What to Read When You Want to Celebrate Poetry

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It’s no secret that at The Rumpus, we love us some poetry, which makes April one of our favorite months of the year! And, just in case sharing thirty thrilling new poems with you each day throughout the month isn’t quite enough (can there be such a thing as too much poetry?), we’ve asked our editors to share new and forthcoming collections from poets we love and admire that we’re especially excited about.

If a title is marked as a Poetry Book Club upcoming selection, you can receive this book before its release date and participate in an exclusive conversation with its author! Along with our other subscription programs, the Poetry Book Club helps to keep The Rumpus alive—so you can celebrate National Poetry Month, connect with your favorite poets, and support The Rumpus with just one click. Head to our store and become a member today!

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The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext edited by Felicia Chavez, José Olivarez, and Willie Perdomo
In the dynamic tradition of the BreakBeat Poets anthology, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext celebrates the embodied narratives of Latinidad. Poets speak from an array of nationalities, genders, sexualities, races, and writing styles, staking a claim to our cultural and civic space. Like hip-hop, we honor what was, what is, and what’s next.

 

Birthright by George Abraham
Birthright is a book that balances the weight of place. The pride and shame and worth of homeland. Palestine, a homeland under siege and under scrutiny from a world that doesn’t occupy its borders. It is a book of immense nuance, pulling together all corners of the author’s pride in home, but also a desire to understand the violent cycles of the American machinery of war.

 

Deluge by Leila Chatti
In her early twenties, Leila Chatti started bleeding and did not stop. Physicians referred to this bleeding as flooding. In the Qur’an, as in the Bible, the Flood was sent as punishment. The idea of disease as punishment drives this collection’s themes of shame, illness, grief, and gender, transmuting religious narratives through the lens of a young Arab-American woman suffering a taboo female affliction. Deluge investigates the childhood roots of faith and desire alongside their present day enactments. Chatti’s remarkably direct voice makes use of innovative poetic form to gaze unflinchingly at what she was taught to keep hidden. This powerful piece of life-writing depicts Chatti’s journey from diagnosis to surgery and remission in meticulous chronology that binds body to spirit and advocates for the salvation of both. Chatti blends personal narrative, religious imagery, and medical terminology in a chronicle of illness, womanhood, and faith.

 

Thrown in the Throat by Benjamin Garcia
With language that arrives equal parts regal and raucous, Thrown in the Throat shines brilliant with sweat and an iridescent voice. “Sometimes even a diamond was once alive” writes Garcia in a collection that National Poetry Series judge Kazim Ali says “has deadly superpowers.” And indeed these poems arrive to our hands through touch-me-nots and the slight cruelty of mothers, through closets both real and metaphorical. These are poems complex, unabashed, and needed as survival. Garcia’s debut is nothing less than exactly the ode our history and present and our future call for: brash and unmistakably alive. A Rumpus Poetry Book Club upcoming selection!

 

Thresholes by Lara Mimosa Montes
Thresholes is both a doorway and an absence, a roadmap and a remembering. In this almanac of place and memory, Lara Mimosa Montes writes of her family’s past, returning to the Bronx of the 1970s and ‘80s and the artistry that flourished there. What is the threshold between now and then, and how can the poet be the bridge between the two?

 

My Baby First Birthday by Jenny Zhang
Jenny Zhang writes about accepting pain, about the way we fetishize womanhood and motherhood, and reduce women to their violations, traumas, and body parts. She questions the way we feminize and racialize nurturing, and live in service of other people’s dreams. Her poems explore the obscenity of patriarchy, whiteness, and capitalism, the violence of rescue and heroism. The magic trick in this book is that despite all these themes, the book never feels like some jeremiad. Zhang uses friendship as a lyric. She seeks tenderness, radiant beauty, and having love for your mistakes. Through all this, she writes about being alone—really alone, like why-was-I-ever-born alone—and trying, despite everything, to reach out and touch something—skin to skin, animal to animal.

