New poetry books for your summer reads
Take a lyrical hiatus from your less-than-literary beach reads
Thu Aug 14 2014
Illustration: Nan Lawson
Some people like poetry, the Polish Noble Prize winner Wislawa Szymborska once wrote. Though with the wealth of verse available today, from presses both small and large, it’s hard to believe there isn’t at least one book of poems for everyone. Poetry with a science-fiction edge? It’s out there. Poem comics? That’s a burgeoning area. Erotic poetry? Obviously. Find one poet you love and the whole genre unfurls.
These picks, by three phenomenal poets, may seem tame compared to novels fraught with vampires, apocalypses and BDSM but nonetheless showcase the humor, graceful lyricism and depths of emotion that will make you swoon for stanzas.
Rome by Dorothea Lasky (Liveright, $23.95)
Pick it up if: You want to read your friends’ diaries. Lasky writes so openly about her own spiritual and physical powers and weaknesses—as a woman, as a sexual being,
as someone who has watched more porn than you ever will—readers may experience a guilty sense of intrusion. But Lasky balances her violent, often bloody honesty with such delicate lines, such perfectly on-point questions about life, you’ll wish your journals sounded this profound.
Where to read it: On a beach where no one will see you blush.
Buy Rome by Dorothea Lasky on Amazon
Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine (Graywolf Press, $20)
Pick it up if: You prefer essays and criticism. Rankine’s latest, published a decade after her first American lyric Don’t Let Me Be Lonely, is an infuriating, inspiring hybrid of essay, poetry and images by artists including Glenn Ligon and Mel Chin. Rankine digs into contemporary racial issues by analyzing Serena Williams’s career, elegizing Mark Duggan and Trayvon Martin and considering her own anger. In doing so, she contributes a remarkably unique work to the canon.
Where to read it: A empty train, with no one to scream at.
Buy Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine on Amazon
Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $23)
Pick it up if: You favor classic mythology. One of our most famous living American poets, Glück has spent nearly 50 years earning her acclaim. Her laudable new collection is no exception; in Faithful and Virtuous Night she instills each poem with the feel of an origin story, the simplicity of her lines belying how carefully she crafted them. These are Glück’s own personal myths, permeated by the silences, affections and losses of her life.
Where to read it: In a gazebo, surrounded by narcissus blooms.
Buy Faithful and Virtuous Night by Louise Glück on Amazon
Someone Else’s Wedding Vows by Bianca Stone (Tin House, $14)
Pick it up if: You’re a visual learner. Stone is also a stunningly talented visual artist, often designing other poets’ book covers and creating hybrid-works she calls “poem comics.” This attention to the visual details of life seeps into the more classically formed poems in her first full-length collection, as though when writing, all her senses are heightened. These aren’t poem comics but are, in many ways, emotive paintings hidden in free verse.
Where to read it: On a secret corner bench in the Met.
Buy Someone Else’s Wedding Vows by Bianca Stone on Amazon
The Albertine Workout by Anne Carson (New Directions, $10.95)
Pick it up if: You secretly love celebrity gossip columns. While the two characters Carson considers in her slim chapbook are not, technically, celebrities but fictional characters from Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, the author’s consideration of their romance assuages the same salacious impulse. In 59 swift and elegant paragraphs, plus appendices, Carson dissects the novel, opening its unique truths to the reader and revealing Albertine’s correspondence to real facts of Proust’s life.
Where to read it: In a French café, eating a madeleine, of course.
Buy The Albertine Workout by Anne Carson on Amazon
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