Poetry

  • Unaccompanied

    Javier Zamora

    Very topical poems on the immigrant experience. Javier Zamora is from El Salvador, and his parents left for the US when he was very young and he followed when he was 9 years old. He writes from the perspective of his parents and other people in his family on the savagery of civil war and the ordeals people like his...more

  • In Full Velvet

    Jenny Johnson

    The title of this book refers to furry skin on the antlers of young deer, which most shed as the antlers finish calcifying. The titular poem mentions some whitetails that don’t shed their velvet, described by hunters as “raggedy-horn freaks” who live “long solitary lives, unweathered / by the rutting season.”

    ...more

  • Don’t Call Us Dead

    Danez Smith

    Apparently I’m having a moment of reading contemporary poems by gay men.* They’ve all been great, but this is probably my fave of the bunch by just a little bit. As a collection, it feels so cohesive with poems about being a black man, a gay man, HIV-positive, and the intersections between them. Favorites...more

  • When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities

    Chen Chen

    Most of this collection feels playful and cheeky, yet there is a mournful undercurrent, from the poems with some form of “elegy” in their titles, references to the sickness of Chen Chen’s mother and her unrealized expectations of him, and even his consideration of a friend’s comment, “…All you write about / is being gay or...more

  • Madness

    Sam Sax

    Poems on themes of queerness, mental health, and STI stigmas. Structured around an excerpt of the DSMI (from 1952), it fractures and reframes around these concepts throughout the four sections. A couple titles get revisited exactly across the book: Psychotherapy, On...more

  • My Mother Was a Freedom Fighter

    Aja Monet

    she is an archipelago of shanty towns, she is invention and

    necessity. found scraps, a bouquet of bloody music in her

    hands. cane of sugar, leaves of tobacco, a cluster or bananas,

    coffee

    ...more
  • Float

    Anne Carson

    First, this is an intriguing object: a clear box filled with twenty-two chapbooks. Each cover is printed in a similar texture in shades that to me represent the range of hues of bodies of water at different times of day and in various types of weather: blues, deep blues, grays, greens. Inside the text has similar variance whether...more

  • If Not, Winter

    Sappho, translated by Anne Carson

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  • Brown Girl Dreaming

    Jacqueline Woodson

    Memoir in verse, telling the stories of Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood. The poems impart an impressionistic narrative, focused more on the small moments amidst the larger transitions — like the end of her parents’ relationship, moving with her mother and siblings to her grandparents’ home in Greenville, SC, then...more

  • L’Heure Bleue, or the Judy Poems

    Elisa Gabbert

    I loved Elisa Gabbert’s The Self Unstable, and this new book has similar cadences, even though these are true poems rather than lyric aphorisms. The Judy of the title is a character in Wallace Shawn’s play “The Designated Mourner,” which is set “in an unnamed, fictitious country...more

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