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The Animal Indoors
Carly Inghram
Autumn House Press, 2021
Poems following a Black queer woman as she seeks refuge from an unsafe world.
 
Carly Inghram’s poems explore the day-to-day experiences of a Black queer woman who is ceaselessly bombarded with images of mass-consumerism, white supremacy, and sexism, and who is forced, often reluctantly, back indoors and away from this outside chaos. The poems in The Animal Indoors seek to understand and define the boundaries between our inside and outside lives, critiquing the homogenization and increasing insincerity of American culture and considering what safe spaces exist for Black women. The speaker in these poems seeks refuge, working to keep the interior safe until we can reckon with the world outside, until the speaker is able to “unleash the indoor news onto the unclean water elsewhere.”
 
The Animal Indoors won the 2020 CAAPP Book Prize, selected by Terrance Hayes.
 
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The Animal Indoors
Carly Inghram
Autumn House Press, 2021
Poems following a Black queer woman as she seeks refuge from an unsafe world.
 
Carly Inghram’s poems explore the day-to-day experiences of a Black queer woman who is ceaselessly bombarded with images of mass-consumerism, white supremacy, and sexism, and who is forced, often reluctantly, back indoors and away from this outside chaos. The poems in The Animal Indoors seek to understand and define the boundaries between our inside and outside lives, critiquing the homogenization and increasing insincerity of American culture and considering what safe spaces exist for Black women. The speaker in these poems seeks refuge, working to keep the interior safe until we can reckon with the world outside, until the speaker is able to “unleash the indoor news onto the unclean water elsewhere.”
 
The Animal Indoors won the 2020 CAAPP Book Prize, selected by Terrance Hayes.
 
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Art of Love. Cosmetics. Remedies for Love. Ibis. Walnut-tree. Sea Fishing. Consolation
Ovid
Harvard University Press, 1979

Seductive verse.

Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 BC–AD 17), born at Sulmo, studied rhetoric and law at Rome. Later he did considerable public service there, and otherwise devoted himself to poetry and to society. Famous at first, he offended the emperor Augustus by his Ars amatoria, and was banished because of this work and some other reason unknown to us, and dwelt in the cold and primitive town of Tomis on the Black Sea. He continued writing poetry, a kindly man, leading a temperate life. He died in exile.

Ovid’s main surviving works are the Metamorphoses, a source of inspiration to artists and poets including Chaucer and Shakespeare; the Fasti, a poetic treatment of the Roman year of which Ovid finished only half; the Amores, love poems; the Ars amatoria, not moral but clever and in parts beautiful; Heroides, fictitious love letters by legendary women to absent husbands; and the dismal works written in exile: the Tristia, appeals to persons including his wife and also the emperor; and similar Epistulae ex Ponto. Poetry came naturally to Ovid, who at his best is lively, graphic and lucid.

The Loeb Classical Library edition of Ovid is in six volumes.

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At The Drive-In Volcano
Aimee Nezhukumatathil
Tupelo Press, 2007
From the author of the award-winning book of poems, Miracle Fruit, comes the eagerly anticipated second collection, At the Drive-In Volcano. In this new and imaginative followup, Aimee Nezhukumatathil examines the full circle journey of desire, loss, and ultimately, an exuberant lovetraveling around a world brimming with wild and delicious offerings such as iced waterfalls, jackfruit, and pistol shrimp. From the tropical landscapes of the Caribbean, India, and the Philippines to the deep winters of western New York and mild autumns of Ohio, the natural world Nezhukumatathil describes is dark but also lovelyso full of enchantment and magic. Here, worms glow in the dark, lizards speak, the most delicious soup in the world turns out to be deadly, and a woman eats soil as if it were candy. Her trademark charm, verve and wit remain elemental and a delight to behold, even in the face of a crumbling relationship. These poems confront delicate subjects of love and loss with an exacting exuberance and elegance not hardly seen in a writer so young.
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Catullus. Tibullus. Pervigilium Veneris
Catullus and Tibullus
Harvard University Press, 1988

Polymetric gems, wistful elegies, and a lover’s prayer.

Catullus (Gaius Valerius, 84–54 BC), of Verona, went early to Rome, where he associated not only with other literary men from Cisalpine Gaul but also with Cicero and Hortensius. His surviving poems consist of nearly sixty short lyrics, eight longer poems in various metres, and almost fifty epigrams. All exemplify a strict technique of studied composition inherited from early Greek lyric and the poets of Alexandria. In his work we can trace his unhappy love for a woman he calls Lesbia; the death of his brother; his visits to Bithynia; and his emotional friendships and enmities at Rome. For consummate poetic artistry coupled with intensity of feeling, Catullus’ poems have no rival in Latin literature.

