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Some Recent Poetry Books of Note

2016 brought with it some excellent poetry books, both within and outside the LGBT community. I had the pleasure of reviewing several of these books and reading a few others at leisure. I thought I might share where my reading interests took me last year. One of the most interesting books was Annah Anti-Palindrome's "DNA Hymn," a first book of her poetry from Sibling Rivalry Press. Michelle Tea calls it a "phenomenal work of embrace and exorcism . . .Annah Anti-Palindrome has mapped a world of survival, finding deep beauty everywhere. A serious literary triumph."This is quite a unique, original queer voice. For sheer pastoral beauty, William Reichard's "Two Men Rowing Madly Toward Infinity" is a wonderful meditation on the vanishing Midwest of his gay youth. For a deeply theatrical poetry, full of drama and lush imagery, take a look at "Detainee" by Miguel Murphy. And one of the most fresh, contemporary voices was Max Ritvo's in his book "Four Reincarnations." I say "was" as this talented poet died in 2016 from cancer. Currently I am reading "Breakup/Breakdown" by Charles Jensen, a chapbook, which deals with heartbreak and jilted love. Along with these newer books, I made forays into Jay Parini's "New and Collected Poems: 1975 - 2015," a more conventional but consummate poetry of craft---traditional and sturdily made poems with beautiful musicality; Sapphire's "American Dreams" from 1994, as emotionally radical now as it was then; Chinaka Hodge's "Dated Emcees," a brash, rap-like, performative verse of 2016 from city lights books that captures America's wild democratic voice; and finally Rosanna Warren's "Departure" from 2003 with its deeply mysterious personal lyrics. Failed to mention Clive James' "Collected Poems" also made it on to my desk, always a master of traditional craft. So I look forward to 2017 for more poetic discoveries and adventures. Alex Dimitrov, the queer poet, has a new book coming out and poetic anthologies of protest are already in planning and on the horizon.

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