As National Poetry Month comes to a near end, we thought we’d share with you some recent editor tested, LSP-approved poetry finds. Read on for some recommendations to add to your never-ending to-read book shelf
The Sweetness in Soil – Q. Gibson
We were so excited to hear that there was new work from LSPMAG favorite Q. Gibson (you can read our review of The Flowering Woman here!) and this collection does not disappoint. “Sweetness in Soil” combines poetry, short story, and moment moments of profound brevity to deal with themes of black life, self respect, and the juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness. Gibson expertly weaves connections between environment and identity, sharing stories of growing up in the inner-city and the powerful insight she possesses as a result.
Inferno – Eileen Myles
I know it’s not *technically* a poetry collection, but this genre-defying book from renowned poet Eileen Myles earns itself a mention. Labeled as a “poet’s novel,” the book straddles the lines between novel, memoir, and poetry as it tells the story of a young woman exploring New York City in the late sixties, all the while becoming aware of her own sexuality and carving out her place in Bohemia. Embodying the rock & roll spirit of Patti Smith and Kim Gordon, Myles makes her life into art that will surprise, frustrate, and impress the hell out of you.
So Much Synth – Brenda Shaughnessy
This book is popping up all over Best Poetry lists, and for good reason. “So Much Synth” is a perfect name for this collection, whose poems build rhythm and operate on a consistent beat reminiscent of electronic pop music. Rather than resting on stripped down technical prowess, Shaughnessy injects her work with soulfulness and existential wondering while dealing with themes of womanhood and mortality.
Reversible – Marisa Crawford
I had the pleasure of seeing Marisa Crawford read a few months ago, and after hearing her perfectly capture messy girlhood (complete with a brilliant Sarah McLachlan reference) I had to grab a copy of Reversible. The collection draws upon the cultural references, beauty/fashion artifacts, and feelings of her teenage years as a way to understand both her present and her future. Her self-aware poems are full of details that those who grew up fawning over Zack Morris and Kelly Kapowski are sure to connect to.
Night Sky with Exit Wounds – Ocean Vuong
Ocean Vuong, a recent recipient of the Whiting Award for Poetry, tackles the complexities of his identity as an immigrant and a gay man. In Night Sky with Exit Wounds, Vuong explores aspects of his own story of voyaging to the United States at the age of two and captures the memories that haunt him and his family: the constant violence of the Vietnam war, the loss experienced by refugees, the perils of escape and immigration. At only 28 years old, Vuong is creating some of the most exquisite work of our time.
Incendiary Art – Patricia Smith
This collection by Patricia Smith is an exploration of grief, specifically the loss experienced by mothers who lose their children to the pervasive violence committed against black males in America. At once horrific and eloquent, the poems of Incendiary Art are intensely relevant to today’s political and social landscape. If anything, be sure to read her poem about the murder of Emmett Till.
Portrait of the Alcoholic – Kaveh Akbar
Desperation runs like a unavoidable thread through Kaveh Akbar’s new collection Portrait of the Alcoholic. He approaches discussion of the spiritual malady that plagues an alcoholic through the lens of his Muslim faith, which simultaneously creates an unorthodox approach to the often addressed subject of substance dependency and connects this modern story back to Islamic literary tradition. His unflinching look at his drunken past results in powerful poetry that should not be missed.
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What poetry collections are you reading to honor National Poetry Month? We’d love to hear from you: lipstickpartymag (@) gmail (dot) com ♥