I Do Everything I’m Told

Megan Fernandes

Restless, contradictory, and witty, Megan Fernandes’ I Do Everything I’m Told explores disobedience and worship, longing and possessiveness, and nights of wandering cities. Its poems span thousands of miles, as a masterful crown of sonnets starts in Shanghai, then moves through Brooklyn, Los Angeles, Lisbon, Palermo, Paris, and Philadelphia—with a speaker who travels solo, adventures with strangers, struggles with the parameters of sexuality, and speculates on desire.

Across four divs, poems navigate the terrain of queer, normative, and ambiguous intimacies with a frank intelligence: “It’s better to be illegible, sometimes. Then they can’t govern you.” Strangers, ancestors, priests, ghosts, the inner child, sisters, misfit racoons, Rimbaud, and Rilke populate the pages. Beloveds are unnamed, and unrealized desires are grieved as actual losses. The poems are grounded in real cities, but also in a surrealist past or an impossible future, in cliché love stories made weird, in ordinary routines made divine, and in the cosmos itself, sitting on Saturn’s rings looking back at Earth. When things go wrong, Fernandes treats loss with a sacred irreverence: “Contradictions are a sign we are from god. We fall. We don’t always get to ask why.”

Trace Evidence

Charif Shanahan

 

In Trace Evidence, the urgent follow-up to his award-winning debut Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing, Charif Shanahan continues his piercing meditations on the intricacies of mixed-race identity, queer desire, time, mortality, and the legacies of anti-Blackness in the US and abroad. At the collection’s center sits “On the Overnight from Agadir,” a poem that chronicles Shanahan’s survival of a devastating bus accident in Morocco, his mother’s birth country, and ruminates on home, belonging, and the mysteries of fate. With rich lyricism, power, and tenderness, Trace Evidence centers the racial periphery and excavates the vestiges of our violent colonial past in the most intimate aspects of our lives. In a language yoked equally to the physical and metaphysical worlds, the poet articulates the need we all share for real intimacy and connection, and proves, time and again, that the true cost of our separateness is the love that our survival requires.

 

Judas Goat

Gabrielle Bates

Gabrielle Bates’s electric debut collection Judas Goat plumbs the depths of intimate relationships. The book’s eponymous animal is used to lead sheep to slaughter while its own life is spared, and its harrowing existence echoes through this spellbinding collection of forty poems, which wrestle with betrayal and forced obedience, violence and young womanhood, and the “forbidden felt language” of sexual and sacred love. These poems conjure encounters with figures from scriptures, domesticated animals eyeing the wild, and mothering as a shapeshifting, spectral force; they question what it means to love another person and how to exorcise childhood fears. All the while, the Deep South haunts, and no matter how far away the speaker moves, the South always draws her back home.

In confession, in illumination, Bates establishes herself as an unflinching witness to the risks that desire necessitates, as Judas Goat holds readers close and whispers its unforgettable lines.

So Tall It Ends in Heaven

Jayme Ringleb

With lush and deeply intimate language, Jayme Ringleb’s debut collection So Tall It Ends in Heaven explores sexuality, estrangement, and the distances we travel for love.

Following the end of a marriage, So Tall It Ends in Heaven’s queer southern speaker tries to restore a relationship with his father. His father lives across an ocean, but more keeps them apart than just that: the father rejected his son long ago after learning that his son is gay. The poems search for answers across the United States and Europe, in and out of historical imagination, as the speaker struggles to separate his understanding of devotion and belonging from the constant losses in his life. Drawing from—and subverting—the formal traditions of love poems, parables, and elegies, the collection claims a vital space for one’s own solace. “Nobody will love you / like this poem does,” the speaker says; “Tell this poem / what you want. // Anything.”

In turns that are ruminative, funny, and tender, Jayme Ringleb’s debut collection questions what and whom one lets go of by coming out—can love, in all its complexities, ever be uncoupled from grief?

Magnolia

Nina Mingya Powles

Magnolia, Nina Mingya Powles’ exquisite debut poetry collection, pushes the borders of languages and poetic forms to examine memories, myths, and the experiences of a mixed-race girlhood. From Aotearoa to London, from Shanghai to New York City, these poems journey across shifting, luminescent cities in search of connection: through pop culture, through food, through vivid colors. Scenes from Mulan, Blade Runner, and In the Mood for Love braid together with silken tofu and freshly steamed baozi. At the heart of the collection is “Field notes on a downpour,” a lyrical sequence that questions the limits of translation and our ability to understand one another. Alone, the speaker recognizes that “certain languages contain more kinds of rain than others, and I have eaten them all.”

Full of hunger and longing for a home that can embrace a person’s complexities, Magnolia draws on every sense to arrive at profound, yet intimate insights, and introduces readers to a brilliant new voice in poetry.

