Harrowing poems from a dark corner of American history by the winner of the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry.
Harrowing poems from a dark corner of American history by the winner of the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize in Poetry.
In System of Ghosts, Lindsay Tigue details the way landscape speaks to isolation and personhood, how virtual and lived networks alter experience. She questions how built environments structure lives, how we seek out information within these spaces, and, most fundamentally, how we love. Rooted in the personal, the speaker of this collection moves through society and history, with the aim of firmly placing herself within her own life and loss. Facts become an essential bridge between spatial and historical boundaries. She connects us to the disappearance of species, abandoned structures, and heartbreak—abandoned spaces that tap into the searing grief woven into society’s public places. There is solace in research, one system this collection uses to examine the isolation of contemporary life alongside personal, historical, and ecological loss. While her poems are intimate and personal, Tigue never turns away from the larger contexts within which we all live. System of Ghosts is, at its core, an act of reaching out—across time, space, history, and across the room.
Longlisted for the 2016 National Book Award for Nonfiction One of America’s great miscarriages of justice, the Supreme Court’s infamous 1927 Buck v. Bell ruling made government sterilization of “undesirable” citizens the law of the land In 1927, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling so disturbing, ignorant, and cruel that it stands as one of the great injustices in American history. In Imbeciles, bestselling author Adam Cohen exposes the court’s decision to allow the sterilization of a young woman it wrongly thought to be “feebleminded” and to champion the mass eugenic sterilization of undesirable citizens for the greater good of the country. The 8–1 ruling was signed by some of the most revered figures in American law—including Chief Justice William Howard Taft, a former U.S. president; and Louis Brandeis, a progressive icon. Oliver Wendell Holmes, considered by many the greatest Supreme Court justice in history, wrote the majority opinion, including the court’s famous declaration “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” Imbeciles is the shocking story of Buck v. Bell, a legal case that challenges our faith in American justice. A gripping courtroom drama, it pits a helpless young woman against powerful scientists, lawyers, and judges who believed that eugenic measures were necessary to save the nation from being “swamped with incompetence.” At the center was Carrie Buck, who was born into a poor family in Charlottesville, Virginia, and taken in by a foster family, until she became pregnant out of wedlock. She was then declared “feebleminded” and shipped off to the Colony for Epileptics and Feeble-Minded. Buck v. Bell unfolded against the backdrop of a nation in the thrall of eugenics, which many Americans thought would uplift the human race. Congress embraced this fervor, enacting the first laws designed to prevent immigration by Italians, Jews, and other groups charged with being genetically inferior. Cohen shows how Buck arrived at the colony at just the wrong time, when influential scientists and politicians were looking for a “test case” to determine whether Virginia’s new eugenic sterilization law could withstand a legal challenge. A cabal of powerful men lined up against her, and no one stood up for her—not even her lawyer, who, it is now clear, was in collusion with the men who wanted her sterilized. In the end, Buck’s case was heard by the Supreme Court, the institution established by the founders to ensure that justice would prevail. The court could have seen through the false claim that Buck was a threat to the gene pool, or it could have found that forced sterilization was a violation of her rights. Instead, Holmes, a scion of several prominent Boston Brahmin families, who was raised to believe in the superiority of his own bloodlines, wrote a vicious, haunting decision upholding Buck’s sterilization and imploring the nation to sterilize many more. Holmes got his wish, and before the madness ended some sixty to seventy thousand Americans were sterilized. Cohen overturns cherished myths and demolishes lauded figures in relentless pursuit of the truth. With the intellectual force of a legal brief and the passion of a front-page exposé, Imbeciles is an ardent indictment of our champions of justice and our optimistic faith in progress, as well as a triumph of American legal and social history. From the Hardcover edition.
An award-winning and hard-hitting new voice in contemporary American poetry The first time I ever came the light was weak and carnivorous. I covered my eyes and the night cleared its dumb throat. I heard my mother wringing her hands the next morning. Of course I put my underwear on backwards, of course the elastic didn't work. What I wanted most at that moment was a sandwich. But I just nursed on this leather whip. I just splattered my sheets with my sadness. —from “Poem of My Humiliations” “What is life but a cross / over rotten water?” Poet, novelist, and essayist Erika L. Sánchez’s powerful debut poetry collection explores what it means to live on both sides of the border—the border between countries, languages, despair and possibility, and the living and the dead. Sánchez tells her own story as the daughter of undocumented Mexican immigrants and as part of a family steeped in faith, work, grief, and expectations. The poems confront sex, shame, race, and an America roiling with xenophobia, violence, and laws of suspicion and suppression. With candor and urgency, and with the unblinking eyes of a journalist, Sánchez roves from the individual life into the lives of sex workers, narco-traffickers, factory laborers, artists, and lovers. What emerges is a powerful, multifaceted portrait of survival. Lessons on Expulsion is the first book by a vibrant, essential new writer now breaking into the national literary landscape.