Tibullus (Albius, ca. 54–19 BC), of equestrian rank and a friend of Horace, enjoyed the patronage of Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, whom he several times apostrophizes. Three books of elegies have come down to us under his name, of which only the first two are authentic. Book 1 mostly proclaims his love for “Delia,” Book 2 his passion for “Nemesis.” The third book consists of a miscellany of poems from the archives of Messalla; it is very doubtful whether any come from the pen of Tibullus himself. But a special interest attaches to a group of them which concern a girl called Sulpicia: some of the poems are written by her lover Cerinthus, while others purport to be her own composition.

The Pervigilium Veneris, a poem of not quite a hundred lines celebrating a spring festival in honor of the goddess of love, is remarkable both for its beauty and as the first clear note of romanticism which transformed classical into medieval literature. The manuscripts give no clue to its author, but recent scholarship has made a strong case for attributing it to the early fourth-century poet Tiberianus.

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Country Songs for Alice
Emma Binder
Tupelo Press, 2024
An examination of obsession, gender, love, and loss in contemporary rural America.

In Country Songs for Alice, a nonbinary, queer narrator passes through the crucible of love, romance, and heartbreak against the backdrop of rural America—a landscape which offers luminous belonging, even as the hazards of homophobia, loneliness, and isolation loom large. Part roadtrip, part mixtape, these poems are explorations of love, music, romance, pageantry, loneliness, and belonging in the rural places and small towns that seem to preclude queer culture. Country Songs for Alice not only tells the story of a relationship and its dissolution but reclaims country western imagery and aesthetics for a queer audience, dousing the narrator’s experience in the language of cowboys, horses, rodeos, trucks, and desert skies.
 
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Darling Nova
Melissa Cundieff
Autumn House Press, 2018
This collection is musical, haunting, and simmering with life. Cundieff’s poems deal with loss and change through images that are startling in their originality. These poems will stay with you; they will remind you what poems can do.
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Elegies
Propertius
Harvard University Press, 1990

Learned love poems from the early Augustan age.

The passionate and dramatic elegies of Propertius gained him a reputation as one of Rome’s finest love poets. Here he portrays the exciting, uneven course of his love affair with Cynthia and tells us much about his contemporaries and the society in which he lives, while in later poems he turns to mythological themes and the legends of early Rome.

Born in Assisi about 50 BC, Propertius moved as a young man to Rome, where he came into contact with a coterie of poets, including Virgil, Tibullus, Horace, and Ovid. Publication of his first book brought immediate recognition and the unwavering support of Maecenas, the influential patron of the Augustan poets. He died perhaps in his mid-thirties, leaving us four books of elegies that have attracted admirers throughout the ages.

In this new edition of Propertius, G. P. Goold solves some longstanding questions of interpretation and gives us a faithful and stylish prose translation. His explanatory notes and glossary-index offer steady guidance and a wealth of information.

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Ghazals
Translations of Classic Urdu Poetry
Mir Taqi Mir
Harvard University Press, 2022

The finest ghazals of Mir Taqi Mir, the most accomplished of Urdu poets.

The prolific Mir Taqi Mir (1723–1810), widely regarded as the most accomplished poet in Urdu, composed his ghazals—a poetic form of rhyming couplets—in a distinctive Indian style arising from the Persian ghazal tradition. Here, the lover and beloved live in a world of extremes: the outsider is the hero, prosperity is poverty, and death would be preferable to the indifference of the beloved. Ghazals offers a comprehensive collection of Mir’s finest work, translated by a renowned expert on Urdu poetry.

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The Greek Anthology, Volume I
Book 1: Christian Epigrams. Book 2: Description of the Statues in the Gymnasium of Zeuxippus. Book 3: Epigrams in the Temple of Apollonis at Cyzicus. Book 4: Prefaces to the Various Anthologies. Book 5: Erotic Epigrams
W. R. Paton
Harvard University Press

A gathering of poetic blossoms.

The Greek Anthology contains some 4,500 short Greek poems in the sparkling and diverse genre of epigram, written by more than a hundred poets and collected over many centuries. To the original collection, called the Garland (Stephanus) by its contributing editor, Meleager of Gadara (first century BC), was added another Garland, by Philip of Thessalonica (mid-first century AD) and then a Cycle by Agathias of Myrina (AD 567/8). In about AD 900 these collections (now lost) and perhaps others (also lost, by Rufinus, Diogenianus, Strato, and Palladas) were partly incorporated and arranged into fifteen books according to subject by Constantine Cephalas; most of his collection is preserved in a manuscript called the Palatine Anthology. A second manuscript, the Planudean Anthology made by Maximus Planudes in 1301, contains additional epigrams omitted by Cephalas.

Outstanding among the poets are Meleager, Antipater of Sidon, Crinagoras, Palladas, Agathias, and Paulus Silentiarius.

This Loeb edition of The Greek Anthology replaces the earlier edition by W. R. Paton, with a Greek text and ample notes reflecting current scholarship. Volume I contains the following: Book 1. Christian Epigrams; Book 2. Description of the Statues in the Gymnasium of Zeuxippus; Book 3. Epigrams in the Temple of Apollonis at Cyzicus; Book 4. Prefaces to Various Anthologies; Book 5. Erotic Epigrams.

