September Poetry That’s Blowing Our Minds

September Poetry Preview little infinite poetry for life

We’ve been (impatiently) waiting for both Nikita Gill’s and Amanda Lovelace’s new collections. They’re finally here, making September a month of strong voices and stirring poetry.

Editor’s Picks

Great Goddesses: Life Lessons from Myths and Monsters by Nikita Gill

On sale September 3.

Description: Bestselling poet, writer, and Instagram sensation Nikita Gill returns with a collection of poetry and prose retelling the legends of the Goddesses, both great and small, in their own words.

With lyrical prose and striking verse, beloved poet Nikita Gill (Fierce FairytalesWild Embers) uses the history of Ancient Greece and beyond to explore and share the stories of the mothers, warriors, creators, survivors, and destroyers who shook the world. In pieces that burn with empathy and admiration for these women, Gill unearths the power and glory of the very foundations of mythology and culture that have been too-often ignored or pushed aside. 

Complete with beautiful hand-drawn illustrations, Gill’s poetry and stories weave old and forgotten tales of might and love into an empowering collection for the modern woman.

The Truth About Magic by Atticus

On sale September 10.

Description: From the internationally bestselling author of The Dark Between Stars and Love Her Wild, Instagram sensation Atticus returns with another romantic and deeply moving collection.

In his third collection of poems, Atticus takes us on adventure to discover the truth about magic. Through heartbreak and falling in love, looking back and looking inward, he writes about finding ourselves, finding our purpose, and the simple joys of life with grace, wit, and longing. Whether it’s drinking wine out of oak barrels, laughing until you cry, dancing in old barns until the sun comes up, or making love on sandy beaches, Atticus reminds us that magic is everywhere―we simply have to look for it.

To Drink Coffee with a Ghost by Amanda Lovelace

On sale September 17.

Description: “You cannot have a funeral for your mother without also having a funeral for yourself.”  This book poses the ever-lingering question: What happens when someone dies before they’re able to redeem themselves?

From the bestselling & award-winning poetess, amanda lovelace, comes the finale of her illustrated duology, “things that h(a)unt.” In the first installment, to make monsters out of girls,  lovelace explored the memory of being in a toxic romantic relationship. In to drink coffee with a ghost, lovelace unravels the memory of the complicated relationship she had with her now-deceased mother.

Mixed Feelings by Avan Jogia

On sale September 17.

Description: From actor Avan Jogia comes a raw and moving collection of poetry, stories, and art about living as a mixed-race person in a world increasingly fixated on racial identity.

In Mixed Feelings, Avan Jogia explores his complicated emotions around race, identity, religion, and family through poetry and imagery. Drawing on the author’s own life story as well as interviews he’s conducted with friends and strangers, Mixed Feelings serves as a dialogue starter for difficult topics that no

How to Cure a Ghost by Fariha Roisin

On sale September 24.

Description: Following in the footsteps of such category killers as Milk and Honey and Whiskey Words & a Shovel I, Fariha Róisín’s poetry book is a collection of her thoughts as a young, queer, Muslim femme navigating the difficulties of her intersectionality. Simultaneously, this compilation unpacks the contentious relationship that exists between Róisín and her mother, her platonic and romantic heartbreaks, and the cognitive dissonance felt as a result of being so divided among her broad spectrum of identities.


A Fortune For Your Disaster by Hanif Abdurraqib

On sale September 3.

Description: In his much-anticipated follow-up to The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, poet, essayist, biographer, and music critic Hanif Abdurraqib has written a book of poems about how one rebuilds oneself after a heartbreak, the kind that renders them a different version of themselves than the one they knew. It’s a book about a mother’s death, and admitting that Michael Jordan pushed off, about forgiveness, and how none of the author’s black friends wanted to listen to “Don’t Stop Believin’.” It’s about wrestling with histories, personal and shared. Abdurraqib uses touchstones from the world outside―from Marvin Gaye to Nikola Tesla to his neighbor’s dogs―to create a mirror, inside of which every angle presents a new possibility.

Levee by Paul Otremba

On sale September 3.

Description: The poems in Paul Otremba’s Levee explore the intersection between the ecological, the political, and the personal in a world built on oil and greed. The city of Houston is at once backdrop and metaphor for the ways in which violence—both natural and manmade—have become part and parcel of twenty-first-century life. “It’s a luxury to be this calm,” Otremba writes in the opening poem, a held-breath between the disastrous effects of hurricanes and cancer. Yet Otremba’s exquisite lines manage to wrest meaning from the devastation wrought by both global warming and a terminal illness: “If there is a lesson / on how not to worry, it’s that you’re not stuck only being one thing, /the multitudes in me and the multitudes in you.”

