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Thirteen Essential Poetry Collections Publishing During National Poetry Month

When thinking of social justice work and activist writing, nonfiction is likely the first place your mind goes. Since its invention, however, poetry has been used to produce just as (if not more) political work in powerful turns-of-phrase and lyrical poignancy. From spoken word to page poetry to rap, the diversity of voices coming through modern poetry is a beacon of light in a country divided.

National Poetry Month is always a great excuse to dust off all of your favorite old collections, but this year, why not try something new? We’ve compiled a list of thirteen poetry collections coming out this April, with an emphasis on poets of color, trans poets, immigrant poets, and other marginalized voices we should be listening to now more than ever. Give one (or all of them) a try—you might just find something you never knew you needed.

Bright Advent by Robert Strong (White Pine Press, April 11, 2017)

If you’ve memorized every line to The Crucible and The Scarlet Letter but long for a more nuanced, progressive discussion of colonial narratives, this is the poetry collection you’ve been waiting for. Strong’s work brings Puritan America into the twentieth century, melding archival texts with a contemporary tone. This collection creates a dialogue around Christian conversion of the indigenous peoples of North America, looking specifically at the relationship between the Massachusett man John Sassamon and the Puritan missionary John Eliot. Strong’s poetry feels at once intensely academic and incredibly accessible.


Hard Child
by Natalie Shapero (Copper Canyon Press, April 11, 2017)

Full of laugh-out-loud bleakness and self-deprecation, Hard Child is poetry for millennials. Shapero isn’t afraid to get intensely personal as she picks apart the territory of newfound motherhood and leaving her 20s behind. In Hard Child, she expertly navigates the line between the relatable and the too-macabre. Her writing is compulsively readable, and uses gentle turn-of-phrase to build thought-provoking stanzas. In one of the most memorable and hilarious poems from Hard Child, Shapero shines a nihilistic light on personality quizzes that determine what dog or inanimate object the reader might be, saying, “Actually it’s ridiculous to opine on what kind / of a dog I would be, were I ever a dog, as I don’t / contain within me half enough life to power / a dog. I WOULD BE A DEAD DOG, THAT’S / WHAT KIND.”

In Memory of An Angel by David Shapiro (City Lights Publishers, April 11, 2017)

David Shapiro’s poetry carries with it the tone of the New York School of poets, the generation of authors who came of age in the mid-60s and 70s and were influenced both by the Beatniks of the previous generation and the surrealist movement of their visual art peers. In Memory of An Angel balances avant-garde tributes to post-modernism with retrospectives on childhood and fatherhood. There’s a surprisingly heartfelt undercurrent through all of these poems, making you wonder if this book is, perhaps, one long love poem. With a fifty-year career under his belt, Shapiro’s writing has both shaped and been shaped by decades of poets, and he’s considered something of a maestro. In Memory of An Angel is his first collection in fifteen years, so get on it.

mary wants to be a superwoman by erica lewis (Third Man Books, April 4, 2017)

mary wants to be a superwoman pays homage to the works of Stevie Wonder and the power of music to trigger certain emotions and memories. Each poem is titled after a line of a Stevie Wonder song, and while the poems aren’t directly about the songs, they’re inspired by them, written about lewis’s emotive responses and associations with listening to pop artists from her childhood. lewis’s writing puts the “stream” in stream of consciousness. Her words tumble over one another like river rapid, constantly tugging you forward into the next line, and the next, and the next. Don’t mistake her smooth flow for a lack of power though; the ease of her words only makes for a more potent punchline.

Of Mongrelitude by Julian Talamantez Brolaski (Wave Books, April 4, 2017)

Reading Brolaski is like reading the David Foster Wallace of poetry (or rather, the work of David Foster Wallace’s cooler, less-pretentious sibling). Brolaski (whose pronouns are xe/xir/xem) dumps Latin, pop culture, etymology, politics, and sex into the melting pot of the page, creating a new linguistic experiment. Xir poetry is the kind that demands to be read out loud, so you can chew on all of the gooey consonants and sticky vowels. References to the fourteenth century, words like “maiden” and “agog,” swirl in with contemporary criticisms of corporations and the gender binary. Of Mongrelitude is a poetry collection for a digital age, where memes, emojis, and abbreviations create new vernaculars on a daily basis. It’s poetry like you’ve never read poetry before.