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Greek Lyric, Volume I
Sappho and Alcaeus
Sappho and Alcaeus; edited and translated by David A. Campbell
Harvard University Press, 1982

Precious snippets of ancient song.

This volume contains the poetic fragments of the two illustrious singers of early sixth-century Lesbos: Sappho, the most famous woman poet of antiquity, whose main theme was love; and Alcaeus, poet of wine, war, and politics, and composer of short hymns to the gods. Also included are the principal testimonia, the ancients’ reports on the lives and work of the two poets.

The five volumes in the Loeb Classical Library edition of Greek Lyric contain the surviving fragments of solo and choral song. This poetry was not preserved in medieval manuscripts, and few complete poems remain. Later writers quoted from the poets, but only so much as suited their needs; these quotations are supplemented by papyrus texts found in Egypt, most of them badly damaged. The high quality of what remains makes us realize the enormity of our loss.

Volume I presents Sappho and Alcaeus. Volume II contains the work of Anacreon, composer of solo song; the Anacreontea; and the earliest writers of choral poetry, notably the seventh-century Spartans Alcman and Terpander. Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides, and other sixth-century poets are in Volume III. Bacchylides and other fifth-century poets are in Volume IV along with Corinna (although some argue that she belongs to the third century). Volume V contains the new school of poets active from the mid-fifth to the mid-fourth century and also collects folk songs, drinking songs, hymns, and other anonymous pieces.

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Greek Lyric, Volume II
Anacreon, Anacreontea, Choral Lyric from Olympus to Alcman
David A. Campbell
Harvard University Press

Precious snippets of ancient song.

The five volumes in the Loeb Classical Library edition of Greek Lyric contain the surviving fragments of solo and choral song. This poetry was not preserved in medieval manuscripts, and few complete poems remain. Later writers quoted from the poets, but only so much as suited their needs; these quotations are supplemented by papyrus texts found in Egypt, most of them badly damaged. The high quality of what remains makes us realize the enormity of our loss.

Volume I presents Sappho and Alcaeus. Volume II contains the work of Anacreon, composer of solo song; the Anacreontea; and the earliest writers of choral poetry, notably the seventh-century Spartans Alcman and Terpander. Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides, and other sixth-century poets are in Volume III. Bacchylides and other fifth-century poets are in Volume IV along with Corinna (although some argue that she belongs to the third century). Volume V contains the new school of poets active from the mid-fifth to the mid-fourth century and also collects folk songs, drinking songs, hymns, and other anonymous pieces.

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Greek Lyric, Volume III
Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides, and Others
Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides, et al.; edited and translated by David A. Campbell
Harvard University Press

Precious snippets of ancient song.

The most important poets writing in Greek in the sixth century BC came from Sicily and southern Italy. Stesichorus was called by ancient writers “most Homeric”—a recognition of his epic themes and noble style. He composed verses about the Trojan War and its aftermath, the Argonauts, the adventures of Heracles. He may have been a solo singer, performing these poems to his own cithara accompaniment. Ibycus probably belonged to the colony of Rhegium in southwestern Italy. Like Stesichorus he wrote lyrical narratives on mythological themes, but he also composed erotic poems. Simonides is said to have spent his later years in Sicily. He was in Athens at the time of the Persian Wars, though, and was acclaimed for his epitaph on the Athenians who died at Marathon. He was a successful poet in various genres, including victory odes, dirges, and dithyrambic poetry. The power of his pathos emerges in the fragments we have.

All the extant verse of these poets is given in this third volume of David Campbell’s edition of Greek lyric poetry, along with the ancients’ accounts of their lives and works. Ten contemporary poets are also included, among them Arion, Lasus, and Pratinas.

The LCL edition of Greek Lyric is in five volumes. Sappho and Alcaeus—the illustrious singers of sixth-century Lesbos—are in the first volume. Volume II contains the work of Anacreon, composer of solo song; the Anacreontea; and the earliest writers of choral poetry, notably the seventh-century Spartans Alcman and Terpander. Bacchylides and other fifth-century poets are in Volume IV along with Corinna (although some argue that she belongs to the third century). The last volume includes the new school of dithyrambic poets (mid-fifth to mid-fourth century), together with the anonymous poems: drinking songs, children’s songs, cult hymns, and others.

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Greek Lyric, Volume IV
Bacchylides, Corinna, and Others
Bacchylides, Corinna, et al.; edited and translated by David A. Campbell
Harvard University Press

Precious snippets of ancient song.

