Worn Smooth Between Devourings: Poems by Lauren Camp NYQ Books, September 2023
The poems in Lauren Camp’s Worn Smooth between Devourings travel through fears of ecological devastation and national and global tragedy, and map routes away from despair. Worry remains in the background, even in landscapes that still hold time’s beginning. Even in long love. “We are suspended in places / entire and different and home,” Camp writes. These precise, sonically-driven poems investigate a confessed gaze for contentment with the conviction of quiet rebellion. Through repeating distance, multiplying birds and crisscrossing storylines, they offer a testament to land and lack, grief, faith, and endurance.
Prayer Book for the New Heretic by Colin Pope NYQ Books, March 2023
At the intersection of religion, politics, and Americana, Colin Pope’s latest collection inquires what it means to believe while living through unbelievable times. These poems careen and rollick, imagining a world in which conspiracy theory and urban myth figure as acts of God. Here, the notion of “blind faith” is subjected to kaleidoscopic interrogation in a madcap, whirling, unabashedly entertaining pursuit of the limits of dogma. In Pope’s vision of belief, wayward children are plucked up by eagles, the moon landing is faked via the liberal use of shaving cream, and a men’s room wall is elected president. But beneath their roiling surface, these poems surge on their dauntless quest for some understanding of how we ended up here, now, fighting for our humanity.
The Third Renunciation: Poems by Matthew E. Henry NYQ Books, June 2023
Heeding St. John Cassian’s call, the poems in Matthew E. Henry’s The Third Renunciation reject classic depictions of divinity and religious dogma to see God more fully. Each begins with a proposition (e.g. “Say God is the music we strain to hear,” “Say prayer is just a fire alarm,” “Say faith can become like lackluster sex,” “Say unarmed Black men herald His return”), or an explanation for a Biblical story (e.g. “maybe Jesus was having an off day,” “Say Jonah was right and grace is wasted,” “Say angels aren’t always trustworthy.”). Henry’s poetry offers answers to the myriad whys at the center of faith and doubt, gives voice to the notion that both singing and screaming are authentic responses to suffering, and argues that “grace is a Twinkie or a cockroach— / something that never goes bad, can survive / anything the cold world throws… / despite all our best efforts to quell it.”
Between Twilight by Connie Post NYQ Books, February 2023
In Between Twilight, Post delves deep into the difficult journeys of everyday life and intersects those with the difficult maps of the past. There are “atrocities in the body” and many ways a person can falter, fall or rise from “the hue of an unseen self.” Post explores the necessary truths, the ones we can no longer hide, the ones we’ve held on to, for too long. In these poems, the reader will more fully understand Faulkner’s “the past is never the past in never past, it’s not even dead.” The poet infuses elements of evolution, illness, astronomy, humanity, internal travels inside our bodies, and travels back in time “before shadows understood their first for light.” Post’s poems will seep into our subconscious and help us see how a room can be “dark and iridescent all at once.”
Far From New York State by Matthew Johnson NYQ Books, March 2023
Matthew Johnson’s second poetry volume constructs a space where the rural communities of Upstate, the suburban living of the Lower Hudson Valley, and the metropolitan landscapes of the City are woven together in a mosaic snapshot. A collection of poems where the historical and cultural traditions of New York State meet, the reader is acquainted not only with seminal figures across the cultural channels of literature, music, and sports, such as Washington Irving, Paul Robeson, and the ’86 Mets, but to the author himself. Tender, playful, and meditative, Johnson presents stories that he has lived, and shares others that have been passed down through familial storytelling around the kitchen table and cookout barbecue pit.
The Rwanda Poems: Voices and Visions from the Genocide by Andrew Kaufman NYQ Books, March 2023
The only book of poetry to date devoted to the Rwanda genocide and published in this country, this is a work of nonfictional poetry, a cousin in genre to the nonfictional novel. It is based not only on the poet’s observations and encounters during months spent in post-genocide Rwanda, but on his numerous extensive interviews with survivors, all of whom lost most if not all of their families, and with convicted genocide perpetrators, conducted in prisons. The result is a startling book of poems that by turns is unthinkably horrifying, heartbreaking, and enraging, yet which at times breaks unexpectedly into stunning revelatory moments of grace.
