April is National Poetry Month, and Librarian Kim Martens-Tyo gathered this list of recommended titles that are currently part of the Library’s collection or are on-order. All were published in 2020 or 2021, and they represent a diverse range of voices and poetry styles, from a collection documenting African American poetic history (African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song) to poetry in the form of a novel (On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous), to Amanda Gorman’s inaugural poem that catapulted her into the national spotlight (The Hill We Climb).
African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song
by Keven Young
A literary landmark: the biggest, most ambitious anthology of Black poetry ever published, gathering 250 poets from the colonial period to the present. -Goodreads
Published Oct. 20, 2020.
Dearly: New Poems
by Margaret Atwood
In Dearly, Margaret Atwood’s first collection of poetry in over a decade, Atwood addresses themes such as love, loss, the passage of time, the nature of nature and – zombies. Her new poetry is introspective and personal in tone, but wide-ranging in topic. -Goodreads
Published November 10, 2020.
by Don Mee Choi
Woven from poems, prose, photographs, and drawings, Don Mee Choi’s DMZ Colony is a tour de force of personal and political reckoning set over eight acts. Evincing the power of translation as a poetic device to navigate historical and linguistic borders, it explores Edward Said’s notion of “the intertwined and overlapping histories” in regards to South Korea and the United States through innovative deployments of voice, story, and poetics. Like its sister book, Hardly War, it holds history accountable, its very presence a resistance to empire and a hope in humankind. -Goodreads
Published April 7, 2020, winner of the National Book Award for Poetry.
God of Nothingness: Poems
by Mark Wunderlich
A magnificent book of hope and resolve written out of profound losses, by award-winning poet Mark Wunderlich. -Goodreads
Published January 1, 2021.
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous
by Ocean Vuong
On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family’s history that began before he was born — a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam — and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one’s own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard. -Goodreads
Published June 4, 2020, it won the National Book Award for Fiction (2019), was a PEN/Hemingway Foundation Award Nominee for Longlist (2020), a PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction Nominee (2020), and a Dylan Thomas Prize Nominee for Shortlist (2020). Ocean Vuong is an American Poet. This is a novel, but is tagged as poetry.
Postcolonial Love Poem
by Natalie Diaz
Postcolonial Love Poem is an anthem of desire against erasure. Natalie Diaz’s brilliant second collection demands that every body carried in its pages—bodies of language, land, rivers, suffering brothers, enemies, and lovers—be touched and held as beloveds. Through these poems, the wounds inflicted by America onto an indigenous people are allowed to bloom pleasure and tenderness: “Let me call my anxiety, desire, then. / Let me call it, a garden.” In this new lyrical landscape, the bodies of indigenous, Latinx, Black, and brown women are simultaneously the body politic and the body ecstatic. In claiming this autonomy of desire, language is pushed to its dark edges, the astonishing dunefields and forests where pleasure and love are both grief and joy, violence and sensuality.
Diaz defies the conditions from which she writes, a nation whose creation predicated the diminishment and ultimate erasure of bodies like hers and the people she loves: “I am doing my best to not become a museum / of myself. I am doing my best to breathe in and out. // I am begging: Let me be lonely but not invisible.” 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. -Goodreads
Published March, 3 2020, it was a nominee for the National Book Award for Poetry 2020, and a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for Poetry 2020.
The Glass Constellation: New and Collected Poems
by Arthur Sze
National Book Award winner Arthur Sze is a master poet, and The Glass Constellation is a triumph spanning five decades, including ten poetry collections and twenty-six new poems. Sze began his career writing compressed, lyrical poems influenced by classical Chinese poetry; he later made a leap into powerful polysemous sequences, honing a distinct stylistic signature that harnesses luminous particulars, and is sharply focused, emotionally resonant, and structurally complex. Fusing elements of Chinese, Japanese, Native American, and various Western experimental traditions–employing startling juxtapositions that are always on target, deeply informed by concern for our endangered planet and troubled species–Arthur Sze presents experience in all its multiplicities, in singular book after book. This collection is an invitation to immerse in a visionary body of work, mapping the evolution of one of our finest American poets. – Goodreads
Published April 13, 2021.
The Hill We Climb
by Amanda Gorman
On January 20, 2021, Amanda Gorman became the sixth and youngest poet to deliver a poetry reading at a presidential inauguration. Taking the stage after the 46th president of the United States, Joe Biden, Gorman captivated the nation and brought hope to viewers around the globe. -Goodreads
Published March 30, 2021.