Author: Kayo Chingonyi
Publisher: Random House
*Winner of the Dylan Thomas Prize 2018* *Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Prize 2017* *Shortlisted for the Jhalak Prize 2018* *Selected as a 2017 Book of the Year in the Guardian and Daily Telegraph* ‘Urban and urbane, it’s a magnificent debut’ Daily Telegraph ‘A brilliant debut – a tender, nostalgic and at times darkly hilarious exploration of black boyhood, masculinity and grief – from one of my favourite writers’ – Warsan Shire Translating as ‘initiation’, kumukanda is the name given to the rites a young boy from the Luvale tribe must pass through before he is considered a man. The poems of Kayo Chingonyi’s remarkable debut explore this passage: between two worlds, ancestral and contemporary; between the living and the dead; between the gulf of who he is and how he is perceived. Underpinned by a love of music, language and literature, here is a powerful exploration of race, identity and masculinity, celebrating what it means to be British and not British, all at once.
Kingdom of Gravity
Author: Nick Makoha
Publisher: Peepal Tree Press
In direct narrative terms the poems in this collection relate to the horrors of the civil war that ousted the brutal tyranny of Idi Amin in Uganda, a war of liberation that brought its own barbarous atrocities. In political terms the poems chart the impact of imperialism and neo-colonialism that lay behind those traumas in the life of the nation. In personal terms, the poems are framed between the contrary pulls of attachment and flight, exile and longing. At their heart is an unwavering curiosity about how people behave in extreme situations, and what this reveals about our common human capacities to indulge grandiose visions, betray them, dissemble, seek revenge and kill. There is no presumption of innocence. There may be flight, but there is no standing aside. The narrator can dream (but is it a dream?) of a "dead man/who has been stung by the invisible bee of my bullet". There is much darkness of reference in the collection, but also a hopeful search for truthfulness and trust as the only things that matter. The poems - as poems of grace, control and beauty of image - demonstrate the power of the best poetry to speak of difficult things in a way that enlightens, not merely horrifies. The care in the making and shaping of the poems bears witness to the evident fact that for Nick Makoha poetry became "This rock [...] a sanctuary from which I can repair the ruins". Nick Makoha's debut collection is named for the 2015 Brunel University African Poetry Prize-winning poem "Kingdom of Gravity".
Loop of Jade
Author: Sarah Howe
Publisher: Random House
*WINNER OF THE T. S. ELIOT PRIZE 2015* *WINNER OF THE SUNDAY TIMES / PETERS FRASER + DUNLOP YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR AWARD 2015* *SHORTLISTED FOR THE FORWARD PRIZE FOR BEST FIRST COLLECTION 2015* There is a Chinese proverb that says: ‘It is more profitable to raise geese than daughters.’ But geese, like daughters, know the obligation to return home. In her exquisite first collection, Sarah Howe explores a dual heritage, journeying back to Hong Kong in search of her roots. With extraordinary range and power, the poems build into a meditation on hybridity, intermarriage and love – what meaning we find in the world, in art, and in each other. Crossing the bounds of time, race and language, this is an enthralling exploration of self and place, of migration and inheritance, and introduces an unmistakable new voice in British poetry.
Venus as a Bear
Author: Vahni Capildeo
Publisher: Carcanet Press Ltd
The Poetry Book Society Summer 2018 Choice. Vahni Capildeo’s Venus as a Bear collects poems on animals, art, language, the sea, thinghood, metaphor, description, and dance. They tend toward, and tend to, the inanimate and non-human, tenderly disclosing their forms of sentience. We have feelings for creatures, objects and places, but where do these affinities come from? How do things, as things, affect us, remain mysterious while making themselves known? For Capildeo answers formed at their own pace, while waiting for lambing at a friend’s farm; exploring the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford; criss-crossing the British Isles with the Out of Bounds poetry project; or hearing of Africa and the Romans in Scotland, of Guyana and Shakespeare, while standing over-the-boots deep in a freezing sea off the coast of Wales. Many of the poems respond to real places, objects and people, as investigations, meditations, or dedications. They dwell on bodies and dwell in the body, inviting ardent, open forms of reading, in the spirit of their composition.