As a poetry of witness this book reveals what it is like to carry on with daily life in a society where nearly every adult male is either a genocide survivor or perpetrator, almost every woman either a survivor or the wife of a perpetrator, and where nearly every child at the time of the genocide witnessed multiple killings, often of immediate family members. Ranging from free verse to stanzaic forms, this book by an NEA-award-winning poet uses tools and methods of poetry to distill each of its many varied voices to its essence, allowing those who are heard in these poems to speak for themselves, often in juxtapositions that lend the book the structure and tension of a drama. Considered more broadly, The Rwanda Poems is a book about the extremities of evil that the human psyche is capable of enduring and inflicting, and the resulting psychic costs to survivors and perpetrators.
Music for Ghosts by Christopher Locke NYQ Books, May 2022
Christopher Locke’s new collection of poetry Music for Ghosts is a visceral testament to youth and hubris, erasure, and forgiveness. The heart of these poems straddles the space between the personal and the universally lived, where the past can shatter our best intentions at love, while the future holds us wanting at the precipice of joy. From his Pentecostal childhood to the blazing religion of punk rock, Locke caromed straight into the void of addiction, even as marriage and fatherhood hinted at something better. But in spite of loss, or maybe because of it, Locke remains steadfast in his quest to seek fearlessly and intentionally, reclaiming every light offered in hope’s name.
Al Ortolani’s most recent collection of poems, The Taco Boat, focuses not just on the people of the American Midwest, but on the connection to the humor and pragmatism of working men and women. His poems are vignettes from the fields of Kansas, the hills of the Ozarks, and the streets of Kansas City. They are about good dogs and crazy cats. His people are family and strangers alike. Both are seen with an empathetic eye. They share an attachment to the joys and exasperations of being human, struggling to understand, to thrive. The poems in The Taco Boat step back from the day-to-day with an acceptance of the life its characters have been tossed into. The images are frequently taken from the natural world, but just as often are from the mechanic’s garage, the fast-food restaurant, the baseball diamond, the assisted living cafeteria. The poems in The Taco Boat are about the relationships people build, dismantle, and build again.
The poems in Clint Margrave’s Visitor, travel to distant lands and familiar ones, through museum doors and down the aisles of grocery stores, into the pages of books and along the shared walls of an apartment complex, far out in space and up close in the inner space of love and loss, life and death. Visitor is a collection that calls on readers to let it in. Clint Margrave is the author of several books of fiction and poetry, including Lying Bastard, Salute the Wreckage, and The Early Death of Men. His work has appeared in The Threepenny Review, Rattle, The Moth, Ambit, and Los Angeles Review of Books, among others.
THIRDOUROBOROS by Richard Kostelanetz NYQ Books, September 2022
Richard Kostelanetz says in his preface to THIRDOUROBOROS, “When I first heard the epithet afterimage as an honorific among visual artists, I recognized it as analogous to the strongest lines in strictly verbal poetry.” In his third installment of this series, Kostelanetz visually lays out words in circles. And just like the ancient symbol, allows them to devour themselves as much as they create themselves as afterimages are embedded in the reader’s mind. The two preceding books in this series are OUROBOROS and SECONDOUROBOROS, also from NYQ Books.
It’s About Time by Barry Wallenstein NYQ Books, February 2022
Barry Wallenstein’s poetry, from his first book in 1977 to now, addresses his awareness of time’s swift passing. The poems in It’s About Time continue this time-honored theme and its attendant thoughts and emotions. Now in his eighth decade, this theme is paramount. While time is explicitly central in the first and eighth sections, other sections speak of desire, music, current events, creatures of all sizes, and states of mind. Poems in each of the groups reflect the anxieties of our current period including references to the ongoing pandemic and quarantine, as well as overriding reflections on temporality. These poems also are full of appreciation and gratitude for life’s bounty. While avoiding the “personal” or autobiographical, Wallenstein’s emotional life is more apparent here than in his work of the past.
