LET’S NOT LIVE ON EARTH by SARAH BLAKE / It’s part science fiction, part domestic confessional. It contains so much: marriage, infidelity, weed and cookies, government, space exploration and pregnancy, for example. It rewards and questions our human restlessness as a driver of both happiness and discontent.
INMOST by JESSICA FISHER / As you can see from the reviews linked below, some of Inmost grapples with ideas of what it means to bring a child into a world at war. (And our world is always at war.) In Elegy, she writes, “I bore her in winter / The green returning Tongues of the dead / Licking the hillside I bore her in wartime / The radio pretuned News of destruction / Coming over the airwaves.”
DEAF REPUBLIC by ILYA KAMINSKY swiftly vacillates between death/violence to sex/love and back again. This is jarring both in a good way and a bad way: the love poems save us from the war in the streets; the war poems devastate us more on account of understanding the love that’s being stolen/interrupted. It continues. The brutality accumulates.
EVERY LOVE STORY IS AN APOCALYPSE STORY by DONNA VORREYER / These poems feel absolutely primal, and I believe it’s intentional. In the world at risk of ending (in this collection and, I’d argue, in our daily lives), love and sex fulfill basic needs, just like air, shelter, food, water. The language these poems speak reinforces that. It is both reassuring and unnerving.
AUTOPLAY by JULIE BABCOCK / Based on how Babcock uses it in the poems, Ohio seems like a character, and when it comes to actual characters (people), the poems focus on their mythology/archetype without losing their specificity.
BY MY PRECISE HAIRCUT by CHERYL CLARKE / The poems make clear the pain inflicted by a number of atrocities (the slave trade, the assassination of Medgar Evers and Hurricane Katrina, for example) and also the humanity of those lost. Clarke’s work begs the question: if *this* America is the nation experienced by so many, isn’t it the America experienced by all?
GROUNDSPEED by EMILIA PHILLIPS / Our suffering truly is ordinary, and in treating it as such, Groundspeed mimics for us what life is actually like: one long road trip, hotel overnights and stops at home, all interspersed with encounters we have, dramas large and small, our own and everyone else’s.