Five Books to Check Out for National Poetry Month

Happy National Poetry Month! The month of April is not only dedicated to rain showers and flowers. It is also a month in which we celebrate words and language. Find these poetry books at the library and relinquish yourself to the words of the poets.

Book summaries are from the publishers’ website.

Blood Feather by Karla Kelsey

An actress. A thinker. A filmmaker. Built of archives and the imagination, the three fictive women narrating Blood Feather articulate a feminist philosophy of art-making and life-making for our fractured world. Kelsey engages the given by calling on female artists of the past—Lilian Gish, Maya Deren, Maria Tallchief, and the architect Eileen Gray, among others—to join this drama of character and form. Here, structures of the past and ambitions for our future shape Blood Feather’s personae as they confirm and resist, collude with and attempt to reinvent, the cultural and personal histories that surround them. https://www.tupelopress.org/product/blood-feather/

Survival Techniques by Monica Prince

“Survival Techniques” is a collection of poems composed with the belief that the human heart can survive anything. From a break-up to losing a loved one, from rape to a personal sense of stability, Prince offers strategies to wake up every morning, no matter how long the night seemed. Includes “Lemonade,” “En Route: Last Will and Testament,” “On Breaking Up,” “Come Get Me,” and “A Love Poem for Sinjin,” as well as new and revised poems. https://www.amazon.com/Survival-Techniques-Monica-Prince/dp/1492907812

Olio by Tyehimba Jess

With ambitious manipulations of poetic forms, Tyehimba Jess presents the sweat and story behind America’s blues, worksongs and church hymns. Part fact, part fiction, Jess’s much anticipated second book weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I. Olio is an effort to understand how they met, resisted, complicated, co-opted, and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them. https://www.wavepoetry.com/products/olio

Life on Mars by Tracy K. Smith

With allusions to David Bowie and interplanetary travel, Life on Mars imagines a soundtrack for the universe to accompany the discoveries, failures, and oddities of human existence. In these brilliant new poems, Tracy K. Smith envisions a sci-fi future sucked clean of any real dangers, contemplates the dark matter that keeps people both close and distant, and revisits the kitschy concepts like “love” and “illness” now relegated to the Museum of Obsolescence. These poems reveal the realities of life lived here, on the ground, where a daughter is imprisoned in the basement by her own father, where celebrities and pop stars walk among us, and where the poet herself loses her father, one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope. With this remarkable third collection, Smith establishes herself among the best poets of her generation. https://www.graywolfpress.org/books/life-mars

Night Sky with Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong

Ocean Vuong’s first full-length collection aims straight for the perennial “big”—and very human—subjects of romance, family, memory, grief, war, and melancholia. None of these he allows to overwhelm his spirit or his poems, which demonstrate, through breath and cadence and unrepentant enthrallment, that a gentle palm on a chest can calm the fiercest hungers. https://www.coppercanyonpress.org/books/night-sky-with-exit-wounds-by-ocean-vuong/