Friday, December 18, 2015

2015 Poetry Books We Love

From the Split This Rock Family:

So many spectacular books of poetry of provocation and witness are now appearing in print each year we can’t keep up. Some of those same books are winning the major prizes and being reviewed everywhere. It’s a stunning shift in the literary landscape and one Split This Rock is proud to have played a role in helping to bring about.

Rather than publish another list of Recommended Books that tries to take stock of the whole field, Split This Rock Executive Director Sarah Browning asked a number of Splitistas to send her the titles of 2015 books they loved which haven’t received the attention their champions think they deserve. We are thrilled to put a spotlight on some gems. 

Special thanks to nominators Francisco Aragón, Lawrence-Minh Davis, Aracelis Girmay, Joseph O. Legaspi, E. Ethelbert Miller, Naomi Shihab Nye, Melissa Tuckey, and Joshua Weiner.

(You can read Recommended Books Lists of 2014, 2013, 2012, and 2011 on Blog This Rock.)

We urge you to buy from your local independent book store, directly from the publisher (we’ve linked to their websites below), or from, a union shop. Remember books, an ancient artform, make great gifts year-round!

Here, Then: Spectacular Books of 2015

Trouble Sleeping, Abdul Ali (New Issues Press)
The Gravedigger’s Archaeology, William Archilla (Red Hen Press)
Ozone Journals, Peter Balakian (University of Chicago Press)

Chord, Rick Barot (Sarabande Books)
The Spectral Wilderness, Oliver Bendorf (Kent State University Press)

Bastards of the Reagan Era, Reginald Dwayne Betts (Four Way Books)
Cover image of Ghost River by Trevino L. Brings Plenty

Ghost River, Trevino L. Brings Plenty (The Backwaters Press)

Redbone, Mahogany L. Browne (Willow Books)
Furious Dusk, David Campos (University of Notre Dame Press)

The Book of Silence: Manhood as a Pseudoscience, Rasheed Copeland (Sargent Press)
Cover image of Furious Dusk by David Campos
String Theory, Jenny Yang Cropp (Mongrel Empire Press)

Honest Engine, Kyle G. Dargan (University of Georgia Press)
Cornrows and Cornfields, celeste doaks (Wrecking Ball Press, UK)
Lilith’s Demons, Julie R. Enszer (A Midsummer Night’s Press)
The Gaffer, Celeste Gainey (Arktoi Book/Red Hen)
Toys Made of Rock, José B. González (Bilingual Review Press)
Life of the Garment, Deborah Gorlin (Bauhan Publishing
Cover image of Lighting the Shadow by Rachel Eliza GriffithsLighting the Shadow, Rachel Eliza Griffiths (Four Way Books)
A Crown for Gumecindo, Laurie Ann Guerrero (Aztlan LibrePress)
Hemisphere, Ellen Hagan (Triquarterly)

The Diary of a K-Drama Villain, Min Kang (Coconut Books)
Ban en Banlieue, Bhanu Kapil (Nightboat Books)
Visiting Indira Gandhi's Palmist, Kirun Kapur (ElixirPress)

Steep Tea, Jee Leong Koh (Carcanet Press Ltd.)
Boy with Thorn, Rickey Laurentiis (University of Pittsburgh Press)
The Darkening Trapeze, Larry Levis (Graywolf)
Life In a Box is a Pretty Life, Dawn Lundy Martin (Nightboat Books)

Yearling, Lo Kwa Mei-en (Alice James Books)
Sand Opera, Philip Metres (Alice James Books)
The Pink Box, Yesenia Montilla (Willow Books)
The Open Eye, Lenard D. Moore (Mountains and Rivers Press, 30th Anniversary Edition)
Cover of My Seneca Village by Marilyn NelsonThe Siren World, Juan J. Morales (Lithic Press)
My Seneca Village, Marilyn Nelson (Namelos)

Silent Anatomies, Monica Ong (Kore Press)
Beauty Is Our Spiritual Guernica, Mario Santiago Papasquiaro, trans. Cole Heinowitz (Commune Editions)

The Same-Different, Hannah Sanghee Park (LSU Press)
She Tries Her Tongue, Her Silence Softly Breaks, M. Nourbese Philip (Wesleyan University Press, rerelease of 1989 classic, with a foreword by Evie Shockley)

Radio Heart: Or, How Robots Fall Out of Love, Margaret Rhee (Finishing Line Press)
Twelve Stations, Tomasz Różycki, translated by Bill Johnston (Zephyr)

Le Animal & Other Creatures, Metta Sáma (MIEL)
Trafficke, Susan Tichy (Ahsahta Press)
The Yellow Door, Amy Uyematsu (Red Hen Press)

Farther Traveler, Ronaldo Wilson (Counterpath Press)

Crevasse, Nicholas Wong (Kaya Press)

Naturalism, Wendy Xu (Brooklyn Arts Press)

100 Chinese Silences, Timothy Yu (Les Figues Press)


The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, Nate Marshall (Haymarket Books)
Make It True: Poetry From Cascadia, edited by Paul Nelson, George Stanley, Barry McKinnon, Nadine Maestas (Leaf Press)
Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation, edited by Brett Fletcher Lauer, Lynn Melnick (Viking)

Writing Down the Walls: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices, edited by Helen Klonaris, Amir Rabiyah (Trans-Genre Press)

Critical Writings

Outside the Margins: Literary Commentaries, Roberto Bonazzi (Wings Press)

I Will Say This Exactly One Time: Essays, D. Gilson (Sibling Rivalry Press)

Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation, Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie (Grand Concourse Press)

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