1. Burying the Mountain by Shangyang Fang ($16, Copper Canyon Press)
Utterly beautiful poems on topics ranging from landscapes to Chinese history. I’ve seen hardly a peep about this collection. Don’t sleep on Shangyang Fang’s lyrical debut!
2. Water I Won’t Touch by Kayleb Rae Candrilli ($14.72 at Bookshop.org)
Grounded in the year of the poet’s transition, these poems liquify and gasp; they present pain in honest and metaphored brilliance. Time and again, I found myself feeling so grateful for the love between the poems’ speaker(s) and their partner. A collection I’ll come back to for inspiration and strength.
3. Tortillera by Caridad Moro-Gronlier (Texas Review Press, $19)
Poems of family and identity, place and “the headiness of sex and lust.” Outstanding. Five stars.
4. Yellow Rain by Mai Der Vang ($15.64 at Bookshop.org)
An incredible and haunting work that details the biological warfare and physical torture of the Hmong people (largely civilians in remote villages) during the Vietnam War. Hats off to you, Mai Der Vang.
5. Goldenrod by Maggie Smith ($20, Atria)
It’s Maggie Smith writing exactly the poems we need at this moment in time, in this place. I’m always grateful for the expert blending of nature, image, and relationship in Smith’s work.
6. Hex & Howl by Simone Muench & Jackie K. White ($9.95, Black Lawrence Press)
An extraordinary co-written chapbook that plays with pronouns and fosters feminist agency.
7. Sawgrass Sky by Andrew Hemmert (Texas Review Press, $18.72 at Bookshop.org)
Climate-conscious yet hopeful, these poems reveal the worst of human greed while holding out a hand to pull readers into action and determination. Keep fighting with your pen, Andrew Hemmert!
8. The Vault by Andrés Cerpa (17.95, Alice James Books)
Tender poems of love and loss.
9. Gentefication by Antonio de Jesús López ($17, Four Way Books)
A book for the people!!! Gentefication rises up and storytells its way into protest and philosophy.
10. Embouchure by Emilia Phillips ($15.95, University of Akron Press)
These poems are both fierce and vast, vascillating between body image and religious guilt and a reclamation, physically, spiritually, sexually.
“I let her tie me up…
so I can’t stop her from telling me how
beautiful, how strong, my body is with the whispers
of her hands.”
12. Philomath: Poems by Devon Walker-Figueroa ($16, Milkweed Editions)
These poems meander through a small rural town, the poet’s hometown, and its many faces and hearts — some open and optimistic, others hardened and full of hatred.
13. Peach State by Adrienne Su ($17, University of Pittsburgh Press)
These poems, mostly centering on meals and recipes, tell of a deep and long-reaching cultural history, particularly those of Georgians and Chinese Americans.
14. Pilgrim Bell: Poems by Kaveh Akbar