Straight James/Gay James


James Franco - 2016
    The poetry varies from the imagistic to the prosaic. Franco's poems delve into issues of identity, sexuality, private and public life, being a brother, a son, an artist and actor. The chapbook also contains an interview of Gay James conducted by Straight James. Yes, Straight James asks the overwhelming question: Are you gay?

The Unswept Room


Sharon Olds - 2002
    These are poems that strike for the heart, as Sharon Olds captures our imagination with unexpected wordplay, sprung rhythms, and the disquieting revelations of ordinary life. Writing at the peak of her powers, this greatly admired poet gives us her finest collection.From the Hardcover edition.

The War Works Hard


Dunya Mikhail - 2005
    Winner of a 2004 PEN Translation Fund Award. "Yesterday I lost a country," Dunya Mikhail writes in The War Works Hard, a revolutionary work by an exiled Iraqi poether first to appear in English. Amidst the ongoing atrocities in Iraq, here is an important new voice that rescues the human spirit from the ruins, unmasking the official glorification of war with telegraphic lexical austerity. Embracing literary traditions from ancient Mesopotamian mythology to Biblical and Qur'anic parables to Western modernism, Mikhail's poetic vision transcends cultural and linguistic boundaries with liberating compassion.

Best American Poetry 2018


Dana Gioia - 2018
    Gioia has published five volumes of poetry, served as the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, and currently sits as the Poet Laureate of California, but he is also a graduate of Stanford Business School and was once a Vice President at General Foods. He has studied opera and is a published librettist, in addition to his prolific work in critical essay writing and editing literary anthologies. Having lived several lives, Gioia brings an insightful, varied, eclectic eye to this year’s Best American Poetry. With his classic essay “Can Poetry Matter?”, originally run in The Atlantic in 1991, Gioia considered whether there is a place for poetry to be a part of modern American mainstream culture. Decades later, the debate continues, but Best American Poetry 2018 stands as evidence that poetry is very much present, relevant, and finding new readers.

Ozone Journal


Peter Balakian - 2015
    We were never the same.   The title poem of Peter Balakian's Ozone Journal is a sequence of fifty-four short sections, each a poem in itself, recounting the speaker's memory of excavating the bones of Armenian genocide victims in the Syrian desert with a crew of television journalists in 2009. These memories spark others—the dissolution of his marriage, his life as a young single parent in Manhattan in the nineties, visits and conversations with a cousin dying of AIDS—creating a montage that has the feel of history as lived experience. Bookending this sequence are shorter lyrics that span times and locations, from Nairobi to the Native American villages of New Mexico. In the dynamic, sensual language of these poems, we are reminded that the history of atrocity, trauma, and forgetting is both global and ancient; but we are reminded, too, of the beauty and richness of culture and the resilience of love.

One Stick Song


Sherman Alexie - 2000
    Native American Studies. "Whether slyly identifying irony as a white man's invention, or deftly moving from prose-like multilayered narratives to formal poetry and song structures, this fifth collection from poet, novelist, and screenwriter Alexie demonstrates many of his skills. Most prominent perhaps is his ability to handle multiple perspectives and complex psychological subject matter with a humor that feeds readability: 'Successful non-Indian writers are viewed as well-informed about Indian life. Successful mixed-blood writers are viewed as wonderful translators of Indian life. Successful Indian writers are viewed as traditional storytellers of Indian life.' Poems such as the title one, a haunting chant for lost family, and 'The Theology of Cockroaches, ' do some vivid scene setting: '...never/woke to a wall filled with cockroaches/spelling out my name, never/stepped into a dark room and heard/the cockroaches baying at the moon.' At times Alexie allows his language, within the lineated poems almost exclusively, to slacken into cliche. The opening, multipart prose piece 'The Unauthorized Biography of Me' is arguably the strongest in the book, juxtaposing roughly chronological anecdotes with 'An Incomplete List of People I Wish Were Indian' and the formula 'Poetry = anger x imagination.' Other poems tell of 'Migration, 1902' and 'Sex in Motel Rooms'; describe 'How It Happens' and 'Second Grief'; and develop 'The Anatomy of Mushrooms.' Alexie's latest is as powerful and challenging as his previous excellent books, and should only add readers to his ever-widening audience" Publishers Weekly."

Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting


Kevin Powers - 2014
    Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting captures the many moments that comprise a soldier's life: driving down the Texas highway; waiting for the unknown in the dry Iraq heat; writing a love letter; listening to a mother recount her dreams. Written with evocative language and discernment, Powers's poetry strives to make sense of the war and its echoes through human experience.Just as The Yellow Birds was hailed as the "first literary masterpiece produced by the Iraq war," this collection will make its mark as a powerful, enduring work (Los Angeles Times).

