American Journal by Tracy K. Smith

Staff Pick

Resisting the trend of divisiveness, American Journal (Graywolf, $14) looks for what unites us. This outstanding anthology of contemporary poetry, edited by Tracy K. Smith, opens with a simple request: “Please raise your hand” if you’ve ever “been a child / lost,” and with Aracelis Girmay’s disarming “Second Estrangement,” we’re reminded that at some level we’re all still vulnerable as children and live in a “world…/filled, finally with strangers.” Part of this collection’s mission is to make those strangers less strange. As Smith notes in her introduction, poetry is ideally suited for this task; reading a poem, we draw close to those we’d “never get the chance to meet” otherwise. In his beautiful “becoming a horse,” Ross Gay taps into such empathy by first “putting my heart to the horse’s” to learn what the horse feels. After that he’s ready to “drop my torches/…drop my knives.” But before we can adopt the “slow honest tongue of horses,” we have to listen carefully to the many voices and languages around us, from that of Nathalie Diaz’s brother, tormented by a “hellish vision,” to Erika L. Sánchez’s “The Poet at Fifteen,” speaking with a “hybrid mouth, a split tongue,” to the insistent “ringing hum” of a war vet’s PTSD in Brian Turner’s “Phantom Noise.”

American Journal: Fifty Poems for Our Time By Tracy K. Smith Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555978150
Availability: Backordered
Published: Graywolf Press - September 4th, 2018

After Emily by Julie Dobrow

Staff Pick

The Emily Dickinson legend is well known: a recluse and a genius, she left nearly 1800 poems, a trove discovered by her sister after the poet’s death in 1886. From that moment, many things could have happened. The poems could have been destroyed with many of Dickinson’s other papers. Or looked at and dismissed. That they were treated as something “full of power” is the result of luck, planning, adultery, and the tireless work of Mabel Loomis Todd and her daughter Millicent Todd Bingham. While scholars are still divided about the role these women played in editing the manuscripts and developing Dickinson’s popular image, Julie Dobrow’s detailed study of their lives and work, After Emily (W.W. Norton, $27.95), shows that they both made diligent efforts to present the poems accurately. A little like these first editors, struggling to decipher handwriting and make order from a chaos of papers, Dobrow went through seven hundred boxes of journals, diaries, letters, and other documents that Mabel and Millicent accumulated. As a result, this book is a vivid, realistic double portrait of two remarkable women.

After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet By Julie Dobrow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393249262
Availability: Special Order—Subject to Availability
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - October 30th, 2018

1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich

Staff Pick

James Mustich’s involvement with the book business stretches back nearly four decades and has included not only time as an executive with Barnes & Noble but a lengthy stint publishing his own marvelous mail order book catalog, A Common Reader. And if I were as erudite, entertaining, insightful, and articulate as he is, I could have come up with 1,000 reasons to buy his book, 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die (Workman, $35). But here’s at least one: Whether you’re looking for something to read for personal edification or fun, for escapism or relevance, you can survey the literary world with Mustich as an experienced, enthusiastic guide. His work is an essential resource for anyone anywhere plagued by that infernal question: What do I read next? As the headline of a Washington Post review put it, the book is “the ultimate literary bucket list.”

1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List By James Mustich Cover Image
ISBN: 9781523504459
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Workman Publishing Company - October 2nd, 2018