April is National Poetry Month. In April 2020, readers are fortunate to have an exceptional selection of titles from which to choose. Read one or read them all, you wont be disappointed.
Selected by Ocean Vuong as the winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, Your New Feeling is the Artifact of a Bygone Era (Sarabande Books, 2020) is the stunning debut poetry collection by Chad Bennett, an associate professor of English at the University of Texas at Austin.
A 2020 Lannan Literary Selection, 13th Balloon (Copper Canyon Press, 2020) by Mark Bibbins is a moving and groundbreaking book-length poem (86 pages) centered around love and loss during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s and 1990s, featuring nods to a pair of Val Kilmers shoes, as well as references to Frank OHara, C.D. Wright, Shelley Winters, David Wojnarowicz, Billie Holiday, ACT UP, Gilbert Baker, and Star Trek.
Award-winning non-binary poet Danez Smith begins his dazzling new book Homies (Graywolf, 2020) with the anthemic My President and goes on to endless rock our collective world with mind-expanding poems such as What Was Said at the Bus Stop, Sometimes I Wish I Felt the Side Effects, All the Good Dick Lives in Brooklyn Park, Say it with Your Whole Black Mouth, and On Faggotness.
Nick Flynn may be best known for his memoir Another Night in Suck City which was made into the movie Being Flynn, starring Robert DeNiro and Paul Dano, but he is also a poet. His new book Stay: A Self-Portrait (Ze Books, 2020) is an intimate, mixed-media, literary patchwork quilt incorporating poetry and memoir.
Now in paperback, A Bound Woman is a Dangerous Thing: The Incarceration of African American Women from Harriet Tubman to Sandra Bland (Bloomsbury, 2019/2020) by DaMaris B. Hill combines history, poetry, biography and photography to bring forth the lives of Lucille Clifton, Zora Neale Hurston, Ida B. Wells, Eartha Kitt, Harriet Tubman, Sonia Sanchez, Grace Jones, Assata Shakur and others.
Witch (Alice James Books, 2020), the debut poetry collection from queer poet Philip Matthews, whose work is rooted in site-specific meditation and performance, has already received advance praise from CA Conrad and Timothy Liu.
Lambda Literary Award finalist and Thom Gunn Award-winning poet Rick Barots new book The Galleons (Milkweed Editions, 2020) is described as a contextualization of the immigrant journey of his Filipino-American family in the larger history and aftermath of colonialism.
Presented in five poetic sequences, the poems in Hold Me Tight (Red Hen Press, 2020) by gay poet Jason Schneiderman, focus the readers attention on the subjects of anger, real and metaphorical wolves, the work of the late artist Chris Burden, art and technology, and finally, a series of last things.
A poetry column would be incomplete without poet Mark Doty whose new book What is the Grass: Walt Whitman in My Life (Norton, 2020) is actually a memoir / biography hybrid in which we are given a close examination of the two gay poets lives.
Gregg Shapiro is the author of Fifty Degrees (Seven Kitchens, 2016), selected by Ching-In Chen as co-winner of the Robin Becker Chapbook Prize. Other books by Shapiro include the short story collections How to Whistle (Lethe Press, 2016) and Lincoln Avenue (Squares and Rebels Press, 2014), the chapbook GREGG SHAPIRO: 77 (Souvenir Spoon Press, 2012), and the poetry collection Protection (Gival Press, 2008).
He has work forthcoming in the anthology Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos (Anhinga Press, 2018). An entertainment journalist, whose interviews and reviews run in a variety of regional LGBT and mainstream publications and websites, Shapiro lives in Fort Lauderdale, Florida with his husband Rick and their dog Coco.