Black Aperture is an elegy writ large, a book mourning the suicide of the poet's brother. The collection is not born out of the rawness of fresh loss: "You have been dead / half of my life," Matt Rasmussen writes in "Burial." Instead, Rasmussen focuses on the strange complexities of building a life after tragedy. One of several poems entitled "After Suicide" opens, "A hole is nothing / but what remains around it." What is left around the vacancy of a brother's violent death? Burned letters, parties warped by absence, ghostly answering-machine voices to be erased.
Jack Johnson, the first African-American world heavyweight champion, is a figure of mythological proportions; in this new collection, poet Adrian Matejka gives the boxer a voice that's wholly human. The poet examines race and racism from Johnson's singular perspective: the son of slave-born Southerners, the opera-loving international celebrity, the abusive playboy arrested for dating white women, the wealthy world champion who couldn't get served at restaurants. Matejka's unflinching verse conveys Johnson's bravura and his bravery, and both the power and the vulnerability of a bleeding, breakable body in the ring.
Lucie Brock-Broido's new collection is, in many ways, about the noncorporeal: Death, mourning, the tangled intangibles of language and the power of poetic imagination, like the "illusions" of the title, haunt this book. But Brock-Broido's work is simultaneously lush, tactile and physical — full of fabrics, flavors and colors, building up layers of objects and perceptions.
Ten years after her debut collection, Mary Szybist returns with this long-awaited second book, a skeptic's consideration of the spiritual. Mixing the profane and the divine, she presents several unusual Annunciations; blurring the lines between herself and the Virgin, she provides an "Update on Mary." The poems are experimental in form — lines radiating out from an empty center, a poem consisting of a diagrammed sentence — and meditative in tone, finding beauty, sorrow and the divine in unexpected corners of modern life.
Many of Frank Bidart's most famous poems have been long dramatic monologues in the voices of the doomed and disturbed — the anorexic Ellen West, the pedophilic murderer Herbert White, the brilliant dancer Vaslav Nijinsky. But in the shorter poems in Metaphysical Dog, the poet takes on his own persona: an aging, accomplished poet, perennially fascinated by humanity's uneasy blend of philosophical minds and animal bodies.
Urban Tumbleweed is an exploration of spaces representing a convergence between the city and the natural world, inspired by the author's daily walking practice. It adapts the traditional Japanese tanka form to consider environmental transitions and humanity's role in nature.
Peter Sis reimagines the 12th-century Persian poem The Conference of the Birds, fitting out an English translation with lavish illustrations. It's the harrowing story of thousands of birds on a perilous journey in search of a king. While Sis is best known for his many children's books, this book is his first intended for adults.
Fire — its physical, symbolic, political, and spiritual forms — is the fourth and final subject in Brenda Hillman's series on the elements. Here, Hillman evokes fire as metaphor and as event to chart subtle changes of seasons during financial breakdown, environmental crisis and street movements for social justice. She gathers factual data, earthly rhythms, chants to the dead, journal entries and lyric fragments in the service of a radical animism.
Mary Oliver returns to the imagery that has come to define her life's work, transporting us to the marshland and coastline of her beloved home, Provincetown, Mass. She shares the wonder of dawn, the grace of animals and the transformative power of attention. Whether studying the leaves of a tree or mourning her adored dog Percy, she patiently observes the teachings contained in the smallest of moments.
A former poet laureate provides informative introductions and sidebar notes for more than 80 poems by greats including William Butler Yeats, Emily Dickinson and George Herbert, in an effort to spark pleasure in reading and writing poems.
A poignant sequence of poems traces the evolution of a divorce while exploring themes of love, sex, sorrow, memory and freedom as reflected by everyday familiarities and the poignancy of former lovers parting, in a collection by the National Book Critics Circle Award-winning author of The Dead and the Living.