The Volta: Friday Feature

Best Books of 2012
Mathias Svalina

These are some poetry books published in the last twelve months that made me think things I enjoyed thinking:

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Heather Christle. What Is Amazing. Wesleyan University Press.

Makes me want to keep keeping up the effort. Each poem is like an organ in my belly I didn't know I had until one morning it smiled at me.

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Lucille Clifton. Collected Poems. BOA Editions.

I'd never read her deeply, only here & there in anthologies. It's a magnificent collection of a magnificent life. I'm not done with it & I hope I'm never done with it.

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CAConrad. A Beautiful Marsupial Afternoon: New (Soma)tics. Wave Books.

The official Prom King of Poetry High School releases a guide to being without being a fuckface.

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Kate Durbin. E! Entertainment. Insert Press.

This is what viewers don't know about the blood-trails television leaves across their eyelids. Looking forward to the full-length collection.

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Jack Gilbert. Collected Poems. Random House, Inc.

I have a love-hate thing with his work. I have a love-hate thing with myself.

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Cathy Park Hong. Engine Empire. W. W. Norton.

I'd give it all up to live in Cathy Park Hong's imagination.

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Ji Yoon Lee. Imma. Radioactive Moat.

If I were ever to join an apocalyptic suicide cult, it'd be because these poems lured me into it. And that’s cool. I like doing things.

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Jackson Mac Low: 154 Forties. Counterpath Press.

Hilarious, tectonic, virtuosic poems that'll have you grabbing for the dictionary only to realize you just scooped your own brain out of the vat in which you'd stored it.

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Hoa Ngyuen. As Long as Trees Last. Wave Books.

The troof.

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Idra Novey. Exit, Civilian. University of Georgia Press.

A meditation on imprisonment, using surrealism as a tool to understanding the real; this is a smart & immaculately crafted book that deserves & rewards you.

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Dg Nanouk Okpik. Corpse Whale. The University of Arizona Press.

Proving that the post-post-modern was invented long, long ago. This book has taught me more about what a tale is than all my attempted atavisms.

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Andrea Rexilius. Half of What They Carried Flew Away. Letter Machine Editions.

In a hundred years everyone else I'm reading & all the poet nerds I love will probably be known as minor footnotes in the numerous critical biographies & studies of Andrea Rexilius. I don't know who you are, person skimming this list, but you should read this book.

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Zachary Schomburg. Fjords, Vol. 1. Black Ocean.

The only poet out there every day in his rowboat saving people from drowning. My favorite poet writing my favorite poems.

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Giovanni Singleton. Ascension. Counterpath Press.

Loss as a generation of experience. Beauty in swirl. And directions for making a solid cup of chai.

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Julian Talamantez Brolanski. Advice for Lovers. City Lights.

A disruptive reimagining of the ideology of Elizabethan love poetry that is itself as stunningly beautiful as Spenser. Sexy, crude, delicate & crucial.

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Mathias Svalina is the author of three books, most recently The Explosions (Subito, 2012). With Alisa Heinzman & Zachary Schomburg, he co-edits Octopus Books.