 

The Malevolent Volume by Justin Phillip Reed
Subverting celebrated classics of poetry and mythology and examining horrors from contemporary film and cultural fact, Justin Phillip Reed engages darkness as an aesthetic to conjure the revenant animus that lurks beneath the exploited civilities of marginalized people. In these poems, Reed finds agency in the other-than-human identities assigned to those assaulted by savageries of the state. In doing so, he summons a retaliatory, counter-violent Black spirit to revolt and to inhabit the revolting.

 

Obit by Victoria Chang
After her mother died, poet Victoria Chang refused to write elegies. Rather, she distilled her grief during a feverish two weeks by writing scores of poetic obituaries for all she lost in the world. In Obit, Chang writes of “the way memory gets up after someone has died and starts walking.” These poems reinvent the form of newspaper obituary to both name what has died (“civility,” “language,” “the future,” “Mother’s blue dress”) and the cultural impact of death on the living. Whereas elegy attempts to immortalize the dead, an obituary expresses loss, and the love for the dead becomes a conduit for self-expression. In this unflinching and lyrical book, Chang meets her grief and creates a powerful testament for the living.

 

Muddy Matterhorn by Heather McHugh
Heather McHugh’s first book in a decade, Muddy Matterhorn, reclaims the mix of high and low that is her sensibility’s signature, in matters practical and philosophical, semantic and stylistic, mortal and transitory, amorous and political, hilarious and heartbreaking. With fierce attacks on technology and social structures, McHugh finds a way to enjoy and empathize with humanity on her own terms. Ever the outsider, McHugh combines a strong sense of self with a determination to love people and the worlds they build without losing her biting criticism or witty rejection of societal norms and expectations. She is both pragmatic and theorizing, esoteric and identifiable. The joy and anger in these poems join to form an empowered and impassioned declaration of self in a chaotic time. A Rumpus Poetry Book Club upcoming selection!

 

Hot with the Bad Things by Lucia LoTempio
These poems take a closer look at violence against women, both physical and psychological. Follow the intersection of fear, identity, and the malleability of the speaker’s own experiences of violence enacted on her by men, particularly a past partner. Imagistic and evocative, the poems ask how are we conditioned into living with violence, and how do we move forward?

 

Forever War by Kate Gaskin
“In Kate Gaskin’s compelling debut collection, Forever War, the poet offers readers an intimate view of what a military marriage is not; these are poems that disrupt consoling narratives about life on the home front, deployments and redeployments, reunions, and the soldier’s reentry into the civilian sphere. From our current military campaigns to a striking sequence about Vietnam, Gaskin confronts the seemingly infinite cycle of war in which we seem to have found ourselves, what she calls ‘the same / Groundhog Day of special ops / humping across dry lands / most Americans could never name.’ In these poems, the military spouse articulates the indifference of many Americans civilians—‘There are no explosions here,’ she says, ‘only people shrugging / into the cold.’—and voices the grief of knowing that her husband’s ‘first marriage / is to the sky,’ and, worse still, that her own speech must be burdened with ‘the dumb and bloody language’ of war.” – Jehanne Dubrow, author of Stateside and Dots & Dashes

 

Whale and Vapor by Kim Kyung Ju, translated by Jake Levine
The poems in Whale and Vapor emphasize exhaustion—physically, mentally, and as an existential condition. Kim Kyung Ju playfully turns toward the lyric in this work as a way to reconcile himself with the contemporary world by engaging in dialogue with his Korean literary ancestry. Masterfully translated by Jake Levine in close conversation with the author, this collection by one of the most popular and critically acclaimed poets to come out in South Korea in the new millennium explores the cold tunnels of today’s tired, dark times.

