantly written and observed, assured and skillful, and a truly modern work.
The highly anticipated second collection by Danez Smith—“Hallelujah is an understatement” (Patricia Smith) Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don’t Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality—the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood—and a diagnosis of HIV positive. “Some of us are killed / in pieces,” Smith writes, “some of us all at once.” Don’t Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America—“Dear White America”—where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.