With heart and insight, the poems in Alise Alousi’s What to Count speak to what it means to come of age as an Iraqi American during the first Gulf War and its continuing aftermath, but also to the joy and complexity of motherhood, daughterhood, and what it means to live a creative life. More than a description of the world, Alousi’s poetry actively lives in and of the world. These poems explore the nuances of memory through the changes wrought by time, conflict, and distance. In “The Ocularist” and “Art,” and others, Alousi’s extraordinary verbal deftness precisely locates the still-tender pains and triumphs of collective being while trying to be an individual in the world. What to Count is a remarkable collection of contemporary poetry—both a lyrical splendor and a contemplative account of lineage, silenced history, and identity.
This powerful collection of poems draws on American and African-American experimental lyric traditions, pushing language and form to their limits. Geoffrey Jacques’s poetry inspires deep thought, taking up themes of music, psychology, and literature. This work embodies the potential of poetry to forge new connections between aesthetic expression and the often onerous facts of human existence. Poems such as “Still Life” and “Detour Ahead” produce a juxtaposition of inspired poetic form and rich, complex realities of life, addressing topics of joy and love, race, class, politics, and the aesthetics of the everyday. With a contemporary and sophisticated tenor, Jacques lends his uniquely moving and provocative perspective to advancing discourse in these critical topics.
You Cannot Resist Me When My Hair is in Braids Creative Nonfiction by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang Wayne State University Press, March 2022 ISBN: 9780814349410 Paperback, 118pp; $18.99
From their Made in Michigan Writers Series, award-winning poet, essayist, journalist, activist, scholar focused on issues of Asian America, race, justice, and the arts Frances Kai-Hwa writes about building a new life with four children after a messy divorce. These twenty-seven lyrical essays move between personal and cultural topics from bossy aunties, unreliable suitors, and an uncertain political landscape and reflect on lessons learned from both Asian American elders and young multiracial children. Black and white photographs accompany some of the essays.
In Far Company reveals Cindy Hunter Morgan thinking about the many ways we carry the natural world inside of us as a kind of embedded cartography. Many of these poems commune not only with lost ancestors but also past poets. She offers conversations with Emily Dickinson, James Wright, Walt Whitman, and W. S. Merwin. These poets, who are part of Hunter Morgan’s poetic lineage, are beloved figures in the far company she keeps, but the poems she writes are distinctly hers.