Fred Muratori

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Against Silence: Poems

Though sometimes uncomfortable to read, Bidart’s unleavened expressions of disillusionment, despair, and futility in the face of age (“the gnarled old hand / that one day you look down and see/ one day to see as yours”) are acts of resistance against the inevitability of death. Their blunt force may escape younger poetry lovers but will resonate poignantly with older generations of readers.

Double Trio: Tej Bet, So’s Notice, Nerve Church

At nearly one thousand pages, this work demands no small investment of time, attention, and, frankly, endurance, but immediate sonic amenities abound (“Inchworm, intaglio, tangency’s / regress”), and Mackey’s gift for deep aphorism (“We were / each only our lone apocalypse”) will reward even brief encounters with this ambitious text.

God of Nothingness: Poems

Rising from wells of loss and loneliness (“My future is the only future”), Wunderlich’s poems may seem harsh, even bitter, but their authentic, wounded humanity is no less compelling for that.

Everyday Mojo Songs of Earth: New and Selected Poems, 2001–2021

For those unfamiliar with Komunyakaa, this volume offers a rich sampling of his postmillennial work. For his fans, it further enforces his reputation as an important and necessary American poet.

Best Poetry of 2020

Dearly: New Poems

Atwood’s flare for precise metaphor in no way softens her delivery, as when she observes “We are a dying symphony.” Combining the wit of Dorothy Parker with the wisdom of Emily Dickinson, Atwood adds a steely grace and richness all her own. If there is beauty in despair, one may find it here.

That Was Now, This Is Then

In an engaging, confiding tone that embraces both wit and compassion, Seshadri enlists poetry, what he calls “spooky action at a distance,” to assure us that despite the historical moment’s forced isolation and heightened sociopolitical stress, we need not feel we’re alone.

The Caiplie Caves

While this moodily erudite exploration of solitude exudes a timeless aura, most individual poems rarely transcend a claustrophobic flatness of expression, diluting “the nervous power of life” that potentially resides within their subjects. [See “Versifying,” LJ 1/17/20.]

Not Go Away Is My Name

Ríos’s poems of memory and aspiration are small masterpieces of clarity and caring, “Hard at the work of being human.” A richly hopeful collection that seems especially vital now. [See “Versifying,” LJ 1/20.]

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