Our Collection

National Poetry Month - 2024

A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him. - Dylan Thomas

To celebrate National Poetry Month in 2024, we wanted to share with you the exceptional poetry that has come into the library over this past year. You will find gems by beloved poets such as Anne Carson and Carl Phillips, as well as the definitive collection of Ursula K. Le Guin's poetry from The Library Of America. We also wanted to share with you poets that have come into the library that aren't so familar, such as Nam Le's 36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem. After reading 36 Ways, J.M. Coetzee reviewed that, "Each of the poems comes with its own explosive charge; taken together, they are capable of shaking Western self-regard to its foundations.” We also have Brontz Purnell, a writer, musician, and dancer from Oakland, California with a number of awards to his credit, including the Whiting Award for fiction and the Lambda Literary Award. Information Desk: An Epic by Robyn Schiff has received critical accalaim and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. We also carry Schiff's, Revolver: poems and A Woman of PropertyA Woman of Property was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and named a best book of the year by the New Yorker and the Chicago Tribune.

We hope you enjoy these works and if there is something you're looking forward to reading, but don't see on this list, or want to suggest a poet you think will complement our collection, simply request it from the Acquisitions Department by filling out a request slip at the Circulation Desk or log in to our website and use the Suggest a Purchase form. 

Anne Carson I Wrong Norma The Guardian - Carson’s strangely perfectionist approach intrigues. She swims like the poet she is. The water has ‘rules.’ She observes: 'You have to keep finding it, keep having it find you. Your movement sinks into and out of it with each stroke. You can fail it with each stroke. What does that mean, fail it?' That might be the question but you will not find an answer to it in this nonstop triumph of a book.                           

Amit Chaudhuri I Sweet Shop: New and Selected Poems, 1985 - 2023 Booklist - Chaudhuri is a phenomenon. Among the best novelists writing in English, he is also a singer, an essayist, and a critic. Now comes this selection of poems spanning decades. In his author’s note, he acknowledges a decade-long hiatus from writing poetry, and it’s clear that his style evolved during that time.  

Henri Cole I Gravity and Center: Selected Sonnets, 1994-2022 Gravity and Center collects almost thirty years of deeply original work by one of America’s greatest living poets. As his writing has grown and changed, Henri Cole has conceived and articulated an approach of his own to one of poetry’s most enduring and challenging forms: the sonnet.

Cynthia Cruz I Hotel Oblivion In these brilliant and ethereal poems, Cruz inhabits an almost-invisible subject: someone who, because of the trappings of class and society is “touched and tendered, but never nourished, never fed.” This collection offers a deeply necessary exploration of the role of the artist in society, and society’s responsibility toward the artist. While these curious and inquisitive poems reach for the universal, Cruz’s poetry is wholly her own.

Elisa Gonzalez I Grand Tour (Upcoming) / Elisa Gonzalez, dramatizes the mind in motion as it grapples with something more than an event: she writes of a whole life, to transcendent effect. By the end, we feel we have been witness to a poet remaking herself. Gonzalez’s poetry depicts the fullness of living, the poet moves through elegy, romantic and sexual encounters, family history, and place—Cyprus, Puerto Rico, Poland, and Ohio. 

Jorie Graham I To 2040 Pulitzer Prize winner (The Dream of the Unified Field: Selected Poems 1974-1994) Graham's 15th collection is perhaps her finest and most profound work yet, revealing such astonishing individuality in the idiosyncratic, elliptical style she has perfected over more than 40 years that fellow poets may feel tempted to throw up their hands in despair. 

Terrance Hayes I So To Speak Harvard Review - In So to Speak, Hayes offers several more experimental American sonnets along with variations on the sestina, an even more esoteric form. Hayes breaks free of the tightly prescriptive end-line pattern and seven-stanza structure with his own pen-and-ink drawings. Chafing against predetermined strictures becomes a spur to invention. Hayes demonstrates an abiding faith in art’s power to transform our perceptions about being in a world that can sometimes break us.

Ursula K. Le Guin I Collected Poems Publishers Weekly - Celebrated novelist Le Guin (1929–2018) receives a posthumous spotlight on her expansive poetic oeuvre in this excellent volume. Bloom’s thoughtful introduction traces the influence of Taoism in her poems, highlighting recurring themes of elegy, nature, and desire, and drawing useful parallels between Le Guin’s poems and her prose works. As Bloom notes, ‘In Le Guin’s poetry as in her fiction, not only a violated earth cries out but all its victims—humans, animals, forests, individual trees—lamenting the lull that seems final.’ . . . This imaginative and insightful collection is a worthy tribute to the poetic life’s work of an important American writer.

Nam Le I 36 Ways of Writing a Vietnamese Poem Booklist - In his widely acclaimed story collection, The Boat (2008) Le sought to redefine ‘ethnic lit’ through short narratives and longer novellas that interconnect characters from around the globe through struggles of migration and relocation. For his debut book of poems, Le's propulsive lyrics center the culture, language, and history of the author's native Vietnam. Refracted through 36 lenses, the poems range from a handful of words to many stanzas and pages as they probe questions of sincerity, authenticity, and legacy. Ever aware of his unique place in a shifting literary landscape, Le adds a subtitle to a poem that cites Heaney, Yeats, and Pound, among others, winking to readers by naming and undercutting canonical poets. A much-awaited work by an important writer of our times.

Ben Lerner I The Lights: Poems Longlisted for the 2024 Griffin Poetry Prize - A New Yorker Essential Read of 2023 - Named a Best Book of 2023 by The Washington Post, Vulture, NPR, Financial Times, The Telegraph, and Electric Literature . After receiving plaudits for his recent novels, Lerner returns to verse with an expansive new collection. Readers of Lerner’s recent novels may view The Lights as a return to poetry. Lerner might observe that he never left.  