I Will Destroy You by Nick Flynn

On sale September 3.

Description: The newest collection from Nick Flynn, whose “songs of experience hum with immediacy” (The New York Times)

Beginning with a poem called “Confessional” and ending with a poem titled “Saint Augustine,” Nick Flynn’s I Will Destroy You interrogates the potential of art to be redemptive, to remake and reform. But first the maker of art must claim responsibility for his past, his actions, his propensity to destroy others and himself. “Begin by descending,” Augustine says, and the poems delve into the deepest, most defeating parts of the self: addiction, temptation, infidelity, and repressed memory. These are poems of profound self-scrutiny and lyric intensity, jagged and probing. I Will Destroy You is an honest accounting of all that love must transcend and what we must risk for its truth.

Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers by Jake Skeets

On sale September 10.

Description: Selected by Kathy Fagan as a winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series, Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers is a debut collection of poems by a dazzling geologist of queer eros.

Drunktown, New Mexico, is a place where men “only touch when they fuck in a backseat.” Its landscape is scarred by violence: done to it, done on it, done for it. Under the cover of deepest night, sleeping men are run over by trucks. Navajo bodies are deserted in fields. Resources are extracted. Lines are crossed. Men communicate through beatings, and football, and sex. In this place, “the closest men become is when they are covered in blood / or nothing at all.”

But if Jake Skeets’s collection is an unflinching portrait of the actual west, it is also a fierce reclamation of a living place―full of beauty as well as brutality, whose shadows are equally capable of protecting encounters between boys learning to become, and to love, men. Its landscapes are ravaged, but they are also startlingly lush with cacti, yarrow, larkspur, sagebrush. And even their scars are made newly tender when mapped onto the lover’s body: A spine becomes a railroad. “Veins burst oil, elk black.” And “becoming a man / means knowing how to become charcoal.” Rooted in Navajo history and thought, these poems show what has been brewing in an often forgotten part of the American literary landscape, an important language, beautiful and bone dense.

Sculptural, ambitious, and defiantly vulnerable, the poems of Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers are coal that remains coal, despite the forces that conspire for diamond, for electricity.

Tracing the Horse by Diana Marie Delgado

On sale September 10.

Description: Set in Southern California’s San Gabriel Valley, Diana Marie Delgado’s debut poetry collection follows the coming-of-age of a young Mexican-American woman trying to make sense of who she is amidst a family and community weighted by violence and addiction. With bracing vulnerability, the collection chronicles the effects of her father’s drug use and her brother’s incarceration, asking the reader to consider reclamation and the power of the self.

Dunce by Mary Ruefle

On sale September 10.

Description: Through her many projects across numerous genres, Mary Ruefle has proven herself a singular artist, drawing many fans from around the world to her unique vision. With Dunce she returns to the practice that has always been at her core: the making of poems. With her startlingly fresh sensibility, she enraptures us in poem after poem by the intensity of her attention, with the imaginative flourishes of her being-in-the-world, which is always deep with mysteries, unexpected appearances, and abiding yearning.

Letters from Max: A Poet, a Teacher, a Friendship by Sarah Ruhl

On sale September 10.

Description: In 2012, Sarah Ruhl was a distinguished author and playwright, twice a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Max Ritvo, a student in her playwriting class at Yale University, was an exuberant, opinionated, and highly gifted poet. He was also in remission from pediatric cancer.

Over the next four years―in which Ritvo’s illness returned and his health declined, even as his productivity bloomed―the two exchanged letters that spark with urgency, humor, and the desire for connection. Reincarnation, books, the afterlife as an Amtrak quiet car, good soup: in Ruhl and Ritvo’s exchanges, all ideas are fair, nourishing game, shared and debated in a spirit of generosity and love. “We’ll always know one another forever, however long ever is,” Ritvo writes. “And that’s all I want―is to know you forever.”

Studded with poems and songs, Letters from Max is a deeply moving portrait of a friendship, and a shimmering exploration of love, art, mortality, and the afterlife.

The Best American Poetry 2019 by David Lehman

On sale September 10.

Description: Since 1988, The Best American Poetry has been the leading anthology of contemporary American poetry. TheWashington Post said of the 2017 edition, “The poems…have a wonderful cohesion and flow, as if each contributes to a larger narrative about life today…While readers may question some of the selections—an annual sport with this series—most will find much that resonates, including the insightful author notes at the back of the anthology.”