Patient Zero by Tomás Q. Morín (Copper Canyon Press, April 4, 2017)

This collection brings a classic genre (the love poem or, more accurately, the lost-love poem) into a fresh and fanciful new light. Morín’s writing uses the mundane details of everyday life—from pretzels to geese to blues music—as a jumping off point for creating fascinating and philosophical worlds. In Patient Zero, Morín looks at love not only from the perspective of the lovers, but from the places and things that surround a life sick with heartbreak. Morín has an uncanny knack for painting a scene that is rarely seen in poetry. Once the scene is established, he uses clever wordplay to reveal layers upon layers of new meaning. It’s poetry that keeps you thinking, that makes you want to go back and re-read each line to untangle the puzzles that Morín dangles before you.

A People’s History of Chicago by Kevin Coval, foreword by Chance the Rapper (Haymarket Books, April 11, 2017)

You can’t be a fan of the Chicago poetry scene (or any poetry scene, for that matter) without knowing Kevin Coval. Founder of Louder Than a Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival, the Artistic Director of Young Chicago Authors, and a professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago, there’s no one better to write a history of the Windy City than Coval. The book contains seventy-seven poems, one for each of the seventy-seven neighborhoods of Chicago, from the perspective of those on the margins. A People’s History of Chicago centers the often-untold histories of the city’s workers, poor people, and people of color. Coval’s poems have the flow of rap verses, and you can practically hear the thumping bassline running just beneath his wordsIn case that wasn’t enough to woo you, the foreword was written by Chancellor Bennett, a.k.a. the one, the only Chance the Rapper. A poetry book endorsed by Lil’ Chano himself? You know it’s gonna be good.


a place called No Homeland
by Kai Cheng Thom (Arsenal Pulp Press, April 11, 2017)

a place called No Homeland takes the reader on a journey through memory and mythos to draw new maps of gender, race, sexuality, and violence. Stemming from her experiences as a Chinese-Canadian trans woman, Thom uses a characteristic lyricism (whose cadence is drawn from a strong spoken-word influence) to unpack complex ideas of what exactly “home” is, particularly in queer and diasporic communities. If Thom’s name sounds familiar, it might be because her work has been published on Everyday Feminism, Buzzfeed, xoJane, and other intersectional feminist-forward corners of the internet. Thom isn’t just a poet; she’s also an essayist, a novelist, a performer, and, in general, a verified Superwoman. She’s a rising star to watch, and there’s no better starting place than a place called No Homeland.

Real is the Word They Use to Contain Us by Noah Wareness (Biblioasis, April 11, 2017)

If you’ve ever wished that Tim Burton had directed an uncanny-valley version of The Velveteen Rabbit, this is the poetry book for you. Using The Velveteen Rabbit as a jumping off point, Real is the Word They Use to Contain Us is a collection of twenty-six poems and the unbelievably weird happenings that link them. Noah Wareness’s writing is grim, gripping, and more than a little creepy in all the right ways. Real is the Word They Use to Contain Us is a trippy philosophical exploration that feels less like reading a book and more like walking right out of reality and into someone’s dreamscape. It’s a delicious celebration of loss, vertigo, and wonder that’s sure to give you goosebumps.

Reaper by Jill McDonough (Alice James Books, April 11, 2017)
If you’re looking for political poetry, stop right here. Jill McDonough’s Reaper zooms in on America’s expanding drone program and the ever-blurring line of man and machine. McDonough examines the distancing of culpability and repercussions when there’s a computer screen and a continent between you and the dead. This is not a happy book; it’s a book to make you think, to shine a light on the darker side of American politics, and the warfare we often pretend isn’t happening. She swaps out flowery imagery for repetition of sparse, to-the point poetry that hammers home her message. McDonough’s writing is gritty and unapologetic, refusing to let even the reader off the hook. It never feels like an attack, though. Instead, McDonough is simply insisting that we look at the whole picture, not just the pretty, easy parts.

A Sand Book by Ariana Reines (Fence Books, April 11, 2017)

Reines’s work is lyrical and painfully relatable, her work resonating with a generational experience in lines like “Smoking crack after yoga / Swallowing vitamins with wine.” Speaking to Reines’s cultural relevance, Lena Dunham is one of the poet’s biggest fans, having posted multiple passages of Reines’s previous books on Instagram and that her “poems sing to my whole body.” Reines is also an accomplished playwright, and her scriptwriting talents bleed into her poetry, giving her verses a conversational quality and a natural flow.

