April is National Poetry Month. First celebrated in 1996, the Academy of American Poets organized the holiday to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States. The reading list I’ve culled is January – May 2022 releases in poetry and represents the vast variety of voices, young and old, and the variety of thoughts and ideas expressed around the country, and the world, in this written word form. Many debut poets are featured in this list.
Linda Gregerson’s long-awaited new collection is a tour de force, a compendium of lives touched by the radical fragility of the planet and, ultimately, the endless astonishment and paradox of being human within the larger ecosystem, “in a world where every breath I take is luck.” Gregerson is a University of Michigan Professor of English and Creative Writing.
Return Flight is a thrumming debut that teaches us how history harrows and heals, often with the same hand; how touch can mean “purple” and “blue” as much as it means intimacy; and how one might find a path toward joy not by leaving the past in the past, but by “[keeping a] hand on these memories, / to feel them to their ends.”
Winner of the Academy of American Poets First Book Award, selected by Claudia Rankine, Kemi Alabi’s transcendent debut reimagines the poetic and cultural traditions from which it is born, troubling the waters of some of our country’s central and ordained fictions―those mythic politics of respectability, resilience, and redemption.
In his deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother’s death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America.
Connections are at the heart of Limón’s sixth collection as she investigates the natural and man-made worlds, as well as hardship, joy, and family life.
Best Barbarian asks the reader to stay close as it plunges into catastrophe and finds surprising moments of joy and intimacy. This fearless, musical, and oracular collection announces poet Roger Reeves as an essential voice in American poetry.
Drawing from her own life, as well as pop culture and news headlines, Shire finds vivid, unique details in the experiences of refugees and immigrants, mothers and daughters, Black women and teenage girls.
Solmaz Sharif examines what it means to exist in the nowhere of the arrivals terminal, a continual series of checkpoints, officers, searches, and questionings that become a relentless experience of America. With resignation and austerity, these poems trace a pointed indoctrination to the customs of the nation-state and the English language, and the realities they impose upon the imagination, the paces they put us through.
Stella Wong’s debut book of poems playfully subverts and willfully challenges any notions we might have about Asian Americanness and its niceties. While her previous chapbook stunned her admirers and adherents into an almost fawning incredulity, this outing eviscerates. More like getting struck with Chinese stars right between the eyes.
This debut poetry collection from Nin speaks to colonialism’s impacts on their native country, Angola, through poems on exile, family, and queer love.
Set in the Pacific Northwest, Scarano’s second book wrestles with violence and desire, contemplating how the past shapes the future.
Described as “an erotic journal in poems,” Hofmann’s second collection blurs genres, leaning into autofiction and lyric essay while paying tribute to the Shakespearean sonnets and other poetic lineages. A Hundred Lovers illuminates the beauty of classical music, sculpture, and paintings, positioning love alongside these creations as a similarly immortal and exquisite work of art. Along the way, Hofmann explores the complicated, often intersecting ideas of monogamy, desire, and violence.
Written from the perspective of an Asian American woman growing up in Kentucky, the debut from Quintos asks what it means to be mixed race and have multiple ethnicities in America.
Weigel’s relationship to his homeland and the colonial history of Canada and the North-West are central to this genre-bending combination of visual art and writing.
Alabi’s poetry debut engages with Black queer identity and cultural traditions in poems that speak to resilience, transformation, and healing.
Presented in both Spanish and English, the entries in this sixth collection from Salas Rivera consider the possibilities for a decolonial future for Puerto Rico.
Taking its title from a small gallery in Rome, Thomson’s collection ponders religious relics and works of art and the stories associated with each.
In this, his debut poetry collection, author Colm Tóibín tackles religion, sex, and family. The book features a long poem at its center narrated by two friends reminiscing as they walk through Dublin.
Revisiting folklore and myth, these poems address the notion of “otherness” and examine cultural stories, queer identity, and the body.
In her debut, Mello explores life in the U.S. as a Brazilian immigrant and undocumented woman during a moment of political instability.
A collection that turns Blackness into a question of reading, of inscribing and decoding Blackness in poetry, Before Whiteness ranges from medieval Beowulf to contemporary UK grime. Born in Britain but now living in the U.S., D.S. Marriott trains his analytical gaze on grim American subjects like the Middle Passage and lynchings, yet also finds inspiration in African American poets and artists.
Nash disappeared in 1995. His poems, written in Maine and sent to the poet’s friend in France, were discovered in a basement. Written in French, these poems have been translated back to the poet’s native English.
Discourse—what is said and what isn’t—lies at the center of White’s debut, a consideration of daily speech and interactions.
Selected by Nobel laureate Louise Glück as winner of the inaugural Bergman Prize, the debut from Mannheimer is a book-length narrative poem that looks at the intersection of art and love.
The visual poems of Amezcua’s second collection tell the story of two-time world boxing champion Bobby “Schoolboy” Chacon and his first wife, Valorie Ginn.
Confronting environmental destruction, greed, and the digital age, Hays grapples with fear and motherhood, as well as with the loss of the natural world.
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Zoom Room explores the oddities of the zeitgeist alongside its expected constants. Its title poem draws from a series of Zoom meetings (a classroom, a memorial service) rendered in sonnet form.
The Owl and the Nightingale: A New Verse Translation (Lockert Library of Poetry in Translation #137) (Hardcover)
U.K. poet laureate Armitage offers a complete verse translation of one of the earliest literary works in Middle English. The anonymous poem tells the tale of two birds who embark on a war of words that’s recorded by a nearby poet.
Slovenian-Austrian poet Haderlap writes about violence, survival, and traditions that evoke Slovenia’s landscapes and political history.
