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New Poetry Books in Celebration of National Poetry Month

npm2013_logo.jpgInaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996, National Poetry Month is now held every April, when schools, publishers, libraries, booksellers, and poets throughout the United States band together to celebrate poetry and its vital place in American culture. To help celebrate, here is a list of some new books of poetry that have recently hit our shelves.

Click for availability and more information Bean Spasms, collaborations by Ted Berrigan & Ron Padgett ; illustrated & drawings by Joe Brainard
Originally published in 1967 by Kulchur Press in an edition of 1,000, and out-of-print for more than 40 years, Bean Spasms is a book many have heard about but relatively few have seen, and which--until now--has been shrouded in legend. The text is comprised of collaborations between poets Ted Berrigan and Ron Padgett, with further writings, illustrations and cover by artist and writer Joe Brainard. The three began collaborating in 1960, and kept a folder of their works titled "Lyrical Bullets" (a humorous homage to the well-known collaboration between Coleridge and Wordsworth, "Lyrical Ballads"). As Ron Padgett describes, in his introduction to this new facsimile edition, their collaborations included "plays, a fictitious correspondence, a picaresque novel, goofy interviews and poems of various types and lengths, as well as mistranslations and parodies of each others work and the work of others." 

Click for availability and more information City of Rivers, by Zubair Ahmed
This is what the folks at have to say about this debut poetry collection: "The poems in Zubair Ahmed's debut collection, City of Rivers, are not exceptional because he is a twenty-three year old engineering student at Stanford; they are exceptional because he is a dedicated craftsman with a developed artistic vision and voice, regardless of age. History has taught us that excellence in poetry can come early in life, or much later (see A.R. Ammons or a more contemporary example in Claudia Emerson). While I imagine one of the reasons readers might find themselves interested in City of Rivers will be due to Ahmed's relatively young age, such readers will invariably find themselves more interested in exploring the range of his vision and the confidence he seems to have hammered into every one of his sharp, stoic lines." This is published by the tastemakers at McSweeney's.

Click for availability and more information Collected Poems, by May Swenson, edited by Langdon Hammer
In celebration of the centenary of May Swenson's birth, The Library of America presents a one-volume edition of all of the poems that Swenson published in her lifetime--from her first collection Another Animal (1954) to the innovative shaped poems of Iconographs (1970) to her final work In Other Words (1987)--as well as a selection of previously uncollected work. The collection reveals the sweeping compass of Swenson's curiosity: nature poems display her keen observation of wildlife; exuberant and erotic love poems celebrate beauty and passion; place poems record her travels to the American Southwest, France, and Italy and her residence in New York City and Sea Cliff, Long Island; verse "analyses" investigate baseball, wave motion, the DNA molecule, bronco busting, James Bond movies, and the first walk on the moon. While preserving the order of publication, this volume presents the author''s final or definitive versions of these poems. Substantive textual variants and title changes are detailed in the notes to the volume. 

Click for availability and more information Exit, Civilian: poems , by Idra Novey
In her second collection, Idra Novey steps in and out of jails, courthouses, and caves to explore what confinement means in the twenty-first century. From the beeping doors of a prison in New York to cellos playing in a former jail in Chile, she looks at prisons that have opened, closed, and transformed to examine how the stigma of incarceration has altered American families, including her own. Novey writes of the expanding prison complex that was once a field and imagines what's next for the civilians who enter and exit it each day.

Click for availability and more information Fast Animal, by Tim Seibles
A finalist for the 2012 National Book Award for poetry. Jen Bervin of Undertow Magazine loved it, dubbing it "one of the best books I've read recently." Here's the rest of her review.

Click for availability and more information In time: poets, poems, and the rest , by C. K. Williams
Not a collection of poetry but rather a "meditation on poetic subjects" from the Pulitzer Prize winning poet. In the book he also reflects on such forebears as Philip Larkin and Robert Lowell. The book's innovative middle section, the author extracts short essays from interviews into an alphabetized series of reflections on subjects ranging from poetry and politics to personal accounts of his own struggles as an artist. The seven essays of the final section branch into more public concerns. Written in his lucid, powerful, and accessible prose, Williams's essays are characterized by reasoned and complex judgments and a willingness to confront hard moral questions in both art and politics.

Click for availability and more information Mayakovsky's Revolver , by Matthew Dickman
At the center of Mayakovsky's Revolver is the suicide of Matthew Dickman's older brother. Bobby Elliott in his blog post on the Huffington Post calls it "a book of dark and reeling poems." Evan Hanson takes things further in his review on THis book and Hanson's review are thought provoking. 

Click for availability and more information Night Thoughts: 70 dream poems & notes from an analysis , by Sarah Arvio
In a "self-interview" on the Best American Poetry blog, Sarah Arvio explains the background of her latest book of poetry in which she studied her dreams over a ten year period. The poems, in the form of irregular sonnets, describe her dreamworld. 

Click for availability and more information Red doc> , by Anne Carson
A continuation of the author's Autobiography of red, following the characters in later life, but in a different style and with changed names. The notoriously private poet was recently profiled in the New York Times Magazine. During the course of the profile she gives insights into this book as well as her approach to poetry writing. 

Click for availability and more information Special Powers and Abilities: poems, byRaymond McDaniel
Inspired by The Legion of Super-Heroes, a comic series about a group of teenage superheroes in the future, McDaniel's poems morph superheroes into religious and mythological narratives. Jacob Canfield over at the Hooded Utilitarian takes a closer look at the book.

