Patricia Smith – Blood Dazzler
An imagining of voices before, during, and after Hurricane Katrina. I saw Smith read from this book at the Dodge Poetry Festival a few years after its release. The reading was haunting, reverberating, so powerful that I immediately read it, reread it, taught it. A book I’ve never been able to forget.
Barbara Jane Reyes – Poeta En San Francisco
I was sent this book by The American Academy of Poets because it won the James Laughlin Award. Well deserved. The book was beautiful, mythic, difficult in that lovely way that invites you into a new world when you persist down its path. I carried it with me in my bag until one day I lost my bag. Hopefully whoever found it read this book, keeps it by their nightstand, lends it out frequently. I desperately need to buy a new copy.
Daniel Borzutzky – The Performance of Becoming Human
The form of this book is restricted, like many of the bodies within its textual borders. Big thick paragraphs of text. I kept expecting the text to be more scattered, open, breathable. But it wasn’t. It forced me to continue reading along a linear line, to condense, to feel the boundaries that constrain. A remarkable and devastating book that is timely and necessary.
Solmaz Sharif – Look
This book is about family history. It’s fragmented, it’s direct, it’s about the gaps that war creates. It’s about how The State erases lives and histories, both personal and public. This book made me think more critically about the ethics of erasure poetry, which I love, and have written. I now read and write erasure poetry differently because of this book. This book made me more careful, more aware in my practice. I saw Sharif read with Claudia Rankine a few years ago. It was a tremendous reading. I normally don’t get my books signed. I made an exception for this one.
Olivia Cronk – Skin Horse
This book is a beautiful little offbeat horror movie of a poem. It is disturbing, but kind of giddily so. It is a sort of fractured mythology, a descent into a world of decay, that yet is very alive, vivid, constantly speaking itself back into being. I absolutely loved this book mostly because I wasn’t sure how to categorize it or what to do with it, other than continue to reread it, as if under a spell. Those are the best kind of books.
Erik Fuhrer is the author of the poetry collections every time you die (Alien Buddha Press), not human enough for the census (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press), and VOS (Yavanika Press).