Bacchylides, nephew of Simonides and rival of Pindar, wrote choral poetry of many types. We have a number of his victory odes—poems celebrating victories in athletic contests—as well as dithyrambs and other hymns. He was a master of the captivating narrative. Also represented in this volume is the Boeotian Corinna, whose work, versions of local myths, survives in greater quantity than that of any other Greek woman poet except Sappho. Ancient authorities regarded Corinna as an older contemporary and mentor of Pindar; but some modern scholars place her later, in the third century BC. Other women are here too: Myrtis, also from Boeotia; Telesilla of Argos, famous for her military leadership as well as her hymns; the shadowy Charixena; and Praxilla of Sicyon, author of choral poems and drinking songs.

David Campbell gives all the extant verse of these poets, along with the ancients’ accounts of their lives and works. This fourth volume of his much-praised edition of Greek lyric poetry also includes Timocreon of Rhodes, pentathlete and writer of invective; Diagoras of Melos, choral poet and alleged atheist; and Ion of Chios. Sophocles is represented by fragments of his paean Asclepius, Euripides by the few surviving lines of his ode for Alcibiades’ dazzling victory in the chariot race at Olympia.

This is the fourth in a five-volume edition of Greek lyric poets. Sappho and Alcaeus, the illustrious singers of sixth-century Lesbos, are in the first. Volume II contains the work of Anacreon, composer of solo song; the Anacreontea; and the earliest writers of choral poetry, notably the seventh-century Spartans Alcman and Terpander. Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides, and other sixth-century poets are in Volume III. The last volume includes the new school of dithyrambic poets (mid-fifth to mid-fourth century), together with the anonymous poems: drinking songs, children’s songs, cult hymns, and others.

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Greek Lyric, Volume V
The New School of Poetry and Anonymous Songs and Hymns
David A. Campbell
Harvard University Press

Precious snippets of ancient song.

Towards the end of the fifth century BC, Aristophanes and the other writers of comedy used contemporary poets and musicians as targets for their jokes, making fun of their innovations in language and music. The dithyrambs of Melanippides, Cinesias, Phrynis, Timotheus, and Philoxenus are remarkable examples of this new style. The poets of the new school, active from the mid-fifth to the mid-fourth century, are presented in this final volume of David Campbell’s widely praised edition of Greek lyric poetry. The longest piece extant is a nome by Timotheus—the foremost of these poets—called The Persians; it is a florid account of the battle of Salamis, to be sung solo to cithara accompaniment.

This volume also collects folk songs, drinking songs, and other anonymous pieces. The folk songs come from many parts of Greece and include children’s ditties, marching songs, love songs, and snatches of cult poetry. The drinking songs are derived mainly from Athenaeus’ collection of Attic scolia, short pieces performed at drinking parties in Athens. The anonymous pieces come from papyrus, vases, and stone as well as from literary texts, and include hymns, narrative poetry, and satirical writing.

This is the fifth in a five-volume edition of Greek lyric poets. Sappho and Alcaeus—the illustrious singers of sixth-century Lesbos—are in the first. Volume II contains the work of Anacreon, composer of solo song; the Anacreontea; and the earliest writers of choral poetry, notably the seventh-century Spartans Alcman and Terpander. Stesichorus, Ibycus, Simonides, and other sixth-century poets are in Volume III. Bacchylides and other fifth-century poets are in Volume IV along with Corinna (although some argue that she belongs to the third century).

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He Spoke of Love
Selected Poems from the Satsai
Biharilal
Harvard University Press, 2022

The seventeenth-century Hindi classic treasured for its subtle and beautiful portrayal of divine and erotic love’s pleasures and sorrows.

The seven hundred poems of the Hindi poet Biharilal’s Satsai weave amorous narratives of the god Krishna and the goddess Radha with archetypal hero and heroine motifs that bridge divine and worldly love. He Spoke of Love brims with romantic rivalries, clandestine trysts, and the bittersweet sorrow of separated lovers. This new translation presents four hundred couplets from the enduring seventeenth-century classic, showcasing the poet’s ingenuity and virtuosity.

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Heroides. Amores
Ovid
Harvard University Press, 1977

Two early works by the consummate Latin love poet.

Ovid (Publius Ovidius Naso, 43 BC–AD 17), born at Sulmo, studied rhetoric and law at Rome. Later he did considerable public service there, and otherwise devoted himself to poetry and to society. Famous at first, he offended the emperor Augustus by his Ars amatoria, and was banished because of this work and some other reason unknown to us, and dwelt in the cold and primitive town of Tomis on the Black Sea. He continued writing poetry, a kindly man, leading a temperate life. He died in exile.

Ovid's main surviving works are the Metamorphoses, a source of inspiration to artists and poets including Chaucer and Shakespeare; the Fasti, a poetic treatment of the Roman year of which Ovid finished only half; the Amores, love poems; the Ars amatoria, not moral but clever and in parts beautiful; Heroides, fictitious love letters by legendary women to absent husbands; and the dismal works written in exile: the Tristia, appeals to persons including his wife and also the emperor; and similar Epistulae ex Ponto. Poetry came naturally to Ovid, who at his best is lively, graphic and lucid.

The Loeb Classical Library edition of Ovid is in six volumes.