Winner of the 2016 Whiting Award One of Publishers Weekly's "Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2016" One of Lit Hub's "10 must-read poetry collections for April" “Reading Vuong is like watching a fish move: he manages the varied currents of English with muscled intuition. His poems are by turns graceful and wonderstruck. His lines are both long and short, his pose narrative and lyric, his diction formal and insouciant. From the outside, Vuong has fashioned a poetry of inclusion.”—The New Yorker "Night Sky with Exit Wounds establishes Vuong as a fierce new talent to be reckoned with...This book is a masterpiece that captures, with elegance, the raw sorrows and joys of human existence."—Buzzfeed's "Most Exciting New Books of 2016" "This original, sprightly wordsmith of tumbling pulsing phrases pushes poetry to a new level...A stunning introduction to a young poet who writes with both assurance and vulnerability. Visceral, tender and lyrical, fleet and agile, these poems unflinchingly face the legacies of violence and cultural displacement but they also assume a position of wonder before the world.”—2016 Whiting Award citation "Night Sky with Exit Wounds is the kind of book that soon becomes worn with love. You will want to crease every page to come back to it, to underline every other line because each word resonates with power."—LitHub "Vuong’s powerful voice explores passion, violence, history, identity—all with a tremendous humanity."—Slate “In his impressive debut collection, Vuong, a 2014 Ruth Lilly fellow, writes beauty into—and culls from—individual, familial, and historical traumas. Vuong exists as both observer and observed throughout the book as he explores deeply personal themes such as poverty, depression, queer sexuality, domestic abuse, and the various forms of violence inflicted on his family during the Vietnam War. Poems float and strike in equal measure as the poet strives to transform pain into clarity. Managing this balance becomes the crux of the collection, as when he writes, ‘Your father is only your father/ until one of you forgets. Like how the spine/ won’t remember its wings/ no matter how many times our knees/ kiss the pavement.’”—Publishers Weekly "What a treasure [Ocean Vuong] is to us. What a perfume he's crushed and rendered of his heart and soul. What a gift this book is."—Li-Young Lee Torso of Air Suppose you do change your life. & the body is more than a portion of night—sealed with bruises. Suppose you woke & found your shadow replaced by a black wolf. The boy, beautiful & gone. So you take the knife to the wall instead. You carve & carve until a coin of light appears & you get to look in, at last, on happiness. The eye staring back from the other side— waiting. Born in Saigon, Vietnam, Ocean Vuong attended Brooklyn College. He is the author of two chapbooks as well as a full-length collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds. A 2014 Ruth Lilly Fellow and winner of the 2016 Whiting Award, Ocean Vuong lives in New York City, New York.
Author: Richard Osmond
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Richard Osmond's debut collection Useful Verses follows in the tradition of the best nature writing, being as much about the human world as the natural, the present as the past: Osmond, a professional forager, has a deep knowledge of flora and fauna as they appear in both natural and human history, as they are depicted in both folklore and herbal - but he views them through a wholly contemporary lens. Chamomile is discussed through quantum physics, ants through social media, wood sorrel through online gambling, and mugwort through a traffic cone. In each case, Osmond offers an arresting and new perspective, and makes that hidden world that lives and breathes beside us vividly part of our own. This is a fiercely inventive, darkly witty and brilliantly observed debut from a voice unlike any other you have read before - and as far from any quaint and conservative notion of 'nature poetry' as it is possible to get.
Author: R. A. Villanueva
Publisher: U of Nebraska Press
In his prize-winning poetry collection Reliquaria, R. A. Villanueva embraces liminal, in-between spaces in considering an ever-evolving Filipino American identity. Languages and cultures collide; mythologies and faiths echo and resound. Part haunting, part prayer, part prophecy, these poems resonate with the voices of the dead and those who remember them. In this remarkable book, we enter the vessel of memory, the vessel of the body. The dead act as witness, the living as chimera, and we learn that whatever the state of the body, this much rings true: every ode is an elegy; each elegy is always an ode.
Author: James Womack
Publisher: Carcanet Press Ltd
On Trust: A Book of Lies, James Womack’s second collection of poems, is organised around the notion of telling the truth. Working against ideas of poetry as a vehicle for displaying individual truths or unprocessed confessions, these poems play hilariously, earnestly, undecidedly, with such simple identifications as the ‘I’ of a poem with the ‘I’ of the poet, offering us monologues which seem to be sincere, unvarnished accounts of things that have ‘really’ happened, but which twist and escape any absolute statements of identity. Serious questions of being and belonging, as well as frivolous themes such as the Marquis de Sade, Siberia, genitals, the Fates, and death, are picked up in play, prodded at, then put down in new and sparkling configurations.