The state of the world has inspired many to write poetry, and to read it—to share all the rage, beauty, and every other thing under the sun in the way that only poetry can. Now the foremost anthology of contemporary American poetry returns, guest edited by Major Jackson, the poet and editor who, “makes poems that rumble and rock” (poet Dorianne Laux). This brilliant 2019 edition includes some of the year’s most defining, striking, and innovative poems and poets.

Written in Exile (paperback) by Liu Tsung-Yuan

On sale September 17.

Description: After a failed push for political reform, the T’ang era’s greatest prose-writer, Liu Tsung-yuan, was exiled to the southern reaches of China. Thousands of miles from home and freed from the strictures of court bureaucracy, he turned his gaze inward and chronicled his estrangement in poems. Liu’s fame as a prose writer, however, overshadowed his accomplishment as a poet. Three hundred years after Liu died, the poet Su Tung-p’o ranked him as one of the greatest poets of the T’ang, along with Tu Fu, Li Pai, and Wei Ying-wu. And yet Liu is unknown in the West, with fewer than a dozen poems published in English translation. The renowned translator Red Pine discovered Liu’s poetry during his travels throughout China and was compelled to translate 140 of the 146 poems attributed to Liu. As Red Pine writes, “I was captivated by the man and by how he came to write what he did.” Appended with thoroughly researched notes, an in-depth introduction, and the Chinese originals, Written in Exile presents the long-overdue introduction of a legendary T’ang poet

Feeler by Heather McHugh

On sale September 17.

Description: Since Heather McHugh first began publishing her poems in 1968, poetry readers have marveled at the immensity and range of her gift. There seems to be nothing that McHugh can’t do with words and do with high wit and sonic brilliance. In her chapbook Feeler, McHugh takes on the fraught subject of empathy―how much we feel, and do, for the afflicted. It also addresses the relation between thought and feeling: “Nowadays I cannot tell/ the two apart: can’t feel things thoughtlessly/or think things up without emotion.”  As with only the very best poets, McHugh seamlessly combines thought and feeling, in poems that are entertaining and profound.

Soundmachine by Rachel Zucker

On sale September 17.

Description: Through heartbreaking, often comic, genre-non-conforming pieces spanning the past 10 years, Rachel Zucker trains her relentless attention on marriage, motherhood, grief, the need to speak, depression, sex, and many other topics. Part poetry, part memoir, part lyric essay—and not limited by any of these categories—SoundMachine is a book written out of the persistent feeling that the human voice is both a meaningless sound and the only way we know we exist.

Slingshot by Cyree Jarelle Johnson

On sale September 17.

Description: SLINGSHOT begins with the author ensconced in the menacing isolation of the pastoral, but once the work migrates to the City, monstrum grows form and fangs. In these messy, horny, desperate poems spun from dream logic, Cyrée Jarelle Johnson considers the consequences of black sexual and gender deviance, as well as the emotional burden of being forced to the rim of society, then punished for what keeps you alive.

Empires by John Balaban

On sale September 17.

Description: John Balaban’s sixth collection of poetry considers America in its innate beauty and complex ugliness, in its powerfully healing landscapes and its destructive misadventures. With a compelling lyricism and cinematic imagery, Empires showcases the pervasiveness of the human spirit across a diverse cast of characters, both modern and ancient. From the rubble of the World Trade Center to Washington’s troops crossing the Potomac to powerful insights into the Vietnam War, Balaban’s genius is in connecting the dots of history. Despite the destruction and persecution associated with empires, Balaban illuminates the often overlooked transcendent hope available through poetry, music, and an unwavering connection to the land. Through heart warming elegies, gripping narratives and new translations from several Romanian poets, Balaban’s poems shine a redemptive light amidst the darkness and chaos of changing empires.

Here All Night by Jill McDonough

On sale September 17.

Description: McDonough’s latest collection is fiercely unapologetic, transforming mundane moments into witty and provocative insights that closely examine the flaws in our quick-moving society. Using dark humor, the poems address the impermanence of life and how we should always find reasons to re-evaluate ourselves as empathetic beings over our selfish tendencies.

Evolution by Eileen Myles

On sale September 17.

Description: The first all-new collection of poems since 2011’s Snowflake/different streets―and following the critically acclaimed Afterglow (a dog memoir), as well as the volume of selected poems, I Must Be Living Twice―here, in Evolution, we find the eminent, exuberant writer at the forefront of American literature, upending genre in a new vernacular that enacts―like nobody else―the way we speak (inside and out) today. Evolution, with its channeling of Quakers, Fresca, and cell phones, radiates vital insight, purpose, and risk, like in these opening lines of the title poem:

Something
unearthly
about
today
so I buy
a Diet Coke &
a newspaper
a version of “me” 
something
about me on the
earth & its sneakers
& feeling like
the earth’s furniture
but that can’t be
true or like
the coke & the Times
it’s true for a little
while.