The Trembling Answers by Craig Morgan Teicher (BOA Editions, April 11, 2017)

Teicher’s poems are largely confessional and autobiographical, and The Trembling Answers is no exception; this particular volume deals with explorations of family and fatherhood, and the role his poetry plays across each. One of Teicher’s great strengths is in his honesty. He frequently reveals his flaws and mistakes to the reader, laying bare intimate details about his wife, his son, and his marriage to illustrate his very humanity. His writing is full of lists and repetition, as if Teicher is searching for answers in real-time with the reader. Each poem is meaty and sprawling, providing plenty of space for interpretation and re-interpretation.

When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities by Chen Chen (BOA Editions, April 11, 2017)

Chen Chen’s work is versatile, skillfully adapting to different forms and functions; on one page, you’ll find a traditional poem, lines grouped together in rhythmic couplets. On another, lines run together into paragraphs, blurring the difference between poetry and prose. Chen Chen’s poems are odes and elegies, considerations of everyday life. In When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, Chen Chen muses his way through the idea of inheritance (specifically, what it means to inherit things like love and family) at the center of his identity as a queer Chinese-American immigrant. American Book Award Winner Jericho Brown gave When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities his seal of approval in his introduction to the book. NPR even named this book “Poetry to Pay Attention To” in their 2017 book preview on February 8, calling it “deeply serious and moving.” Plus, who could say no to such a catchy title?

Find out where to buy these great collections and more here on the Consortium website!

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With Book Love to Mom

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a mother in possession of one or more children must be a superhero. That’s how the Jane Austen quote goes, right? In the United States, we’re celebrating all mothers on Sunday, May 8th. From CEOs to stay-at-home types, from soccer moms to PTA-faithfuls, from teachers to carpenters to scientists and more, no two moms are alike. Finding a Mother’s Day gift that fits your mom(s) just right can feel like an impossible task.

That’s why we’ve made this special “Mom Edition” round-up of titles sure to pique the interest of even the most one-of-a-kind moms. They’ll be sure to thank you for your thoughtful gift, if they can stop reading long enough!

If your mother is the hippie gardener type…

soil sistersSoil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers (New Society Publishers) by Lisa Kivirist is a practical, hands-on guide for female farmers. Women in agriculture are sprouting up in record numbers, but they face a host of distinct challenges and opportunities. Blending career advice with sustainable agriculture practices viewed through a gender lens, Soil Sisters provides a wealth of invaluable information for fledging female farming entrepreneurs.

If your mother likes to use the word “patriarchy” in everyday conversation…

Men Explain Things to Me (Hamenexplainymarket Books) by Rebecca Solnit is a landmark essay collection based on the article that went viral, inspired the word “mansplaining,” and prompted fierce arguments. In Men Explain Things to Me, Rebecca Solnit takes on the conversations between men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t. The ultimate problem, she shows in her comic, scathing essay, is female self-doubt and the silencing of women.

If your mother knows “home” is a complicated word…

miles between meMiles Between Me (Curbside Splendor) is Toni Nealie’s debut essay collection. New Zealand native Nealie examines journeys, homelands, family, and motherhood. She details humiliating confrontations with airport security, muses on the color brown, and intimately investigates her grandfather’s complicated and criminal past, all while hearkening home—wherever and whatever that is.

If your mother knows that “family” isn’t just biological…

the mothersThe Mothers (Text Publishing) by Rod Jones is a moving multi-generational story of motherhood, adoption, and the inescapable presence of the past in all our lives. The Mothers interweaves the lives of three generations of women who learn that it’s often the stories we can’t tell that shape us and make us who we are. Rod Jones’ writing has been praised by the New York Times as “utterly original.”

If your mother was an English major…

you should pityYou Should Pity Us Instead (Sarabande Books) by Amy Gustine is a collection of short stories that explore love in its many guises—family, romance, friendship. You Should Pity Us Instead explores some of our toughest dilemmas: the cost of Middle East strife at its most intimate level, the likelihood of God considered in day-to-day terms, the moral stakes of family obligations, and the inescapable fact of mortality. Gustine’s complex characters and thoughtful turn-of-phrase will make you want to read this book again and again.

