Issue 129 |
Spring 2016

Book Recommendations from Our Advisory Editors

by Staff

Peter Ho Davies recommends Angels of Detroit by Christopher Hebert: “A rust belt epic by a writer of distinctive vision. More than a dozen years in the making—I saw the earliest iterations in workshop and have never forgotten them—it’s been worth the wait.”

Jane Hirshfield recommends Practicing the Truth, by Ellery Akers: “Practicing the Truth is a book of gorgeous knowledge and unlikely couplings. A scientist’s precision marries a painter’s eye marries a Whitmanesque inhabitance of all being—insects, leaves, rocks, weathers, the narratives of many lives, her own not taking precedence over others’. These honed, faceted, closely observed poems are no ordinary lyrics—they spring open the hidden wildness of both language and compassion. Akers publishes rarely—her first poetry book, Knocking on the Earth, came out in 1988. This is her second, selected by Alicia Ostriker for Autumn House Press’s Poetry Prize.”

Tony Hoagland recommends The Four Legged Girl by Dianne Seuss: “Seuss makes images like carnivorous flowers; she has enormous duende and psychic complexity, and every one of her poems is a vivid event of fluent and fierce imagination. This is a signature book of a large talent arriving at her stage of full wild-blown poetic strength.”

Thomas Lux recommends Where You Want To Be, New and Selected Poems, Black Lawrence Press, by Kevin Pilkington: “Pilkington’s understated poems, often hilarious, always original and lucid, have mattered to me and moved me for many years.”

Joyce Peseroff recommends Magpiety by Melissa Green: “Green brings immense pressure to bear on every line—what she calls ‘torque,’ and which describes the coil of a spirit that responds to the world with painful frankness and breathtaking lyricism. Magpiety includes selections from Green’s prize-winning first book, The Squanicook Eclogues, followed by published and unpublished work written during decades when the poet suffered from debilitating depression. Green’s mastery of image, sound, and tone signals a unique voice that’s been too long away.”

Gerald Stern recommends It Shouldn’t Have Been Beautiful by Lia Purpura: “Purpura’s poems are accessible, strong, and important. She is one of the best of her generation.”

Richard Tillinghast recommends H Is for Hawk, by Helen MacDonald: “The British excel at nature writing, and this is a fine book. Here is the beginning of a paragraph, chosen almost at random: ‘In the half-light through the drawn curtains she sits on her perch, relaxed, hooded, extraordinary. Formidable talons, wicked, curved black beak, sleek, café-au-lait front streaked thickly with cocoa-coloured teardrops, looking for all the world like some cappuccino samurai. “Hello hawk,” I whisper, and at the sound, she draws her feathers tight in alarm. “Hush,” I tell myself, and the hawk. Hush.’”

Rosanna Warren recommends Forgotten Country, a novel by Catherine Chung: “In a clear and subtle style, Chung tells the story of a Korean family’s immigration to the United States, the buried and not-so-buried sorrows they left behind, and the cross currents of their life in the new country. Key moments in the narrative are concentrated into images. The book’s beauty lies in its quiet understatement and suggestiveness, while the story itself is harrowing.”