New Poetry Titles (5/14/24)

We here at Philly Poetry Chapbook Review love poetry, whether it’s in chapbooks or full-length collections. We have a hunch that our readers do, too. Every Tuesday, we publish an update about what poetry titles we know are releasing in the following week.

Information, including product descriptions, are provided by the publisher. If we cover the book on this site, links will be included.


Editor’s Pick

Good Monster, Diannely Antigua

Publisher: Copper Canyon Press
Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Format: Paperback / eBook

Diannely Antigua’s Good Monster grapples with the body as a site of chronic pain and trauma. Poignant and guttural, the collection “voyage[s] the land between crisis and hope,” chronicling Antigua’s reckoning with shame and her fallout with faith. As poems cage and cradle devastating truths—a stepfather’s abusive touch, a mother’s “soft harm”—the speaker’s anxiety, depression, and boundless need become monstrous shadows. Here, poems dance on bars, speak in tongues, and cry in psych wards. When “God [becomes] a house [she] can’t leave,” language becomes the only currency left. We see the messiness of survival unfold through sestinas, a series of Sad Girl sonnets, and diary entries—an invented collage form using Antigua’s personal journals. At the crux of despair, Antigua locates a resilient desire to find a love that will remain, to feel pleasure in an inhospitable body and, above all, to keep on living.

Diannely Antigua (she/her) is a Dominican American poet and educator born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection, Ugly Music, won a 2020 Whiting Award and the Pamet River Prize. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from NYU, where she was awarded a Global Research Initiative Fellowship to Florence, Italy. She was a finalist for the 2021 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship and the winner of fellowships from CantoMundo, Community of Writers, and the Academy of American Poets. Her work has appeared in the Best of the Net Anthology and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She currently serves as the poet laureate of Portsmouth, NH, and is the youngest and first person of color to hold the title. As host of the Bread & Poetry podcast, she aims to make poetry more accessible to the community, interviewing poets and non-poets alike about what poetry means to them.

Late Montale, Eugenio Montale, George Bradley (tr.)

Publisher: NYRB Poets
Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Format: Paperback

Late Montale presents a generous selection of the intimate, elusive, and trenchant poems that the Nobel laureate Eugenio Montale wrote in the last several years of his life. Translated by the prize-winning poet George Bradley (Yale Younger Poet, 1985), the work chosen for this volume includes fifty-six poems that were previously unavailable in English and now form an important addition to the Montale œuvre. Bradley’s idiomatic, accurate, and graceful versions bring Montale’s Italian to the anglophone audience with a new immediacy, and the extensive notes he provides offer valuable information, much of it newly uncovered, regarding the many people and places referenced. Both readers coming to Montale for the first time and those familiar with his earlier work will find these translations compelling, and anyone interested in world-class literature will find Late Montale a fascinating volume.

Eugenio Montale (1896–1981) was a poet, prose writer, and translator. Born in Genoa, he originally trained as an opera singer and, though he wrote poems as a teenager, turned to poetry more seriously following his military service during World War I and the death of his vocal instructor. Though he only published five collections of poetry in his first fifty years as a writer, he became extremely prolific in his later years, publishing over twenty works, poetry and prose, in his lifetime. He died in Milan.

George Bradley is a poet, editor, and fiction writer. Born in Roslyn, New York, Bradley’s poetry collections include Terms to Be Met (1986), which won the Yale Younger Poets Prize, Of the Knowledge of Evil (1991), The Fire Fetched Down (1996), Some Assembly Required (2001), and A Few of Her Secrets (2011). He lives in Connecticut.