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Hotel
Carl Adamshick
Four Way Books, 2021

Adamshick’s poems are characteristically accessible and navigable. From the political to the erotic and everywhere in between, these poems take us on a sometimes sober, sometimes raunchy ride.

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I Live in the Country & other dirty poems
Arielle Greenberg
Four Way Books, 2020
Arielle Greenberg’s I Live in the Country & other dirty poems exploits and undoes the stereotype of the “wholesome country life.” Here, the speaker moves to the country (“where the animals are”) in order to live a whole life, one in which she can live honestly and openly in a nonmonogamous marriage. Her book is a visceral, erotic celebration of the cornucopia of sexual pleasures to be had in that rural life—in the muck of a pasture in spring or behind the bins of whole-wheat pastry flour at the local co-op. Greenberg hauls out what has previously been stored under dark counters and labeled deviant—kink, fetish, and bondage—and moves it into the sunshine of sex-positivity and mutual consent. In doing so, she forges new literary territory—a feminist re-visioning of the Romantic pastoral poems of seduction. “I am trying to turn my eye toward joy,” she writes. “My heart toward bliss.”
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indecent hours
James Fujinami Moore
Four Way Books, 2022

For award-winning poet James Fujinami Moore, the past is never past. In this brutal debut, sensual, political, and imagined worlds collide, tracing a history of diaspora and trauma that asks: what do we do in the aftermath of violence, and why do we long to inflict it? From Vegas boxing rings and the restless sands of Manzanar to the scrolling horrors of a Facebook feed, Moore’s poems trace over intimate details with surprising humor, fierce eroticism, and a restless eye.

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Is There Room for Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch?
Cyrus Cassells
Four Way Books, 2024
Cyrus Cassells has perfected a poetics of merciful vitality and tenderness, celebrating eros — in his daring and prolific representation of lust, yes, but more broadly in his understanding of the erotic as an affirmation and preservation of life — through time and space. Beginning his latest collection with the piece “You Be the Dancer,” he bids us return to sacred sites of nostalgia, insisting on it “whether we’re feeling frisky, /  Empty-handed, / Or still beguiled by inchoate dreams—.” Is There Room for Another Horse on Your Horse Ranch? is the apotheosis of Cassells’s work to elevate the mundane and the bodily to the exalted, his vigorous lyrics a routine ecstasy. Though our senses lay us bare to suffering, they also create the possibilities for pleasure and connection, the basis of — and rewards for — humanity. “My Only Bible,” Cassells pledges, “is this blood-red joy / Of breathing beside you,” “The gospel of bougainvillea / At your boyhood gate” which perfumes “the soul’s endless, luxuriant / Coming and becoming…” Gorgeous and wry in its portrayal of transformational romance and queer selfhood, Cassells’s ninth book of poetry reads as an anthology of love letters to people and places across the world. Cassells revises an old premise: is it better to have loved than lost, or is that love, once bestowed, is never lost? A champion of the flight real intimacy requires of us, Cassells addresses a beloved, “You’ve just died in my arms / But suddenly it seems we’re eternal,” the joie de vivre and bravery of his perseverance made immortal through the poem’s titular declaration — “I Believe Icarus Was not Failing as He Fell.” If in these pages you see the crash, the poet seems to say, remember the flying, too, “the giddy Argonauts we were.” 
 
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Loss, A Love Story
Imagined Histories and Brief Encounters
Sophie Ratcliffe
Northwestern University Press, 2024
A journey with the novels that shape our emotions, our romances, and ourselves

Part memoir, part imagined history, this unique personal essay depicts the intimate experience of childhood bereavement, lost love affairs, and the complicated realities of motherhood and marriage. Framed by an extended train journey, author Sophie Ratcliffe turns to the novels, novelists, and heroines who have shaped her emotional and romantic landscapes. She transports us with her to survey the messiness of everyday life, all while reflecting on steam propulsion and pop songs, handbags and honeymoons, Anna Karenina and Anthony Trollope, former lovers and forgotten muses. Frank, funny, tender, and transporting, Loss, A Love Story asks why we fall in, and out, of love—and how we might understand doing so amid the ongoing upheavals and unwritten futures of the twenty-first century.   
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Nowhere Was a Lake
Margaret Draft
Four Way Books, 2024
Captivated by the simultaneously routine and disruptive nature of violence and desire, Nowhere Was a Lake marks a luminous debut from poet Margaret Draft. “What do you do when a horse dies? / You hollow out the land, // you try to make enough space, / and when you think you have enough, // keep digging.” In these poems, our own tenderness endangers us, and yet — when faced with the enormity of our hunger, an appetite that proclaims both the bounty of nourishment and our capacity for loss — Draft keeps digging. “He said this because // he himself had to enter the hole / with the horse and shovel, // shift the legs, reposition the head.” The speaker here has an unflinching pragmatism, a characteristic that paradoxically makes her emotions all the more tangible. This is how you prospect a grave, she seems to say, but you’ll be in it, too. You with your body among the other bodies. Draft rejects simple binaries, insisting that oblivion can be a place, that fidelity and betrayal can coexist in our most intimate relationships, that to live as a human animal means embodying both hunter and prey. Deft in its exploration of female sexuality, the emotional complexity of polyamory, and the distinction between freedom and abandonment, Nowhere Was a Lake mesmerizes with its erotic pastorals and frank prose poems. “Edge” interrogates “the dialectic of trust” structuring romantic relationships and negotiated through sexual physics: “It is not a question of whether you will / harm me, but whether you will / stick around long enough / to hold me when I am harmed.” The risk and reward of such exploration is uncertainty: anything could happen, but anything could happen. “In no place, going someplace, I know. / There are so few things I can say I know definitively. // But this must be the definition of plenty. / The sun slowly setting over the valley.”  And, yes, love may wend through the field as we thresh it. And, yes, we are in the light as it goes down. 
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Oh, Touch Me There
Love Sonnets
Roger Armbrust
Parkhurst Brothers, Inc., 2013


