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Jim Harrison: Complete Poems

This immense volume will bring great pleasure to readers of James Wright and John Haines and may be the perfect lure for ardent readers of Harrison’s fiction; they will find many poems to cherish.
PREMIUM

Borderline Fortune

For most readers of poetry, Miller will be a new and invigorating voice, fully conversant with the ambiguities of our present day.
PREMIUM

Requeening: Poems

These highly descriptive poems evoke a dreamlike state, one that is quick-moving and evocative, temporarily erasing actual and imagined boundaries.
PREMIUM

The Collection Plate: Poems

Recommended for all collections.

Cutlish

Rich with history, layered, and likely to enthrall seasoned and newer readers of poetry. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

How To Not Be Afraid of Everything

The collection often surprises in its playfulness or self-deprecation, given the weight of the poems’ subject matter, and is a solid addition to poetry collections.
PREMIUM

What To Miss When: Poems

The power in this collection lies in the way Stein serves her feelings on ice. Although she never mentions T. S. Eliot, her writing style is influenced by his notion that poetry is not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from it.

Dear Specimen: Poems

In mostly short poems, Herbert describes a vibrant yet highly vulnerable world. Occasionally, the writer focuses too much on scientific nomenclature, but usually she breathes life into fossils, skeletons, and nature today, even our world in its current damaged state. A unique and thrilling collection that pulses with wonder; not to be missed.

Crime, Politics, and Poetry | Classic Returns

PREMIUM

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.

The Life and Zen Haiku Poetry of Santoka Taneda

One can hardly imagine a more accessible or authentic introduction to a remarkable seeker whose life and art were indistinguishable, nor a more essential addition to any collection of world literature.

Worldly Things

This work is highly recommended for all collections.
PREMIUM

July

Figurative language, especially alliteration, repetition, and metaphor, races through these pages like the balls in a pinball machine, gathering energy and grace. For a wide range of readers.

Field Study

Black womanhood, the unyielding past, bonds forged and broken--all are powerfully explored in ways that allow the reader to feel present in each poem, walking with the narrator and bearing witness to moments of racism and violence. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

Demos: An American Multitude

There are impressive moments liberally littered throughout this work, which brims with important rhetoric, but finally it feels a bit too scattered.
PREMIUM

Angel & Hannah: A Novel in Verse

Though Hannah and Angel’s story is not pure tragedy, their love’s inability to transcend the accumulated weight of history, poverty, and family will wrench readers’ hearts. A moving novel in verse, filled with energy and raw emotion.

Vertigo & Ghost: Poems

Both a punishing and delicate collection, and one that will likely resonate with poetry novices and aficionados alike.
PREMIUM

Second Story: Poems

This book is not exactly a swan song, but in many places it feels that way. What keeps it from being heavy are Duhamel’s word play, breezy free association, and chatty poetic style. For all libraries.

Welcome to Sonnetville, New Jersey

An understated, subtle dissertation on contemporary middle-class life in verse, and a fine introduction to a rising poet.
PREMIUM

Dialogues with Rising Tides

These stunning poems question what we as individuals can do to repair or at least survive our battered world. Highly recommended.
PREMIUM

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.

Randomly Moving Particles: Poems

A fine contribution to the ongoing labors of a leading poet, and a good introduction to Motion’s approach for readers new to his work.

Pilgrim Bell: Poems

Lyrical, profound, and honest, the kind of collection to which a reader will return.
PREMIUM

Written After a Massacre in the Year 2018

Borzutzky’s heavily political work wades in our collective human muck, and he continues to defy poetry expectations, to the form’s benefit.
PREMIUM

The Life

An interesting, mostly well-written collection that rewards readers with small epiphanies, especially about family life (“his body emitting // that constant low heat of the still-growing”).

PREMIUM

A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure

While the collection feels at times deeply personal, it is also representative of loss as a whole, and readers will find pieces of themselves in this collection while also feeling themselves immersed in Diêp Anh Nguyên’s Vietnam. Recommended for all collections.

PREMIUM

it was never going to be okay

An emotionally wrenching and linguistically mature work that will be particularly inviting for poetry novices, but which also suffers from structural imbalances that diminish some of its power.