Letters from the Black Ark, D.S. Marriott

Publisher: Omnidawn
Publication Date: May 20, 2024
Format: Paperback

The poems in this collection center on the word “dub,” which accrues a subtle lyrical connotation throughout its various forms and meanings—to bestow, vest, crown, and also to suspend, reverb, echo, and sever. Dub poetry plays with revealing and concealing, while also pointing the way to the conditions that produce black poetic music. In D.S. Marriott’s poetry, tragic catastrophes of current black existence—London knife crime, the Windrush scandal, Grenfell, and deadly race violence—are portrayed as questions of language. To speak this language, as Marriott’s poem show, is to take on the forces that cause rupture. Throughout these poems of loss, exile, and obliteration, the poet foresees his downfall and metamorphosis, ultimately realizing too late that he cannot transcend the reverberations and echoes laden with black social death.

D.S. Marriott is the author of Before WhitenessLacan NoirWhither Fanon?, and Hoodoo Voodoo. His poetry has appeared in Chicago ReviewPoetryLondonLosAngeles Review of Books, SnowBrooklyn RailPoetry Review, and Paris Review. He currently lives in Atlanta, where he is the Charles T. Winship Professor of Philosophy at Emory University.

The Invention of the Darling, Li-Young Lee

Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Format: Hardcover / eBook

“The poet of rapture and tenderness” (Major Jackson, American Poets), Li-Young Lee speaks these poems with the intimacy and primacy of a whisper, as if from a lover to a beloved, or a believer to God. Each poem in The Invention of the Darling is a mysterious conjunction of spirit and matter, movement and stillness, the divine and the mundane, the sacred and the forbidden. They yearn for holistic union with The Beloved, every sentence another name for The Beloved, every poem another way to say “I love you.” Forged in awe of life and love, these poems emerge from the unlit depths of our earthly, material desires and our deepest fears of mortality.

Li-Young Lee‘s verse has earned numerous honors, including a Lannan Literary Award, a Paterson Poetry Prize, and an American Book Award. Lee lives in Chicago.

Sidetracks, Bei Dao, Jeffrey Yang (tr.)

Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Format: Paperback / eBook

Sidetracks, Bei Dao’s first new collection in almost fifteen years, is also the poet’s first long poem and his magnum opus—the artistic culmination of a lifetime devoted to the renewal and reinvention of language. “As a poet, I am always lost,” Bei Dao once said. Opening with a prologue of heavenly questions and followed by thirty-four cantos, Sidetracks travels forward and backward along the divergent paths of the poet’s wandering life—from his time as a Young Pioneer in Beijing, through the years of exile living in six countries, back to the rural construction site where he worked during the Cultural Revolution, to the “sunshine tablecloth” in his kitchen in Davis, California, and his emotional visit home after a thirteen-year separation (“the mother tongue has deepened my foreignness”). All the various currents of our times rush into his lifelines, reconfigured through the “vortex of experience” and the poet’s encounters with friends and strangers, artists and ghosts, as he moves from place to place, unable to return home. As the poet Michael Palmer has noted, “Bei Dao’s work, in its rapid transitions, abrupt juxtapositions, and frequent recurrence to open syntax evokes the un-speakability of the exile’s condition. It is a poetry of explosive convergences, of submersions and unfixed boundaries, ‘amid languages.’”

Bei Dao, (the pen name of Zhao Zhenkai) was born in Beijing in 1949. During the Cultural Revolution, he worked as a concrete mixer and blacksmith for eleven years. Forced into exile after the Tiananmen Massacre, he lived in Europe and the US until 2007, then settling in Hong Kong until, only recently, moving back to Beijing. He has been hailed as “the soul of post-Mao poetry” (Yunte Huang) and praised for his “intense lyricism” (Pankaj Mishra). Bei Dao has received numerous awards for his poetry all over the world, and founded the International Poetry Nights in Hong Kong. His photography and paintings have been exhibited in China, Hong Kong, and Japan. New Directions publishes ten of his books.

Jeffrey Yang is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Line and Light. His translations include Ahmatjan Osman’s UyghurlandThe Farthest Exile and Bei Dao’s autobiography City Gate, Open Up: “crafted with poetic precision and enriched by Yang’s assiduous translation” (The Wall Street Journal).

Holy Winter, Maria Stepanova, Sasha Dugdale (tr.)