Witty, humorous and wise reflections on loving 


There is a mythic quality to the poetry of Roger Armbrust.  Whether his subject is surgery or angels, his language and vision—while expressed in an earthly lexicon—are focused on the life of the spirit.

We constantly heal each other, love, true
to our senses, sharing our secret vaults
of fear and longing, faith and confusion,
doubt and delight.

Armbrust’s love poems are not ethereal, however, but rooted in real bodies…

My poetry honors your architecture’s mystery.

Fanciful, yet rooted in real experience, Armbrust’s  one hundred-plus sonnets incite passion and introspection, so that the collection makes an inspired lover’s gift.

 


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PLEASURE
Angelo Nikolopoulos
Four Way Books, 2022

PLEASURE is a book-length poem which muses on the phenomenology of solitude in a pastoral landscape, written in a diaristic, lyric mode, where the queer “I” alternately savors the decadence of isolation and stands at the precipice of despair. A travelogue in verse, PLEASURE takes place in Syros, the Greek island to which author Angelo Nikolopolous travels a few weeks after the discovery of his mother’s brain tumor. These intertextual, elliptical explorations of solitude and sensuality interweave images of seaside roaming, secluded town life, and ephemeral sexual encounters with the ubiquitous implication of death—the waning summer, the ill, perhaps dying, mother. Staring down true disconnection—both physical and psychic orphanhood —Nikolopoulos writes about the thrill and sadness of turning your back against the world and those in it only to rediscover that which tethers all to human experience: the quotidian, singular pleasures of having a body.

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Poems from the Satsai
Biharilal
Harvard University Press, 2021

The seventeenth-century Hindi classic treasured for its subtle and beautiful portrayal of divine and erotic love’s pleasures and sorrows.

In his Satsai, or Seven Hundred Poems, the seventeenth-century poet Biharilal draws on a rich vernacular tradition, blending amorous narratives about the god Krishna and the goddess Radha with archetypal hero and heroine motifs from older Sanskrit and Prakrit conventions. While little is known of Biharilal’s life beyond his role as court poet to King Jai Singh of Amber (1611–1667), his verses reflect deep knowledge of local north Indian culture and geography, especially the bucolic landscapes of Krishna’s youth in the Braj region (in today’s Uttar Pradesh). With ingenuity and virtuosity, Biharilal weaves together worldly experience and divine immanence, and adapts the tropes of stylized courtly poetry, such as romantic rivalries, clandestine trysts, and the bittersweet sorrow of separated lovers.

Poems from the Satsai comprises a selection of four hundred couplets from this enduring work. The Hindi text—composed in Braj Bhasha, the literary language of early-modern north India—is presented here in the Devanagari script and accompanies a new English verse translation.

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Poems of Love and Marriage
John Ciardi
University of Arkansas Press, 1989

Collected from his published and heretofore unpublished work, the love poems of John Ciardi in Poems of Love and Marriage are a rich display of gentle wit, emotion, and craft. Not merely lyrics of youthful romance, these span the course of a love affair, of a life shared from first blush to old age.

These poems never disturb the sanctity of the private moment, but transcend the specific situation and bloom into universal recognition. And in his usual way of basking in those qualities which transform the ordinary into the unique, John Ciardi finds poignancy and truth in those elements of love and living together that so often go unnoticed.

