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Poetry

Our recommendations for Poetry collections.

This list is far from exhaustive, and we suggest visiting your nearest McNally Robinson bookstore to browse our selection of Poetry in person.


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Healing Through Words

- Rupi Kaur

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#1 New York Times bestselling author Rupi Kaur presents guided poetry writing exercises of her own design to help you explore themes of trauma, loss, heartache, love, family, healing, and celebration of the self.

Healing Through Words is a guided tour on the journey back to the self, a cathartic and mindful exploration through writing.

This carefully curated collection of exercises asks only that you be vulnerable and honest, both with yourself and the page.

You don't need to be a writer to take this walk; you just need to write--that's all.

Orlam

- PJ Harvey

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A simply breathtaking long-form poem written in the Dorset dialect, Orlam is a mesmerising coming-of-age tale from acclaimed songwriter and musician PJ Harvey. Nine-year-old Ira-Abel Rawles lives on Hook Farm in the village of Underwhelm. Next to the farm is Gore Woods, Ira's sanctuary, overseen by Orlam, the all-seeing lamb's eyeball who is Ira-Abel's guardian and protector. Here, drawing on the rituals, children's songs, chants and superstitions of the rural West Country of England, Ira-Abel creates the twin realm through which she can make sense of an increasingly confusing and frightening world. Orlam follows Ira and the inhabitants of Underwhelm month by month through the last year of her childhood innocence. The result is a poem-sequence of light and shadow, suffused with hints of violence, sexual confusion and perversion, the oppression of family, but also ecstatic moments in sunlit clearings, song and bawdy humour. The broad theme is ultimately one of love - carried by Ira's personal Christ, the constantly bleeding soldier-ghost Wyman-Elvis - who bears 'The Word': Love Me Tender. Orlam is not only a remarkable coming-of-age tale, but the first full-length book written in the Dorset dialect for many decades. Orlam also reveals P J Harvey as not only one of the most talented songwriters of the age, but a gifted poet - whose formal skill, transforming eye and ear for the lyric line has produced a strange and moving poem like no other.

The Best American Poetry 2022

- David Lehman, Matthew Zapruder

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Matthew Zapruder picks the poems for the 2022 edition of The Best American Poetry, "a 'best' anthology that really lives up to its title" (Chicago Tribune).

Since 1988, The Best American Poetry series has been "one of the mainstays of the poetry publication world" (Academy of American Poets). Each volume presents a selection of the year's most brilliant, striking, and innovative poems, with comments from the poets themselves lending insight into their work.

For The Best American Poetry 2022 guest editor Matthew Zapruder, whose own poems are "for everyone, everywhere...democratic in [their] insights and feelings" (NPR), has selected the seventy-five new poems that represent American poetry today at its most dynamic. Chosen from print and online magazines, from the popular to the little-known, the selection is sure to capture the attention of both Best American Poetry loyalists and newcomers to the series.

The series and guest editors contribute valuable introductory essays that illuminate the current state of American poetry.

Nomenclature

- Dionne Brand

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An immense achievement, comprising a decades-long career--new and collected poetry from one of Canada's most honoured and significant poets.

Spanning almost four decades, Dionne Brand's poetry has given rise to whole new grammars and vocabularies. With a profound alertness that is attuned to this world and open to some other, possibly future, time and place, Brand's ongoing labours of witness and imagination speak directly to where and how we live and reach beyond those worlds, their enclosures, and their violences.
 
Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems begins with a new long poem, the titular "Nomenclature for the Time Being," in which Dionne Brand's diaspora consciousness dismantles our quotidian disasters. In addition to this searing new work, Nomenclature collects eight volumes of Brand's poetry published between 1982 and 2010 and includes a critical introduction by the literary scholar and theorist Christina Sharpe.
 
Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems, features the searching and centering cantos of Primitive Offensive; the sharp musical conversations of Winter Epigrams and Epigrams to Ernesto Cardenal in Defense of Claudia; the documentary losses of revolutions in Chronicles of the Hostile Sun, in which "The street was empty/with all of us standing there." No Language Is Neutral reads language, coloniality, and sexuality as a nexus. Land to Light On writes intimacies and disaffections with nation, while in thirsty a cold-eyed flâneur surveys the workings of the city. In Inventory, written during the Gulf Wars, the poet is "the wars' last and late night witness," her job not to soothe but to "revise and revise this bristling list/hourly." Ossuaries' futurist speaker rounds out the collection, and threads multiple temporal worlds--past, present, and future. 
 
This masterwork displays Dionne Brand's ongoing body of thought--trenchant, lyrical, absonant, discordant, and meaning-making. Nomenclature: New and Collected Poems is classic and living, a record of one of the great writers of our age.
 