 

Not Go Away Is My Name by Alberto Ríos
Resistance and persistence collide in Not Go Away Is My Name, a book about past and present, changing and unchanging, letting go and holding on. The borderline between Mexico and the US looms large, and Ríos sheds light on and challenges our sensory experiences of everyday objects. At the same time, family memories and stories of the Sonoron desert weave throughout as Ríos travels in duality: between places, between times, and between lives. In searching for and treasuring what ought to be remembered, Ríos creates an ode to family life, love and community, and realizes “All I can do is not go away. / Not go away is my name.”

 

Hinge by Molly Spencer
“Through legend and landscape, in her lush and razor sharp lines, Molly Spencer’s newest collection, Hinge, navigates mothering and the passage of time in the throes of chronic illness. Her poems illuminate what it means to inhabit a body turning on itself, to come to knowledge by loss and by absence. These are poems that exquisitely tend to the work of living.” – Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, author of Water & Salt A Rumpus Poetry Book Club upcoming selection!

 

Letters to a Young Brown Girl by Barbara Jane Reyes
The Brown Girl of these poems is fed up with being shushed, with being constantly told how foreign and unattractive and unwanted she is. She’s flipping tables and throwing chairs. She’s raising her voice. She’s keeping a sharp focus on the violences committed against her every day, and she’s writing through the depths of her “otherness” to find beauty and even grace amidst her rage. Simultaneously looking into the mirror and out into the world, Reyes exposes the sensitive nerve-endings of life under patriarchy as a visible immigrant woman of color as she reaches towards her unflinching center.

 

The More Extravagant Feast by Leah Naomi Green
The More Extravagant Feast focuses on the trophic exchanges of a human body with the world via pregnancy, motherhood, and interconnection—the acts of making and sustaining other bodies from one’s own, and one’s own from the larger world. Leah Naomi Green writes from attentiveness to the vast availability and capacity of the weedy, fecund earth and from her own human place within more-than-human life, death, and birth. Lyrically and spiritually rich, striving toward honesty and understanding, The More Extravagant Feast is an extraordinary book of awareness of our dependency on ecological systems—seen and unseen.

Norma Jeane Baker of Troy by Anne Carson
Norma Jeane Baker of Troy is a meditation on the destabilizing and destructive power of beauty, drawing together Helen of Troy and Marilyn Monroe, twin avatars of female fascination separated by millennia but united in mythopoeic force. Norma Jeane Baker was staged in the spring of 2019 at The Shed’s Griffin Theater in New York, starring actor Ben Whishaw and soprano Renée Fleming and directed by Katie Mitchell.

 

Living Weapon by Rowan Ricardo Phillips
Rowan Ricardo Phillips’s Living Weapon is a love song to the imagination, a new blade of light honed in on our political moment. A winged man plummets from the troposphere; four NYPD officers enter a cellphone store; concrete sidewalks hang overhead. Here, in his third collection of poems, Phillips offers us ruminations on violins and violence, on hatred, on turning forty-three, even on the end of existence itself. Living Weapon reveals to us the limitations of our vocabulary, that our platitudes are not enough for the brutal times in which we find ourselves. But still, our lives go on, and these are poems of survival as much as they are an indictment.

 

That Was Now, This Is Then by Vijay Seshadri
No one blends ironic intelligence, emotional frankness, radical self-awareness, and complex humor the way Vijay Seshadri does. In this, his fourth collection, he affirms his place as one of America’s greatest living poets. That Was Now, This Is Then takes on the planar paradoxes of time and space, destabilizing highly tuned lyrics and elegies with dizzying turns in poems of unrequitable longing, of longing for longing, of longing to be found, of grief. In these poems, Seshadri’s speaker becomes the subject, the reader becomes the writer, and the multiplying refracted narratives yield an “anguish so pure it almost / feels like joy.” A Rumpus Poetry Book Club upcoming selection!