The Renunciations: Poems

Kelly’s second effort feels scraped raw, seeking to understand humanity in primal terms in the same way as her debut, but here building to even grander emotional and linguistic crescendo.

The Glass Constellation: New and Collected Poems

A monumental collection from a poet whose lasting importance should now be recognized; essential for dedicated readers of contemporary American poetry.
PREMIUM

The Complete Stories

Despite the poet’s tendency to overstuff some poems, he has a distinctive voice adept at capturing the moment: about a tattoo session, he says, “I watched the needle in the mirror stitch / my mirrored skin like softly oozing silk.” The best poems change and evolve, working that synergy between brain and heart and a loved other (“I am sorry. And the child // we declined /// shivers on the long black lawn”). A worthy addition to most collections.
PREMIUM

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.
PREMIUM

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.
PREMIUM

Index of Women

As her impressions flow together, they add a surreal atmosphere, suggestive of art by Toulouse-Lautrec

Books and Authors To Know: Poetry Titles To Watch 2021

American Melancholy: Poems

Oates’s high profile as a novelist should not discourage avid poetry readers from seeking out this volume, which aptly demonstrates the writer’s gifts in the genre and includes several poems of the highest quality.

The Wild Fox of Yemen: Poems

Captivating and beautifully written, this collection will appeal to a wide variety of audiences, and those not as familiar with Yemeni history or the Arabic language will assuredly be inspired to learn more. Recommended for all collections.

Tethered to Stars: Poems

Like the stars its title invokes, Joudah’s latest is mysterious and ruminative, a challenging work perhaps ill suited for poetry novices but offering plenty of dark beauty for those willing to probe its cryptic depths.
PREMIUM

frank: sonnets

All in all, there’s an awareness of the poet being separated--suggesting that she’s writing the poem as a way to connect to absent loved ones--perhaps her son who lives far away from her, or her former lover, or departed family members, or even her own self. But is she? It’s hard to pin down the meaning of a Seuss poem, which adds a certain pleasing sense of mystery to the best work here.

Come-Hither Honeycomb

The occasional poem could use some tightening, but this is a sterling collection that ends much too soon. Highly recommended.

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.
PREMIUM

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.

Provocations: 10 More Poetry Collections for Fall

Every Day We Get More Illegal

A timely and propulsive work; for all collections.
PREMIUM

The Math Campers

This difficult though engaging book brims with paradox, double meanings, incremental repetition, and startling metaphors, as when Chiasson tells the reader to step away from the page, so that “together we will ponder who imagined whom….” Best for academic libraries.

Owed

In a time when many confront and protest the racism prevalent in our society, Bennett’s new book is vital. Recommended for all collections.
PREMIUM

Whale Day: And Other Poems

Not Collins’s best collection but a solid one that all libraries will want for its emotional resonance during difficult times.
PREMIUM

Between Lakes

Harrison’s continued journey through a past tinged with regrets and melancholy should be most gratifying to readers of Ted Kooser and Billy Collins.
PREMIUM

Runaway: New Poems

Donne’s phrase “the vale of soul-making,” quoted by Graham in an interview, aptly suggests the terrain of these poems; challenging as they are, many of them seem like prayers. For all poetry fans.
PREMIUM

How To Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons): Poetry

Ranging from the title’s numerous lessons to a reading list for insomniacs, the poems in this genial new volume generally exude a pleasing sense of mystery, as exemplified by those in the final section, “The Nature of Objects.” Appropriate for most collections.
PREMIUM

Resistencia: Poems of Protest and Revolution

With their overriding theme of the search for justice and equality in an age of global unrest, these poems may never be more timely.

Longing and Speech: Nine Major Poetry Collections from Writers Veteran and New

PREMIUM

Asylum: A personal, historical, natural inquiry in 103 lyric sections

Precise language, deft metaphors, and emotional undertones keep audiences invested and sometimes enthralled. Recommended for most collections.

When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: A Norton Anthology of Native Nations Poetry

Essential, and not just as a resource; this is amazing poetry. [See “Versifying,” LJ 1/17/20.]

PREMIUM

Blizzard

For large poetry collections.

