In passionate poems about sin, obsession, and mortality—an artist’s infatuation with a doll, an interspecies relationship, an ex-lover whose presence lingers in recipes, ecclesiastical birds, and a sex toy holding a loved one’s ashes—Waters delivers impeccably crafted narratives infused with his signature lyrical gestures. At the book’s core is a sequence of twenty-five poems on aging, dementia, and caregiving, chiseled phrase by phrase toward unflinching and memorable closure. Caw is a brilliant, intimate and moving addition to Waters’s body of work and may be his most powerful collection yet.
Rick Bursky’s latest poetry collection reaches into the peculiarities of human relationships with emotional accuracy, charm, and a touch of surrealism. In poems that channel memories of brief encounters and long-lost loves through imagination and half-recalled dreams, Let’s Become a Ghost Story turns nostalgia inside-out to reveal the innate humor of our most intimate connections.
Adam McOmber’s lush, hallucinatory stories are both familiar and wholly original. Drawn from the historical record, Biblical lore, fairy tales, science fiction, and nightmares, these offbeat and fantastical works explore gender and sexuality in their darkest and most beautiful manifestations. In the tradition of Angela Carter or Kelly Link, My House Gathers Desires is covertly funny and haunting, seeking fresh ways to consider sexual identity and its relation to history.
On the Winding Stair, Joanna Howard’s first collection of stories, draws heavily on the clichés of mainstream fiction genres such as mystery and fantasy, but does so only to bend one’s expectations, to bring new surprises and intelligence to the genres. Howard is continuously aware of plot and character, and her stories are infused with her sharp eye for details, but she uses words more like a poet who savors language, repetition, word-play, and ambiguous meaning, than a fiction writer following conventions. Through her inventive and challenging use of language and structure, Howard keeps her reader moving forward through strange, surreal landscapes that demand close reading and attention. One is never quite sure if many of her characters are even alive or dead. This ambiguity allows the author space to create fiction that is free from the bonds of worldly convention. Indeed, Joanna Howard’s writing is startlingly, and delightfully, other-worldly.
Your Father on the Train of Ghosts is one of the most extensive collaborations in American poetry. Over the course of a year, acclaimed poets G.C. Waldrep and John Gallaher wrote poems back and forth, sometimes once or twice a week, sometimes five or six a day. As the collaboration deepened, a third “voice” emerged that neither poet can claim as solely their own. The poems of Your Father on the Train of Ghosts read as lyric snapshots of a culture we are all too familiar with, even as it slips from us: malls and supermarkets, museums and parades, toxic waste and cheesecakes, ghosts and fire, fathers and sons. Ultimately, these fables and confessions constitute a sort of gentle apocalypse, a user-friendly self-help manual for the end of time.
The poems in Dustin Pearson’s A Season in Hell with Rimbaud form an allegorical travelogue that chronicles two brothers’ mutual descent into hell. When the older brother runs off by himself, the younger brother begins roaming Hell’s different landscapes in search of him. As he searches, the younger brother ruminates on their now fractured relationship: what brought them here? Can they find each other? Will their bonds ever be repaired?
A Season in Hell & Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud, trans. by Bertrand Mathieu
“With skill and imagination, Bertrand Mathieu gives us an intimacy of the spoken American that allows readers to absorb themselves in Rimbaud’s private drama. As in an obsessive dream of our own, Rimbaud becomes a contemporary of youthful grief, rage, sarcasm and disgust . . . Bertrand Mathieu has earned our gratitude and praise for his accomplishment: to have given us Rimbaud’s relevance today.” —David Ignatow
Dark Things by Novica Tadić, trans. by Charles Simic
Dark Things is a collection of poems by the leading living Serbian poet of our time - Novica Tadić. The 48 poems in this manuscript have been translated by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Charles Simic, who was born in Belgrade, and is considered one of America's leading translators of Eastern European poetry. Novica Tadić's poems are dark, brilliant, spare, and ever-mindful of the enormous acts of evil that human beings commit against each other. His brief words radiate far beyond themselves, as do their silences. Tadić’s vision is cold-eyed, drawn from a life lived where war and totalitarianism have been the status quo for decades. Charles Simic writes, “Tadić is a poet of the dark night of history. His protagonist, like the condemned Christ in some painterly depiction of Ecce Homo, is surrounded by an enraged mob, who, although wretched themselves, yearn to make his last moments even more miserable. The tormenting of the helpless is Tadić's recurrent theme.”
List Compiled by Isabella Mihok, BOA Intern, Fall 2021