 

Anodyne by Khadijah Queen
Formally dynamic and searingly personal, Anodyne asks us to recognize the echoes of history that litter the landscape of our bodies as we navigate a complex terrain of survival and longing. With an intimate and multivocal dexterity, these poems acknowledge the simultaneous existence of joy and devastation, knowledge and ignorance, grief and love, endurance and failure—all of the contrast and serendipity that comes with the experience of being human. If the body is a world, or a metaphor for the world, for what disappears and what remains, for what we feel and what we cover up, then how do we balance fate and choice, pleasure and pain? Through a combination of formal lyrics, delicate experiments, sharp rants, musical litany, and moments of wit that uplift and unsettle, Queen’s poems show us the terrible consequences and stunning miracles of how we choose to live.

 

The Park by John Freeman
John Freeman uses a park as a petri dish, turning a deep gaze on all that pass through it. In language both precise and restrained, Freeman explores the inherent contradictions that arise from a place whose purpose is derived purely from what we bring to it––a park is both natural and constructed, exclusionary and open, unfeeling and burdened with sentimentality. Pulling from both history and his own meditations in the Luxembourg Gardens in Paris, the seasons pass through famous parks, personal parks, parks beneath parks, and other spaces with fabricated outer limits. Throughout, Freeman wonders at how a park, being both curated and public, can be a nexus for a manifestation of great wealth inequality. How have we created these false boundaries for ourselves––with regard to physical space, but also in our minds and societies, in our personal relationships? Interspersed with meditations on love, beauty, and connection, The Park is a pacific and unflinching mirror cast upon a space defined by its transience.

 

Catrachos by Roy G. Guzmán
A name for the people of Honduras, Catrachos is a term of solidarity and resilience. In these unflinching, riveting poems, Roy G. Guzmán reaches across borders—between life and death and between countries—invoking the voices of the lost. Part immigration narrative, part elegy, and part queer coming-of-age story, Catrachos finds its own religion in fantastic figures such as the X-Men, pop singers, and the “Queerodactyl,” which is imagined in a series of poems as a dinosaur sashaying in the shadow of an oncoming comet, insistent on surviving extinction. With exceptional energy, humor, and inventiveness, Guzmán’s debut is a devastating display of lyrical and moral complexity—an introduction to an immediately captivating, urgently needed voice.

 

Neck of the Woods by Amy Woolard
If two girls are two halves of a deep, lifelong friendship, what does one girl wholly become when the other is gone? Amy Woolard’s debut collection, Neck Of The Woods, sets this question as a hero-quest deep inside the mythos of the American South, wandering through childhood stories in which a girl alone must work to save herself. These poems take on what happens when you wake up the morning after something happens, and find yourself in a different world, knowing there isn’t truly a way back home. Part elegy, part survivor’s testimony, Neck Of The Woods maps a path divided into a before and an ever after.

 

Arrow by Sumita Chakraborty
“This powerful and endlessly mysterious collection of poems is a book of fables, of spells, of revised narratives, and of realigned songs, brightly lifted above our bodies by music that is as unpredictable as it is marvelous. The lyricism is everywhere apparent as Sumita Chakraborty addresses us, our bodies and their stories, our planet, and our sense of time itself. How does she do it? Mad Ireland hurt him into poetry, W. H. Auden wrote about Yeats, and as the hurt enters Chakraborty’s language, we see that in speech violated, sounds and meanings—and even the oldest of human mysteries, like ‘the etymology of love’—are redefined. All one can do is repeat: this is an endlessly compelling book. Bravo.” – Ilya Kaminsky, author of Deaf Republic A Rumpus Poetry Book Club upcoming selection!

 

Capable Monsters by Marlin M. Jenkins
Capable Monsters moves through entries of the Pokémon encyclopedia—the Pokédex—as a way to navigate concerns of identity: otherness, what it means to be considered a monster, how we fit into a larger societal ecosystem. To make space for the validity of oft-dismissed subject material, Marlin M. Jenkins asserts the symbolic, thematic, and narrative richness of worlds like the world of Pokémon: his poems use Pokémon as a way to explore cataloguing, childhood, race, queerness, violence, and the messiness of being a human in a world of humans.

