What Else Is Hot? Poetry, July Through October

It’s time to wrap up National Poetry Month with a quick look at what’s coming later in the year, from the heat of July through October’s amethyst. From core poets like Donald Hall and Tess Gallagher to exciting new writers like Laura Wetherington, Bao Phi, and Tina Chang, there are a few dozen worthy titles here, divvied up so that you can pick what’s best for you.

Core Poets
Former U.S. poet laureate Donald Hall, winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Lenore Marshall Award, among other honors, deftly tackles time and immortality in poems that conjure iconic objects like cowbells, white stone, and baseballs in The Back Chamber (Houghton Harcourt. Sept. 2011. 96p. ISBN 9780547645858. $22). Lamont Award winner Marvin Bell reinvigorate his Dead Man poems, a form he invented (The dead man stands still, waiting for the boomerang to‚ you know) in Vertigo: The Living Dead Man Poems (Copper Canyon. Jul. 2011. 120p. ISBN 9781556593765. pap. $16). Jim Harrison, a veteran poet/novelist with cultlike status, returns with Songs of Unreason (Copper Canyon. Oct. 2011. 120p. ISBN 9781556593895. $22), still looking at our roots in the natural world.
In both short narratives and more extended dramatic pieces, Pulitzer Prize winner Franz Wright brings a sense of urgency to his investigations of life’s little abrasions in Kindertotenwald: Prose Poems (Knopf. Sept. 2011. 80p. ISBN 9780307272805. $26). Kingsley Tufts and National Book Critics Circle Award winner Rodney Jones demonstrates his abundant storytelling skills in Imaginary Logic (Houghton Harcourt. Oct. 2011. 96p. ISBN 9780547479781. $22). Noted feminist critic and poet Sandra M. Gilbert, recently winner of the John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry, returns with a collection about toughing out grief (Aftermath. Norton. Jul. 2011. 96p. ISBN 9780393081121. $24.95).
National Book Critics Circle Award winner for his novel 2666, the late Roberto Bolaño began his writing career as a poet. Tres (New Directions. Sept. 2011. 176p. ISBN 9780811219273. $24.95), originally published in 2000 and, said Bolaño, one of his two best books, genre-blends prose poems and stories in verse to plumb unrequited love, travel, and literature. In Transfer (BOA. Sept. 2011. 88p. ISBN 9781934414644. pap. $23), Lavan/Isabella Gardner/Paterson prize winner Naomi Shihab Nye gracefully leaps from her Palestinian American heritage to cultural diversity generally.
Two Selecteds allow readers to catch up with major writers. Winner of a Somerset Maugham Award and shortlisted for the Whitbread, T.S. Eliot, and Forward prizes, Glyn Maxwell regales us with One Thousand Nights and Counting: Selected Poems (Farrar. Sept. 2011. 256p. ISBN 9780374226480. $27). The beloved Tess Gallagher swings by with Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems (Graywolf. Sept. 2011. 352p. ISBN 9781555975975. $28).

Three Young Award Winners
This year’s National Poetry series winner, A Map Predetermined and Chance (Fence. Oct. 2011. 80p. ISBN 9781934200490. pap. $15.95), was penned by the briskly audacious Laura Wetherington, cofounder and coeditor of textsound.org. David Hernandez waxes unsentimental about life and death in Hoodwinked (Sarabande. Aug. 2011. 64p. ISBN 9781932511963. pap. $14.95), which claimed the Kathryn A. Morton Prize. Paul Legault shows off a sort of punchy bravado in The Other Poems (Fence. Oct. 2011. 72p. ISBN 9781934200506. pap. $15.95), a Fence Modern Poets series winner.

Two Penguin Poets
Two established poets are appearing this September with Penguin Poets, the imprint that gave us last year’s National Book Award winner, Lighthead. William Stobb, a National Poetry Series winner in 2006 who’s known to cognoscenti through a monthly column on poetry and poetics, Hard To Say, podcast by miPOradio, offers a new book titled Absentia (96p. ISBN 9780143120186. pap. $18). The title poem opens by observing, all happening in an explosion‚ boat wake conducts evening light into many/ small geometries, a loose phone call, a little bold speaking enabled by/ distance between people. Robert Morgan, who boasts more than two dozen publications and nearly two dozen awards and grants, brings his liquid grace to Terroir (112p. ISBN 9780143120193. pap. $18).

Three Poets Who Might Spook You
E.M. Forster Award winner Robin Robertson takes a dark, punch-gut look at his life and the world around him in The Wrecking Light (Mariner: Houghton Aug. 2011. 112p. ISBN 9780547483337. pap. $13.95). Keats-Shelley prize winner Simon Armitage continues showing off his talent for spinning disturbing little vignettes in Seeing Stars (Knopf. 96p. ISBN 9780307594839. $25). Winner of both Lenore Marshal and Kingsley Tufts honors, Henri Cole brings his spare, intense approach to Touch: Poems (Farrar. Sept. 2011. ISBN 9780374278359. $23), featuring poems about the body’s pleasure and pain.

On the Slate
A culture critic at Slate, Meghan O’Rourke is winning attention right now for her memoir, The Long Goodbye, which details how she mourned her mother’s death. Thus, there will likely be interest in her new poetry collection, Once (Norton. Oct. 2011. 96p. ISBN 9780393080629. $24.95), which considers both her personal and public selves and contains this memorable line: Up there, the universe stands around drunk. Deborah Landau, who cohosts Slate’s Open Book, goes deeply sensual in The Last Usable Hour (Copper Canyon. Jul. 2011. 96p. ISBN 9781556593345. pap. $15).