A Portable Paradise


Roger Robinson - 2019
    Not least, in the sequence of poems that reflect on the meanings of the Grenfell Tower fire, Roger Robinson finds ways to move beyond a just indignation to uncover the undertones of experience that bring us nearer to the human reality of that event.The collection’s title points to the underlying philosophy expressed in these poems: that earthly joy is, or ought to be, just within, but is often just beyond our reach, denied by racism, misogyny, physical cruelty and those with the class power to deny others their share of worldly goods and pleasures. A Portable Paradise is not the emptiness of material accumulation, but joy in an openness to people, places, the sensual pleasures of food and the rewards to be had from the arts of word, sound and visual enticement – in short an “insatiable hunger” for life. The poems express a fierce anger against injustice, but also convey the irrepressible sense that Roger Robinson cannot help but love people for their humour, oddity and generosity of spirit.These are finely crafted poems, that reveal Robinson’s capacity to tell involving stories and capture the essence of a character in a few words, to move the emotions with the force of verbal expression, and engage our thoughts, as in the sequence of poems that reflect on just what paradise might be. A Portable Paradise is a feast to be carried by lovers of poetry wherever they go.

Gabriel: A Poem


Edward Hirsch - 2014
    This unabashed sequence speaks directly from Hirsch’s heart to our own, without sentimentality. From its opening lines—“The funeral director opened the coffin / And there he was alone / From the waist up”—Hirsch’s account is poignantly direct and open to the strange vicissitudes and tricks of grief. In propulsive three-line stanzas, he tells the story of how a once unstoppable child, who suffered from various developmental disorders, turned into an irreverent young adult, funny, rebellious, impulsive. Hirsch mixes his tale of Gabriel with the stories of other poets through the centuries who have also lost children, and expresses his feelings through theirs. His landmark poem enters the broad stream of human grief and raises in us the strange hope, even consolation, that we find in the writer’s act of witnessing and transformation. It will be read and reread.

Another America / Otra America


Barbara Kingsolver - 1992
    This edition contains six new poems, a foreword by Margaret Randall, a new preface by Barbara Kingsolver, and a newly designed cover.

Otherwise: New and Selected Poems


Jane Kenyon - 1996
    Opening with twenty new poems and including generous selections from Jane Kenyon's four previous books—From Room to Room, The Boat of Quiet Hours, Let Evening Come, and Constance—this collection was selected and arranged by Kenyon herself—alongside her husband, the esteemed poet Donald Hall—shortly before her death in April 1995.This extensive gathering reveals a scrupulously crafted body of work in which poem after poem achieves a rare and somber grace. Light and shade are never far apart in these telling narratives of life and love and work at the poet's rural New Hampshire home. The shadow of depression in Kenyon's verse, which grew much darker and longer at certain intervals, has the force and heft of a spiritual presence—a god, demon, angel. Yet her work emphasizes the constant effort of her imagination to confront and even find redemption in suffering. However quiet or domesticated or subtle in her moods and methods, Kenyon was a poet who sought to discover the extraordinary within the ordinary, and her poems continue to make this discovery. As Hall writes in the afterword to Otherwise, we share "her joy in the body and the creation, in flowers, music, and paintings, in hayfields and a dog."

The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen


Wilfred Owen - 1918
    By the time Owen was killed at the age of 25 at the Battle of Sambre, he had written what are considered to be the most important British poems of WWI. This definitive edition is based on manuscripts of Owen's papers in the British Museum and other archives.

Valleys of Death: A Memoir of the Korean War


Bill Richardson - 2010
     From the devastating counterattack at Unsan to the thirty-four months he spent in captivity-a period of years in which giving up surely meant dying-Col. Bill Richardson's instinct for leadership and stubborn will to survive saw him through one valley of death after the next. Valleys of Death is a stirring story of survival and determination that offers a fascinating, intimate look at the soldiers who fought America's first battle of the Cold War in the unvarnished words of one of their own. Richardson endured many long months of starvation, torture, sleep deprivation, and Chinese attempts at indoctrination, yet maintained defiance under conditions designed to break the mind, body, and spirit of men.

Ripcord: Screaming Eagles Under Siege, Vietnam 1970


Keith William Nolan - 2000
    By July, the activities of the artillery and infantry of Ripcord had caught the attention of the NVA (North Vietnamese Army) and a long and deadly siege ensued. Ripcord was the Screaming Eagles’ last chance to do significant damage to the NVA in the A Shau Valley before the division was withdrawn from Vietnam and returned to the United States. At Ripcord, the enemy counterattacked with ferocity, using mortar and antiaircraft fire to inflict heavy causalities on the units operating there. The battle lasted four and a half months and exemplified the ultimate frustration of the Vietnam War: the inability of the American military to bring to bear its enormous resources to win on the battlefield. In the end, the 101st evacuated Ripcord, leaving the NVA in control of the battlefield. Contrary to the mantra “We won every battle but lost the war,” the United States was defeated at Ripcord. Now, at last, the full story of this terrible battle can be told.

Road from Ar Ramadi: The Private Rebellion of Sergeant Camilo Mejia


Camilo Mejia - 2007
    Here, he tells his own story, from his upbringing in Central America and his experience as a working-class immigrant in the United States, to his service in Iraq and as a prisoner guard.