The Tradition by Jericho Brown (4 Feb 2020)
A Poetry Book Society Choice
‘To read Jericho Brown’s poems is to encounter devastating genius.’ Claudia Rankine
Jericho Brown’s daring poetry collection The Tradition details the normalization of evil and its history at the intersection of the past and the personal. Brown’s poetic concerns are both broad and intimate, and at their very core a distillation of the incredibly human: What is safety? Who is this nation? Where does freedom truly lie? Poems of fatherhood, legacy, blackness, queerness, worship, and trauma are propelled into stunning clarity by Brown’s mastery, and his invention of the duplex – a combination of the sonnet, the ghazal, and the blues – testament to his formal skill. The Tradition is a cutting and necessary collection, relentless in its quest for survival while revelling in a celebration of contradiction.
A Woman Without A Country by Eavan Boland (11 Feb 2020)
Eavan Boland is considered “one of the finest and boldest poets of the last half century” by Poetry Review. This stunning new collection, A Woman Without a Country, looks at how we construct one another and how nationhood and history can weave through, reflect, and define the life of an individual. Themes of mother, daughter, and generation echo throughout these extraordinary poems, as they examine how-even without country or settled identity-a legacy of love can endure. From “Talking to my Daughter Late at Night” We have a tray, a pot of tea, a scone. This is the hour When one thing pours itself into another: The gable of our house stored in shadow. A spring planet bending ice Into an absolute of light. Your childhood ended years ago. There is No path back to it.
Homie by Danez Smith (20 Feb 2020)
“& colin kaepernick is my president, who kneels on the air
bent toward a branch, throwing apples down to the children & vets
& rihanna is my president, walking out of global summits
with wine glass in hand, our taxes returned in gold
to dust our faces into coins
& my mama is my president, her grace stunts
on amazing, brown hands breaking brown bread over
mouths of the hungry until there are none unfed
& my grandma is my president & her cabinet is her cabinet
cause she knows to trust what the pan knowshow the skillet wins the war” ―from ‘my president’
Danez Smith is our President.
A mighty anthem about the saving grace of friendship, Danez Smith’s highly anticipated collection Homie is rooted in their search for joy and intimacy in a time where both are scarce. 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 written for friends: for Danez’s friends, for yours.
Ledger by Jane Hirschfield (10 Mar 2020)
A pivotal book of personal, ecological, and political reckoning from the internationally renowned poet named “among the modern masters” (The Washington Post).
Ledger‘s pages hold the most important and masterly work yet by Jane Hirshfield, one of our most celebrated contemporary poets. From the already much-quoted opening lines of despair and defiance (“Let them not say: we did not see it. / We saw”), Hirshfield’s poems inscribe a registry, both personal and communal, of our present-day predicaments. They call us to deepened dimensions of thought, feeling, and action. They summon our responsibility to sustain one another and the earth while pondering, acutely and tenderly, the crises of refugees, justice, and climate. They consider “the minimum mass for a whale, for a language, an ice cap,” recognize the intimacies of connection, and meditate upon doubt and contentment, a library book with previously dog-eared corners, the hunger for surprise, and the debt we owe this world’s continuing beauty. Hirshfield’s signature alloy of fact and imagination, clarity and mystery, inquiry, observation, and embodied emotion has created a book of indispensable poems, tuned toward issues of consequence to all who share this world’s current and future fate.
Tongues of Fire by Séan Hewitt (23 Apr 2020)
A remarkable first collection by an important new poet
In this collection, Seán Hewitt gives us poems of a rare musicality and grace. By turns searing and meditative, these are lyrics concerned with the matter of the world, its physicality, but also attuned to the proximity of each moment, each thing, to the spiritual.
Here, there is sex, grief, and loss, but also a committed dedication to life, hope and renewal. Drawing on the religious, the sacred and the profane, this is a collection in which men meet in the woods, where matter is corrupted and remade. There are prayers, hymns, vespers, incantations, and longer poems which attempt to propel themselves towards the transcendent.
In this book, there is always the sense of fragility allied with strength, a violence harnessed and unleashed. The collection ends with a series of elegies for the poet’s father: in the face of despair, we are met with a fierce brightness, and a reclamation of the spiritual. ‘This is when / we make God, and speak in his voice.’
Paying close attention to altered states and the consolations and strangeness of the natural world, this is the first book from a major poet.