Under Sleep’s New Moon: Rescued Poems 1970-1990 by Joseph Hutchison NYQ Books, September 2021
The road a poet travels is often littered with unrealized fragments, half-realized drafts, and unfinished poems that found their ways into a magazine but never earned their way into a book. If a poet is lucky, a few such left-behinds might be “rescued,” released into their true form thanks to abilities that have ripened over many years of practice. In Under Sleep’s New Moon, Joseph Hutchison (Colorado Poet Laureate, 2014-2019) offers a range of such poems, all rescued from twenty years of writing between 1970-1990. The poems in this new/old collection are by turns personal and public, surreal and naturalistic, musical and plain-spoken. But all explore the liminal regions we live in every day, too often unconscious of what we’re finding there. What this poet found there he has lifted into new configurations, where at last the poems can speak for themselves.
Taking the F Train by Linda Lerner NYQ Books, October 2021
In Linda Lerner’s Taking the F Train, a New York City poet rides the F Train through the final years of the 20th century into the 21st; both gentrification and technology are rapidly transforming life as she has known it. Her old haunts – cafés, bookstores, diners, are being replaced by luxury co-ops. There are also losses due to illness and aging – those of others as well her own. And it’s not ok, she cries out! At the same time, for every push forward into the future, she’s witnessing an opposite push back into the past by the so-called leader of the free world. Nothing makes sense to her anymore. There’s only what can be salvaged by art…the act of creation.
Minotaur Snow by Ryan Quinn Flanagan NYQ Books, January 2022
Ryan Quinn Flanagan’s Minotaur Snow is an urban menagerie of very human poems. Difficult situations, individual foibles, that unescapable rush of the modern city; the sights and sounds and smells and touch, all told with great humor and at times, compassion. Flanagan peoples the landscape in such a way that his experiences become your experiences, his revelations and perspectives a busy populous of comings and goings all captured in a language that is both highly accessible and littered with odd notions or turns of phrase. Minotaur Snow above all else is a book that captures what is timeless to our shared experience, but with a fierce individuality that washes over everything like a heavy falling snow.
Smoke & Mirrors by Donna Dallas NYQ Books, August 2022
Smoke and Mirrors by Donna Dallas spills torment, agony, small miracles and a blind lust for life no matter what the cost. When we look closely and peel back the facade of perfect skirts, soft skin and angelic smiles, we see. We see the ugly, the truth, and everything in between. I am Smoke and Mirrors every day. I am pretty blouse and sweet face pining over which shade of red lipstick is the right one for me…while the real me dies inside. Maybe that defines all of us to some extent. Perhaps we fear to be uncovered or peeled back and have our faults laid out in proud display. Every mishap, every event, every peeling and uncovering has evolved into the Smoke and Mirrors I have laid out on these pages. I’m a successful lie, I do it well. I’m itching to be opened up.
How Much? New and Selected Poems Poetry by Jerome Sala NYQ Books, November 2022
How Much? New and Selected Poems by Jerome Sala offers a panoramic view of a poet whose work has often been a cult-pleasure until now. Spanning Sala’s early years as a punk performance poet in Chicago to his career as a copywriter/Creative Director in New York City, these poems offer satiric insights from the “belly of the beast” of commercial and pop culture. Sala’s books of poetry include cult classics such as I Am Not a Juvenile Delinquent, The Trip, Raw Deal, Look Slimmer Instantly, Prom Night (a collaboration with artist Tamara Gonzales), The Cheapskates, and Corporations Are People, Too! His poetry and criticism have appeared widely. Before moving to New York City in the 80s, Sala and his spouse, poet Elaine Equi, did numerous readings together, helping to create Chicago’s lively performance poetry scene. He has a PhD in American Studies from New York University.
Deadline: February 2, 2021
NYQ Books is seeking submissions for an anthology to be titled Without a Doubt: poems illuminating faith. Submissions will remain open until February 2, 2021, but may close early should the anthology fill. We are seeking poems that explore faith rather than tell. We seek poems that demonstrate a new and fresh understanding of faith. Poems that rise above religion and redefine spirituality. Poets from any spiritual tradition are welcome. Nontheists and Freethinkers are encouraged to submit. Historically marginalized voices are especially welcome. We are not looking for poems that proselytize. Please see our webpage for complete guidelines.