Hated for the Gods by Sean Patrick Mulroy Button Poetry, October 2023
Plaintive and joyous, sexy and ferocious—often all at once—Hated for the Gods is as much a call to action as it is a work of literature. Gorgeously rendered and skillfully constructed both to educate and inspire, Sean Patrick Mulroy’s poetry weaves together stories from his coming of age in the American South of the 1990s with the broader history of gay men in America. The result is a politically radical text that will leave you shocked with all you didn’t know about the history of queer people, and surprised by what you already knew but never could articulate. Winner of the 2020 Button Poetry Prize.
Witty, nostalgic, rhythmic, and forlorn, Matt Mason’s poetry calls on the classic rock music that shaped him. Mason laments on his childhood in the 80s and addresses the graduating preschool class of 2023, as he takes us on the coming-of-age road trip of a lifetime. An ode and ovation to what our ears taught us before we knew what to say, Rock Stars riffs on all things music, poetry, sports, and more. Matt Mason is the Nebraska State Poet and, through the US State Department, has run poetry programs in Botswana, Romania, Nepal, and Belarus. He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Nebraska Arts Council.
Through each poem in the debut collection Toy Gun, Matt Coonan fires his offbeat childhood and adolescence at the page. He enters each exit wound with sharp diction and form, extracting shards of trauma, mental health, and evolutionary violence. What readers will find in this collection is ambitious anaphora—an attempt to explain the irrationality of an obsessive mind by imitation. The result of it all? Raw candor dripped on the backdrop of New York suburbia; an intimacy that lingers from backyard barbeques to funeral homes.
Ephemera, by Sierra DeMulder, offers readers a “camaraderie among / women and death, ” acknowledging “the ecstatic briefness of it all.” In the first two sections of the collection, the poet focuses on her origins and roots, offering faceted responses to where she comes from: “the body / is a body for such little time.” The first section attends predominantly to “the women in my family,” especially the poet’s grandmother, who “waits for death.” The second section traces the progression of love the poet has known, from first love to queer love to lasting love, asking: “Who would sign up to love something / so impermanent.” The second-half of the collection focuses primarily on pregnancy—wanting and trying to become pregnant, ectopic pregnancy and miscarriage, in vitro fertilization (IVF) and a viable pregnancy, and “waiting for our daughter.” These poems acknowledge “a thousand unrewindable moments” of grief “where all unfinished things dwell.” As these poems “leave… space for death,” they also offer “a blessing for each stitch.” In spite of or rather because DeMulder “give[s] thanks / for the loss,” recognizing life has “a levy on the road to” everything, she arrives triumphantly at the realization of an “intoxicating” and ephemeral “impermanence of enjoyment… everywhere.” Read these poems and “wake up back at the starting line, salvaged and full of hope.”
Ephemera by Sierra DeMulder. Button Poetry, June 2023.
Reviewer bio: Jami Macarty is the author of The Minuses (Center for Literary Publishing, 2020), winner of the 2020 New Mexico/Arizona Book Award – Poetry Arizona, and three chapbooks, including Mind of Spring (Vallum, 2017), winner of the 2017 Vallum Chapbook Award. Jami’s writing has been honored by financial support from Arizona Commission on the Arts, British Columbia Arts Council, and by editors at magazines such as The Capilano Review, Concision Poetry Journal, Interim, Redivider, Vallum, and Volt, where Jami’s poems appear. More at https://jamimacarty.com/
In Sierra DeMulder’s melancholic yet beautifully hopeful poetry collection, Ephemera, she writes with the wisdom of someone who has learned to love and lose. Each poem reads delicately and elegantly, just fleeting memories on the page. Split into four sections detailing intimate experiences from the painful deaths of family members who clung to life, to passionate love she feels for her own mortal wife, DeMulder plays a sweet song by pulling on her own well-worn heartstrings. DeMulder ruminates on what will come and what will fade. Despite this impermanent nature, you can feel the tender warmth DeMulder holds for her family in every line, even the moments she wishes she could forget.
Usman Hameedi’s debut collection, Staying Right Here, is a journey in finding home. Hameedi invites readers to bear witness to vignettes of joy and hardship as he navigates finding his place in America. From an ode to Bodegas, an autobiography of his eyebrows, and elegies for lost friends, Hameedi’s thematic metaphors for family, wellness, and American biases weave a literary tapestry. Reading Usman’s work is like drinking a warm chai while watching the sunset in Brooklyn, or coming home to an aromatic Biryani. Hameedi writes with an unmistakably unique voice that is not afraid of who he is.
Urbanshee is Siaara Freeman’s retelling of fairy tales and mythological stories through a modern and urban lens. This collection discusses the weight of being Black in America, Freeman’s relationships to lovers and family, and how the physical place you grew up can become part of your identity. Urbanshee expertly combines humor, fantasy, and raw emotion to create this astonishing reinvention of classic fables. Freeman’s poems are ventrously unique and are sure to enchant anyone who reads them. Siaara Freeman is from Cleveland Ohio, where she is the current Lake Erie Siren and a teaching artist for Center For Arts Inspired Learning and The Sisterhood Project in conjunction with the Anisfieldwolf Foundation.
