Brotherly love, a sense of displacement and lost time, and the deep care that reminds us of our humanity, form the heart of this book. These poems are a scavenger’s guide, a survivalist manifesto, a reminder of the way our daily experiences can fuel and forge our faith. A hauntingly beautiful and unusual debut.
From the publisher: Set against a landscape of rail yards and skate parks, Kai Carlson-Wee’s debut collection captures a spiritual journey of wanderlust, depression, brotherhood, and survival. These poems—a “verse novella” in documentary form—build momentum as they travel across the stark landscapes of the American West: hopping trains through dusty prairie towns, swapping stories with mystics and outlaws, skirting the edges of mountains and ridges, heading ever westward to find meaning in the remnants of a ruined Romantic ideal. Part cowboy poet, part prophet, Carlson-Wee finds beauty in the grit and kinship among strangers along the road.
Carlson-Wee’s work has appeared in Narrative Magazine, Best New Poets, TriQuarterly, and Missouri Review, which selected a group of his poems for the 2013 Jeffrey E. Smith Editor’s Prize. He has received fellowships and awards from the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg fund. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, he lives in San Francisco, and is a Jones Lecturer in poetry at Stanford University.
Rail can be purchased from BOA Editions.
I know this book changed me. The book itself knows change, how to change itself, knows so well how transformation—vast essential change which would seem to oppose a self—brings a person ever closer to their truth. —Brenda Shaughnessy
From the publisher: In this highly lyrical, imagistic debut, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo creates a nuanced narrative of life before, during, and after crossing the US-Mexico border. These poems explore the emotional fallout of immigration, the illusion of the American dream via the fallacy of the nuclear family, the latent anxieties of living in a queer brown undocumented body within a heteronormative marriage, and the ongoing search for belonging. Finding solace in the resignation to sheer possibility, these poems challenge us to question the potential ways in which two people can interact, love, give birth, and mourn—sometimes all at once.
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo was born in Mexico and immigrated to the United States at age five through the mountains of Tijuana. He is a CantoMundo Fellow and is the first undocumented student to graduate from the University of Michigan’s Creative Writing MFA program. He cofounded Undocupoets, for which he was awarded the 2016 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award from Poets & Writers. His poems, essays, and translations have appeared in PBS NewsHour, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, Southern Humanities Review, and BuzzFeed, among others. He lives in California where he teaches at Sacramento State University.
Cenzontle can be purchased directly from the publisher, BOA Editions.
Cultural strands are woven into the DNA of her strange, lush . . . poems. Aphorisms . . . from another dimension.—The New York Times
From the publisher: Poetry. Asian American Studies. With inquisitive flair, Aimee Nezhukumatathil creates a thorough registry of the earth’s wonderful and terrible magic. In her fourth collection of poetry, she studies forms of love as diverse and abundant as the ocean itself. She brings to life a father penguin, a C-section scar, and Niagara Falls with a powerful force of reverence for life and living things. With an encyclopedic range of subjects and unmatched sincerity, Oceanic speaks to each reader as a cooperative part of the earth, an extraordinary neighborhood to which we all belong.
Nezhukumatathil has been widely celebrated for her lush imagination and all-embracing style. Preoccupied with earth science since childhood, Nezhukumatathil crafts her research-based poetry using curious phenomena of the natural world; realizing a vision of strangeness and beauty. Her full-length debut, Miracle Fruit, Poems, won the Tupelo press prize in 2003, followed by her Balcones prize-winning At the Drive-In Volcano (Tupelo Press, 2007). Her third collection, Lucky Fish (Tupelo Press, 2011), was the winner of a gold medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and the prestigious Eric Hoffer Grand Prize for Independent Books. Her many other honors include fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Nezhukumatathil serves as the poetry editor of Orion magazine. She teaches creative writing and environmental literature as a professor of English in the MFA program at the University of Mississippi in Oxford, where she lives with her husband and sons.
Oceanic can be purchased online.
Poetry at full boil, poured with deliberate abandon. —David Orr, the New York Times’ Ten Favorite Poetry Books of the Year
From the publisher: Kevin Prufer‘s How He Loved Them sets love in a fraught, paradoxical world where bombs explode, fields burn, and armies advance. With clear, compassionate eyes, Prufer finds powerful intimacy between fathers and sons, soldiers and civilians, the living and the (sometimes un)dead. An exceptional new work by a necessary voice.
Prufer is the author of six previous poetry collections including the Four Way Books title Churches (2014), named one of the ten best poetry books of the year by the New York Times Book Review. The recipient of many awards, he teaches in the graduate creative writing programs at the University of Houston and Lesley University, and lives in Houston.
How He Loved Them can be purchased online.
Melissa Stein’s sentences are beautifully choreographed; they start and stop the motion of her poems with a nearly invisible, effortless authority. —Mark Doty
From the publisher: In this lush, disturbing second collection from Melissa Stein, exquisite images are salvaged from harm and survival. Set against the natural world’s violence—both ordinary and sublime—pain shines jewel-like out of these poems, illuminating what lovers and families conceal. Stein uses her gifts for persona and lyric richness to build worlds that are vivid, intricate, tough, sexy, and raw: “over and over // life slapping you in the face / till you’re newly burnished / flat-out gasping and awake.” Breathless with risk and redemption, Terrible Blooms shows how loss claims us and what we reclaim.
Melissa Stein’s poetry collection Rough Honey won the APR/Honickman First Book Prize, selected by Mark Doty. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, Yale Review, American Poetry Review, Best New Poets, the Southern Review, and many other journals and anthologies. She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and her work has won awards from Redivider, Spoon River Poetry Review, Literal Latte, and the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Foundation, among others. She is a freelance editor in San Francisco.
Terrible Blooms can be purchased online.