 

Shrapnel Maps by Philip Metres
Writing into the wounds and reverberations of the Israel/Palestine conflict, Shrapnel Maps is at once elegiac and activist, an exploratory surgery to extract the slivers of cartography through palimpsest and erasure. A wedding in Toura, a suicide bombing in Jerusalem, uneasy interactions between Arab and Jewish neighbors in University Heights, the expulsion of Palestinians in Jaffa, another bombing in Gaza: Shrapnel Maps traces the hurt and tender places, where political noise turns into the voices of Palestinians and Israelis. Working with documentary flyers, vintage postcards, travelogues, cartographic language, and first person testimonies, Shrapnel Maps ranges from monologue sonnets to prose vignettes, polyphonics to blackouts, indices to simultaneities, as Palestinians and Israelis long for justice and peace, for understanding and survival.

 

Un-American by Hafizah Geter
Dancing between lyric and narrative, Hafizah Geter’s debut collection moves readers through the fraught internal and external landscapes―linguistic, cultural, racial, familial―of those whose lives are shaped and transformed by immigration. The daughter of a Nigerian Muslim woman and a former Southern Baptist black man, Geter charts the history of a black family of mixed citizenships through poems imbued by migration, racism, queerness, loss, and the heartbreak of trying to feel at home in a country that does not recognize you. Through her mother’s death and her father’s illnesses, Geter weaves the natural world into the discourse of grief, human interactions, and sociopolitical discord.

 

My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree: Selected Poems by Yi Lei, translated by Tracy K. Smith and Changtai Bi
Yi Lei published her poem “A Single Woman’s Bedroom” in 1987, when cohabitation before marriage was a punishable crime in China. She was met with major critical acclaim—and with outrage—for her frank embrace of women’s erotic desire and her unabashed critique of oppressive law. Over the span of her revolutionary career, Yi Lei became one of the most influential figures in contemporary Chinese poetry. Passionate, rigorous, and inimitable, the poems in My Name Will Grow Wide Like a Tree celebrate the joys of the body, ponder the miracle of compassion, and proclaim an abiding reverence for the natural world. Presented in the original Chinese alongside English translations by Changtai Bi and Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Tracy K. Smith, this collection introduces American readers to a boundless spirit—one “composing an explosion.”

 

Pale Colors in a Tall Field by Carl Phillips
Carl Phillips’s new poetry collection, Pale Colors in a Tall Field, is a meditation on the intimacies of thought and body as forms of resistance. The poems are both timeless and timely, asking how we can ever truly know ourselves in the face of our own remembering and inevitable forgetting. Here, the poems metaphorically argue that memory is made up of various colors, with those most prominent moments in a life seeming more vivid, though the paler colors are never truly forgotten. The poems in Pale Colors in a Tall Field approach their points of view kaleidoscopically, enacting the self’s multiplicity and the difficult shifts required as our lives, in turn, shift.

 

Unearth [the Flowers] by Thea Matthews
In the wake of the Me Too movement, Thea Matthews’s debut collection provides a path to healing. Her empowering poems illustrate how survivors can find a safe place within themselves to reclaim their own identity and sexuality. A Rumpus Poetry Book Club upcoming selection!

 

Inheritance by Taylor Johnson
“The inheritance of the ones who cannot have and are not one is passed on lyrically, in the terrible arrangements we make with pleasure against pleasure. Knowing all about this runs parallel to poetry before crossing over, going deeper, into the general song of being sung through, of being lengthened beyond what I can know. Taylor Johnson beautifully and miraculously extends that way, ‘So I’m singing.’ I’m singing with them, about them, because of them.” – Frederick Moten, author of All that Beauty

 

Shahr-e-jaanaan: The City of the Beloved by Adeeba Talukder
Shahr-e-jaanaan sets out to recreate the universe of Urdu and Persian poetic tradition. As the speaker maps her romances onto legends, directing their characters perform her own tragedy, their fantastical metaphors easily lend themselves to her fluctuating mental state. Cycling between delirious grandeur and wretched despair, she is torn between two selves—the pitiable lover continually rejected, and the cruel, unattainable beloved comparable in her exaltation to a god.

