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Alive at the End of the World

Saeed Jones (Coffee House)

With a voice marked by wit, rage, pain, and stark directness, Jones confronts the collective uncertainty of the present age. Plagued by white supremacy and impending ecological collapse, America is revealed as refusing to learn from past mistakes in these vital poems.

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Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Own Head

Warsan Shire (Penguin)

The debut from Shire, a British writer born to Somali parents in Kenya, addresses migration in resonant poems that also consider politics, gender, and love. Her assured language and memorable imagery give light to the impossible decisions faced by many, and the strength required to overcome the hardships of displacement.

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Customs

Solmaz Sharif (Graywolf)

Sharif contemplates airports (and their checkpoints and intrusions) and other public spaces to ponder systems of power, consumerism, and ideas about freedom. It’s a powerful, timely, and incisive examination that establishes Sharif as one of the most important poets writing today.

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Time Is a Mother

Ocean Vuong (Penguin)

Vuong is a master at weaving past and present in striking and evocative poems that explore loss—here, that’s the death of his mother. His elegiac investigation is rife with rich descriptions, while also relying on pithy, colloquial insights and dark humor. This layered work offers a sensitive and unusual portrayal of grief.

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[To] the Last [Be] Human

Jorie Graham (Copper Canyon)

One of the greatest living ecopoetic writers, Graham is an essential voice in American poetry. This volume, which compiles her latest four collections, paints a dazzling and often unnerving portrait of environmental contingency in poems that ambitiously and unblinkingly tackle all aspects of the human experience. Graham’s power as a thinker and poet shines in these pages.

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