“I search Craiglist for sadness: a white couch the only result.” begins “Weeks After My Brother Overdoses,” the final poem in Kerrin McCadden’s chapbook, Keep This to Yourself (Button Poetry 2020). McCadden’s latest collection is a strikingly blunt yet beautifully lyrical meditation on what it means to lose a loved one to America’s current opioid crisis.
Turn It Up! Music in Poetry from Jazz to Hip-Hop, edited by Stephen Cramer, is a vibrant and hip anthology of 400 pages, including poems by everyone from Langston Hughes, Allen Ginsberg, and Rita Dove to Yusef Komunyakaa, Kim Addonizio, Kevin Young, and Danez Smith. The book contains 88 poets in all (the number of keys on a piano), and is split up into three sections: poems about jazz, poems about blues and rock, and poems about hip-hop.
To read Bodega by Su Hwang is to immerse oneself in a world, but to read this debut poetry collection in tandem with Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong is to deepen one’s understanding of what it means to be raised in the United States as a Korean daughter of immigrants. Both offer prismatic sides of living in a racialized nation where “Asian American” is a box to check off on official census documents, and another way to categorize human experience.
My mother was a beautiful bird who fluttered around people in a state of constant agitation. Terrified of being trapped, she was always opening windows, even in the middle of January, and rushing out of doors “to catch a breath of fresh air.” Once outside, she would disappear in an instant, only to return hours later, the wind and leaves and twigs in her hair.
groan and heave in heavy labor.
On the packed Purple Line Express train, Emma pretends that every person touching her is someone that she knows and loves.
They have no names on their jerseys, only numbers. Names boost the ego, the former coach had said. Names separate the team. We all win. We all lose.
Unquiet Things is the debut collection by James Davis May, a poet with prodigious powers of observation and description. May makes metaphors and similes from everyday things in ways that elevate both the object and its comparison into something arresting and original.
People see my scar and say
fragment 4:14-15 ...still the air, what rusty trill unsettles from the tree? I am listening for the direction of your next call....
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I call it the Yeats effect, and sometimes the Chekhov effect or the Elizabeth Bishop or Philip Larkin or Alice Munro effect. To me it represents a standard of literary quality that is widely, even universally, agreed upon.