Staff Pick

A note at the end of Michaels’s spare and beautiful collection lists seven people the poet lost between 2013 and 2017, as if she felt she had to prove how she became one of “those who have earned the right to speak in absolutes.” For Michaels, love is the chief absolute and it outweighs loss, just as a rower “hewing the abyss,” feels “the entire weight of the sea/pulled by a narrow blade.” While speaking itself defies death by putting love into words, Michaels most effectively and passionately counters loss’s absolute with love’s particulars. These poems roam memory, stopping at moments that crystallize entire relationships. Whether listening to “the endless ballad/of waves against the embankment” or watching stones in a misty field “come alive” as bison, Michaels keeps turning that “single stitch” of a hyphen between dates into “the dash at the end of a phrase, meaning/not yet, meaning /to/continue.”

All We Saw: Poems Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780451493095
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 3rd, 2017

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Staff Pick

A brilliant tapestry of a book, Calvocoressi’s third collection unfolds in a woods filled with creatures both mundane and magical, from a necklace of locusts to “the polar bears scrambling/ on the ice chips.”  A buck, that standard of medieval ballads, might be a deer, a tree, or a person. The speaker is sometimes prey, sometimes the stalker. Possibilities are open, genders are fluid, and the stories are many. Each poem is part of an ongoing coming-of-age narrative, featuring the speaker’s father and his advice on how to see, as well as part of a grieving process for things that the speaker does not want to see.  Most prominently, the sequence tracks the  romance between the speaker and the Bandleader, an imposing but also warm figure also called “whose,” and https://usermanuals.finalemusic.com/Finale2012Win/Content/image316.gif, the musical segno symbol. Whether they look like lyrics or prose, whether the lines fall in neat stanzas or sprawl airily down the page, these poems sing a strange and haunting song.

Rocket Fantastic: Poems Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780892554850
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Persea Books - September 12th, 2017

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Staff Pick

“I am a house swollen with the dead,” Smith writes, and his powerful second book might be read as one extended elegy for all the black victims of police shootings, lynchings, street violence, and HIV. Smith imagines not an afterlife but an alternative life for these lost boys. In many ways it’s a beautiful, redemptive, defiant vision, but it’s also heartbreaking and enraging—the fact remains that “we earned this paradise/ by a death we didn’t deserve.”  Angry, passionate, and full of lines with the concision and urgency of protest slogans—“i was born a bull’s eye,” “history is what it is. it knows what it did,” “paradise is a world where everything /is sanctuary & nothing is a gun”—these poems are also expertly crafted lyrics. Smith’s formal skills range from the unvarnished prose poem, “dear white America,” to propulsive couplets and preacherly/rap rhythms and repetitions. One tour de force spills “blood” all over the page in a desperate effort to come to grips with all the real blood—including Smith’s—infected with HIV. In another Smith turns to the demanding technical constraints of the crown of sonnets to channel his grief over the children he’ll never have, the children he can only “un”: “untuck them into bed, unkiss their lil wounds/ unteach them how to pray.” Don’t miss this one.

Don't Call Us Dead: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977856
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Graywolf Press - September 5th, 2017

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