Even the Saints Audition by Raych Jackson

On sale September 24.

Description: In Even the Saints Audtion Raych Jackson reclaims her body and her church.

Even the Saints Audition is a book of poems exploring the relationship between blackness, shame, and what it is to live a life tied to the church. Rich with historical context and a deeply engaging personal narrative.

Includes poems such as “Period Rules”, “A Wasted Ass Shave”, and “I Ask What ‘Circumcision’ Means in a Full Sunday School Class” that have been watched by millions online.

Gilgamesh: The Life of a Poem by Michael Schmidt

On sale September 24.

Description: Gilgamesh is the most ancient long poem known to exist. It is also the newest classic in the canon of world literature. Lost for centuries to the sands of the Middle East but found again in the 1850s, it tells the story of a great king, his heroism, and his eventual defeat. It is a story of monsters, gods, and cataclysms, and of intimate friendship and love. Acclaimed literary historian Michael Schmidt provides a unique meditation on the rediscovery of Gilgamesh and its profound influence on poets today.

Schmidt describes how the poem is a work in progress even now, an undertaking that has drawn on the talents and obsessions of an unlikely cast of characters, from archaeologists and museum curators to tomb raiders and jihadis. Fragments of the poem, incised on clay tablets, were scattered across a huge expanse of desert when it was recovered in the nineteenth century. The poem had to be reassembled, its languages deciphered. The discovery of a pre-Noah flood story was front-page news on both sides of the Atlantic, and the poem’s allure only continues to grow as additional cuneiform tablets come to light. Its translation, interpretation, and integration are ongoing.

In this illuminating book, Schmidt discusses the special fascination Gilgamesh holds for contemporary poets, arguing that part of its appeal is its captivating otherness. He reflects on the work of leading poets such as Charles Olson, Louis Zukofsky, and Yusef Komunyakaa, whose own encounters with the poem are revelatory, and he reads its many translations and editions to bring it vividly to life for readers.

Ringer by Rebecca Lehmann

On sale September 24.

Description: Ringer approaches womanhood from two directions: an examination of ways that women’s identities are tied to domestic spaces, like homes, cars, grocery stores, and daycare centers; and a consideration of physical, sexual, and political violence against women, both historically and in the present day. Lehmann’s poems look outward, and go beyond cataloguing trespasses against women by biting back against patriarchal systems of oppression, and against perpetrators of violence against women. Many poems in Ringer are ecopoetical, functioning in a “junk” or “sad” pastoral mode, inhabiting abandoned, forgotten, and sometimes impoverished landscapes of rural America.

The Next Loves by Stephane Bouquet

On sale September 24.

Description: In Stéphane Bouquet’s The Next Loves, French poetic tradition meets the New York School poets in a unique take on homosexuality, desire, loneliness, and love in an era of global inequality and fundamental precarity. Bouquet’s work delicately carves out space for passages from I to you to the collective we.

Vantage by Taneum Bambrick

On sale September 24.

Description: Vantage is a fictionalized account of the poet’s real experiences working as the only woman on a six-person garbage crew around the reservoirs of two massive dams. Bambrick began writing poems in order to document the forms of violence she witnessed towards the people and the environment of the Columbia River. While working there she found that reservoirs foster a uniquely complex community―from fish biologists to the owners of luxury summer homes―and became interested in the issues and tensions between the people of that place. The idea of power, literal and metaphorical, was present in every action and encounter with bosses and the people using the river. The presence of a young woman on the crew irritated her older, male co-workers who’d logged, built houses, and had to suffer various forms of class discrimination their entire lives. She found throughout this experience that their issues, while not the same, were inherently connected to the suffering of the lands they worked. Introduction by Sharon Olds.

Serious Concerns (re-release) by Wendy Cope

On sale September 24.

Description: Wendy Cope’s first book of poems and parodies, Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis, went straight into the bestseller lists. Its successor, Serious Concerns has proved even more popular, addressing such topics as “Bloody Men”, “Men and Their Boring Arguments”, “Two Cures for Love”, “Kindness to Animals” and “Tumps” (Typically Useless Male Poets).

This beautifully designed edition forms part of a series of ten titles celebrating Faber’s publishing over the decades.