In this debut full-length collection, Junious ‘Jay’ Ward dives deep into the formation of self. Composition interrogates the historical perceptions of Blackness and biracial identity as documented through a Southern Lens. Utilizing a variety of poetic forms, Ward showcases to his readers an innovative approach as he unflinchingly explores the way language, generational trauma, loss, and resilience shape us into who we are, the stories we carry, and what we will inevitably pass on. Signed copies are available for preorder now. Jay Ward is a poet living in Charlotte, NC, and the author of Sing Me a Lesser Wound (Bull City Press). He is a National Poetry Slam champion, an Individual World Poetry Slam champion, and Charlotte’s inaugural Poet Laureate. He has attended and/or received support from Breadloaf Writers Conference, Callaloo, The Frost Place, Tin House Winter Workshop, and The Watering Hole, and currently serves as a Program Director for BreatheInk and Vice-Chair for The Watering Hole.
How to Maintain Eye Contact Poetry by Robert Wood Lynn Button Poetry, January 2023
The 2020 Button Poetry Chapbook Contest Runner-Up, Robert Wood Lynn’s How to Maintain Eye Contact is set in three sections that explore interior uncertainty, interpersonal uncertainty, and uncertainty at a larger scale. These narrative poems, influenced by storytelling traditions, find themselves at the nexus of the intimate and the humorous, as well as the absurd and the tragic. These poems examine isolation and grief in their many forms—through heartbreak or the death of loved ones, or show us the world looking back at itself after it ends. Lynn’s poems have recently appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Narrative Magazine, Shenandoah, The Southern Review, and other journals. He splits his time between Brooklyn, New York, and Rockbridge County, Virginia. Signed copies of How to Maintain Eye Contact are available to order from the publisher’s website.
Sweet, Young, & Worried Poetry by Blythe Baird Button Poetry, November 2022
Following her successful debut, Sweet, Young, & Worried is the sophomore collection by author Blythe Baird. Invoking breathtaking imagery and punching narratives, Baird guides readers on an expedition embracing queerness, love, loss, mental health, feminism, and healing along the way. At only 25 years old, Baird is already recognized and acclaimed for her work in spoken word poetry. Originally from the northwest suburbs of Chicago, the viral writer has garnered international recognition for her performance pieces that speak urgently and honestly about sexual assault, mental illness, eating disorder recovery, sexuality, and healing from trauma. Baird graduated from Hamline University in 2018 with a dual degree in creative writing and women’s studies. In 2020, she became the recipient of the prestigious McKnight Artist Fellowship for Spoken Word administered by The Loft Literary Center in Minnesota. Signed copies of Sweet, Young, & Worried are available to order from the publisher’s website.
Never Catch Me Poetry by Darius Simpson Button Poetry, October 2022
Darius Simpson’s debut collection Never Catch Me centers on Black boyhood in the midwest and familial disintegration over time. Simpson pulls back the curtain, exposing the violence enacted against and upon, Black bodies, and yet, still, each poem is saturated in revolution and hope. Never Catch Me is the anthem necessary to organize a community that is committed to a better right now–one that can only be achieved with an intensity and action that goes far beyond the page. Darius Simpson is a writer, educator, performer, and skilled living room dancer from Akron, Ohio. Much like the means of production, he believes poetry belongs to and with the masses. He aims to inspire those chills that make you frown and slightly twist up ya face in approval. Darius believes in the dissolution of the empire and the total liberation of Afrikans and all oppressed people by any means available. Free The People. Free The Land. Free All Political Prisoners. Signed copies of Never Catch Me are available to order from the publisher’s website.
Button Poetry’s 2022 Video Contest is open to submissions of brave poetry that crosses borders or effaces them completely through August 31. This year’s finalist judge is Sabrina Benaim, author of Depression & Other Magic Tricks. There is a fee to submit. Please see their full ad in the NewPages Classifieds to learn more.
A Peculiar People Poetry by Steven Willis Button Poetry, May 2022
In A Peculiar People, poet Steven Willis creates an entire microcosm crafted within a cast of characters, showcasing their struggles, identities, and underlying emotions. Willis champions the art of storytelling: weaving pop-culture and screenwriting elements to allow the reader to view this social commentary with a fresh lens. This collection examines the author’s life experience; the pain of being Black and facing systemic racism.
Winner of the Button Poetry Short Form Contest, Topaz Winters’ third poetry collection spans three countries and three generations. In a series of ars poeticas, Winters questions the boundary between the things we inherit and those we owe, stands at the grave of the American dream, and unspools the enormous grace and guilt of being loved.
Not a Lot of Reasons to Sing, But Enough Poetry by Kyle Tran Myhre Featuring Art by Casper Pham Button Poetry, March 2022 ISBN: 978-1-63834-009-6 Paperback, 188pp; $18 / Signed $25
Not a Lot of Reasons to Sing, But Enough is a sci-fi-flavored exploration of the role that art and artists play in resisting authoritarianism. Featuring new poems, theater elements, and Casper Pham‘s stunning visual art, the book follows two wandering poets as they make their way from village to village, across a prison colony moon full of exiled rebels, robots, and storytellers. Part post-apocalyptic road journal, part alternate universe ode to Hip Hop, and part “Letters to a Young Poet”-style toolkit for emerging poets and aspiring movement-builders, it’s also a one-of-a-kind practitioners’ take on poetry, power, and possibility.
BloodFresh Poetry by Ebony Stewart Button Poetry, February 2022 ISBN: 978-1-63834-008-9 Paperback, 112pp; $18 / Signed $25
In BloodFresh, a celebration of identity, Ebony Stewart reclaims her own narrative to speak against the racism and colorism she’s experienced while criticizing society’s treatment of women as sexual objects. This collection reaffirms the reader through storytelling as an open letter to retell, acknowledge, overcome, and learn new ways to use poetry as a coping technique. As BloodFresh reflects the importance of owning your own space, Stewart carves out a home for herself, her poems, and all of the readers who take refuge in her words.