Author: Safiya Sinclair
Publisher: U of Nebraska Press
Colliding with and confronting The Tempest and postcolonial identity, the poems in Safiya Sinclair's Cannibal explore Jamaican childhood and history, race relations in America, womanhood, otherness, and exile. She evokes a home no longer accessible and a body at times uninhabitable, often mirrored by a hybrid Eve/Caliban figure. Blooming with intense lyricism and fertile imagery, these full-blooded poems are elegant, mythic, and intricately woven. Here the female body is a dark landscape; the female body is cannibal. Sinclair shocks and delights her readers with her willingness to disorient and provoke, creating a multitextured collage of beautiful and explosive poems.
Author: Gerhard Kubik
Publisher: LIT Verlag Münster
Various graphic systems designed to express and transmit ideas or to convey messages were known in sub-Saharan Africa in pre-colonial times, ideographic and pictographic systems. One of the most intriguing of these traditions, known across eastern Angola into northwestern Zambia, among speakers of Luchazi, Chokwe, Lwena and related languages is the tusona ideographs. This work is a fascinating excursion into symbolism, the remote history of eastern Angola, Luchazi oral literature, mathematics, graphic art and communication. Gerhard Kubik is professor of anthropology and is a psychoanalyst at the University of Vienna (Austria).
Author: Layli Long Soldier
The astonishing, powerful debut by the winner of a 2016 Whiting Writers' Award WHEREAS her birth signaled the responsibility as mother to teach what it is to be Lakota therein the question: What did I know about being Lakota? Signaled panic, blood rush my embarrassment. What did I know of our language but pieces? Would I teach her to be pieces? Until a friend comforted, Don’t worry, you and your daughter will learn together. Today she stood sunlight on her shoulders lean and straight to share a song in Diné, her father’s language. To sing she motions simultaneously with her hands; I watch her be in multiple musics. —from “WHEREAS Statements” WHEREAS confronts the coercive language of the United States government in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes, and reflects that language in its officiousness and duplicity back on its perpetrators. Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations. “I am,” she writes, “a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation—and in this dual citizenship I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.” This strident, plaintive book introduces a major new voice in contemporary literature.
Author: Helen Mort
Publisher: Random House
*SHORTLISTED FOR THE T.S ELIOT PRIZE 2013* ‘A stone is lobbed in ’84, hangs like a star over Orgreave. Welcome to Sheffield. Border-land, our town of miracles...’ – ‘Scab’ From the clash between striking miners and police to the delicate conflicts in personal relationships, Helen Mort’s stunning debut is marked by distance and division. Named for a street in Sheffield, this is a collection that cherishes specificity: the particularity of names; the reflections the world throws back at us; the precise moment of a realisation. Distinctive and assured, these poems show us how, at the site of conflict, a moment of reconciliation can be born.
I Am Loved
Author: Nikki Giovanni
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Giovanni's poems are given a visual layering by Bryan's illustrations, which drums an important message to young, old, parent, child, grandparent, and friend alike: You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.
The High Places
Author: Fiona McFarlane
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
What a terrible thing at a time like this: to own a house, and the trees around it. Janet sat rigid in her seat. The plane lifted from the city and her house fell away, consumed by the other houses. Janet worried about her own particular garden and her emptied refrigerator and her lamps that had been timed to come on at six. So begins "Mycenae," a story in The High Places, Fiona McFarlane's first story collection. Her stories skip across continents, eras, and genres to chart the borderlands of emotional life. In "Mycenae," she describes a middle-aged couple's disastrous vacation with old friends. In "Good News for Modern Man," a scientist lives on a small island with only a colossal squid and the ghost of Charles Darwin for company. And in the title story, an Australian farmer turns to Old Testament methods to relieve a fatal drought. Each story explores what Flannery O'Connor called "mystery and manners." The collection dissects the feelings--longing, contempt, love, fear--that animate our existence and hints at a reality beyond the smallness of our lives. Salon's Laura Miller called McFarlane's The Night Guest "a novel of uncanny emotional penetration . . . How could anyone so young portray so persuasively what it feels like to look back on a lot more life than you can see in front of you?" The High Places is further evidence of McFarlane's preternatural talent, a debut collection that reads like the selected works of a literary great.