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The Essential June Jordan

June Jordan, edited by Jan Heller Levi and Christoph Keller (Copper Canyon)

This carefully curated collection provides an era-by-era snapshot of Jordan’s literary legacy, serving as the perfect introduction to her poetics on historical violence, race, gender, and culture. Jordan’s fierce voice and linguistic invention shines through in these vital pages that reckon with injustices that reverberate through time.


frank: sonnets

Diane Seuss (Graywolf)

Seuss’s 120 sonnets bend the rules of meter and rhyme, breathing fresh life into a favorite form while still delivering its 14-line potency. Through this astounding exercise in constraint, Seuss demonstrates her mastery of the poetic line and her gifted ear for sound and syntax, and offers shrewd insights into artistic purpose of limitations.


Playlist for the Apocalypse

Rita Dove (Norton)

In Dove’s commanding first collection of new poems since her 2017 NAACP Image Award–winning Collected Poems: 1974–2004, she offers an unforgettable exploration of contemporary crises while still finding beauty and cause for hope. Her ruminations on illness, climate change, and political upheaval deliver sharp perspectives on life’s difficulties and wrongs big and small, while encouraging readers to see current possibilities for effecting future change.


The Sunflower Cast a Spell to Save Us from the Void

Jackie Wang (Nightboat)

The dreamlike unfolding of Wang’s enigmatic, surrealist debut makes this unlike any other collection. Her reflections on dangers and catastrophes of the modern age sparkle with captivating details and contemplative insights. Wang also muses on the role that writing plays in reflecting on trauma, adding another layer to this remarkably captivating book.


A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure

Hoa Nguyen (Wave)

With linguistic and stylistic flourishes, Nguyen powerfully considers her relationship with her mother and her homeland of Vietnam. Nguyen’s attention to language, both on the line level and as a larger motif, makes this a rich meditation on power, historical and cultural inheritance, and the past’s impact on the present.


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