Sze investigates her origins as a person and poet in this collection of verse and prose that takes its inspiration from experiences of new motherhood.
Emerson’s debut explores neurodivergence, desire, dreams, and the ways that language can be manipulated to convey the largest variety of experiences.
This marks the first collected edition of Pulitzer Prize–winning beat poet Gary Snyder, who writes on nature, Buddhist spirituality, and his roles as a father, husband, and friend to others.
The debut from Yarberry questions inner thoughts and desires in poems that allude to other writers and Greek myths, as they take the reader on a tour of a city.
The book-length poem tackles environmental destruction, colonialism, and capitalism, taking the reader across the country in an attempt to understand the ecological crisis.
Reflecting on the state of affairs between the U.S. and Latin America, Tejada writes on white supremacy, immigration, intersectional identity, and community.
Opening on poems that contemplate New York Harbor, this debut celebrates landscape, history, and community.
Pain and evolution are central themes in Yanyi’s second book. These poems look at the past, immigration, violence, and heartbreak to see how suffering leads to rebuilding.
This collection, which begins in November, draws on events in the Christian calendar as well as the stark landscape of the Scottish Orkney Islands.
Magnificent Errors addresses individuals living on the margins of society, tackling themes of homelessness, poverty and addiction.
Beast at Every Threshold dances between familial hauntings and cultural histories, intimate hungers and broader griefs. With unapologetic precision, Natalie Wee unravels constructs of “otherness” and names language our most familiar weapon, illuminating the intersections of queerness, diaspora, and loss with obsessive, inexhaustible ferocity—and in resurrecting the self rendered a site of violence.
Carl Phillips has aptly described his work as an “ongoing quest.” Then the War is the next step in that meaningful process of self-discovery for both the poet and his reader. The new poems, written in a time of rising racial conflict in the United States, with its attending violence and uncertainty, find Phillips entering deeper into the landscape he has made his own.
Surveying the California wildfires, political turmoil, housing insecurity, and death, the third collection from Charles considers the role of resilience and hope in survival.
In his second collection, free verse poems appear alongside forms invented by Yenser and explore neighborhoods, travel, current events, and magic.
The Loneliest Girl examines Medusa’s turbulent past — raped in Athena’s temple, then transformed into a monster — to speak to the culture of victim blaming and the impossible demands placed on women.
The 14th collection from Shapiro reflects on recurring dreams, politics, technology, aging, and personal struggles, among other timely subjects.
The loss of a child and the arc from hope to suffering is central to Pollari’s second collection. These poems examine hope and joy, followed by grief and shock, and the resilience required to move on.
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We Are Not Wearing Helmets is a collection of political love poems showcasing the beauty of those often discarded and erased from society, as well as confronting the atrocities against them, honoring the experiences and lives of immigrants, women of color, and seniors.
All the Flowers Kneeling marks Paul Tran’s debut collection, awarded fellowships from The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation, crafts a poignant ode to resilience in the face of intergenerational trauma. The powerful work challenges U.S. imperialism, presenting instead a more full and wondrous idea of freedom.
No Sign grapples with national and international politics, looking at the history of the Earth and the climate crisis, and alluding to the film Hiroshima Mon Amour, the Vietnam War, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
Ultramarine is the third and final collection in Wayne Koestenbaum’s “trance poem trilogy,” an atmospheric and experimental series. The book is informed by Koestenbaum’s own background as an artist, delving into paintings and the artistic process, using color as a metaphor through which to consider desire and memory.
An exploration of the mythologies that seek to a journey across Guyana, London, and the United States, Agostini's collection is a meditation on black womanhood, queerness, the legacy of colonization, and pleasure. These poems craft a creation story fat with love, queerness, mermaids, and blackness.
South Flight draws from Oklahoma’s Black history and explores themes of Black feminism, the blues, migration, and the ways Black Americans have improved the regions they’ve settled in.
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Marrow reflects and honors the lives and voices of more than 900 children, teenagers, and adults who died in the mass murder-suicide at Jonestown, in Guyana, on November 18, 1978.
Salazar calls his debut poetry collection “the coming-of-age chronicle of a queer Latinx Southerner.” The book finds complexity, vulnerability, joy, and trauma in these identities, marveling at this striking juxtaposition. Salazar chronicles a tangled history with religion, as well as an enduring search for the spiritual and divine.
Late Fragments: Flares, My Heart Laid Bare, Prose Poems, Belgium Disrobed (The Margellos World Republic of Letters) (Hardcover)
Baudelaire’s late poems, drafts, and prose fragments are collected for the first time in one volume, giving insight into the poet’s later poetic practice.
Madness is the selected poems of a fictional poet, Luis Montes-Torres, a gay Cuban exile who makes a name for himself in the world of poetry before the contours of his ordinary life become overwhelming, stilted, and impossible. adness is a study in how pleasure, crisis, wonder, disappointment, love, and fantasy are written into our forms for living.
In their bold debut poetry collection, Akwaeke Emezi imagines a new depth of belonging. Crafted of both divine and earthly materials, these poems travel from home to homesickness, tracing desire to surrender and abuse to survival, while mapping out a chosen family that includes the son of god, mary auntie, and magdalene with the chestnut eyes.
From concrete to confessional poem, exegesis to erasure, Canadian rivers to Kashmiri mountains, Wani undoes and complicates genre and gathers the world between the poet’s hands.
Through erasure and persona, Dekine reimagines and calls to task the Works Progress Administration narratives, modern-day museums, and intergenerational traumas. Beyond gospel music, fear, and the stories of generations past, Thresh & Hold offers magic, healing, and innovative pathways to manifest intimacy.