What Is Otherwise Infinite

Bianca Stone

Written in four divs with incisive and vivid lyrical language, Bianca Stone’s What Is Otherwise Infinite considers how we find our place in the world through themes of philosophy, religion, environment, myth, and psychology. “I deal only in the hardest pain-revivers, symbols and tongues,” writes Stone. “I want to tell you only / in the intimacy of our discomfort.” 

Populated by Archangels, limping in paradise; by allergies of the soul; the intimacy and danger of motherhood; psychic wounds; and dirty, dirty chocolate layer cake, What Is Otherwise Infinite deftly examines our inherent and inherited ideas of how to live, and the experience of the Self—which on one hand is so intensely personal, and on the other, universal.

All The Names Given

Raymond Antrobus

On the heels of his much-lauded debut collection, Raymond Antrobus continues his essential investigation into language, miscommunication, place, and memory in All The Names Given, while simultaneously breaking new ground in both form and content.

The collection opens with poems about the author’s surname—one that shouldn’t have survived into modernity—and examines the rich and fraught history carried within it. As Antrobus outlines a childhood caught between intimacy and brutality, sound and silence, and conflicting racial and cultural identities, the poem becomes a space in which the poet reckons with his own ancestry, and bears witness to the indelible violence of the legacy wrought by colonialism. The poems travel through space—shifting fluidly between England, South Africa, Jamaica, and the American South—and brilliantly move from an examination of family history into the wandering lust of adolescence and finally, vividly, into a complex array of marriage poems—matured, wiser, and more accepting of love’s fragility. Throughout, All The Names Given is punctuated with [Caption Poems] partially inspired by Deaf sound artist Christine Sun Kim, in which the art of writing captions attempts to fill in the silences and transitions between the poems as well as moments inside and outside of them.

Formally sophisticated, with a weighty perception and startling directness, All The Names Given is a timely, tender book full of humanity and remembrance from one of the most important young poets of our generation.

My Darling from the Lions

Rachel Long

Each poem in Rachel Long’s award-winning My Darling from the Lions has a vivid story to tell—of family quirks, the perils of dating, the grip of religion, or sexual awakening—stories that are, by turn, emotionally insightful, politically conscious, wise, funny, and outrageous. Told in three divs, it’s a book about growing up, falling in love with not-great men, and girlhood; a collection that speaks to femininity, divinity, familial shame, Black identity, and modern culture.

Long reveals herself as a razor-sharp and original voice on the issues of sexual politics and cultural inheritance that polarize our current moment. With a fresh commitment to the power of the individual poem, her collection offers immediate, wide-awake poetry that entertains royally, without sacrificing a note of its urgency or remarkable skill.

My Darling from the Lions marks the arrival of a thrilling new voice and presence in poetry.

Superdoom

Melissa Broder

Featuring a new introduction from the author, Superdoom: Selected Poems brings together the best of Broder’s three cult out-of-print poetry collections—When You Say One Thing but Mean Your Mother, Meat Heart, and Scarecrone—as well as the best of her fourth collection, Last Sext.

Embracing the sacred and the profane, often simultaneously, Broder gazes into the abyss and at the human body, with humor and heartbreak, lust and terror. Broder’s language is entirely her own, marked both by brutal strangeness and raw intimacy. At turns essayistic and surreal, bouncing between the grotesque and the transcendent, Superdoom is a must-have for longtime fans and the perfect introduction to one of our most brilliant and original poets.

Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night

Morgan Parker

Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night—the book that launched the career of one of our most important young American poets—is back in print.

The debut collection from award-winning poet Morgan Parker demonstrates why she’s become one of the most beloved writers working today. Her command of language is on full display. Parker bobs and weaves between humor and pathos, grief and anxiety, Gwendolyn Brooks and Jay-Z, the New York School and reality television. She collapses any foolish distinctions between the personal and the political, the “high” and the “low.” Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up at Night not only introduced an essential new voice to the world, it contains everything readers have come to love about Morgan Parker’s work.

The Perseverance

Raymond Antrobus

In the wake of his father’s death, the speaker in Raymond Antrobus’ The Perseverance travels to Barcelona. In Gaudi’s Cathedral, he meditates on the idea of silence and sound, wondering whether acoustics really can bring us closer to God. Receiving information through his hearing aid technology, he considers how deaf people are included in this idea. “Even though,” he says, “I have not heard / the golden decibel of angels, / I have been living in a noiseless / palace where the doorbell is pulsating / light and I am able to answer.”

The Perseverance is a collection of poems examining a d/Deaf experience alongside meditations on loss, grief, education, and language, both spoken and signed. It is a book about communication and connection, about cultural inheritance, about identity in a hearing world that takes everything for granted, about the dangers we may find (both individually and as a society) if we fail to understand each other.