If your mother knows her way around a kitchen torch…

Little Flower Baking (Prospect Park Books) by Christinlittle flower bakinge Moore, is a collection of recipes from one of California’s most acclaimed bakers, all adapted and carefully tested for the home cook. Extensively photographed and rich with Moore’s down-home warmth and wisdom, it inspires home cooks to make her rustically beautiful, always delicious cookies, cakes, pastries, savory baked goods, breads, rolls, bars, puddings, and so much more.

If your mother is a runway star no matter where she goes…

ysl coloringYves Saint Laurent Coloring Book (Arsenal Pulp Press) has been heralded by BuzzFeed as the “Chicest Stress-Reliever Ever”. This elegant, imaginative adult coloring book explores the dynamic, fanciful creations of iconic fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. The book’s line drawings for coloring are based on many of the designer’s original sketches for dresses over the years, accompanied by full-color photos of original dresses for reference.

 

Find out where to purchase Soil Sisters, Men Explain Things to Me, Miles Between Me, The Mothers, You Should Pity Us Instead, Little Flower Baking, and Yves Saint Laurent Coloring Book here on the Consortium website!

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#YesAllWomen: A Women’s History Month Round-up

In math and science, literature and art, in every field imaginable and in every era, women have been shaping history. Too often, the achievements of women from Ada Lovelace to Bessie Coleman are shoved under the rug, hidden from the history books and credited to men. In a time when women (especially women of color) are still underpaid and underrepresented, even the toughest of the tough need a reminder that anything is possible.

In honor of their spectacular accomplishments and important histories, we’re featuring a round-up of books celebrating women all around the globe. From prose-poetry depicting a magical island of matriarchy to a feminist alphabet book (for you and your kids), there’s sure to be something for everyone in this week’s Bookslinger!

quotasWhy Women Need Quotas (Biteback Publishing), by Vicky Price, is a hard-hitting argument for socioeconomic gender equality in the United Kingdom. According to Price, an economist, the United Kingdom has a poor record on gender parity, both in Parliament and in business, where most companies are run by men. The United States and Scandinavian countries have quotas for women in top jobs, but it’s time to take the change to Britain and get tough on sexism.

Dirty River: A Queer Femme of Color Dreadirtyriverming Her Way Home (Arsenal Pulp Press), by Leah L. Piepzna-Samarasinha, is an intersectional, tragicomic memoir told with wild abandon. It tells the story of Piepzna-Samarasinha, a queer disabled brown femme poet and abuse survivor, as she navigates the dirty river of the past and, as the subtitle suggests, “dreams her way home.”

feministutopiaThe Feminist Utopia Project: Fifty-Seven Visions of a Wildly Better Future (The Feminist Press at CUNY), edited by Alexandra Brodsky and Rachel Kauder Nalebuff, is a groundbreaking collection of essays, interviews, poetry, illustrations, short stories, and more. Over fifty cutting-edge voices, including Melissa Harris-Perry, Janet Mock, Sheila Heti, and Mia McKenzie, invite us to imagine: what does a truly feminist world mean?

Men Explain Things to Me (Haymarket Books) is the menexplaincritically-acclaimed essay collection from Rebecca Solnit, including the title essay (first published in the L.A. Times) which went viral, spawning fierce arguments and coining the term “mansplaining.” In this book, Solnit takes on the conversations between men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don’t. With scathing wit, she elaborates and uncovers why men still explain things to her.

africanamericanwomenAfrican American Women (GILES), a collection of photographs from the National Museum of African American History and Culture, with a foreword by Lonnie G Bunch, is the third book in the NMAAHC’s “Double Exposure” series. This volume contains stunning photographs which demonstrate the dignity, joy, heartbreak, commitment, and sacrifice of women of all ages and backgrounds, from midwives at work in the rural south to students jailed for civil rights protests.

Almond Garden: Portraits from the Women’s Prisons in Afghanisalmondgardentan (Daylight Books) is a collection of photographs paying homage to women prisoners in Afghanistan and exploring the corruption in the country’s prison system. Over four years, photographer Gabriela Maj traveled across the country collecting portraits and stories. Almond Garden is a “reassuring portrait of the resilience of these powerful women,” according to Vice UK.

Why God Is A Woman (BOA Editions, Lwhy godtd.) is a collection from celebrated prose poet Nin Andrews written about a magical island where women rule and men are the second sex. It is also the story of a boy who, exiled from the island because he could not abide by its sexist laws, looks back with both nostalgia and bitterness and wonders: Why does God have to be a woman? Andrews creates a world both fantastic and familiar where all the myths, logic, and institutions support the dominance of women.