 

Be Holding: A Poem by Ross Gay
Be Holding is a love song to legendary basketball player Julius Erving—known as Dr. J—who dominated courts in the 1970s and ‘80s as a small forward for the Philadelphia ‘76ers. But this book-length poem is more than just an ode to a magnificent athlete. Through a kind of lyric research, or lyric meditation, Ross Gay connects Dr. J’s famously impossible move from the 1980 NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers to pick-up basketball and the flying Igbo and the Middle Passage, to photography and surveillance and state violence, to music and personal histories of flight and familial love. Be Holding wonders how the imagination, or how our looking, might make us, or bring us, closer to each other. How our looking might make us reach for each other. And might make us be reaching for each other. And how that reaching might be something like joy.

 

The Fish & The Dove by Mary-Kim Arnold
The Fish & The Dove considers the history of occupation, the legacy of the Korean War, and the ways in which official and institutional language of war obfuscates lived experience. In it, I bear witness to what girlhood, womanhood, and motherhood might mean in the context of family, nation, and history. The legendary Assyrian warrior goddess Semiramis haunts this book, and by giving her voice, I attempt to foreground women’s experience in narratives that so often tokenize, dehumanize, and exclude them. The text is informed by and appropriates institutional language, including reports of the South Korean Truth and Reconciliation Commission on governmental atrocities committed during the Korean War.” – Mary-Kim Arnold A recent Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection!

 

Queer Hagiographies by Audra Puchalski
“Look, I don’t know what a saint is, but having read Queer Hagiographies I now know that we are most alive, perhaps, when martyred, snake fed to snake, lyric. These poems confirm how queer this shit has been this whole fucking time: queer and unbelievably detailed, queer and exclamatory, queer and swollen at its leafy nodes. Read this if you’re like: who’s the best at line breaks, and how can I be more than a little bit turned on by things I’ve never considered erotic, and what is time, who am I.” – Hannah Ensor, author of Love Dream With Television

 

Foreign Bodies by Kimiko Hahn
Inspired by her encounter with Dr. Chevalier Jackson’s collection of ingested curiosities at Philadelphia’s Mütter Museum, Kimiko Hahn’s tenth collection investigates the grip that seemingly insignificant objects exert on our lives. Itself a cabinet of curiosities, the collection provokes the same surprise, wonder, and pangs of recognition Hahn felt upon opening drawer after drawer of these swallowed, and retrieved, objects. As Hahn remakes the lyric sequence in chains reminiscent of the Japanese tanka, the foreign bodies of the title expand to include the immigrant woman’s trafficked body, fossilized remains, a grandmother’s Japanese body. Foreign Bodies investigates the power of possession, replete with Hahn’s electric originality and thrilling mastery of ever-changing forms.

 

Guillotine by Eduardo C. Corral
Guillotine traverses desert landscapes cut through by migrants, the grief of loss, betrayal’s lingering scars, the border itself—great distances in which violence and yearning find roots. Through the voices of undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents, and scorned lovers, award-winning poet Eduardo C. Corral writes dramatic portraits of contradiction, survival, and a deeply human, relentless interiority. With extraordinary lyric imagination, these poems wonder about being unwanted or renounced. What do we do with unrequited love? Is it with or without it that we would waste away?

 

The Tilt Torn Away from the Seasons by Elizabeth Lindsey Rogers
The Tilt Torn Away from the Seasons imagines a human mission to Mars, a consequence of Earth’s devastation from climate change and natural disaster. As humans begin to colonize the planet, history inevitably repeats itself. Dystopian and ecopoetic, this collection examines the impulse and danger of the colonial mindset, and the ways that gendered violence and ecological destruction, body and land, are linked. Featuring a multiplicity of narratives and voices, readers are presented with sonnet crowns, application forms, and large-scale landscape poems that seem to float across the field of the page. With these unusual forms, Rogers also reminds us of previous exploitations on our own planet. Striking, thought-provoking, and necessary, The Tilt Torn Away from the Seasons offers a new parable for our modern times. A recent Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection!