Publisher: New Directions
Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Format: Paperback / eBook

The outbreak of Covid-19 cut short Maria Stepanova’s 2020 stay in Cambridge. Back in Russia, she spent the ensuing months in a state of torpor—the world had withdrawn from her, time had “gone numb.” When she awoke from this state, she began to read Ovid, and the shock of the pandemic dissolved into the voices and metaphors of a transformative, epochal experience. Her book-length poem Holy Winter, written in a frenzy of poetic inspiration, speaks of winter and war, of banishment and exile, of social isolation and existential abandonment. Stepanova finds sublime imagery for the process of falling silent, interweaving love letters and travelogues, Chinese verse and Danish fairy tales into a polyphonic evocation of frozen time and its slow thawing.

As a poet and essayist, Stepanova was a highly influential figure for many years in Moscow’s cosmopolitan literary scene until it was strangled by Putin, along with civil liberties and dissent. Like Joseph Brodsky before her, she has mastered modern poetry’s rich repertoire of forms and moves effortlessly between the languages and traditions of Russian, European, and transatlantic literature, potently yet subtly creating a voice like no other.

Her poetry, which here echoes verses by Pushkin and Lermontov, Mandelstam and Tsvetaeva, is not hermetic. She takes in and incorporates the confusing signals from social networks and the media, opening herself up to the voices of kindred poets like Sylvia Plath, Inger Christensen, and Anne Carson.

Maria Stepanova, born in Moscow in 1972, is a poet, essayist, and journalist, and editor in chief of the online newspaper ColtaIn Memory of Memory, also published by New Directions, was shortlisted for the International Booker Prize, and longlisted for the National Book Award for Translated Literature, the Dublin Literary Award, and the Baillie Gifford Prize.

Sasha Dugdale is a British poet, playwright, and translator. She has published five collections of poems with Carcanet Press, most recently Deformations.

Change Machine, Jaya Savige

Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Publication Date: May 15, 2024
Format: Paperback

Tough and alert, Savige’ s shapeshifting poems reflect the world in violent transformation. Bodies scarred by history collide in the ruckus of generations, geopolitics and technology. Elegies appear alongside poems that set a pulse to new life, biometric surveillance, leaf blowers, fatbergs, mechanical pets and military coups. A work of fiercely intelligent artistry, Change Machine is shaped, equally, by feeling – its wild originality comes from how it forces the two together.

Jaya Savige was born in Sydney, raised on Bribie Island, and lives in London. He is the author of Latecomers (UQP, 2005), winner of the New South Wales Premier’ s Prize for Poetry and was highly commended for the ASAL Mary Gilmore Award, and Surface to Air (UQP, 2011), which was shortlisted for The Age Poetry Book of the Year and the Western Australian Premier’ s Book Award for Poetry. He read for a PhD on James Joyce at the University of Cambridge (Christ’ s) as a Gates Scholar.

Velvet, William Fargason

Publisher: Curbstone Books
Publication Date: May 15, 2024
Format: Paperback / eBook

Velvet, the second full-length collection from award-winning poet William Fargason, explores chronic illness, patriarchal abuse, intergenerational trauma, and racial inequality in the American South. Its speaker moves through the generations that preceded him to understand himself, and to heal from traumas both inherited and lived. As part of that heritage, the speaker confronts a family history of participation in racist ideologies and organizations to make sense of his own place within, and responsibility to, this history. In the titular lyric essay, “Velvet,” Fargason braids scientific research and YouTube videos in an attempt to forge paths for healing while contending with an inherited chronic disease. Ultimately, Velvet argues against traditional forms of toxic masculinity and suggests that vulnerability, soft and bleeding as the velvet on a deer’s antlers, offers one solution to it.

William Fargason is the author of Love Song to the Demon-Possessed Pigs of Gadara (University of Iowa Press, 2020), winner of the 2019 Iowa Poetry Prize. His poetry has appeared in PloughsharesThe Threepenny ReviewPrairie SchoonerNew England ReviewNarrative, and elsewhere. His nonfiction has appeared in BrevityThe Offing, and elsewhere. He lives with himself in Towson, Maryland.

