Whether you’ve sprawled beneath the shade of a tall tree, lounged on the seashore, or even sought refuge from the heat in the climate-controlled sanctuary of your bedroom, the summer months come tailor-made with opportunities to catch up on the latest books. This summer, as you reach for your library card or head to Amazon in search of new titles, be sure to take a look at some of the season’s newest collections of poetry. From nuanced discussions of misogyny to whimsical-yet-poignant reflections on nature, there’s something in these works for everyone to enjoy.
No reader would think that a collection as bold and insightful as Lessons on Expulsion could possibly be Erika L. Sanchez’s poetic debut, and yet, it is. “What is God to me/ but an open-mouthed stranger?” she asks in the titular poem of the collection. In language that can be simultaneously descriptive and surreal, Sanchez explores identity and dedicates particular attention to the experience of immigrants. At the same time, she also delves into the roots of misogyny, which leads her into discussions of power in romantic relationships—and how it is often unequally distributed—as well as the tragedy of poor women forced into prostitution.
Like countless poets before her, Maureen N. McLane—a finalist for the 2014 National Book Award for her collection This Blue—draws inspiration from the sun in Some Say. The poems are rife with McLane’s characteristic wit and playfulness, but they are equally profound: She continually returns to the subjects of nature and time, noting in “Enough,” for example, that “The world was full/ as it always was/ of wings of meaning & nothing.”
Published to coincide with the legendary Gwendolyn Brooks’ hundredth birthday earlier this year, The Golden Shovel Anthology reframes the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet’s work for a new generation. All poems are written in the “golden shovel” style developed by Terrance Hayes in which the last lines of each are words taken from a poem by Brooks, making it possible to read one of her original poems along the right-hand margin. The dozens of phenomenal poets who contributed to the collection include Rita Dove, Billy Collins, Tracy K. Smith, Nikki Giovanni, and many others.