Wordplay TBR: Poetry

Poetry is not just a niche genre, and we’re bringing in some big names in the poetry scene to our virtual Wordplay this year. These guys are masters of the craft, so be sure to read their books, attend their online sessions, and become big fans!




Postcolonial Love Poem by Natalie Diaz  (March 3, 2020)

From Graywolf Press: “Postcolonial Love Poem unravels notions of American goodness and creates something more powerful than hope—a future is built, future being a matrix of the choices we make now, and in these poems, Diaz chooses love.”




Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers by Jake Skeets (Sept. 9, 2019)

From Milkweed Editions: “Selected by Kathy Fagan as a winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series, Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers is a debut collection of poems by a dazzling geologist of queer eros.”




Homie by Danez Smith (Jan. 21, 2020)

From Graywolf Press: “ Part friendship diary, part bright elegy, part war cry, Homie is the exuberant new book written for Danez and for Danez’s friends and for you and for yours.”



The Galleons - Rick Barot

The Galleons: Poems by Rick Barot (February 1, 2020)

From Milkweed Books: "These poems are engaged in the work of recovery, making visible what is often intentionally erased: the movement of domestic workers on a weekday morning in Brooklyn; a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, fondly sharing photos of his dog; the departure and destination points of dozens of galleons between 1564 and 1815."



What is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life by Mark Doty (April 16, 2020)

From Kirkus Reviews: “Fans of Whitman will surely enjoy Doty’s extensive passages of exegesis, and many readers will admire the author’s occasional descriptions of his own revisions of his ideas about Whitman’s diction and poetic design. Throughout, the author exudes an exuberance about life and words that rivals that of his subject. Also informative (and necessary) are Doty’s evocations of 19th-century Brooklyn and New York City.” 




Catrachos by Roy G. Guzman (May 5, 2020)

From Graywolf Press: “A name for the people of Honduras, Catrachos is a term of solidarity and resilience. In these unflinching, riveting poems, Roy G. Guzmán reaches across borders—between life and death and between countries—invoking the voices of the lost. Part immigration narrative, part elegy, and part queer coming-of-age story, Catrachos finds its own religion in fantastic figures such as the X-Men, pop singers, and the “Queerodactyl,” which is imagined in a series of poems as a dinosaur sashaying in the shadow of an oncoming comet, insistent on surviving extinction.”




The Absurd Man by Major Jackson (February 1, 2020)

From W.W. Norton: "Inspired by Albert Camus’s seminal Myth of Sisyphus, Major Jackson’s fifth volume subtly configures the poet as 'absurd hero' and plunges headfirst into a search for stable ground in an unstable world. We follow Jackson’s restless, vulnerable speaker as he ponders creation in the face of meaninglessness, chronicles an increasingly technological world and the difficulty of social and political unity, probes a failed marriage, and grieves his lost mother with a stunning, lucid lyricism."




Deaf Republic by Ilya Kaminsky (March 15, 2019)

From Graywolf Press: “At once a love story, an elegy, and an urgent plea—Ilya Kaminsky’s long-awaited Deaf Republic confronts our time’s vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them.”




Space Struck by Paige Lewis (October 8, 2019)

From Sarabande Books: “The poems are physically and psychologically tied to the animal world, replete with ivory-billed woodpeckers, pelicans, and constellations-as-organisms. They are also devastatingly human, anchored in emotion and self-awareness, like art framed in a glass that also holds one’s reflection. Silky and gruesome, the poems of Space Struck pulse like starlight.”




Thresholes by Lara Mimosa Montes (May 12, 2020)

From Coffee House Press: “Thresholes is both a doorway and an absence, a road map and a remembering. In this almanac of place and memory, Lara Mimosa Montes explores the passage of time, returning to the Bronx of the ’70s and ’80s and the artistry that flourished there. What is the threshold between now and then, and how can the poet be the bridge between the two? Just as artists of that time highlighted what was missing in the Bronx, this collection examines what is left open in the wake of trauma and loss.”




My Baby First Birthday by Jenny Zhang (May 12, 2020)

From Tin House: “Radiant and tender, My Baby First Birthday is a collection that examines innocence, asking us who gets to be loved and who has to deplete themselves just to survive. It’s about existence and nonexistence, about being born—without consent. Jenny Zhang writes about accepting pain, about the way we fetishize womanhood and motherhood, and reduce women to their violations, traumas, and body parts.”