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Among the Living
A number of career retrospectives are in order for the poetry
world this spring—the words “collected” and “selected” are
popping up everywhere—particularly with the deaths of
several leading poets the past couple of years.
But we’ll start with the living, and some notable titles from Ecco, which is
releasing the prolific John Ashbery’s new collection, as well as those of two
fellow Pulitzer Prize winners: Charles Simic, who will drop The Lunatic,
and Jorie Graham, whose From the New World: Poems, 1976–2014 culls
from her 11 collections.
Moving on to the deceased, we find final works from the remarkable
quartet of Maya Angelou, Wislawa Szymborska, Amiri Baraka, and Frank
Stanford. Random House will publish Angelou’s The Complete Poetry,
which includes her previously unpublished poem commissioned for the
2008 Olympics. Szymborska’s highly anticipated Map: Collected and Last
Poems is on the way from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and features poems
from her final collection in Polish, Enough, rendered in English for the first
On the men’s side, Grove will release Baraka’s SOS: Poems, 1961–2013,
a fitting final testament to his innovative and incendiary life and work. The
myth and mystique of Frank Stanford’s tragically short career (he committed
suicide in 1978) finds full expression in Copper Canyon’s publication of
What About This: The Collected Poems of Frank Stanford, which
includes previously unpublished work and loads of Stanford-related ephemera.
Back among the living we find Terrance Hayes, who graciously reviewed
the late Baraka’s selected poems for PW (Reviews, Jan. 19). Hayes cemented
his star status after becoming a MacArthur Fellow in 2014, and he follows
his 2010 National Book Award–winning Lighthead with How to Be
Drawn, a collection from Penguin that puts his observational talents and
visual arts skills in full service of his poetry.
Another Pulitzer Prize winner, the ever-sharp Rae Armantrout, returns
with Itself, a fantastic collection from Wesleyan that sees increasing attention paid to the natural sciences alongside her trademark social critique. Mary
Jo Bang demonstrates, with a brilliantly caustic and piercing collection, her
seventh, that her surname is not merely a happy accident: The Last Two
Seconds, from Graywolf, takes on all manner of worldly ills, and it might be
her best yet. Finally, rising star Heather Christle attempts to transcend our
solar system with the aptly titled Heliopause. Her fourth book, and second
from Wesleyan, probes the boundaries of the known and unknown like a
poetic Voyager 1.
SPRING 2015 ADULT