The Invisible Manuscript


Alfian Sa'at - 2012
    Bearing passionate testimony to private and public memories, this gathering of poems and prose fragments documenting the intimate challenges of homosexual longing gives voice to an invisible minority still struggling to be recognised today. Now published at last, this book, full of fierce confessions, ambivalences and flinty epiphanies, will shock and devestate. Here is an uncompromising confluence of unfulfilled desires wrought through language by one of Singapore's most outspoken and critical voices.

School of the Arts


Mark Doty - 2005
    At once witty and disconsolate -- formally inventive, acutely attentive, insistently alive -- this is a book of fierce vulnerability that explores the ways in which we are educated by the implacable powers of time and desire in a world that constantly renews itself.

Human Dark with Sugar


Brenda Shaughnessy - 2008
    Or she is and she isn’t. If you just want to boss people around, you’re a control freak, but if you can joke about it, then your bossiness is leavened by a yeast that’s all too infrequent in contemporary poetry, that of humor.”—New York Times“Shaughnessy’s voice is smart, sexy, self-aware, hip . . . consistently wry, and ever savvy.”—Harvard Review“Brenda Shaughnessy . . . writes like the love-child of Mina Loy and Frank O’Hara.”—Exquisite Corpse"In its worried acceptance of contradiction, its absolute refusal of sentimentality and its acute awareness of time's 'scarce infinity,' this is a brilliant, beautiful and essential continuation of the metaphysical verse tradition." —Publishers Weekly, starred review“Human Dark with Sugar is both wonderfully inventive (studded with the strangenesses of ‘snownovas’ and ‘flukeprints’) and emotionally precise. Her ‘I’ is madly multidexterous—urgent, comic, mischievous—and the result is a new topography of the debates between heart and head.”—Matthea Harvey, a judge for the Laughlin Award"Seriously playful, sexy, sharp-edged, and absolutely commanding throughout....Here you'll meet an 'I' boldly ready to take on the world and just itching to give 'You' some smart directives. So listen up."—Library JournalIn her second book, winner of the prestigious James Laughlin Award, Brenda Shaughnessy taps into themes that have inspired era after era of poets. Love. Sex. Pain. The heavens. The loss of time. The weird miracle of perception. Part confessional, part New York School, and part just plain lover of the English language, Shaughnessy distills the big questions into sharp rhythms and alluring lyrics. “You’re a tool, moon. / Now, noon. There’s a hero.”Master of diverse dictions, she dwells here on quirky words, mouthfuls of consonance and assonance—anodyne, astrolabe, alizarin—then catches her readers up short with a string of powerful monosyllables. “I’ll take / a year of that. Just give it back to me.” In addition to its verbal play, Human Dark With Sugar demonstrates the poet’s ease in a variety of genres, from “Three Sorries” (in which the speaker concludes, “I’m not sorry. Not sorry at all”), to a sequence of prose poems on a lover’s body, to the discussion of a disturbing dream. In this caffeine jolt of a book, Shaughnessy confirms her status as a poet of intoxicating lines, pointed, poignant comments on love, and compelling abstract images —not the least of which is human dark with sugar.Brenda Shaughnessy was raised in California and is an MFA graduate of Columbia University. She is the poetry editor for Tin House and has taught at several colleges, including Eugene Lang College and Princeton University. She lives in Brooklyn.

Drive Here and Devastate Me


Megan Falley - 2018
    It is clear that the author is madly in love, not only with her partner for whom she writes both idiosyncratic and sultry poems for, but in love with language, in love with queerness, in love with the therapeutic process of bankrupting the politics of shame. These poems tackle gun violence, toxic masculinity, LGBTQ* struggles, suicidality, and the oppression of women's bodies, while maintaining a vivid wildness that the tongue aches to speak aloud. Known best for breathtaking last lines and truths that will bowl you over, Drive Here and Devastate Me will "relinquish you from the possibility of meeting who you could have been, and regretting who you became."

The Tether


Carl Phillips - 2001
    Though it would help,it is not required that I give hima name first. Also, nothingsays he stops, then, or must turn.--from "The Figure, the Boundary, the Light"In the art of falconry, during training the tether between the gloved fist and the raptor's anklets is gradually lengthened and eventually unnecessary. In these new lyric poems, Carl Phillips considers the substance of connection -- between lover and beloved, mind and body, talon and perch -- and ts the cable of mutual trust between soaring figure and shadowed ground.Contemporary literature can perhaps claim no poetry more clearly allegorical than that of Carl Phillips, whose four collections have turned frequently to nature, myth, and history for illustration; still, readers know the primary attributes of his work to be its physicality, grace, and disarming honesty about desire and faith. In The Tether, his fifth book, Phillips's characteristically cascading poetic line is leaner and more dramatic than ever."

