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Robert Frost was a great poet, but when he said that poetry is lost in translation, was he right? However they read in their original language, the poems of the contemporary Polish master Adam Zagajewski are true gems in the English Clare Cavanagh has given them. In his recent collection, Unseen Hand, the compatriot of Milosz, Szymborska, and Zbigniew Herbert puts today’s world in a bittersweet historical perspective. Roaming from Poland to Paris to Ravenna and several U.S. cities, the poet wants both to “jot down a few words so that winter/ may chew its black bread of forgetting,” and fulfill a friend’s hope that “a poem should end/better than a life.” There are ashes here, but also the certainty that “dawn always tells us something, / always.”  Available in hardcover, $6.98

Along with being Poetry Month, April also brings Earth Day. That’s coming up on April 22, as it has since 1970. Why that day? What were the forces behind the original project, and why has it continued, even as so much else has changed? Adam Rome’s The Genius of Earth Day: How a 1970 Teach-in Unexpectedly Made the First Green Generation chronicles the individuals, organizations, and outrage that instituted this now-iconic annual event. Rome, a former journalist and now a professor of environmental history, gives both the wide sweep of ongoing environmental activism and conveys the first fresh idealism of Earth Day’s founders—and the pivotal role of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. Available in hardcover, $12.98.

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards is a beguiling story about stories. There are many here—stories about the truth of fiction and about the difference between fiction and lies. These distinctions matter, and debut author Kristopher Jansma shows just how they do as he chronicles the long friendship between the unnamed narrator—an aspiring writer—and his friend and rival, the prodigiously successful, yet tormented, Julian McGann. The novel travels all over the world for its vivid and telling scenes, with love as well as stories found and lost in unexpected ways. Available in hardcover, $7.98.


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- Laurie Greer