Joyce Mansour I Emerald Wounds: Selected Poems In fresh new translations, Mansour's voice surges forth uncensored and raw, communicating the frustrations, anger, and sadness of an intelligent, worldly woman who defies the constraints and oppression of a male-dominated society. Mansour is a poet the world needs today.

Maggie Millner I Couplets: A Love Story / The New York Times Book Review - Maggie Millner’s first book breathes new life into an old form to tell the story of a romance that catches its heroine off guard. Maggie Millner’s Couplets is an astounding debut. Her snaky rhymes and cunning lingual play- it’s a sexy book- have genius in their simplicity. This is a book that seduces the brain.

Ben Okri I A Fire in My Head: Poems For The Dawn From the renowned Booker Prize-winning author (The Famished Road ), a powerful collection of poems covering topics of the day, such as the refugee crisis, Black Lives Matter protests, and COVID-19. This new collection from Okri engages with pressing social issues and reflects on the power of art and spirit to imagine better worlds. These poems and others, including poems for Ken Saro-Wiwa, Barack Obama, Amnesty International, and more, make this a uniquely powerful collection that blends anger and tenderness with Okri’s inimitable vision.

Michael Ondaatje I A Year of Last Things (Upcoming) From one of the most influential writers of his generation, a gorgeously surprising poetry collection about memory, history, and the act of looking back. The verses are rich in imagery, yet quiet and contemplative in their observations. Ondaatje has a gift for drawing the mythic and the immediate together into a momentary memory of everything caught in the flickering glow of what might have been.  

Gregory Pardlo I Spectral Evidence: Poems Booklist - In the introduction to his highly anticipated new book, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Pardlo ( DIGEST ) ruminates that ‘it is impossible for me to change my mind without examining the entire ecosystem of ideas that uphold my worldview.’ The stunning poems that follow explore many aspects of memory, identity, Black history, popular culture, and social justice. The poet is adept at wordplay, employing cultural references and varied structures, often ingeniously engaging multiple topics, and succinctly connecting them.

Carl Phillips I Then the War: and Selected Poems, 2007-2020 The 2023 Pulitzer Prize Winner in Poetry - A masterful collection that chronicles American culture as the country struggles to make sense of its politics, of life in the wake of a pandemic, and of our place in a changing global community.  Carl Phillips has aptly described his work as an “ongoing quest”; Then the War is the next step in that meaningful process of self-discovery for both the poet and his reader. The new poems, written in a time of rising racial conflict in the United States, with its attendant violence and uncertainty, find Phillips entering deeper into the landscape he has made his own: a forest of intimacy, queerness, and moral inquiry, where the farther we go, the more difficult it is to remember why or where we started.  

Brontez Purnell I Ten Bridges I’ve Burnt In Ten Bridges I’ve Burnt, Brontez Purnell—the bard of the underloved and overlooked—turns his gaze inward. A storyteller with a musical eye for the absurdity of his own existence, he is peerless in his ability to find the levity within the stormiest of crises. Here, in his first collection of genre-defying verse, Purnell reflects on his peripatetic life, whose ups and downs have nothing on the turmoil within. “The most high-risk homosexual behavior I engage in,” Purnell writes, “is simply existing.” The thirty-eight autobiographical pieces pulsing in Ten Bridges I’ve Burnt find Purnell at his no-holds-barred best.  

Clint Smith I Above Ground: Poems NPR Book Review - Clint Smith's new poems in Above Ground wash over like waves asking us to discern all the times we've trusted the world, even when it has not offered us a steady current. Even though this collection addresses a subject as tremendous as the changing world we live in, the poems read with ease. It helps that Smith is writing about fatherhood and legacy — both of which are marked by good, engaging narratives. Ultimately, these poems are attempting to answer the questions on every child's mind: Where did we come from? Where are we going? 

Robyn Schiff I Information Desk: An Epic Washington Post - Among the year’s highlights . . . groundbreaking, epic . . . Like visitors exiting the Met’s galleries, readers will emerge from Information Desk bedazzled by the transformative horizons of art. Robyn Schiff's fourth collection is an ambitious book-length poem in three parts set at The Metropolitan Museum of Art's information desk, where Schiff long ago held a staff position. Elaborately mapping an interconnected route in and out of the museum through history, material, and memory, Information Desk: An Epic takes us on an anguished soul-quest and ecstatic intellectual query to confront the violent forces that inform the museum's encyclopedic collection and the spiritual powers of art.  

Lakdhas Wikkramasinha I Lakdhas Wikkramasinha “powerful and angry” - Michael Ondaatje I Wikkramasinha has influenced generations of writers in Sri Lanka. Yet his work, originally self-published in limited editions, has long been inaccessible. Wikkramasinha’s poems are thought processes. The innovativeness of his scrupling over vanished histories requires the begetting—from poem to poem—of a fluidly juxtapositional syntax (colons, semicolons, dashes, each distinctively weighted). This new volume, edited by Aparna HalpĂ© and Ondaatje, is the first to offer a comprehensive selection of Wikkramasinha’s English poetry drawn from the original sources, most of which have never been reprinted.

Monica Youn I From From: Poems The New York Times Book Review - Youn’s attention to racist rhetoric creates the most powerful moments of From From right up to the volume’s final line, which refuses to close the book and instead splits it open like a lightning bolt. In reflecting and refracting the fantasies and absurdities, dark secrets, and blatant cruelties by which American racism invents and maintains itself, Youn counters our brutal imagination with flammable, superior dreams.