An incredibly powerful and diverse collection featuring some of the most striking voices in modern poetry (some of these poems actually gave me goosebumps). Despite the varied styles and identities explored within these pages, Tracy K. Smith has woven the poets’ stories into a masterfully cohesive body of work, whilst never taking away from the individual strengths of each piece. This book reminded me of why I love poetry anthologies: I was introduced to new writers, encountered standout work from those I am currently reading, and rediscovered some old favorites. Must read poems: “At Pegasus” by Terrance Hayes, “38” by Layli Long Soldier from “ summer, somewhere” by Danez Smith “My Brother at 3 AM” by Natalie Diaz from “Personal Effects” by Solmaz Sharif “We Lived Happily During the War” by Ilya Kaminsky. --Zach
Can you wax poetic about butts and still face the existential dread of the universe? Whoever said poetry was a dry, serious thing has A) never lived a day in their life and B) never read 2018 Whiting Award winner, Tommy Pico. Pico's JUNK is a book-length breakup poem but also an exploration of "Junk"—everything that falls in the gray area between utility and clutter, consumption and gluttony. JUNK's also just hella funny. And always, always true: "I want to make the opposite of death... / Ever bought / a McFlurry n shouted YR DEAD INSIDE but yew were pointing a finger at / yrslf and, horrified, yew screamed Ran home but halfway / home yew forgot what yew were doing and bought a pair of / sneaker boots at DSW or just me?"
This collection falls somewhere between a prayer, a eulogy, and an atom bomb of language. The sheer power of Hayes’ craft is awe-inspiring. These are poems that will wake you up in the night demanding to be read, that will laugh with you, dance with you, fight you, and leave you spellbound. A must-read book of poetry. --Zach
Like using a lighter to open a wine bottle or the butt of a knife to shell a nut, Charles's feeld doesn't look to reclaim language but repurpose, speculate, create something new where standard English fails to represent the trans experience. The result is a mix of text-speak and Chaucerian English—visually minimal poems overflowing with puns. (Look at the title: feeld. Something grassy and pastoral? A weird past tense of felt?) Next to Tommy Pico's JUNK, this is my favorite poetry collection of 2018 and one of the most important books I've ever read. So smart. So funny. So necessary.
McCrae uses language in ways I did not know were possible. Switching from prose poems to more experimental forms, McCrae presents an incredibly cohesive collection. It is simultaneously beautiful, heart-rending, and engrossing. I thought I would read a few poems before going to sleep, the next thing I knew I had finished the book and it was 3am. I could not put it down. READ THIS BOOK! --Zach