Wail Song, by Chaun Webster
Wail Song, released this month, submerges readers in the belly of the whale at the bottom of the ocean at the end of our world: the abyssal zone of what it means to be human, or mammal, born beneath dark water far from any safe shore, yet still drawing breath. Chaun Webster evokes oceanic imagery, dives into the history of whaling and the transatlantic slave trade, and revamps Moby Dick in what he has called a “long meditation,” a heavy wade into Blackness and not-drowning despite the deluge.
For fans of socially conscious poetry, artful page design, and philosophy.
Blood Snow, by dg okpik
The thaw we welcome now is a tender thing: green’s shy resurgence as a new season quickens, nursed on lengthening days, a warmer pulse through the soil. But there is another thaw, too, one of rawboned polar bears grown painfully cliché, faultlines in thinning ice floes, eroded shores and the steady drip towards destruction. This harsher thaw is the strife that dg okpik, an Inupiaq poet from Anchorage, Alaska, inhabits in her second collection, Blood Snow, published in October of 2022. In fractured language at once brittle and earthy, radiating its own stark luster, okpik draws the injured ecosystem of her homeland into her body, laying bare the ultimate inseparability of the two. A harrowing, dazzling collection by an American Book Award-winning poet and graduate of University of Southern Maine’s Stonecoast College.
For fans of Indigenous writers, Maine poets, and nature poetry with an edge.
Concentrate, by Courtney Faye Taylor
The title of Courtney Faye Taylor’s award-winning debut collection refers to the bottle of orange juice that Latasha Harlins, a 15-year-old Black girl, was accused of stealing by shop owner Soon Ja Du, a Korean woman, in Los Angeles in 1991. The dispute over the alleged theft escalated into an altercation, which ended when Du shot Harlins, killing her. Haunted by the young girl’s murder, and shocked to learn that the killer was an Asian woman, Taylor felt moved to explore the case in depth. Concentrate is the result, a formally inventive collage of found texts, images, poetry, travelogue, timelines, and personal reflections. This poignant archive chronicles not only the tragic story of Harlin’s murder, but also the complexity of gun violence and racial tensions in the United States.
For fans of conceptual works of poetry, experimental memoir, and Black and Asian American history.