For Your Winter Relaxing Needs, Here's Some of the Best New Poetry
We all know the benefits of curling up with a good book when the weather grows cold. It’s even more wonderful if that book is poetry. Something about snow in the air calls to mind the musicality of a poem. For that swept-up sensation, read one of these six books from our Winter 2017 issue.
Hardcover $34.95 (288pp)
Sixteen collections of poems. Poet Laureate of Colorado 2014–2018. Literary magazine editor. Literary book publisher cofounder. Judging the man by his poetry, Joseph Hutchison is as sane and sensitive as poet’s come, with the writing skills of a master. His mountain home, no doubt offering long-distance vistas, speaks for itself.
What I Know
Je est un autre.
Tears creep down the upturned face.
My face, although it seems I see it
from across the room. It seems
that I approach the bed and gaze
at the weeping man lying there. I am
sorry about his loneliness and fear,
but I know they will diminish
toward morning when sleep
comes at last. The pillow will be
damp and cold, but sleep will come.
Why, I wonder, can’t my knowledge
comfort him? After all, he is me
and suffers only because he refuses
to see me standing in the dark
with what I know.
Ugly Duckling Presse
Softcover $18.00 (160pp)
The depraved nature of the two-and-a-half-year siege of a cultured European metropolis further confirms the Nazis’ unmatched penchant for evil. One million citizens died of starvation, bitter cold, relentless shelling. During the war, official Soviet ideology championed courage and willpower, and did not allow any written acknowledgment of the siege’s brutal reality. So the secret poetry that was written during those years was hidden away, and only when the archives were opened during the era of perestroika did much of the work in this collection get discovered.
Much too skinny creatures
With pale white features,
With every day, more bitter,
Their feathers stick out further.
Shrewdly, miserly, they peck
At the grain, the every speck
That God in His strict passion
Sends down in strict rations
Like a daydream of a dinner
To the orphans and the sinners…
A woe-begotten tale they lived
Once upon a time, as if.
Little Red Tree Publishing
Like some white-coated poet-anthropologist, Cathleen Calbert’s ginned-up history of notable off-center women takes dead aim at what you thought you knew. A Pushcart Prize and The Nation Discovery award winner*, The Afflicted Girls* is her fourth collection.
Shrinks said, Inferiority complex. Yes,
dilettantes can be a pain in the ass.
Still, Zelda, Scott’s cyclone, his only god,
there’s something to be said for being
a personality, your greatest creation the girl
who didn’t give a fig for respectability
and caused scenes, stewed at parties,
before you got off the sauce for good,
nothing but whole milk and sanitariums
after you cracked up too badly to mend,
then turned into the cuckoo, the mad widow,
in the end identified by a charred slipper.
Listen, ripping that much life out of youth
is quite an accomplishment too.
Jeanne Marie Beaumont
Softcover $16.00 (80pp)
Jeanne Marie Beaumont writes the sort of poetry that causes page-turning hands a split second of hesitation—oh, lord, what will we face next? Limbo, in these pages, has physical borders and a ministry of culture where Beaumont issues visas for the length of time it takes to both forgive and forget the self. The author of three previous collections, she has taught at Rutgers University, the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan, and the University of Southern Maine.
A rag of colts, a clowder of cats
of clothing, she burst out
of her camisole
to give an enema
required the assistance
of five nurses
in her menstrual cycle,
the flow is not profuse
there are no clots
will not stay in bed
pounds on the door, seems to be
in mental distress
when not under
whirls most of the time
Softcover $16.00 (80pp)
With crystal, complete sentences of fully developed ideas, Catherine Pierce explores wreckage and destruction, and the sense of surprise one feels after surviving another day of modern existence. The author of two previous collections, Pierce’s work has been published in Boston Review, Ploughshares, FIELD, and numerous other journals. She teaches creative writing at Mississippi State University.
Imaginary Vacation Scenario #4
You have a headlamp and a knapsack
of buffalo jerky. You will hike up the dark
mountain into the darker pine, you will pitch
your tent below a sky as thick with stars
as the air is thin. You are the only human
for miles, and this knowledge just makes
your legs stronger, your lungs more capacious.
You know how to skin a rabbit. You know
how to scare off a bear. The sea-level land
you’ve left behind glows radioactive and wants to know
your mother’s maiden name, your preferred
birth control method, your views on organic
milk and GMOs. Here, your brain space is filled
with field knowledge: how to calculate distance
between you and the coyote’s mournful yip;
the proper way to eat the pith of fireweed.
You know snakes can still bite hours after
they’ve died. The animals call and call,
their voices echoing through the rattling aspen.
You don’t answer because they’re not
calling you. You keep climbing. With each step,
the mountain grows and for this you love it more.
You will never reach the top. There is no top,
it spills upward and out forever. You could
climb forever. You will climb forever.
Alison D. Moncrief Bromage
Truman State University Press
Softcover $18.00 (80pp)
Motherhood weighs heavily on Alison D. Moncrief Bromage’s poetry, the wonders of conception, heredity, birth, child rearing, et al, seem at once burdensome and miraculous. And, of Daedalus, Greek myth man with all manner of inventive skills (Labyrinth and wings), she studies with the keen interest of a classicist, observations alongside open questions. An MFA holder from New York University, her work has appeared in Barrow Street, the Paris Review, and Denver Quarterly.
Daughter, Of the family line
Of the family line, I can offer you this:
a stock of bargemen, half smiles, a high threshold for pain.
Do not doubt that you will be stubborn. You will bump your head
first against my tailbone and I will reach out for you.
That you may be my twin will make some of our line nervous.
We will move, tethered, as all mass moves—
Take hold of my knee. Pull yourself up.