After The Fact: If & When and Here & Now, Christopher Merrill, Marvin Bell

Publisher: White Pine Press
Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Format: Paperback

The concluding volumes of a ten-year-long conversation in prose poetry between the award-winning poets Marvin Bell and Christopher Merrill. They write from different generations and places around the world on a range of themes from memory to politics, aging and mortality, the vagaries of desire and the imagination.

Bell and Merrill wanted to create a wide-ranging dialogue to explore the meaning not only of their separate experiences but of the very ways in which a collaboration fosters a deeper engagement with each other—and the world. In his penultimate message to Merrill, written just hours before he suffered a heart attack from which he never recovered, Bell said that what he loved about their collaboration was that each new prose poem defined his immediate future—which was what After the Fact provided both of them for ten glorious years.

Christopher Merrill has published seven collections of poetry, including Watch Fire, for which he received the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets; many edited volumes and translations; and six books of nonfiction, among them, Only the Nails Remain: Scenes from the Balkan WarsThings of the Hidden God: Journey to the Holy MountainThe Tree of the Doves: Ceremony, Expedition, War, and Self-Portrait with Dogwood. As director of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa since 2000, Merrill has conducted cultural diplomacy missions to more than fifty countries.

Marvin Bell’s works include collaborations with musicians, composers, dancers, poets and photographers-among them, poet William Stafford and photographer Nathan Lyons-and volumes of an original poetic form most recently collected in Incarnate: The Collected Dead Man Poems. He lived in Iowa City, Iowa, and Port Townsend, Washington. He died in 2020.

Night of the Hawk, Lauren Martin

Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Format: Paperback / eBook

Ifá. Nature. Illness. Love. Loss. Misogyny. Aging. Africa. Our wounded planet. In this sweeping yet intensely personal collection, Lauren Martin tells the untold stories of the marginalized, the abused, the ill, the disabled—the different. Inspired by her life’s experiences, including the isolation she has suffered as a result both of living with chronic illness and having devoted herself to a religion outside the mainstream, these poems explore with raw vulnerability and unflinching honesty what it is to live apart—even as one yearns for connection.

But Night of the Hawk is no lament; it is powerful, reverential, sometimes humorous, often defiant—“Oh heat me and fill me / I rise above lines”—and full of wisdom. Visceral and stirring, the poems in this collection touch on vastly disparate subjects but are ultimately unified in a singular quest: to inspire those who read them toward kindness, compassion, and questioning.

Lauren Martin is a psychotherapist, poet, and devoted Ìyânífá. She studied poetry at Sarah Lawrence College. She spent years writing without submitting her work due to a long shamanic journey that led her to both Ifá and the writing of this collection of poems. Lauren lives in Oakland, California.

blackbirds don’t mate with starlings, Janaka Malwatta

Publisher: University of Queensland Press
Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Format: Paperback

This is a work of activism, fury and hope. Its urgent and purposeful poems contribute to the dismantling of racism, raging against its machinery. It combines performance poetry with poetries of witness and memory, recounting personal experiences of racism as well as historic injustices. The coherence of this collection comes from the incandescent rage that burns from the first poem to the last. Yet there is a measure of compassion here, a compassion that is able to register contradiction and complexity without passing judgement. Ultimately this superb collection directs its imagining towards a just future for the next generation.

Janaka Malwatta was born in Kandy, the hill capital of Sri Lanka, grew up in London, and moved to Brisbane in 2010. He writes poems about his experiences as an immigrant in two continents. He also writes narrative poetry, often exploring Sri Lankan stories. He has performed poetry in Brisbane, including at the Queensland Poetry Festival, and has been published in Cordite Poetry Review, Rabbit Poetry and Peril magazine. He was the Sri Lankan voice on the blog The Cordon. He is one half of the poetry and tabla collective Dubla.

