New Books in Poetry: BRUTE by Emily Skaja

BRUTE by Emily Skaja

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up. I had a delightful conversation with Emily Skaja about her new book BRUTE (Graywolf Press, 2019).

Winner of the Walt Whitman Award, Emily Skaja’s BRUTE (Graywolf Press, 2019) is a stunning collection of poetry that navigates the dark corridors of trauma found at the end of an abusive relationship. “Everyone if we’re going to talk about love please we have to talk about violence,” writes Skaja in the poem “remarkable the litter of birds.” She indeed talks about the intersections of both love and violence, evoking a range of emotional experiences ranging from sorrow and loss to rage, guilt, hope, self discovery, and reinvention. These poems reflect the present moment — ripe with cell phones, social media, and technologies that shift the way humans interact with each other — while maintaining a mythic quality, with the speaker feeling like a character struggling to survive in a surreal fairytale world.

Skaja recommends: Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, My Dark Vanessa by Kate Russel, Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden, and Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.

You can join New Books in Poetry in a discussion of this episode on Shuffle by joining here.


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New Books in Poetry: Threed, This Road Not Damascus by Tamara J. Madison

Tamara J Madison-Threed This Road Not Damascus

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which the fabulous Athena Dixon speaks with Tamara J. Madison about her book Threed, This Road Not Damascus (Trio House, 2019).

Athena writes:

Tamara J. Madison, both on the page and in voice, is magical. In her most recent collection, Threed, This Road Not Damascus, she seamlessly bridges the gap between past and present while remaining grounded in the here and now. Via her use of religion, familial history, and rhythm she is able to give voice to those women who oft times were forced to remain silent in order to survive. It is through her poetry that these women, and those still to come, are allowed to be wholly free. Madison creates a new mythology here. A mythology that begins to lay the groundwork for us to create the worlds in which we want to move. She leaves us with the lingering sense that the makings of the universe are in our hands. All we need to do is mold it and name it.

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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New Books in Poetry: Locus by Jason Bayani

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which I get to speak with Jason Bayani about his new book Locus (Omnidawn Publishing 2019).

“Poetry gave me back a way to find my culture, my history,” says Jason Bayani while discussion his new book Locus (Omnidawn Publishing 2019), which blends memoir and poetry into a stunning exploration of fragmented identities and the Pilipinx-American experience. Drawing inspiration from hip-hop and delving into the knotted complexity of family history and relationships, Bayani is able to recover a migrant identity and experience that is often silenced and shape a confident declaration of selfhood in American culture.

“In my grandfather’s last days
He wandered the rice fields alone.
What was left of his mind bringing him back
to what he spent his entire life building.

We are the land — lupa ay buhay, land is living.

When my father talks of his poverty, he presents
a bowl of rice and says, ‘Your Inang
would put one piece of fish on the table,
and we would press our fingers
against it for flavor.’ Mimicking his hand
scooping rice out of the bowl.”

— fragment from “The Low Lands”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice — and you can join New Books in Poetry in a discussion of this episode on Shuffle by signing up here.

Bayani’s recommended poets and artists from the podcast: Microchips for Millions by Janice Sapigao, This is for the Mostless by Jason Magabo Perez, Souvenir by Aimee Suzara, Circa 91 by Ruby Ibarra, Patron Saints of Nothing by Randy Ribay, Insurrecto by Gina Apostol, and Anak Ko by Jay Som.


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New Books in Poetry: The Gates of Never by Deborah L. Davitt

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which I get to speak with Deborah L. Davitt about her new book The Gates of Never (Finishing Line Press, 2019).

Drawing on the author’s deep knowledge of classical literature, Deborah L. Davitt’s book of poetry The Gates of Never explores the intersections of myth, science, and humanity through her beautifully accessible poems, reflecting a variety of forms and linguistic styles. These poems morph between being moving, irreverent, unsettling, and erotic — offering up a richly textured collection of work.

“He writes me upside down
and backwards, so that
I hardly know myself yet,
but my hundred newly-open mouths
whisper secret meanings,
and offer atramentum kisses;

he soothes my wounds with
copper vitriol, making the words
holy and incorruptible,
incapable of fading into sepia;

yet as he kisses me, our tongues meeting,
the words spark white-fire
under my skin, the runes writhing
into new configurations”

– from “Testament”

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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New Books in Poetry: As One Fire Consumes Another by John Sibley Williams

A new episode of the New Books in Poetry podcast is up, in which I get to speak with John Sibley Williams about his book As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Books, 2019).

John Sibley Williams’ As One Fire Consumes Another presents a familiar world full of burnings carried out on both the grand and intimate scale. The newspaper-like columns of prose poetry provide a social critique of the violent side of American culture centered within the boundaries of self and family. Although an apocalyptic tension permeates throughout, these poems envision the kind of fires that not only provide destruction but also illuminate a spark of hope.  

“Dust rises from the road & there is
too much curve to resolve the edges
of embankment & asphalt. Backfire
keeps the pastureland carefully lit.
Static keeps us wanting for another
kind of song.”

— from “Story that Begins and Ends with Burning

You can listen to the interview here or on the podcast app of your choice.


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