Aaron's Poetic Picks 2022
Paying homage to black heroes such as Luther Vandross and Diahann Carroll, the sensational Saeed Jones delivers yet another masterful piece in Alive at the End of the World. With gut-wrenching and electric passages of growing up as a black boy in America, underlining current events of shootings and killings and overarching failures, his protest is as amplified as if Baldwin and Morrison decided to release modern poetry.
Ocean Vuong is the poet who will effortlessly wreck your heart, ruin your day, and leave you with no tears left to cry—and yet, you cannot help but thank him for the art you have just read. Intimately and introspectively, these poems boldly spell the atrocities of war and interrogate how we approach simple commonalities such as laughter and interaction with literature. I cannot recommend Ocean Vuong highly enough—and his first collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, is just as gorgeous.
Fans of Ocean Vuong, you're going to love this one. In Paul Tran's creative first work of poetry, they collectively annotate the disturbances surrounding sexual violence in such a close, fearful way, leaving the reader with no choice but to break down and consider their sympathies.
A wonderful collection of poetry with occasional photos delineating the apocryphal lines of the preceding pages.
For fans of Olio by Tyehimba Jess, this is a must-read. History-themed poetry is not as prevalent as other types of collections, but here Will Alexander delineates his vision with excellent precision. With riveting analysis, striking diction, and agonizing emotions, Alexander takes his endearing readers through a three-part book exploring the haunting nature of colonialism and the African diaspora as a whole.
My goodness, can I recommend this book enough?! Disregarding its well-deserved Pulitzer Prize nomination, this epic poem ripped endless tears from my eyes and did not allow me to put the book down from the moment I opened it. Diane Seuss is brilliant, and her cross-references and allusions reminded me of my own encounters with my mother growing up. With letters of self-sabotage and intimate reflection, Seuss absolutely deserves the attention of anyone looking to reminisce.
This collection is inventive. Every page you turn, you must take a second to absorb every word, every texture, every piece in every picture, and just allow yourself to be drenched in the impeccable imagery imagined in these haunting fragments of the Vietnam War. Well deserving of her Pulitzer Finalist status, Mai Der Vang creates a viciously refined world that is not often seen in poetry books today.