Five Essential Poetry Titles | Poetry Previews, Apr. 2018

Dennis, Carl. Night School. Penguin. Apr. 2018. 112p. ISBN 9780143132356. pap. $20; ebk. ISBN 9780525504337. POETRY
The author of plainspoken verse that presents everyday life, then looks beneath the surface to see what’s grinding away beneath, Dennis returns with a substantive 13th collection (after Another Reason) exploring how we grapple with the world through imagination. From the winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the Ruth Lilly Prize.

Jin, Ha. A Distant Center. Copper Canyon. Apr. 2018. 80p. ISBN 9781556594625. $17. POETRY
A winner of the National Book Award for Waiting, plus other awards for his long and short fiction, Jin is also one of the Misty Poets, known for rebelling against artistic strictures during the Cultural Revolution. This new collection contemplates identity and desire while asking us to battle censorship and state violence: “Wherever you land,/ your footprints will become milestones.”

Kooser, Ted. Kindest Regards: New and Selected. Copper Canyon. Apr. 2018. 256p. ISBN 9781556595332. $30. POETRY
A Pulitzer Prize winner and former Poet Laureate of the United States (2004–06), Kooser pulls favorites from four decades of poetry, then adds a heaping of brand-new works. His poems, grounded in the Midwest, have a homespun feel suddenly illuminated by insight: “All morning/ our house has been flashing in and out of shade/ like a signal, and far across the waves of grass/ a neighbor’s house has answered,/ offering help.”

Smith, Tracy K. Wade in the Water: Poems. Graywolf. Apr. 2018. 88p. ISBN 9781555978136. $24; ebk. ISBN 9781555978631. POETRY
Great news: here’s a new collection from Pulitzer Prize winner andNational Book Award finalist Smith, currently our Poet Laureate. In her typically astringent yet lyrical language, she offers multiple voices challenging a world ruled by violence and power, from correspondence between slave owners and a found poem substantiating corporate pollution to letters by African American soldiers during the Civil War and chronicles by recent immigrants and refugees. “We watch and grieve. We sleep, stir, eat./ Love: the heart sliced open, gutted, clean.”

Young, Kevin. Brown: Poems. Knopf. Apr. 2018. 176p. ISBN 9781524732547. $27; ebk. ISBN 9781524732554. POETRY
Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, poetry editor of The New Yorker, and a multi-award-winning and -award-nominated poet, Young offers a new collection that examines brown from every perspective; consider, for instance, James Brown,  John Brown’s raid, and Brown v. Board of Education. Dividing his poems into “Home Recordings” and “Field Recordings,” Young shows how culture and personal experience interact as he recalls moments of childhood: “we were black then, not yet / African American.”


Barbara Hoffert About Barbara Hoffert

Barbara Hoffert (, @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.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  4. Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media, per our Terms of Use.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind