The Spectral Wilderness

Oliver Baez Bendorf - 2014
    . .to come nearer to a realm of experience little explored in American poetry, the lives of those who are engaged in the complex project of transforming their own gender... Oliver Bendorf writes from a paradoxical, new-world position: the adult voice of a man who has just appeared in the world. A man emergent, a man in love, alive in the fluid instability of any category. --Mark Doty, from the ForewordBest Poetry Book of 2014— Entropy Magazine30 Must-Read Poetry Debuts from 2015 — LithubSpectacular Books of 2015 — Split This Rock“Bendorf’s poems give us all we have ever wanted, to wake up and feel that the body we are in is ours, that the hands on the ends of our wrists—our body’s gates of tenderness—are large enough to hold in them all the things we have desired.” —Natalie Diaz, author of When My Brother Was An Aztec“Astonishing.” —The Literary Review“Oliver Bendorf’s poems draw unflinching attention to the process of making… Bendorf strips a poem to its scaffold with an honesty that is at once funny and unbearably sad.” —Blackbird“Bendorf’s collection indeed opens the door to a spectral wilderness, an otherworldly pastoral, a queer ecology endlessly transformed by possibility, grief, and the unruly wanting of our names and bodies. Stunningly lyrical and beautifully theoretical, The Spectral Wilderness is an invitation one cannot turn down; the book calls us to travel with Bendorf, to study the topography of becoming because ‘what we used to be matters’ in the way that language matters— however fleeting, however mistaken, however contradictory it might be.” —Stacey Waite, author of Butch Geography“What gorgeous and ravenous rackets Oliver Bendorf’s poems are made of; what a yearning and beautiful heart. ‘Lift a geode from the ground and crack me open,’ he writes, which is more or less what these poems do for me: break me open to what might sparkle and blaze, what might glisten and burn inside. The Spectral Wilderness is a wonderful book.” —Ross Gay, author of Against Which and Bringing the Shovel Down“The Spectral Wilderness is full of beautiful little bodies, written into being (into becoming) by a maker from whom we’ll continue to be amazed and enchanted.” —Lambda Literary

Buffalo Yoga: Poems

Charles Wright - 2004
    Wright's short lyrics, in Charles Simic's words, "achieve a level of eloquence where the reader says to himself, if this is not wisdom, I don't know what is" (The New York Review of Books). The poems in Buffalo Yoga are pristine examples of the Tennessee poet's deft, painterly touch-"crows in a caterwaul" are "scored like black notes in the bare oak"-and his oblique, expansive, and profound interrogation of mortality, as in the title sequence, where the soul is "a rhythmical knot. / That form unties. Or reties."

Sight Map

Brian Teare - 2009
    Teare provides us with poems that insist on the simultaneous physical embodiment of tactile pleasure—that which is found in the textures of thought and language—as well as the action of syntax. Partly informed by an ecological imagination that leads him back to Emerson and Thoreau, Teare's method and fragmented style are nevertheless up to the moment. Remarkable in its range, Sight Map serves at once as a cross-country travelogue, a pilgrim's gnostic progress, an improvised field guide, and a postmodern "pillowbook," recording the erotic conflation of lover and beloved, deity and doubter.


Eileen Myles - 2001
    Although their work conjures the texture of wind and the broad spaces of the sky, these poems are not serenely pastoral. Rather, Myles' sparse blank verse is concerned with the diaphanous qualities of perception, as if her momentary experiences were as slippery and translucent as clouds. A sometimes brutal loneliness and urgent but stoic sensuality results, finding its expression in simple colors: orange, grey, yellow, white, rose.

Second Empire

Richie Hofmann - 2015
    Richie Hofmann disciplines his natural elegance into the sterner recognitions that matter: 'I am a little white omnivore,' the speaker of Second Empire discovers. Mastering directness and indirection, Hofmann's poems break through their own beauty."—Rosanna WarrenThis debut's spare, delicate poems explore ways we experience the afterlife of beauty while ornately examining lust, loss, and identity. Drawing upon traditions of amorous sonnets, these love-elegies desire an artistic and sexual connection to others—other times, other places—in order to understand aesthetic pleasures the speaker craves. Distant and formal, the poems feel both ancient and contemporary.Antique BookThe sky was crazed with swallows.We walked in the frozen grassof your new city, I was gauzed with sleep.Trees shook down their gaudy nests.The ceramic pots were caparisoned with snow.I was jealous of the river,how the light broke it, of the skeinof windows where we saw ourselves.Where we walked, the ice crackedlike an antique book, openingand closing. The leavesbeneath it were the marbled pages.Richie Hofmann is the winner of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the New Yorker, Poetry, the Kenyon Review, and Ploughshares. A graduate of the Johns Hopkins University MFA program, he is currently a Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Emory University.

What Runs Over

Kayleb Rae Candrilli - 2017
    Unfurling and unrelenting in its delivery, Candrilli has painted “the mountain” in excruciating detail. They show readers a world of Borax cured bear hides and canned peaches, of urine-filled Gatorade bottles and the syringe and all the syringe may carry. They show a violent world and its many personas. What Runs Over, too, is a story of rural queerness, of a transgender boy almost lost to the forest. The miracle of What Runs Over is that Candrilli has lived to write it at all."When Roethke said 'energy is the soul of poetry,' he might have been anticipating a book like What Runs Over, which is so full of energy it practically vibrates in your hand. Here, Candrilli’s speaker sticks their tongue 'into the heads / of venus fly traps just to feel the bite,' then later, burns holy books in the backyard and rolls around in the ashes until they become 'a painted god.' This is the verve of an urgent new poetic voice announcing itself to the world. As Candrilli writes: 'This is what I look like / when I’m trying to save myself.'"-Kaveh Akbar

Can You Hear, Bird

John Ashbery - 1995
    Ashbery fans will welcome this collection of one hundred and twelve poems where the signature qualities of Ashbery's greatest work are on every page with a new intensity and power.

Deviant Propulsion

C.A. Conrad - 2005
    The title refers to the idea that those who are deviant propel the world forward at top speed. Delving into the center of the endless webs of repression against our bodies, desires, politics, and imaginations, are those whose actions and motion cut away at the systemic limitations of society. This collection of poems was written with the inspiration and work of these people in mind.As a working class queer poet, Conrad has had to fight through different stratifications of oppression his entire life. His poems vibrate with the flamboyant desire that manifests itself in queer culture, where the right to act on basic desires can become a battleground, and everyday acts of love and devotion must be enacted as a political form of defiance. The poems that emerge from this life long struggle illustrate the sharp edge of that defiance and desire, where joy is closely linked to death. In a world ruled by those who govern with fear, and in a landscape barbed with those who are terrified of desire, moving at speed of deviants is the only way to transform potential into action, and desire into positive change.


Taylor Johnson - 2020
    Influenced by everyday moments of Washington, DC living, the poems live outside of the outside and beyond the language of categorical difference, inviting anyone listening to listen a bit closer. Inheritance is about the self’s struggle with definition and assumption.

Fanny Says

Nickole Brown - 2015
    With hair teased to Jesus, mile-long false eyelashes, and a white Cadillac Eldorado with atomic-red leather seats, Fanny is not your typical granny rocking in a chair. Instead, think of a character that looks a lot like Eva Gabor in Green Acres, but darkened with a shadow of Flannery O’Connor. A cross-genre collection that reads like a novel, this book is both a collection of oral history and a lyrical and moving biography that wrestles with the complexities of the South, including poverty, racism, and domestic violence.

Ideal Cities

Erika Meitner - 2010
    Good for poetry. Good for poetry lovers. Good for the rest of us, too.”— Nikki Giovanni Exploring themes of pregnancy, motherhood, ancestry, and life in the borderline slums of Washington, DC, the richly felt and adroit poetry of Erika Meitner’s Ideal Cities moves, mesmerizes, and delights. The work of an important emerging voice in contemporary American poetry—a winner of the 2009 National Poetry Series Prize as selected by Paul Guest—Ideal Cities gloriously perpetuates NPS’s long-standing tradition of promoting exceptional poetry from lesser-known poets.

Selected Poems

George Oppen - 2003
    Edited by one of our most respected contemporary poets, Robert Creeley, who provides an informative introduction, George Oppen's Selected Poems includes Oppen's only known essay, "A Mind's Own Place," as well as "Twenty-Six Fragments" which Oppen wrote on envelopes and scraps of paper and posted to his wall, edited by Stephen Cope. Also incorporated is a helpful chronology and bibliography of his writings by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, celebrated editor of Oppen's letters. On his death, Hugh Kenner wrote, "George Oppen, gentlest of men...prized what took time, found the grain of materials, exacted accuracy." Oppen's Selected Poems is the perfect text for teaching and a remarkable window into a world of lasting light and clarity.

Thin Kimono

Michael Earl Craig - 2010
    Anything can happen, and probably will, and it will affect me in small or large ways that I couldn't have imagined. The precision of their imagery keeps me reeling with delight."—James TateThin Kimono continues Michael Earl Craig's singular breed of brilliant absurdist poetry, utterly and masterfully slanting the realities of daily existence.Michael Earl Craig is the author of two previous collections of poetry: Yes, Master (Fence Books, 2006) and Can You Relax in My House (Fence Books, 2002). He lives in Livingston, Montana, where he is a certified journeyman farrier.

Dispatch: Poems

Cameron Awkward-Rich - 2019
    These poems ask: What kind of revisions will make this a world/a story that is concerned with my people’s flourishing? How ought I pay attention, how to register perpetual bad news without letting it fatally intrude? Cameron Awkward-Rich is among the most bracing voices to emerge in recent years, a dazzling exemplar of poetry’s (and humanity’s) possibilities.

Indeed I Was Pleased With the World

Mary Ruefle - 2007
    Mary Ruefle is of their number. Her poems discover the full beauty and anguish of life that most of us dare not see, much less depict in luminous detail for the ages.