The legendary Jack Johnson (1878-1946) was a true American creation. The child of emancipated slaves, he overcame the violent segregationism of Jim Crow, challenging white boxers--and white America--to become the first African-American heavyweight world champion. The Big Smoke, Adrian Matejka's third work of poetry, follows the fighter's journey from poverty to the most coveted title in sports through the multi-layered voices of Johnson and the white women he brazenly loved. Matejka's book is part historic reclamation and part interrogation of Johnson's complicated legacy, one that often misremembers the magnetic man behind the myth.
Felon tells the story of the effects of incarceration in fierce, dazzling poems--canvassing a wide range of emotions and experiences through homelessness, underemployment, love, drug abuse, domestic violence, fatherhood, and grace--and, in doing so, creates a travelogue for an imagined life. Reginald Dwayne Betts confronts the funk of postincarceration existence and examines prison not as a static space, but as a force that enacts pressure throughout a person's life.
The poems move between traditional and newfound forms with power and agility--from revolutionary found poems created by redacting court documents to the astonishing crown of sonnets that serves as the volume's radiant conclusion. Drawing inspiration from lawsuits filed on behalf of the incarcerated, the redaction poems focus on the ways we exploit and erase the poor and imprisoned from public consciousness. Traditionally, redaction erases what is top secret; in Felon, Betts redacts what is superfluous, bringing into focus the profound failures of the criminal justice system and the inadequacy of the labels it generates.
Challenging the complexities of language, Betts animates what it means to be a felon.
In her legendary career, artist and activist Nikki Giovanni has established herself as a writer who can entertain and challenge, and a voice for social justice who can inform and inspire in times of national crisis. Controversial, revolutionary, ethereal, or illuminating, her poems about race, Black lives, violence, gender, and family move readers of all ages and backgrounds.
With BICYCLES, she's collected poems that serve as a companion to her 1997 LOVE POEMS. An instant classic, that book--romantic, bold, and erotic--expressed notions of love in ways that were delightfully unexpected. In the years that followed, Giovanni experienced losses both public and private. A mother's passing, a sister's, too. A massacre on the campus at which she teaches. And just when it seemed life was spinning out of control, Giovanni rediscovered love--what she calls the antidote. Here romantic love--and all its manifestations, the physical touch, the emotional pull, the hungry heart--is distilled as never before by one of our most talented poets. In a time of national crisis or personal crisis, this is a collection that will open minds and change hearts as only the best art can.
In his much-anticipated follow-up to The Crown Ain't Worth Much, poet, essayist, biographer, and music critic Hanif Abdurraqib has written a book of poems about how one rebuilds oneself after a heartbreak, the kind that renders them a different version of themselves than the one they knew. It's a book about a mother's death, and admitting that Michael Jordan pushed off, about forgiveness, and how none of the author's black friends wanted to listen to Don't Stop Believin'. It's about wrestling with histories, personal and shared. Abdurraqib uses touchstones from the world outside--from Marvin Gaye to Nikola Tesla to his neighbor's dogs--to create a mirror, inside of which every angle presents a new possibility.
"Nothing in Billy Collins's twelfth book . . . is exactly what readers might expect, and that's the charm of this collection."--The Washington Post "This new collection shows Collins] at his finest. . . . Certain to please his large readership and a good place for readers new to Collins to begin."--Library Journal "Disarmingly playful and wistfully candid."--Booklist
New poetry by Jim Moore, who "elevates economy of phrase to an art" (Minneapolis Star Tribune)
No, I don't know
the way to get there.
Two empty suitcases sit in the corner,
if that's any kind of clue.
--from "Almost Sixty"
Brief, jagged, haiku-like, Jim Moore's poems in Invisible Strings observe time moving past us moment by moment. In that accrual, line by line, is the anxiety and acceptance of aging, the mounting losses of friends to death or divorce, the accounting of frequent flyer miles and cups of coffee, and the poet's own process of writing. It is a world of both diminishment and triumphs. Moore has assembled his most emotionally direct and lyrically spare collection, one that amounts to his book of days, seasons, and stark realizations.
A new volume of poetry from the New York Times bestselling and esteemed author of The Liar's Club and Lit.
Long before she earned accolades for her genre-defining memoirs, Mary Karr was winning poetry prizes. Now the beloved author returns with a collection of bracing poems as visceral and deeply felt and hilarious as her memoirs.
In Tropic of Squalor, Karr dares to address the numinous--that mystery some of us hope towards in secret, or maybe dare to pray to. The squalor of meaninglessness that every thoughtful person wrestles with sits at the core of human suffering, and Karr renders it with power--illness, death, love's agonized disappointments. Her brazen verse calls us out of our psychic swamplands and into that hard-won awareness of the divine hiding in the small moments that make us human. In a single poem she can generate tears, horror, empathy, laughter, and peace. She never preaches. But whether you're an adamant atheist, a pilgrim, or skeptically curious, these poems will urge you to find an inner light in the most baffling hours of darkness.