PARADISE INDIANA by BRUCE SNIDER / A sense of place — and heat from all that sex — is exactly why the opening poem “Map” grabs me right away. That, plus it plays with what’s expected and unexpected, which is the precise kind of texture “place” needs in our poems.
AMERICAN SONNETS FOR MY PAST AND FUTURE ASSASSIN by TERRANCE HAYES / The repetition of themes/lines throughout appropriately creates echoes that force us to reconcile the following: this isn’t the first we’re hearing of these experiences and yet what has changed? And what will change tomorrow? Anything?
BE RECORDER by CARMEN GIMENEZ SMITH / I’ve struggled to write about the political times we live in. Although I rant on Twitter and retweet other people’s clever or biting tweets about the scandals/horrors/injustice/harms/etc/etc like a mad woman, I can’t get there in my own writing. In contrast, this collection will prove to be an important record (I mean, it’s in the title) of this moment in time.
My reading list is organized with the most recent on top so if, by chance, you stop by more than once for an update, you only have to scroll forever if you have forever to scroll! Note that I’ve extended the time frame to 12-ish months right out of the gate. My days of being so ambitious all the damn time are way behind me.
IN THE POCKETS OF SMALL GODS by ANIS JOJGANI / What haunts me about this book is how closely it captures a sense of our own culpability in the losses that hurt us most… and how the truth/fiction of that culpability isn’t the point. It doesn’t matter what we did/didn’t do. What we must sort out is “What matters now?
THE OCTOPUS MUSEUM by BRENDA SHAUNESSY / I love apocalyptic stories/series, with special affection for the mythology they create. The Octopus Museum checked that box, and I enjoyed the peek inside Shaunessy’s portrayal of the dire world we could be marching toward.
When a poet can pull off intimacy and distance at once, the poems stand out as something truly remarkable. Sad Math by Sarah Freligh is full of poems like that. As Sandra Meek says in a blurb at the book’s beginning, these poems are “nervy and frank, hilarious and heartbreaking.”