Beauty in verse
Don’t know where to get started on your reading this National Poetry Month? Several brilliant collections have been published over the past year, and we’ve picked out a few of our favorites. Check out our recommendations ahead.
American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin, by Terrance Hayes
A truly moral text that reckons with the Trump presidency wholly and intensely. American Sonnets is a political artwork that ought to be remembered as one of the essential responses to the current era.
The Carrying, by Ada Limón
If there were one title on this (impressive) list I’d recommend, it would have to be this one. The National Book Critics’ Circle Award winner for last year, Limón’s The Carrying is an intimate, raw foray into feelings of grief and pain, one written in a conversational directness that feels at once utterly original and stunningly timeless. With The Carrying, Limón proves she’s one of the greats.
Deaf Republic, by Ilya Kaminsky
Described as a “parable in poems,” Kaminsky’s soulful new collection opens on an act of horrific violence before meditating on silence and deafness in times of political unrest. The language is exquisite; the ethical questions Kaminsky poses are provocative.
Evolution, by Eileen Myles
The beloved queer poet returns with their first original collection since 2011, filled with the quirks and sharpness which have marked their impressive career.
feeld, by Jos Charles
Charles’ dissection of gender and language is edifying in the best way, a moving and mind-bending way of reframing topics and ideas that aren’t as fixed as they seem.
I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood, by Tiana Clark
Clark’s blistering survey of the South’s racial legacy won the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize before officially hitting the shelves last fall. In commanding verse, Clark writes about her ancestors, conjures imaginative mythology, and probes Rihanna’s cultural significance. Something for everyone, in other words.
If They Come for Us, by Fatimah Asghar
Asghar captures the life of a young Pakistani Muslim woman in contemporary America in a series of poems, tackling a range of hot-button topics with sensitivity and nuance.
Indecency, by Justin Phillip Reed
Reed’s poignant, searing book on masculinity and sexuality won last year’s National Book Award.
Invasive species, by Marwa Helal
Anger courses through this urgent new publication from Helal, which makes potently unconventional formal choices — including footnotes and citations, introducing the Arabic right-to-left and left-to-right approach to line-reading — to bolster its exploration of the immigrant and the “other.”
Magical Negro, by Morgan Parker
The name behind There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé returns with this bracing examination of black womanhood in America. Parker’s writing here is wide-ranging, veering from pop culture to daily life routines to create a vital document of experience, art, and history.
Only as the Day Is Long, by Dorianne Laux
The expansive work of Laux, a National Book Critics Circle Award finalist, is compiled here in a definitive volume. Laux is known for her lyrical and gritty portraits of working-class life in America, a talent on full display in Only as the Day Is Long.
So Far So Good, by Ursula K. Le Guin
The iconic late author finished her final book of poems just weeks before her death in early 2018. It marks the author at her best: Witty, ponderous, reflective, and deeply human.