PREMIUM

Hosts and Guests

Like award-wining poet Christian Wiman, Klug bears witness to the fruitful cross-pollinations of contemporary poetry and contemporary religious faith, and like Wiman, he is worth watching. This new collection will reward attentive readers, regardless of their religious beliefs.
PREMIUM

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.]

PREMIUM

Little Hill

Ultimately, the creek running through El Cerrito is an extension of the sea and the life force it represents, as reflected in Warren’s poetry. For academic libraries and public libraries with strong poetry collections.
PREMIUM

Andalusian Hours: Poems from the Porch of Flannery O’Connor

O’Donnell’s sonnet sequence is brave and witty and just the thing for ardent readers of O’Connor herself.

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.]

Rift Zone

An important book to consider and savor. [See “Versifying,” LJ 1/20.]
PREMIUM

Obit

Often incorporating short declarative sentences, Chang’s poems can veer toward being list-like but move forward quickly to endings that surprise and even amaze as they burrow deep into those grieving places all of us have experienced. Recommended for most collections.

Country, Living

An excellent introduction to the concerns and style of one of the most characteristic voices in poetry today, this collection is both timely and touching.

The Park

A fine collection of spare, somber lyrics from an important figure in contemporary writing; with this volume, Freeman steps forward for merited attention as a poet in his own right. [See Barbara Hoffert’s “Versifying,” LJ 1/20.]
PREMIUM

For Now

In an anxious time, readers will find welcome consolation in Richardson’s poise and empathic relationship with the things of this small world.
PREMIUM

Summer Snow: New Poems

Overall, this collection of elegies has a pleasing, conversational tone (despite the morbidity of its subject), as if Hass is reading nature not to glean a message but to hear and see what nature has to say. For all libraries.
PREMIUM

Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod

One of the poet’s great strengths is her ability to forge striking metaphors even if several veer far from the sensate world: “white petals disappear into his shadow like a conclusion.” But that’s a quibble, as most poems impart a passionate fierceness while revealing a shared humanity. Highly recommended for most collections.

Muddy Matterhorn

In a rich work that embraces life while pushing back on anything that restricts our reach, McHugh again proves herself to be a master poet

Lean Against This Late Hour

Like Federico García Lorca, an acknowledged influence, Abdolmalekian merges the personal with the political in a semisurreal poetry of troubled nights and harrowing days, exposing the fear and vulnerability we bury with denial, daring to pose the question, “How many times are we born/ that we die/ so many times?” An impressive U.S. debut for a poet whose work invites global recognition.
PREMIUM

After Callimachus: Poems

According to this collection’s foreword, Callimachus never found his ideal translator

Finding Self/Finding Home | Top Spring Poetry

PREMIUM

In the Lateness of the World

Throughout her career, Forché has forged poems of witness, and she does so here with beauty and lyricism. The one misstep is an overabundance of list poems; Forché can bring to life objects better than nearly anyone, but we want the revelatory journey behind them. Yet, finally, this bounty of rich poetry is recommended for all collections.
PREMIUM

Living Weapon: Poems

An uneven but interesting collection showcasing life in New York City today, sometimes veering toward dull, ordinary language and sometimes singing with their take on society. For larger collections.
PREMIUM

For the Ride

Written in a breathless e.e. cummings style, the poem fractures the rules of spelling, grammar, syntax, and formal poetry and is at times unintelligible. But it also brims with fresh, vibrant metaphors and irony, not the least being the religious innuendos that permeate the text. For sophisticated readers of poetry.
PREMIUM

Norma Jeane Baker of Troy

Lest this all sound academic or overly meta, one need not be a student of ancient Greek drama or a pop culture historian to admire Carson’s unique artistry. The poet’s wry, pointed diction and radiant precision (e.g., Truman Capote “had a voice like a negligee, always/ slipping off one bare shoulder, just a bit”) bring Helen/Norma Jeane to vivid life as she attempts to “save [tragedy] from sorrow.”

Versifying | Collection Development: Poetry

The Death of Sitting Bear: New and Selected Poems

An admirable capstone to a distinguished literary career, this splendid selection should be a treasure for Momaday’s readers and an excellent introduction for those new to Native American writing.
PREMIUM

If Men, Then

Palpable and provocative poems that can be appreciated by broad audience.