Negotiations

Destiny O. Birdsong

What makes a self? In her remarkable debut collection of poems, Destiny O. Birdsong writes fearlessly towards this question. Laced with ratchetry, yet hungering for its own respectability, Negotiations is about what it means to live in this America, about Cardi B and top-tier journal publications, about autoimmune disease and the speaker’s intense hunger for her own body—a surprise of self-love in the aftermath of both assault and diagnosis. It’s a series of love letters to black women, who are often singled out for abuse and assault, silencing and tokenism, fetishization and cultural appropriation in ways that throw the rock, then hide the hand. It is a book about tenderness and an indictment of people and systems that attempt to narrow black women’s lives, their power. But it is also an examination of complicity—both a narrative and a black box warning for a particular kind of self-healing that requires recognizing culpability when and where it exists.

Resistencia

Tin House Staff

With a powerful and poignant introduction from Julia Alvarez, Resistencia: Poems of Protest and Revolution is an extraordinary collection, rooted in a strong tradition of protest poetry and voiced by icons of the movement and some of the most exciting writers today. The poets of Resistencia explore feminist, queer, Indigenous, and ecological themes alongside historically prominent protests against imperialism, dictatorships, and economic inequality. Within this momentous collection, poets representing every Latin American country grapple with identity, place, and belonging, resisting easy definitions to render a nuanced and complex portrait of language in rebellion.

Included in English translation alongside their original language, the fifty-four poems in Resistencia are a testament to the art of translation as much as the act of resistance. An all-star team of translators, including former US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera along with young, emerging talent, have made many of the poems available for the first time to an English-speaking audience. Urgent, timely, and absolutely essential, these poems inspire us all to embrace our most fearless selves and unite against all forms of tyranny and oppression.

Anodyne

Khadijah Queen

The poems that make up Anodyne consider the small moments that enrapture us alongside the daily threats of cataclysm. Formally dynamic and searingly personal, Anodyne asks us to recognize the echoes of history that litter the landscape of our bodies as we navigate a complex terrain of survival and longing. With an intimate and multivocal dexterity, these poems acknowledge the simultaneous existence of joy and devastation, knowledge and ignorance, grief and love, endurance and failure—all of the contrast and serendipity that comes with the experience of being human. If the body is a world, or a metaphor for the world, for what disappears and what remains, for what we feel and what we cover up, then how do we balance fate and choice, pleasure and pain? Through a combination of formal lyrics, delicate experiments, sharp rants, musical litany, and moments of wit that uplift and unsettle, Queen’s poems show us the terrible consequences and stunning miracles of how we choose to live.

My Baby First Birthday

Jenny Zhang

Radiant and tender, My Baby First Birthday is a collection that examines innocence, asking us who gets to be loved and who has to deplete themselves just to survive. Jenny Zhang writes about accepting pain, about the way we fetishize womanhood and motherhood, and reduce women to their violations, traumas, and body parts. She questions the way we feminize and racialize nurturing, and live in service of other people’s dreams. How we idealize birth and being baby, how it’s only in our mothers’ wombs that we’re still considered innocent, blameless, and undamaged, because it’s only then that we don’t have to earn love. Her poems explore the obscenity of patriarchy, whiteness, and capitalism, the violence of rescue and heroism. The magic trick in My Baby First Birthday is that despite all these themes, the book never feels like some jeremiad. Zhang uses friendship as a lyric. She seeks tenderness, radiant beauty, and having love for your mistakes. Through all this, she writes about being alone—really alone, like why-was-I-ever-born alone—and trying, despite everything, to reach out and touch something—skin to skin, animal to animal.

Good Boys

Megan Fernandes

In an era of rising nationalism and geopolitical instability, Megan Fernandes’s Good Boys offers a complex portrait of messy feminist rage, negotiations with race and travel, and existential dread in the Anthropocene. The collection follows a restless, nervy, cosmically abandoned speaker failing at the aspirational markers of adulthood as she flips from city to city, from enchantment to disgust, always reemerging—just barely—on the trains and bridges and bar stools of New York City. A child of the Indian Ocean diaspora, Fernandes enacts the humor and devastation of what it means to exist as a body of contradictions. Her interpretations are muddied. Her feminism is accusatory, messy. Her homelands are theoretical and rootless. The poet converses with goats and throws a fit at a tarot reading; she loves the intimacy of strangers during turbulent plane rides and has dark fantasies about the “hydrogen fruit” of nuclear fallout. Ultimately, these poems possess an affection for the doomed: false beloveds, the hounded earth, civilizations intent on their own ruin. Fernandes skillfully interrogates where to put our fury and, more importantly, where to direct our mercy.