Staff Pick

Since the astonishingly direct poems of her 1980 debut, Satan Says, Sharon Olds has redefined the American poetic landscape as few other poets have. Making the body central to her work, she has found the poetry of traditionally “unpoetic” subjects, writing with unflinching honesty and compassion about violence and injustice—both in intimate, personal spaces and in the larger public arena. But as she shows the harm a family can inflict on its members, she also articulates why family is important; exposing the wounds caused by “cruelty/and abuse of power,” she never doubts that the better side of humanity can triumph. Her rich new collection, Arias (Knopf, $29.95 hardcover, $18.95 paper), at nearly 200 pages is a kind of double-album that takes Olds’s abiding concerns to new levels of power and artistry—without sacrificing anything of the conversational clarity that makes her work so compelling. In the opening poem, she moves in just twenty lines from “pouring the hot milk/into the coffee,” to “looking up/the purple martin” to elegizing Trayvon Martin—a deft illustration of the unity of the personal and the political as well as a glimpse of how a poem is made.

Arias Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525656937
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - October 15th, 2019

Staff Pick

In her resounding An American Sunrise (W.W. Norton, $25.95), Joy Harjo, the indefatigable activist, musician, playwright, and fi rst Native American to serve as the U.S. Poet Laureate, tells stories, chants legends, speaks truth to power, and guides the spirit back to its origins. Most of all, she sings. Invoking a past when “there were songs for everything,” she retraces personal, tribal, and national memory to reclaim those songs and sing them anew. This is both in keeping with her Mvskoke legacy—passed on when an elder “blew his most powerful song into the hearts of the children”—and her determination to use her voice to “make a peaceful road/through human history” and not “upset the dead.” While Harjo’s outrage is evident as she recalls the Trail of Tears and the laws which, until 1978, “made it illegal for Native citizens to practice our cultures,” stronger is the impulse to heal divisions, and Harjo writes in the same spirit of inclusiveness with which her ancestors once “made a relative of Jesus, [and] gave him a Mvskoke name.” Squarely facing the losses without losing hope, Harjo practices a timeless “ceremony of grieving/which is also celebration.”

An American Sunrise: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781324003861
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - August 13th, 2019

Staff Pick

To jolt people out of their complacency about climate change, David Wallace-Wells gathered the data on twelve key elements of today’s ever-more unstable world. Delivered in one concentrated punch, the statistics on the global rise in heat, ferocity and frequency of storms, droughts, famines, ocean acidifi cation, and political unrest are truly shocking. Add to these the cascade effect of their unpredictable interactions—more carbon in the soil fosters larger plants with fewer nutrients, which sharpens competition for dwindling protein sources, leading to more social unrest, climate refugees, and so on—and Wallace-Wells presents a truly horrifying picture of a world that is hurtling toward apocalypse. Yet despite calling this book The Uninhabitable Earth (Tim Duggan, $27), Wallace-Wells believes that even by the end of the century—about as far as we can bear to look at this point—only one third of Earth will actually be uninhabitable. We still have time to change. But will we? Human behavior is the greatest of the many unknowns that lie ahead, and, without laying out particular policies, Wallace-Wells offers a profound reflection on what it will mean for us to live—for the first time ever—outside “the narrow window of environmental conditions that allowed the human to evolve” and, most crucially, that enabled us to create a civilization based on fossil-fuels.

The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525576709
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Tim Duggan Books - February 19th, 2019