PREMIUM

The Absurd Man

Jackson has said that he wants his poems to change language into feeling. Alas, in this collection, they seldom do.

PREMIUM

Survival Is a Style

Essential for Wiman’s readers, this new collection will also speak to any poet or reader alienated by the hard cynicism of much contemporary verse.

PREMIUM

Kaufman, Bob. Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman

Acutely aware of the contradictions between American ideals and its practices, Kaufman’s imaginative and jaggedly passionate poetry seems ripe for rediscovery. “When I die,” he wrote, “I won’t stay/ Dead.” This volume persuasively argues for his resurrection.

Best Poetry 2019

Nervous System: Poems

The story is built around Moffett’s standing outside her mother’s hospital room thinking about her before and after dementia through “these images,” which she wistfully describes as “Filling in/ what isn’t there.” Highly recommended for all libraries.

Carrying Water to the Field: New and Selected Poems

Gorgeous and deeply gratifying work recommended for all heartlands readers and anyone who appreciates the rural life Sutphen describes; with an introduction by former poet laureate Ted Kooser.
PREMIUM

Aviva-no

A deeply felt work that reveals both the poet’s inner life and the political complexities of the world in which he lives.
PREMIUM

Frolic and Tour

As one might expect, these poems are replete with numerous allusions to Catholicism
PREMIUM

Silences

The poem “Magritte, The Empire of Light,” describes this paradoxical painting, which shows a daylight sky over a nighttime scene

The Hardy Tree

Any new collection by Bierds is a blessing, and this one will not disappoint; her sensitive poems about Turing are lessons for aspiring readers or poets on the application of history to the creative impulse and power of poetry to illuminate the past.

Solar Perplexus

Young’s improvisations are simultaneously hilarious and poignant, revealing a deeply felt humanity and a covert awareness of our shared zeitgeist (“If you didn’t wake up/ screaming, you didn’t wake up”) that cause them to inspire no less than they entertain.

The Anti-Grief

Throughout, Boruch easily folds storytelling into her poems and makes deep emotional connections, as when Dorothy Wordsworth’s life segues into that of the poet’s grandmother. Repetition is occasionally overused, and the poet loses focus in the long poem “Keats Is Coughing,” which compares visits to Rome and Alaska, but overall this is a collection not to be missed.
PREMIUM

One Lark, One Horse: Poems

Hofmann’s condensed, serrated screeds against a gradually dehumanizing culture might seem unduly dyspeptic to some readers, but others will appreciate their unglossed vision and resistance to passive acceptance.

Starting Fall with Great Poetry: 13 Collections from Award Winners and Newcomers Alike

PREMIUM

In an Invisible Glass Case Which Is Also a Frame

At once moody and meditative, cheeky and bright, Guez’s poems will satisfy many readers, matching their own sense of upheaval.
PREMIUM

Be Recorder

“Can I trust the ardor/ or is it just theatre/ …shall I ask permission/ do I beg for a license”: Giménez Smith asks key questions in roiled times, and her greatest strength is nailing an outsider’s raw uncertainty, assumptions never made, immunity never achieved.
PREMIUM

Sightseer in This Killing City

Filipino American poet Gloria ably articulates contemporary crisis on both sides of the Pacific, using fluid language to remind us that we must move forward.
PREMIUM

The Tenant of Fire

Black provides a deft accumulation of detail that might initially feel talky, but readers are advised to slow down and enjoy the atmosphere, the emotion, and the firm sense of time and place. Really, you don’t have to be from Queens.
PREMIUM

Bitter English

From his citizenship interview to a final meditation on the past as he asks his daughter to repeat her sentences in Arabic, Almallah’s poetry-cum-memoir doesn’t shout but with pointed, persistent, limpid lines minimized to the very essence sums up loss and fractured identity as sharply as any jeremiad.

Ringer

Highly recommended; Lehmann’s talent for engaging outwardly will win her readers among poetry fans and newbies alike.
PREMIUM

In Her Feminine Sign

Mikhail’s deeply felt poems read flowingly but only look simple; there’s real depth here for all readers.
PREMIUM

Empires

Written with a storyteller’s verve, this collection entertains as it provokes and will appeal to many readers.
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