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Praying Naked
Katie Condon
The Ohio State University Press, 2020
Through language both reverent and reckless, Katie Condon’s debut collection renders the body a hymn. Praying Naked is Eden in the midst of the fall, the meat of the apple sweet as sex. In this collection, God is a hopeless and dangerous flirt, mothers die and are resurrected, and disappointing lovers run like hell for the margins. With effortless swagger and confessional candor, Condon lays bare the thrill of lust and its subsequent shame. In poems brimming with “the desire / to be desired” by men, by God, by lovers’ other women, by oneself, she renders a world in which wildflowers are coated in ash and dark bedrooms flicker with the blue light of longing. The speaker implores like an undressed wound: “is it wrong to feel a hurt kind of beautiful?” Ecstatic and incisive, Praying Naked is a daring sexual and spiritual reckoning by a breathtaking new poet.
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Selected Ghazals and Other Poems
Mir Taqi Mir
Harvard University Press, 2019

The finest ghazals of Mir Taqi Mir, the most accomplished of Urdu poets.

Mir Muhammad Taqi Mir (1723–1810) is widely regarded as the most accomplished poet in the Urdu language. His massive output—six divans—was produced in Delhi and Lucknow during the high tide of Urdu literary culture.

Selected Ghazals and Other Poems offers a comprehensive collection of Mir’s finest ghazals, extended lyrics composed of couplets, and of his masnavis, narrative works of a romantic or didactic character. The ghazals celebrate earthly and mystical love through subtle wordplay, vivid descriptions of the beloved, and a powerful individual voice. The sometimes satirical masnavis highlight everyday subjects: domestic pets, monsoon rains, the rigors of travel. They also include two astonishing love stories: one about young men whose relationship is shattered when one marries; the other about a queen, her peacock lover, and the jealous king who seeks to drive them apart.

The Urdu text, presented here in the Nastaliq script, accompanies new translations of Mir’s poems, some appearing in English for the first time.

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SPOT IN THE DARK
BETH GYLYS
The Ohio State University Press, 2004
Spot in the Dark is a collection of poetry exploring the nuances of human relationships. From new love to extramarital affairs to dating to solitude, the book’s four sections read as a journey by a series of narrators who wrestle through the beginning and middle stages of love, the complications of an affair, and the challenges of single life, and finally come to focus on the external world: the beauty and starkness of a winter landscape, the ebullience of spring, the breathtaking loveliness of a sunset. The book’s arc moves from examining the human wish and will to connect to another to presenting the self as part of a larger, richer, and more complicated set of external relationships. Written predominantly in free verse, these sometimes meditative, sometimes cynical, sometimes playful poems sift through the difficulties and pleasures of living in the world.
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The Story of Manu
Allasani Peddana
Harvard University Press, 2015

The literary jewel of Telegu civilization, translated for the first time into any language.

Manucaritramu, or The Story of Manu, by the early sixteenth-century poet Allasani Peddana, is the definitive literary monument of Telugu civilization and a powerful embodiment of the imperial culture of Vijayanagara, the last of the great premodern south Indian states. It is the story of Svarochisha Manu, who ruled over the previous cosmic age and who serves here as prototype for the first human being. Peddana explores the dramatic displacements, imaginative projections, and intricate workings of desire necessary for Manu’s birth and formation. The Story of Manu is also a book about kingship and its exigencies at the time of Krishnadevaraya, the most powerful of the Vijayanagara rulers, who was a close friend and patron of the poet.

The Story of Manu, presented in the Telugu script alongside the first translation into any language, is a true masterpiece of early modern south Indian literature.

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Strip
Poems
Jessica Abughattas
University of Arkansas Press, 2020
Winner of the 2020 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize, Jessica Abughattas’s Strip is a captivating debut about desire and dispossession and that tireless poetic metaphor—the body. Audacious and clear-eyed, plainspoken and brassy, Abughattas’s poems are songs that break free from confinement as they span the globe from Hollywood to Palestine.

“The mystery that Abughattas composes is always moving toward an impossible freeing of the self from its numerous frames. Yet frame by frame . . . she suspends our disbelief, catalogs those potentialities in an America always ready to shoot, direct, and produce the film of itself. Strip is ‘in love with possibility,’ ‘in praise of here I am, here I’ve been,’ USA style. Strip celebrates the body—its rise and fall, ebb and flow, in a carnival of parties—restlessly, shamelessly, searching for a way out…. Even as Abughattas claims that ‘I can’t believe sometimes I have a body,’ her poems teem with an awareness of the body’s unavoidable centrality in our lives—in how we view our lives, and how others view them; in how they progress, and how they end; in how they become meaningful, and how they are stripped of meaning. And no stripping escapes memory. Whether in terms of dispossession or sexuality, admiration or pity, Abughattas renders her treatment of the body with candor and poignancy. . . . The most startling moments in Abughattas’s poems, however, depend not on shocking or intimate details—but on the ‘I’ pulling away from the self, abandoning the ego, and gazing outward. She tries to see something else, to escape the body’s restraints.”
—Fady Joudah and Hayan Charara, from the Preface
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Taking to Water
Jennifer Conlon
Autumn House Press, 2023
A debut collection of poems that question gender and embrace queerness through the natural world of North Carolina.
 