The 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology

- Adam Dickinson

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The prestigious and highly anticipated annual anthology of the best Canadian and international poetry from the 2022 Griffin Poetry Prize shortlist. Each year, the best books of poetry published in Canada and internationally in English are honoured with the Griffin Poetry Prize, one of the world's richest literary awards. Since 2001, this annual prize has spurred interest in and recognition of poetry, focusing worldwide attention on the formidable talent of poets.The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology features the work of extraordinary poets shortlisted for the awards and introduces us to some of the finest poems from their collections. Featuring works from shortlisted poets Sharon Dolin, Gemma Gorga, Douglas Kearney, Ali Kinsella, Dzvinia Orlowsky, Natalka Bilotserkivets, Ed Roberson, David Bradford, Liz Howard, and Tolu Oloruntoba.

Bear Bones and Feathers

- Louise B Halfe

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In this new edition of her powerful debut, Plains Cree writer and National Poet Laureate Louise B. Halfe - Sky Dancer reckons with personal history within cultural genocide. Employing Indigenous spirituality, black comedy, and the memories of her own childhood as healing arts, celebrated poet Louise B. Halfe - Sky Dancer finds an irrepressible source of strength and dignity in her people. Bear Bones and Feathers offers moving portraits of Halfe's grandmother (a medicine woman whose life straddled old and new worlds), her parents (both trapped in a cycle of jealousy and abuse), and the people whose pain she witnessed on the reserve and at residential school. Originally published by Coteau Books in 1994, Bear Bones and Feathers won the Milton Acorn People's Poet Award, and was a finalist for the Spirit of Saskatchewan Award, the Pat Lowther Award, and the Gerald Lampert Award.

Flyway

- Sarah Ens

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This Meditation on the impact of human and ecological trauma explores the cost of survival for three generations of women living between empires. Writing from within the disappearing tallgrass prairie, Sarah Ens follows connections between the Russian Mennonite diaspora and the disrupted migratory patterns of grassland birds. Drawing on family history, eco-poetics, and the rich tradition of the Canadian long poem, Flyway migrates along pathways of geography and the heart to grapple with complexities of home.

Allodynia

- Nisa Malli

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Rooted in the indescribability and disembodiment of pain, Nisa Malli's Allodynia looks outward to space and the future of humankind, as well as inward to the body. In "Pain Log", a suite of body-horror poems, she explores illness as a haunting or possession: "At home, my stitches / undid themselves, fevers pet me // like a dog, my eyes opened / backwards. Sleep ghosted me // more than usual." In "Ships's Log," a near-future speculative suite of poems, Malli turns to themes of alienness, artificial intelligence, and the impossibility of translation; danger, intimacy, and war; as well as the worlds we choose to build together. Allodynia is a highly anticipated poetic debut that more than fulfills the promise of its author's bpNichol award winning chapbook Remitting.

Standing in a River of Time

- Jonina Kirton

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Standing in a River of Time merges poetry and lyrical memoir on a journey exposing the intergenerational effects of colonization on a Métis family. Kirton does not shy away from hard realities, meeting them head on, but always treating them with respect and the love stemming from a lifetime of spiritual healing and decades of sobriety. This collection unravels painful memories and a mixed-blood woman's journey towards wholeness. The Ancestors whisper to Kirton throughout, asking her to heal, to bring them home, so that within these stories of redemption and loss the dead walk with us, their presence felt as the story unfurls in unexpected ways. Kirton does not offer false hope, nor does she push us towards answers we are not yet ready for. Instead, she gestures towards the many healing modalities she has explored as she discovers that the path to reconciliation is not only a long and winding road, but also that it begins with those closest to us.

Miskwagoode

- Annharte

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Taken from the Anishinaabe for "woman wearing red," Miskwagoode is an unsettling portrayal of unreconciled Indigenous experience under colonialism, past and present. Miskwagoode, the woman in the red dress, is Annharte, and she is Annharte's mother, who disappeared when the poet was a girl. Miskwagoode is Annharte's new book about her mother loss, her "mothermiss", about all the women "buried in common enough / cross-generational graves". Marked with her characteristic sharp eye and humour, and hard earned wisdom about the "ominous progress ahead", Annharte's fifth collection encompasses the poet's experiences as an Anishinaabe Elder, "witness not survivor", writing of the weight of a present and persisting colonialism. In her sly, cheeky riffs on life behind the "buckskin curtain" at the margins of settler society, Annharte tells us about granny circles, the horny old guys, and getting your hair done. But these poems about rez life and the community and belonging it offers are set against the background radiation of the poverty and the sicknesses, despair, violence, sexism, and sexual abuse, the legacies of unequal relations. Miskwagoode concludes with "Wabang," a suite of short poems comprising Annharte's own thumbnail transcontinental Indigenous mythology.