 

The Galleons by Rick Barot
These poems are engaged in the work of recovery, making visible what is often intentionally erased: the movement of domestic workers on a weekday morning in Brooklyn; a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, fondly sharing photos of his dog; the departure and destination points of dozens of galleons between 1564 and 1815, these ships evoking both the vast movements of history and the individual journeys of those borne along by their tides. With nods toward Barot’s poetic predecessors―from Frank O’Hara to John Donne―The Galleons represents an exciting extension and expansion of Barot’s work, marrying “reckless” ambition and crafted “composure,” in which we repeatedly find the speaker standing and breathing before the world, “incredible and true.”

 

Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz
Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages―bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers―be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness. In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality. Postcolonial Love Poem unravels notions of American goodness and creates something more powerful than hope―in it, a future is built, future being a matrix of the choices we make now, and in these poems, Diaz chooses love.

 

A Sinking Ship Is Still a Ship by Ariel Francisco
In Ariel Francisco’s Miami, invasive lionfish are sympathetic creatures, the beach succumbs to sea-level rise, and “305 till I die” is a cry for help. The speakers in these hilarious and melancholy poems depict a rich and varied emotional landscape that mirrors that of the state they long to leave, dead or alive. They imagine themselves standing on ocean garbage patches, contemplate the crabgrass on traffic medians, and envision the new beauty of a submerged Miami Beach. In one moment the strange becomes familiar, only to become strange again in the next stanza. Taking inspiration from Campbell McGrath and Richard Blanco, among others, Ariel Francisco’s second book of poems deals with climate change and the absurdities and difficulties of being a millenial Latinx in the Sunshine State. This first edition includes side-by-side Spanish translations by José Nicolás Cabrera-Schneider. A recent Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection!

 

A Nail the Evening Hangs On by Monica Sok
In her debut collection, Monica Sok uses poetry to reshape a family’s memory about the Khmer Rouge regime―memory that is both real and imagined―according to a child of refugees. Driven by myth-making and fables, the poems examine the inheritance of the genocide and the profound struggles of searing grief and PTSD. Though the landscape of Cambodia is always present, it is the liminal space, the in-betweenness of diaspora, in which younger generations must reconcile their history and create new rituals. A Nail the Evening Hangs On seeks to reclaim the Cambodian narrative with tenderness and an imagination that moves towards wholeness and possibility.

 

44 Poems for You by Sarah Ruhl
Playwright and essayist Sarah Ruhl began by writing poems. The two-time Pulitzer Prize finalist returns to poetry with her playful, warm debut collection, 44 Poems for You. As the title promises, these are poems of direct address. Including the reader in the concept of “you”—you the beloved, spouse, friend, you wherever you might be—Ruhl answers our collective longing for direct connection in an era of digital anonymity. With great affection for language and the nuances of human relationships, 44 Poems for You delivers poetic musings with characteristic emotional intelligence: witty, generous, loving, and tinged with longing.

 

Homie by Danez Smith
Homie is Danez Smith’s magnificent anthem about the saving grace of friendship. Rooted in the loss of one of Smith’s close friends, this book comes out of the search for joy and intimacy within a nation where both can seem scarce and getting scarcer. In poems of rare power and generosity, Smith acknowledges that in a country overrun by violence, xenophobia, and disparity, and in a body defined by race, queerness, and diagnosis, it can be hard to survive, even harder to remember reasons for living. But then the phone lights up, or a shout comes up to the window, and family―blood and chosen―arrives with just the right food and some redemption. Part friendship diary, part bright elegy, part war cry, Homie is the exuberant new book written for Danez and for Danez’s friends and for you and for yours. A recent Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection!