A tender imagining and devastating reckoning, Jennifer Conlon’s debut presents a poetry collection of gender questioning, concerned with the survival of trans and nonbinary kids who live in places that do not allow them to thrive. The speaker of these poems wrestles with and envisions a life beyond their traumatic childhood as a genderqueer child in a small Southern Bible Belt town. Through retelling and reinterpreting moments of sexual shame and religious oppression, while navigating impossible expectations from a gender-binary society, Conlon shows readers that queerness and the natural world are inseparable. In their poems, Conlon comes to reject oppressive patriarchal figures, turning their gaze toward the natural world that catalyzes dreams of possibility, transformation, and safety—wasps protect them, an oak tree contains a new god, and flathead catfish guide them to a newly imagined body. Through thick North Carolina woods, Conlon searches for a language to celebrate queerness, finding it in ponds, hillsides, and within themselves.

Taking to Water was selected by Carl Phillips as the winner of the 2022 Autumn House Poetry Prize.
 
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A Theory of Birds
Poems
Zaina Alsous
University of Arkansas Press, 2019

Winner of the 2019 Etel Adnan Poetry Prize

Inside the dodo bird is a forest, Inside the forest
a peach analog, Inside the peach analog a woman, Inside
the woman a lake of funerals

This layering of bird, woman, place, technology, and ceremony, which begins this first full-length collection by Zaina Alsous, mirrors the layering of insights that marks the collection as a whole. The poems in A Theory of Birds draw on inherited memory, historical record, critical theory, alternative geographies, and sharp observation. In them, birds—particularly extinct species—become metaphor for the violences perpetrated on othered bodies under the colonial gaze.

Putting ecological preservation in conversation with Arab racial formation, state vernacular with the chatter of birds, Alsous explores how categorization can be a tool for detachment, domination, and erasure. Stretching their wings toward de-erasure, these poems—their subjects and their logics—refuse to stay put within a single category. This is poetry in support of a decolonized mind.

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Troubled Lovers in History
A Sequence of Poems
Albert Goldbarth
The Ohio State University Press, 1999

Troubled Lovers in History demonstrates an exhilarating range: from the briefest of lyrics to rich and multipartite narrative adventures in exotic realms; from a comic monologue spoken in immigrant “Yinglish” to a soulful elegy set in San Antonio’s Pearl Beer brewery plant; from Martian invaders, through polar explorers, to all of us busy inflicting “words with edges” on those we love.

Goldbarth sets his unflinching study of individual hope and grief against the backdrop of history: the travels of Marco Polo; Bertha and Wilhelm Rontgen’s discovery of X-rays; an 1800 battle “twixt Dragon Sam, the great Exhaler of Gouts of Amazing Flame . . . and Liquid Dan, the Living Geyser.”

From the night stars to the little starring parts we all play every day, Troubled Lovers in History takes us into the text of our dreams and despairs, as witnessed by the writer whom Joyce Carol Oates called “a poet of remarkable gifts—a dazzling virtuoso who can break your heart.”

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Two Signatures
Sara Ellen Fowler
University of Utah Press, 2024
In Two Signatures, Sara Ellen Fowler initiates her readers into a synesthetic contract of close attention and deep feeling. From the wood floor of an art museum buckling with Lake Michigan moisture, to the mud-packed hooves of the horse of childhood, to an art student’s spit on a pane of mirrored glass, the poems’ images string together a necklace of exquisite longing. Pleasures and complexities of sensory experience lay the ground for a world where risk is rewarded and candor is sensual. The poet explores registers of desire and power, drawing upon her training as a visual artist to make a studio of language. Temperature and texture gain grammar as the poems reach toward awe via multivalent psychology, sex, and sculptural interventions. These poems invite readers to explore the vulnerability and insistence that mark one’s devotion to any creative practice.
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The Unreal City
Mike Lala
Tupelo Press, 2023
A complex and multifaceted reckoning with literary and cultural lineage, Mike Lala’s The Unreal City locates our moment, and reimagines what we might make of it, by subjecting the history of literature to a radical détournement.
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You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis
Kelly Weber
Omnidawn, 2023
Poems in a range of forms that consider the queer body, chronic illness, and love amid rural plains landscapes.
 
Set against a rural plains landscape of gas stations, wind, and roadkill bones littering the highways, You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis is a love letter to the nonbinary body as a site of both queer platonic intimacy and chronic illness. Looking at art and friendship, Kelly Weber’s poems imagine alternatives to x-rays, pathologizing medical settings, and other forms of harm. Considering the meeting place of radiological light and sunlit meadows, the asexual speaker’s body, and fox skeletons, these poems imagine possible forms of love. With the body caught in medical crisis and ecological catastrophe, Weber questions how to create a poetry fashioned both despite and out of endings.
 
You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis explores forms with plainspoken prose poems with a mix of short poems and longer lyric sections that navigate insurance systems and complicated rural relationships to queerness.

You Bury the Birds in My Pelvis is the winner of the 2022 Omnidawn 1st/2nd Poetry Book Contest, chosen by Mary Jo Bang.
 
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