Quiet Night Think

- Gillian Sze

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"Quiet Night Think is a stunning work." -- Madeleine Thien, author of Do Not Say We Have Nothing "One function of the poet at any time is to discover by his own thought and feeling what seems to him to be poetry at that time," writes Wallace Stevens. In Quiet Night Think, award-winning poet Gillian Sze expresses her own definition. During the remarkable period of early parenthood, Sze's new maternal role urges her to contemplate her own origins, both familial and artistic. Comprised of six personal essays, poems, and a concluding long poem, Quiet Night Think takes its title from a direct translation of an eighth-century Chinese poem by Li Bai, the subject of the opening essay. Sze's memory of reading Li Bai's poem as a child marks the beginning of an unshakable encounter with poetry. What follows is an intimate anatomization of her particular entanglement with languages and cultures. In her most generically diverse book yet, Sze moves between poetry and prose, mother and writer, the lyrical and the autobiographical, all the while inviting readers to meditate with her on questions of emergence and transformation: What are you trying to be? Where does a word break off? What calls to us throughout the night?

In a Time of Distance

- Alexander McCall Smith, Iain McIntosh

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From the beloved author of the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series comes a beautiful and transporting volume of poems brimming with warmth and humanity.

What matters most in life? For Alexander McCall Smith, it is friendship, love, and travel-- the themes found throughout his work that have made him a cherished writer the world over. This first collection of McCall Smith's poems reflects on these topics with all his characteristic wit and charm.
    In this delightful work, McCall Smith takes us on a captivating journey from Africa to Greece, London, Canada, Mumbai, and back home to Scotland, celebrating people, places, animals, and books. There are moments of sweeping insight and soaring feeling, and moments that will have you laughing along as they subtly shift your worldview. This inimitable writer shares his distinctively astute and good-natured observations on life, love, and beauty, reminding us of the deep satisfaction that can be found when we open ourselves up to the world with our whole heart, and watch as it takes on a kinder and gentler shape.

Through Disassembled Houses of Perfect Stones

- David Yerex Williamson

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The weight of history lies on the spine of memory. That heft and delicate balance are palpable in these rich poems that echo with grief, longing, and observed beauty. From the silence and complexity of the northern wilderness to the vast prairie landscapes stretching across the province, Through Disassembled Houses of Perfect Stones explores self, ancestry, and community through poems which dwell on the page with a satisfying density of imagery. Combining careful observation with sensitive reflection, this work examines the poet's memory and experience as a father, son, husband, and descendent of European settlers married into an Indigenous family living in Northern Manitoba.

Time Is a Mother

- Ocean Vuong

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The New York Times-bestselling collection of poems from the award-winning writer Ocean Vuong

"Take your time with these poems, and return to them often." --The Washington Post


How else do we return to ourselves but to fold
The page so it points to the good part
 
In this deeply intimate second poetry collection, Ocean Vuong searches for life among the aftershocks of his mother's death, embodying the paradox of sitting within grief while being determined to survive beyond it. Shifting through memory, and in concert with the themes of his novel On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, Vuong contends with personal loss, the meaning of family, and the cost of being the product of an American war in America. At once vivid, brave, and propulsive, Vuong's poems circle fragmented lives to find both restoration as well as the epicenter of the break.
 
The author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection Night Sky With Exit Wounds, winner of the 2016 Whiting Award, the 2017 T. S. Eliot Prize, and a 2019 MacArthur fellow, Vuong writes directly to our humanity without losing sight of the current moment. These poems represent a more innovative and daring experimentation with language and form, illuminating how the themes we perennially live in and question are truly inexhaustible. Bold and prescient, and a testament to tenderness in the face of violence, Time Is a Mother is a return and a forging forth all at once.

Catastrophe Theories

- Rowley Mari-Lou

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The poems in Catastrophe Theories reflect an increasingly unstable, surreal, and catastrophic world. Written over the past decade, the poems in Mari-Lou Rowley's oracular work capture the zeitgeist of the moment. A world where human folly and frailty compete with corpocracy and technological determinism against the stubborn magnificence of the natural world. Yet, these poems are neither prescriptive nor hopeless. Exploring the lives and concepts of mathematicians such as Euclid, Hypatia, Alan Turing, and René Thom, along with dream imagery and her love of science and nature, Rowley toys with perception, fractures reality into kaleidoscopic visions, then brings the reader back to small, everyday moments of truth or joy. As her speaker says, "Rejoice or regret. You decide."

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