By Alex Crowley
Art fails to be revolutionary if it fails to offer a big tent—if
it fails to welcome and celebrate the lives of the dispossessed
and the displaced, the invisible and the marginalized.
Poetry can’t change the world on its own, but it’s a good
place to start.
Mai Der Vang. Graywolf, Apr. 4
The 2016 Walt Whitman Award–winner devastatingly describes the Hmong exodus from Laos;
the fate of thousands of refugees, including her family; and Hmong resilience in exile.
Jorie Graham. Ecco, May 2
Graham conjures an array of voices as she explores the limits of the human and the uneasy
seductions of the posthuman in her most exhilarating, personal, and inventive work to date.
I Am Flying into Myself: Selected Poems, 1960–2014
Bill Knott, edited by Thomas Lux. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb. 14
Arranged by his friend, poet Thomas Lux, Knott’s work—encompassing surrealistic wordplay,
the antipoem, sonnets, sestinas, and haikus—all convenes in this inventive and brilliant book.
The January Children
Safia Elhillo. Univ. of Nebraska, Mar. 1
Depicting displacement and longing while questioning geography, history, nationhood, and
home, Elhillo explores the tensions generated by a hyphenated identity.
The Lazarus Poems
Kamau Brathwaite. Wesleyan Univ., Feb. 7
Barbadian legend Brathwaite speaks of appropriation, theft, isolation, and exploitation within
the context of an American hegemony intensified by racial politics and ageism.
Tommy Pico. Tin House, May 9
In this complementary volume to 2015’s IRL, Pico’s alter ego, Teebs, confronts the assimilationist,
historical, colonial-white ideas that conflate American Indian people with nature.
Afaa Michael Weaver. Univ. of Pittsburgh, Feb. 15
Weaver revisits his origins as a factory worker in his native Baltimore, mining his own
experience to chart the lives that inhabit the whole landscape of the American working class.
There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé
Morgan Parker. Tin House, Feb. 14
Exploring 21st-century black American womanhood, Parker confronts media, consumption,
feminism, and blackness as she weaves between personal narrative and pop culture criticism.
The Trembling Answers
Craig Morgan Teicher. BOA, Apr. 11
Teicher deals with the quotidian realities and responsibilities of art making and family life. His
personal narratives illuminate tangled existences of poetry, marriage, and fatherhood.
When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities
Chen Chen. BOA, Apr. 11
Interrogating the fragile, inherited ways of approaching love and family from Asian-American,
immigrant, and queer perspectives, Chen charts his own path in identity, life, and love.