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5 new standout poetry books

For poetry fans, this year has been a stellar one. Here are five standout collections so far from 2019, all out now.

‘Soft Targets’ by Deborah Landau

‘Soft Targets’ By Deborah Landau A plea for
Photo Credit: Copper Canyon Press

A plea for both the planet as it warms, and the world of the West, which threatens to tear itself apart through violence and "weak and disordered" governments. In the end, Landau adopts an almost Whitman-like singing in the face of her despair.

‘The Twenty-Ninth Year’ by Hala Alyan

‘The Twenty-Ninth Year’ By Hala Alyan These searching
Photo Credit: Mariner Books

These searching first-person poems are flecked with scattershot imagery and observations, prayers and lies, and immense pain. Born in the Middle East and now living in the United States, the subject struggles with anorexia and alcoholism. Alyan writes propulsively, sometimes in dense blocks, others splayed sparsely over the page.

‘Magical Negro’ by Morgan Parker

'Magical Negro' By Morgan Parker Unapologetically political, topical
Photo Credit: Tin House Books

Unapologetically political, topical and indignant, Parker instructs as she laments, implores as she exults. From odes to black icons like Diana Ross and Sammy Davis Jr. to impassioned history lessons in both traditional verse and prose poetry, Parker should be heeded.

‘Deaf Republic’ by Ilya Kaminsky

'Deaf Republic' By Ilya Kaminsky This genre-detonating collection
Photo Credit: Graywolf Press

This genre-detonating collection forms a two-act play. After a soldier kills a deaf child, the fictional town of Vasenka goes deaf in solidarity. Kaminsky writes with a candid exuberance that often stops you cold with lines like, “At the trial of God, we will ask: why did you allow all this?/And the answer will be an echo: why did you allow all this?”

‘Brute’ by Emily Skaja

‘Brute’ By Emily Skaja The subject of these
Photo Credit: Graywolf Press

The subject of these poems is trying to fully emerge from the thrall of an abusive relationship. Skaja's work is skillfully crafted, twisted but playful, intricately self-referential, and full of ecological imagery, contemporary touchstones and mythology.


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