Risk, Rusty Morrison

Publisher: Black Ocean
Publication Date: May 14, 2024
Format: Paperback

In Risk, award-winning poet Rusty Morisson uses a constraining form of seven-syllable segments with breaks between to explore questions of limitation. In these poems, she is not just writing about constraints, but living inside and seeing how to manage them. In this way, the speaker of these poems actively experiences limitations as event, not aftermath. 

Drawing on the idea of philosopher and critic Hélène Cixous who writes that “the border makes up the homeland, it prohibits and gives passage in the same stroke,” in Risk Morrison aims where the border and framings she uses offer understanding and where boundaries should be pushed against and passed beyond, as frightening as that might be.

Rusty Morrison is the author of five books: After Urgency (winner of Tupelo’s Dorset Prize), the true keeps calm biding its story (winner of the Ahsahta’s Sawtooth Prize, James Laughlin Award, N.California Book Award, and DiCastagnola Award), Beyond the Chainlink (finalist for the NCIB Award & NCB Award), Whethering (winner of the 2004 Colorado Prize for Poetry from the Colorado State Center of Literary Publishing), and Book Of the Given. She’s a recipient of fellowships from Civitella Ranieri, UC Berkeley ARC’s Poetry & the Senses Program, and others. She teaches, gives writing consultations, and co-publishes Omnidawn. She lives in Richmond, CA.

A Bouquet Brought Back from Space, Kevin Spenst

Publisher: Anvil Press
Publication Date: May 15, 2024
Format: Paperback

In a secularized society, what kind of faith in our collective powers and imaginations can be patch-worked together, and what might be the role of angels? Through multiple locales, languages, and spiritualities, A Bouquet Brought Back from Space both subverts and sublimates traditions of religious poetry, love poetry, and song.

Playful in form and formed full of play, this fourth book of poetry by Kevin Spenst explores loss, love and faith through the palindrome, Madlib, Fibonacci, found poem, prose poem, sonnet and various strains of free verse. Spenst meditates on mental health, poetic friendships and influences, and the possibility of there being an angel assigned to the Mennonites at the beginning of their global journey. These poems sing, cry, and soothe.

Kevin Spenst is the author of IgniteJabbering with Bing Bong, and Hearts Amok: a Memoir in Verse (all with Anvil Press), and over a dozen chapbooks including Surrey Sonnets (JackPine Press), Upend (Frog Hollow Press) and A Video Tape Swaddled in Purple Wool (845 Press). He writes a chapbook column in subTerrain magazine and is an occasional co-host for Wax Poetic on Co-op Radio. He teaches poetry at Simon Fraser University and lives in Vancouver (BC) on unceded Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh territory.

Mouth Art of the Bald-faced Hornet, Betsy Bolton

Publisher: Finishing Line Press
Publication Date: May 17, 2024
Format: Paperback

Mouth Art of the Bald-faced Hornet explores the interwoven human and natural histories of a local creek and woodland through the process of colonial settlement to the present day. Juxtaposing lyrics of the present with historical accounting, these poems engage the human stories shaping natural history while riffing on what it might mean to read a local landscape over time. Botany, reproductive strategies, fairy tales, forgotten atrocities, and deep history all suggest different possibilities for human relationships with one another and with the extra-human world. While engaging with embedded violence, abuse, and loss, these poems still insist on beauty, yearning, and the potential for transformation.

Betsy Bolton is a poet, a digital storyteller, and professor of English and Environmental Studies. Her poetry has appeared in reviews such as The Hopper, Gyroscope, Split Rock, Notre Dame, and Ecozon@, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She teaches at Swarthmore College, on Lenape land, at the boundary between the Piedmont and the Coastal Plain. These poems are in conversation with the Crum creek and woods and the communities embedded and fostered there. This is her first book of poetry.

Don’t see a poetry title published between 5/14 and 5/20 here? Contact us to let us know!


New Poetry Books (5/7/24)