 

Little Envelope of Earth Conditions by Cori A. Winrock
This collection charts a voyage of mourning―from the woods of a motherless fairytale to the vastness of space. Following the loss of a mother and baby, these poems explore the impossible distance a griever must travel in order to return back to earth. Part elegy, part love song, these poems teach us how to tend to the dead while carrying on living.

 

The Absurd Man by Major Jackson
Inspired by Albert Camus’s seminal Myth of Sisyphus, Major Jackson’s fifth volume subtly configures the poet as “absurd hero” and plunges headfirst into a search for stable ground in an unstable world. We follow Jackson’s restless, vulnerable speaker as he ponders creation in the face of meaninglessness, chronicles an increasingly technological world and the difficulty of social and political unity, probes a failed marriage, and grieves his lost mother with a stunning, lucid lyricism. The arc of a man emerges; he bravely confronts his past, including his betrayals and his mistakes, and questions who he is as a father, as a husband, as a son, and as a poet. With intense musicality and verve, The Absurd Man also faces outward, finding refuge in intellectual and sensuous passions. At once melancholic and jubilant, Jackson considers the journey of humanity, with all its foibles, as a sacred pattern of discovery reconciled by art and the imagination.

 

The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer by Eric Tran
In The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer, Eric Tran contends with the aftermath of a close friend’s suicide while he simultaneously explores the complexities of being a gay man of color. Grief opens into unraveling circles of inquiry as Tran reflects on the loss of his friend and of their shared identity as gay Asian American men. Through mourning and acute observations, these poems consider how those who experience marginalization, the poet included, may live and fall victim to tragedy. Tran explores how his life, even while in the company of desire and the pursuit of freedom, is never far from danger. Like grief that makes the whole world seem strange, Tran’s poetry merges into fantasy lands and rides the lines between imagined worlds and the reality of inescapable loss. A recent Rumpus Poetry Book Club selection!

 

White Blood: A Lyric of Virginia by Kiki Petrosino
In her fourth full-length book, Kiki Petrosino turns her gaze to Virginia, where she digs into her genealogical and intellectual roots, while contemplating the knotty legacies of slavery and discrimination in the Upper South. From a stunning double crown sonnet, to erasure poetry contained within DNA testing results, the poems in this collection are as wide-ranging in form as they are bountiful in wordplay and truth. Speaking to history, loss, and injustice with wisdom, innovation, and a scientific determination to find the poetic truth, White Blood plants Petrosino’s name ever more firmly in the contemporary canon.

 

The Sky That Denied Me: Selected Poems by Jawdat Fakhreddine, translated by Roger Allen and Huda Fakhreddine
Twenty intimate poems by renowned Lebanese poet Jawdat Fakhreddine, translated by his daughter Huda in collaboration with Roger Allen, explore such themes as familial love and connection, displacement, memory, and grief.

 

Savage Pageant by Jessica Q. Stark
Savage Pageant recounts the history of the defunct zoo, Jungleland, which housed Hollywood’s show animals up until its closure in 1969. In it, Stark explores the concept of US American spectacle and its historic ties to celebrity culture, the maternal body, racist taxonomies, the mistreatment of animals, and ecological violence. With a hybrid, documentary poetics, Savage Pageant reveals how we attempt to narrate and control geographical space and how ghosts (remainders, the sketch, unfinished stories) collapse the tidy corners of our collective, accumulative histories.

 

13th Balloon by Mark Bibbins
Mark Bibbins’s book-length poem sequence brings the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and ’90s into new light—an account that approximates, with stunning lyricism, “what music sounds like / just before the record skips.” Addressed to a dead beloved, 13th Balloon troubles the cloud-like space of grief by piecing together the fragmented experiences of youth and loss, anguish and desire. Part elegy, part memoir in verse, this is a groundbreaking collection whose trajectory runs counter to the impulse toward nostalgia, unearthing what was thought to have burned in the fire.