On the last day of National Poetry Month, we’re celebrating by recommending some of the best, award-winning poetry collections available at the library.
Sight Lines, Arthur Sze
Sight Lines is the winner of the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry. Juxtaposing moments of beauty and grace with those of threats and terror, Sze evokes images of reality with stunning language. In addition to winning the National Book Award for Poetry, he was also a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, with his collection Compass Rose.
Be With, Forrest Gander
Winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Be With is a poetry collection separated into several sections. The first draws from Gander’s experience as a translator, where he shares a version of a poem by St. John of the Cross. Next, he takes the reader through a series of multilingual poems examining the history of the Mexico-United States border. Finally, Gander shares the emotional story of grappling with his mother’s Alzheimer’s. Moving, emotional, and evocative, Forrest Gander’s award-winning collection is certainly worth reading.
Voyage of the Sable Venus, Robin Coste Lewis
Voyage of the Sable Venus is the winner of the 2015 National Book Award for Poetry. It is split into three sections; the first and third are musings on the roles of desire and race in the construction of the self. The second is the poem the collection is named after: “Voyage of the Sable Venus.” This poem is composed entirely using titles of Western artwork depicting, featuring, or commenting on the black female figure. Lewis’s collection explores the question of when, exactly, did ideas of the black female figure begin, and what role did art play in this creation.
Indecency, Justin Phillip Reed
The 2018 National Book Award Winner for Poetry, Indecency is a bold collection of poems focusing on injustice and inequity. Reed experiments with language to critique the social order and culture of white supremacy. Personal and insightful, Indecency takes on the difficult task of discussing masculinity, sexuality, the prison industrial complex, and the failure of societal structures.
Life on Mars, Tracy K. Smith
Winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, Life on Mars is a soundtrack to the universe. Smith contemplates the oddities, discoveries, and failures of human existence. Using a sci-fi world free of danger, she reveals the realities of the lives lived here on Earth, sharing stories of trauma, celebrity, and innovation.