New Poetry Books

With the holidays rushing up at us it might be a good time to turn off the internet, stop shopping for a bit and read some poetry.

Click for availability and more information Bewilderment: new poems and translations, by David Ferry
This collection, which won the 2012 national Book Award for poetry, features new works and Ferry's translations of older, classic poems. The Washington Post called it "vivid and sometimes heartbreaking." You can read more about the book, the author and the award here.

Click for availability and more information Collected Poems, by Jack Kerouac
Poetry was at the center of Jack Kerouac's sense of mission as a writer. This landmark edition brings together for the first time all Kerouac's major poetic works--Mexico City Blues, The Scripture of the Golden Eternity, Book of Blues, Pomes All Sizes, Old Angel Midnight, Book of Haikus--along with a rich assortment of his uncollected poems, six published here for the first time. He wrote poetry in every period of his life, in forms as diverse as the classical Japanese haiku, the Buddhist sutra, the spontaneous prose poetry of Old Angel Midnight, and the poetic "blues" he developed in Mexico City Blues and other serial work.

Click for availability and more information Garnet Poems : an anthology of Connecticut poetry since 1776, edited by Dennis Barone
Connecticut may be a small state but it is large indeed in its contribution to the nation's literature. Garnet Poems features forty-two poets whose work has a strong connection to Connecticut. This is the first major anthology of Connecticut poetry to appear since the mid-nineteenth century, and includes the work of such notable poets as Wallace Stevens, Lydia Sigourney, Mark Van Doren, Richard Wilbur, Susan Howe, and Elizabeth Alexander. This features a foreward by current Connecticut state poet laureate, Dick Allen.

Click for availability and more information The Hungry Ear: Poems about Food and Festivity, edited by Kevin Young
The National Book Award finalist author of Jelly Roll presents an evocative collection of food poetry that meditates on the role of food in everyday life, identity and culture and includes pieces by such writers as Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost and Allen Ginsberg.

Click for availability and more information Later Poems: selected and new, 1971-2012 , by Adrienne Rich
Drawing upon 12 volumes of her published work as well as a manuscript posthumously left behind, this collection from the award-winning poet includes "From Strata," "Itinerary," "For the Young Anarchists" and "Theethsucking Bird." These and other poems look back into history and forward into the future while engaging with contemporary moments. Rich's singular command of language continues to the end. This is the final volume of poems assembled by America's most powerful and distinctive voice.

Click for availability and more information Meme: poems, by Susan Wheeler
Acclaimed poet Susan Wheeler, whose last individual collection predicted the spiritual losses of the economic collapse, turns her attention to the most intimate of subjects: the absence or loss of love. A meme is a unit of thought replicated by imitation. Occupy Wall Street is a meme, as are Internet ideas and images that go viral. Wheeler explores the concept of memes on a personal level using memories and wordplay to convey her thoughts and emotions.

Click for availability and more information Poems 1962-2012, by Louise Gluck
The collected works of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critics Circle Award-winning writer explores her transfigured landscapes and offers insight into her unique form. Dwight Garner, writing in the New York Times Book Review, states that "Ms. Gl├╝ck's new and career-spanning "Poems 1962-2012" is a major event in this country's literature, perhaps this year's most major. It collects the entirety of this ruthless poet's verse from her debut, "Firstborn" (1968), through "A Village Life" (2009), 11 books over four decades. You can read the rest of his glowing review here.

Click for availability and more information The Poems of Octavio Paz, by Octavio Paz
This is the the first retrospective collection of Paz's poetry to span his entire writing career, from the first published poem, at age seventeen, to his magnificent last poem; the whole is assiduously edited and translated by acclaimed essayist Eliot Weinberger -- who has been translating Paz for over forty years.

Click for availability and more information Time of Useful Consciousness, by Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Even at ninety-three, Ferlinghetti shows more power than most any other poet at work today. He describes this new book, as "a fragmented recording of the American stream-of-consciousness, always westward streaming; a people's poetic history in the tradition of William Carlos Williams' Paterson, Charles Olson's Maximus, Allen Ginsberg's Fall of America, and Ed Sanders' America: a History in Verse." Time of Useful Consciousness, is an aeronautical term denoting the time between when one loses oxygen and when one passes out, the brief time in which some life-saving action is possible.His publisher calls this new collection a new call to action and a vivid picture of civilization moving towards its brink.

Click for availability and more information The Two Yvonnes: poems, by Jessica Greenbaum
This is the second collection from a Brooklyn poet whose work many readers will know from the New Yorker. Jessica Greenbaum's narrative poems, in which objects and metaphor share highest honors, attempt revelation through close observation of the everyday. The book asks at heart: how does life present itself to us, and how do we create value from our delights and losses? Moving from 1960s Long Island, to 1980s Houston, to today's Brooklyn, the poems range in subject from the pages of the Talmud to a squirrel trapped in a kitchen. he title poem, in which the speaker and friends stumble through a series of flawed memories about each other, unearths the human vulnerabilities that shape so much of the collection.

Click for availability and more information Writers Writing Dying , by C. K. Williams
In Writers Writing Dying, C. K. Wolliams retains the essential parts of his poetic identity--his candor, the drama of his verses, the social conscience of his themes--while slyly reinventing himself, re-casting his voice, and in many poems examining the personal--sexual desire, the hubris of youth, the looming specter of death--more bluntly and bravely than ever. Poet Jess Taylor said, on NPR, that " it's a jaunty and surprisingly cheerful collection of poems about being mortal and loving poetry; cheerfully accessible, slightly morbid."

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