RadAmericanWomenRad American Women A-Z: Rebels, Trailblazers, and Visionaries who Shaped Our History… and Our Future! (City Lights Publishers) by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl, is a New York Times bestselling alphabet book of everyone’s favorite feminists. The list of great women spans several centuries, multiple professions, and 26 diverse individuals. Author Lemony Snicket raved, “This is not a book. This is a guest list for a party of my heroes. Thank you for inviting us.”

Find out where to buy Why Women Need Quotas, Dirty River, The Feminist Utopia Project, Men Explain Things to Me, African American Women, Almond Garden, Why God is a WomanRad American Women A-Z, and many more books here at the Consortium website.

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Celebrate No-Shave November/Movember with Hairy Reads!

We “mustache” you aIMoustacheYouaQuestion question: are you participating in No-Shave November/Movember? To celebrate the fun month-long holiday that also raises awareness for men’s health, we’ve pulled together a list of titles that deal with the cultivation—or lack thereof—of hair. Even if you can’t physically grow a mustache, you’re going to want to “shave” this list for some fun reads.InspirationalMoustache

First up we have The Inspirational Moustache by Studio April and Ziggy Hanaor, published by Cicada Books. Celebrating the mustache’s return to popularity, this book combines gorgeous photographs with key grooming tips for the ultimate mustache.

One ThouOneThousandMustachessand Mustaches by Allan Peterkin and published by Arsenal Pulp Press takes readers on a journey through the cultural history of the ‘stache. Not only that, it’s also a handy guide to the many different styles of mustaches, from a handlebar to a Fu Manchu.

Unshaven: Modern Women, Natural Bodies by Nikki Silver and TinaUnshaven Horn and published by ThreeL Media/Stone Bridge Press, is a gorgeous photo book that celebrates women who choose not to shave. Whimsical, defiant, naturalistic, and sensual, this book will make you think about the regulations society puts on hair.

Looking for aTheMustacheMan fictional tale involving a mythical mustache? Check out The Mustache Man by Priya Ramanathan and Garima Gupta, published by Karadi Tales. Full of fun, laughter, and mischief, this picture book has gorgeous illustrations and features a mysterious mustachioed character. Ladyscaping

Last but certainly not least, we have Ladyscaping: A Girl’s Guide to Personal Topiary by Caroline Selmes and published by BIS Publishers. The definitive handbook on a subject that is often taboo, Ladyscaping is an essential guidebook for the mustaches “down there.”

Happy No-Shave November/Movember!

 

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Bookslinger Update: “Peggy Lee in Africa”

The Bookslinger app has been updated with a new story!

9781551525211This week’s story comes from Patrick Roscoe’s suite of stories The Laboratory of Love, published by Arsenal Pulp Press. In this powerful collection set in Spain, Africa, and North America, populated by wild dogs, tattoo artists, and lost boys, Patrick Roscoe’s characters- lonely, damaged, nomadic- are outsiders in an often brutal and punishing world. In Roscoe’s beguiling laboratory, science meets emotion in experiments that attempt to decipher the forces of love, loss, and longing.

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Bookslinger Update: “Cutblock”

The Bookslinger app has been updated with a new story!

This week’s story is from Bull Head by John Vigna, published by Arsenal Pulp Press. Bristling with restlessness and brutality, these linked stories set in the Pacific Northwest catapult readers into the gritty lives of social outcasts lost in purgatories of their own making. John Vigna tempers raw and at times cruel rural masculinity with graceful prose and breathtaking tenderness to illuminate the plight of men living in small towns and backwoods who belong neither to history nor the future. A startling homage to the great Southern Gothic tradition, Bull Head is a dazzling debut that heralds a powerful and exciting new literary voice.

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Bookslinger Update: “Slow Fix”

The Bookslinger app has been updated with a new story!

This week’s story is from The Slow Fix by Ivan E. Coyote, published by Arsenal Pulp Press. With The Slow Fix, Ivan returns to her short story roots in a collection that is disarming, warm, and funny, while it at the same time subverts our preconceived notions of gender roles. Ivan excels at finding the small yet significant truths in our everyday gestures and interactions. By doing so, she helps us to embrace not what makes us women or men, but human beings.

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