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Memorial Hall Library

April is National Tortured Poets Month

Have you listened to Taylor Swift's new album, The Tortured Poets Department? (If not: it's available to stream on Hoopla!) It may have inspired you to check out some contemporary tortured poets. In honor of National Poetry Month, here are some new works by contemporary poets--you'll have to read for yourself to determine how tortured they are.

Black Bell
Black Bell
by Alison C. Rollins

Inspired by the nineteenth century image of an enslaved woman wearing iron horns and bells, Alison C. Rollins's Black Bell continues an exploration of cataloging individual experience and collective memory. As Rollins sets out to resuscitate and embody the archive, we see a chorus of historical figures like Eliza Harris, Henry "Box" Brown, and Lear Green; readers can listen in as Phillis Wheatley takes a Turing test or venture through Dante's Inferno remixed with Wu-Tang Clan's 36 Chambers. Poems travel across time and space, between the eighteenth century and futuristic fabulations, vibrating with fugitive frequencies, sounds of survival, and nerve-wracking notes tuned toward love and liberation. Black Bell navigates what it means to be both invisible and spectacle, hidden and on display, allowing lyric language to become the material for fashioning wearable sculptures akin to Nick Cave's "soundsuits." Integrating performance art practices, metalwork, and sonic, Black Bell becomes multimedia meditation on freedom seeking, furthering the possibilities of both the page and the canvas of the poet's body.
The blue mimes : poems
The blue mimes : poems
by Sara Daniele Rivera

Rivera's poems travel between Albuquerque, Lima, and Havana, deserts and coastlines and cities, Spanish and English--between modes of language and culture that shape the contours of memory and expose the fault lines of the self. In those inevitable fractures, with honest, off-kilter precision, Rivera vividly renders the ways in which the bereft become approximations of themselves as a means of survival, mimicking the stilted actions of the people they once were. Where speech is not enough, this astonishing collection finds a radical practice in continued searching, endurance without promise--the rifts in communion and incomplete pictures that afford the possibility to heal.
Couplets : a love story
Couplets : a love story
by Maggie Millner

A collection of poems that describes the story of an ordinary woman living in Brooklyn who has closeted lesbian feelings until she meets someone who forces her to explore obsession, gender, queerness and identity. 
Falling back in love with being human : letters to lost souls
Falling back in love with being human : letters to lost souls
by Kai Cheng Thom

An award-winning writer, performance artist and community healer presents a collection of tender and poetic love letters that guide readers towards cultivating empathy, forgiving others and embracing oneself while teaching readers to fall back in love with being human. Original.
Rose quartz : poems
Rose quartz : poems
by Sasha taqwéseblu LaPointe

A wild, seductive debut collection that presents a powerful journey of struggle and healing-and a spellbinding brew of folklore, movies, music, and ritual.
Saltwater demands a psalm : poems
Saltwater demands a psalm : poems
by Kweku Abimbola

In Ghana's Akan tradition, on the eighth day of life a child is named according to the day of the week on which they were born. This marks their true birth. In Kweku Abimbola's rhapsodic debut, the intimacy of this practice yields an intricately layered poetics of time and body based in Black possibility, ancestry, and joy. While odes and praise songs celebrate rituals of self- and collective-care-of durags, stank faces, and dance-Abimbola's elegies imagine alternate lives and afterlives for those slai nby police, returning to naming as a means of rebirth and reconnection following the lost understanding of time and space that accompanies Black death. Saltwater Demands a Psalm creates a cosmology in search of Black eternity governed by Adinkra symbols-pictographs central to Ghanaian language and culture in their proverbial meanings- and rooted in units of time created from the rhythms of Black life. These poems groove, remix, and recenter African language and spiritual practice to rejoice in liberation's struggles and triumphs. Abimbola's poetry invokes the ecstasy and sorrow of saying the names of the departed, of seeing and being seen, of being called and calling back.
Song of my softening
Song of my softening
by Omotara James

A profound and intersectional text, Song of My Softening is a queer, fat, love song of the interior. Poems study the ever-changing relationship with oneself, while also investigating the relationship that the world and nation has with Black queerness. This book is a window into what perseverance looks like, ungilded, a mirror for anyone born into a culture outside of their identity, who has survived alienation, violation, depression, and systematized oppression. Unspoken truths about the body and soul are mused with openness, candor, and tenderness.
Spectral evidence : poems
Spectral evidence : poems
by Gregory Pardlo

A beloved Pulitzer Prize-winning poet forces us to consider how we think about devotion beauty and art; about the criminalization and death of black lives; about justice and how these have been inscribed into our present, our history and the Western canon.
With my back to the world : poems
With my back to the world : poems
by Victoria Chang

A new collection of poetry inspired by the work of Agnes Martin, exploring topics of feminism, art, depression, and grief, by the author of the prizewinning collection Obit.
A year of last things : poems
A year of last things : poems
by Michael Ondaatje

Following several of his internationally acclaimed, beloved novels, A Year of Last Things is Michael Ondaatje's long-awaited return to poetry. In pieces that are sometimes wittily funny, moving, and always wise, we journey back through time by way of alchemical leaps, unearthing writings by revered masters, moments of shared tenderness, and abandoned landscapes we hold onto to rediscover the influence of every border crossed. Moving from a Sri Lankan boarding school to Moliere's chair during his last stage performance, to Bulgarian churches and their icons, to a California coast, and his beloved Canadian rivers, Michael Ondaatje casts a brilliant eye that merges his past and present, in the way memory and the distant shores of art and lost friends continue to influence all that surrounds him.
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