Bird Eating Bird


Kristin Naca - 2009
    They explore the richness of her cultural and linguistic heritage, which spans the globe from Mexico to the Philippines. They defend with vigor and humor the color purple. And they analyze the insecurities of the letter ′h′ -- among other things.For thirty years, the National Poetry Series has discovered many new and emerging voices and has been instrumental in launching the careers of poets and writers such as Billy Collins, Mark Doty, Denis Johnson, Cole Swensen, Thylias Moss, Mark Levine, and Dionisio Martinez.

Rivers and Mountains


John Ashbery - 1966
    Ashbery himself had just returned to America from ten years abroad working as an art critic in France, and "Rivers and Mountains," his third published collection of poems, is now considered by many critics to represent a pivotal transition point in his artistic career. The poet who would gain widespread acclaim with his multiple-award-winning "Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror" (1975) is, in this collection, still very much engaged in the intimate, personal project of taking his poetry apart and putting it back together again, interrogating not just the act of writing but poetry itself--its purpose, its composition, its fundamental parts. Nominated for a National Book Award by a panel of judges that included W. H. Auden and James Dickey, "Rivers and Mountains" includes two of Ashbery's most studied and admired works. "Clepsydra," which takes its name from an ancient device for measuring the passage of time, echoes both the physical form and the philosophical weight of a water clock in its contemplation of the experience of time as it passes. "The Skaters," the long poem that closes the collection, was immediately praised as a masterpiece of modern American poetry, and is the work that perhaps most clearly introduces the voice for which Ashbery is now well known and loved: generous, restless, wide-ranging, and human.

Night


Etel Adnan - 2016
    This striking new book continues Adnan’s meditative observation and inquiry into the experiences of her remarkable life.

Desire: Poems


Frank Bidart - 1997
    The sleepless body hammering a nail nails itself, hanging crucified.--from "Catullus: Excrucior" In Frank Bidart's collection of poems, the encounter with desire is the encounter with destiny. The first half contains some of Bidart's most luminous and intimate work-poems about the art of writing, Eros, and the desolations and mirror of history (in a spectacular narrative based on Tacitus). The second half of the book exts the overt lyricism of the opening section into even more ambitious territory-"The Second Hour of the Night" may be Bidart's most profound and complex meditation on the illusion of will, his most seductive dramatic poem to date.Desire is a 1997 National Book Award Finalist for Poetry.

Tender Delirium


Tania De Rozario - 2013
    It brings together (but is not limited to) estranged lovers, despairing mothers and the avenging spirits of murdered women, in an assortment of words that celebrate queer desire, obsessive longing and a general disregard for "proper" subject matter. Comprising selected work written over the course of a decade, the largely confessional collection has been described as dark and hysterical ... but in a good way.

Wrong Side of a Fistfight


Ashe Vernon - 2015
    With a gift for delicate, violent imagery, Ashe invites us to lose ourselves in her world. Wrong Side of a Fistfight feels like getting lost in the woods, with someone holding your hand promising to guide you home. This is the second book of poems by Ashe Vernon, spoken word poet and author of the blog Late Night Corner Store.

Apocalyptic Swing


Gabrielle Calvocoressi - 2009
    Battered but never beaten, this narrator finds salvation in ecstatic communion with the gods of jazz and especially boxing: “O Tommy Hearns, O blood come down,” she prays. “Find your way to Hungerford where my/father glowers over me. Show him/how the bag does penance.” In such prayers she finds the strength to survive the home she has to leave and, once she does, the strength to face the fires she finds flaring the country over, from Los Angeles to Laramie. Apocalyptic Swing is a work of unbelievable force, a devastating and glorious testimony about America—its lore, disappointments, and promise.

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.

Blackbird and Wolf: Poems


Henri Cole - 2007
    I want nothingto reveal feeling but feeling--as in freedom,or the knowledge of peace in a realm beyond,or the sound of water poured in a bowl.--from "Gravity and Center" In his sixth collection of poetry, Henri Cole deepens his excavations of autobiography and memory. "I don't want words to sever me from reality," he asserts, and these poems--often hovering within the realm of the sonnet--combine a delight in the senses with the rueful, the elegiac, the harrowing. Many confront the human need for love, the highest function of our species. But whether writing about solitude or the desire for unsanctioned love, animals or flowers, the dissolution of his mother's body or war, Cole maintains a style that is neither confessional nor abstract. And in Blackbird and Wolf, he is always opposing disappointment and difficult truths with innocence and wonder.

Rapture: Poems


Sjohnna McCray - 2016
    Because I always stutter politely. Because there's always the chatter before the kiss. --from "In Need of Subtitles"In this award-winning debut, Sjohnna McCray movingly recounts a life born out of wartime to a Korean mother and an American father serving during the Vietnam War. Their troubled histories, and McCray's own, are told with lyric passion and the mythic undercurrents of discovering one's own identity, one's own desires. What emerges is a self- and family portrait of grief and celebration, one that insists on our lives as anything, please, but singular. Rapture is an extraordinary first collection, with poems of rare grace and feeling.