Edgy New Writers To Watch
I love it that National Poetry Slam star Bao Phi (Song I Sing. Coffee House. Oct. 2011. 170p. ISBN 9781566892797. pap. $16) is billed as a Vietnamese American phenom; consider what that says about his writing. Janine Oshiro blends the physical and the spiritual in Pier (Alice James. Sept. 2011.80p. ISBN 9781882295883. pap. $15.95), as suggested by the line In the wrist is a bone like a boat. Peter Gizzi’s Threshold Songs (Wesleyan Univ. Jul. 2011. 88p. ISBN 9780819571748. $22.95) toggles between joy and grief, feeling and understanding, and what we know and don’t know.
A Cave Canem Fellow whose debut collection won the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, Aracelis Girmay sees all the world as vigorously animal in Kingdom Animalia (BOA. 80p. ISBN 9781934414620. pap. $16). Obie Award winner Ariana Reines can turn obsessively inward in Mercury (Fence. Oct. 2011. 128p. ISBN 9781934200476. pap. $16.95): Your music makes me feel lonely/ Your music makes me feel lonely/ Your music/ Makes me feel lonely/ Picking a lemon/ Late at night/ My heart tightens. Julia Spicher Kasdorf’s Poetry in America (Univ. of Pittsburgh. Oct. 2011. 96. ISBN 9780822961567. pap. $14.95) caught my eye with the line, I would have lived more fully if I’d memorized/ more verse wrote the dying Richard Rorty.

Bearing Witness
Ed Bok Lee, whose Real Karaoke People won the PEN/Open Book Award, considers war, politics, and culture in Whorled (Coffee House. Sept. 2011. 140p. ISBN 9781566892780. pap. $16). Brooklyn poet laureate Tina Chang is specifically concerned with the unredeemed horror of genocide and natural disaster in Of Gods & Strangers (Four Way. Oct. 2011. 100p. ISBN 9781935536178. pap. $15.95). American Book Award winner Rigoberto González’s Black Blossoms (Four Way. Oct. 2011. 72p. ISBN 9781935536154. pap. $15.95) focuses on the fate of working-class women of color.
In Notes from Irrelevance (Wave. Sept. 2011. 80p. ISBN 9781933517544. pap. $16), Anselm Berrigan, poetry editor for The Brooklyn Rail, considers his role as citizen of the world, one of the six billion-plus. NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation fellow award winner Garrett Hongo also transverses the personal and the political as he keeps up the story of his family’s immigration to Hawaii in Coral Road (Knopf. Oct. 2011. 96p. ISBN 9780307594761. $25).

Three Poet Editors
In Sarabande director Sarah Gorham’s Bad Daughter (Four Way. Oct. 2011. 80p. ISBN 9781935536161. pap. $15.95), girls do misbehave‚ with consequences for daughters, sisters, and mothers. Jeffrey Yang, an editor at New Directions and author of the striking An Aquarium, wittily explores lines of all kinds (e.g., time lines, blood lines) in Vanishing-Line (Graywolf. Sept. 2011. 120p. ISBN 9781555975944. pap. $15). Flood editor Devin Johnston can be expected to journey far and wide, both literally and figuratively, in Traveler (Farrar. Aug. 2011. 80p. ISBN 9780374279332. $23).

That Regional Touch
Georgia poet laureate David Bottoms, winner of the Levinson and the Frederick Bock prizes from Poetry Magazine, invokes Southern life in We Almost Disappear (Copper Canyon. Oct. 2011. 110p. ISBN 9781556593314. pap. $16). Occasional NPR commentator David Budbill takes us elsewhere; his new work, Happy Life (Copper Canyon. Sept. 2011. 160p. ISBN 9781556593741. pap. $16), revisits his own little neck of the woods, New England

100 and Counting
Dorothea Tanning, who celebrated her 100th birthday last summer, is a noted painter, printmaker, and sculptor who was married to Max Ernst. She also writes and is now publishing her second collection of poetry, Coming to That (Graywolf. Sept. 2011. 72p. ISBN 9781555976019. pap. $15). Expect vivid imagery and hard-earned insight.

In Translation
Remarkably, By Word of Mouth: Poems from the Spanish, 1916‚ 1959 (New Directions. Sept. 2011. 144p. ISBN 9780811218856. pap. $16.95) collects for the first time ever all the translations William Carlos Williams made of Spanish and Latin American poets, among them Pablo Neruda, Octavio Paz, and Nicanor Parra. Push Open the Window: Contemporary Poetry from China (Copper Canyon. Aug. 2011. 450p. ISBN 9781556593307. pap. $23) also offers a diverse collection, anthologizing 49 Chinese poets selected for this bilingual edition by Qingping Wang, poetry/fiction editor at the People’s Republic of China Literature Publishing House.
First published in the 1940s, Aimé Césaire’s Solar Throat Slashed, ragged and raging and deeply imbued with African and Vodun spirituality, was subsequently slashed by the author himself in a bid for a wider audience. Solar Throat Slashed: The Unexpurgated 1948 Edition (Wesleyan Univ. Jul. 2011. 172p. ISBN 9780819570703. $26.95) restores the complete text in a bilingual edition. Finally, since LJ‘s reviewer described Belarusian poet Valzhyna Mort as a fireball when assessing her Factory of Tears, I can’t wait to read her new work, Collected Body (Copper Canyon. Sept. 2011. 110p. ISBN 9781556593727. pap. $16).

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Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (bhoffert@mediasourceinc.com, @BarbaraHoffert on Twitter) is Editor, LJ Prepub Alert; past chair of the Materials Selection Committee of the RUSA (Reference and User Services Assn.) division of the American Library Association; and past president, treasurer, and awards chair of the National Book Critics Circle.