*Finalist for the 2017 PEN Open Book Award* *Finalist for the 2016 National Book Award* Solmaz Sharif's astonishing first book, Look, asks us to see the ongoing costs of war as the unbearable loss of human lives and also the insidious abuses against our everyday speech. In this virtuosic array of poems, lists, shards, and sequences, Sharif assembles her family's and her own fragmented narratives in the aftermath of warfare. Those repercussions echo into the present day, in the grief for those killed in America's invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and in the discrimination endured at the checkpoints of daily encounter. At the same time, these poems point to the ways violence is conducted against our language. Throughout this collection are words and phrases lifted from the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms; in their seamless inclusion, Sharif exposes the devastating euphemisms deployed to sterilize the language, control its effects, and sway our collective resolve. But Sharif refuses to accept this terminology as given, and instead turns it back on its perpetrators. "Let it matter what we call a thing," she writes. "Let me look at you." Daily I sit with the language they've made of our language to NEUTRALIZE the CAPABILITY of LOW DOLLAR VALUE ITEMs like you. You are what is referred to as a "CASUALTY." --from "Personal Effects"
The astonishing, powerful debut by the winner of a 2016 Whiting Writers' Award WHEREAS her birth signaled the responsibility as mother to teach what it is to be Lakota therein the question: What did I know about being Lakota? Signaled panic, blood rush my embarrassment. What did I know of our language but pieces? Would I teach her to be pieces? Until a friend comforted, Don’t worry, you and your daughter will learn together. Today she stood sunlight on her shoulders lean and straight to share a song in Diné, her father’s language. To sing she motions simultaneously with her hands; I watch her be in multiple musics. —from “WHEREAS Statements” WHEREAS confronts the coercive language of the United States government in its responses, treaties, and apologies to Native American peoples and tribes, and reflects that language in its officiousness and duplicity back on its perpetrators. Through a virtuosic array of short lyrics, prose poems, longer narrative sequences, resolutions, and disclaimers, Layli Long Soldier has created a brilliantly innovative text to examine histories, landscapes, her own writing, and her predicament inside national affiliations. “I am,” she writes, “a citizen of the United States and an enrolled member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, meaning I am a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation—and in this dual citizenship I must work, I must eat, I must art, I must mother, I must friend, I must listen, I must observe, constantly I must live.” This strident, plaintive book introduces a major new voice in contemporary literature.
Traces the history of eugenics in the United States, drawing on personal letters, diaries, and documents to chronicle the little-known quest for racial purity.
"Sinuous and sensual, the poems of In Full Velvet interrogate the nuances of desire, love, gender, ecology, LGBTQ lineage and community, and the tension between a body's material limits and the forms made possible by the imagination. Characterized by formal poise, vulnerability, and compassion, Johnson's debut collection is one of resounding generosity and grace. Jenny Johnson is a recipient of the 2015 Whiting Writers' Award, and the 2016 Hodder Fellowship at Princeton. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania"--
ONE OF PUBLISHERS WEEKLY'S TOP 10 POETRY BOOKS OF FALL 2017 NPR'S MOST ANTICIPATED POETRY BOOKS OF 2017 A striking, full-length debut collection from Virgin Islands-born poet Nicole Sealey The existential magnitude, deep intellect, and playful subversion of St. Thomas-born, Florida-raised poet Nicole Sealey’s work is restless in its empathic, succinct examination and lucid awareness of what it means to be human. The ranging scope of inquiry undertaken in Ordinary Beast—at times philosophical, emotional, and experiential—is evident in each thrilling twist of image by the poet. In brilliant, often ironic lines that move from meditation to matter of fact in a single beat, Sealey’s voice is always awake to the natural world, to the pain and punishment of existence, to the origins and demises of humanity. Exploring notions of race, sexuality, gender, myth, history, and embodiment with profound understanding, Sealey’s is a poetry that refuses to turn a blind eye or deny. It is a poetry of daunting knowledge.
What it Done to Us, by Essy Stone, is a poetry of narrative tension, sense of place, and with a wide-angle scan of lyrical language. There is a landscape here, the depiction of Appalachia, a beautiful backdrop of loves and struggles with violence, poverty and all its minions such as drugs and crime, and its religion. Stone has created a southern gothic for today, a testament, a collection that could be the mythology that we find at the intersection of flesh and spirit, or maybe it's the reveal to a hard-times question like, ?Why does the Devil get here faster than God every time?" This is a tough community that Stone, with a deft touch of empathy and eloquence, shows us and we begin to know these folk. These poems are understated but highly charged vignettes from the hollers, a shadow world of the embattled folk who bear up and just do what needs done without apology. This is a stunning debut collection, and it is our introduction to an amazing poet.
Winner of the 2016 New Issues Prize
This gorgeous debut speaks with heart-wrenching intimacy and first-hand experience to the hot-button political issues of immigration and border crossings.
Parsing the intersections between science and personal history, and contemplating archival letters from 17th- and 18th-century scientists along with new studies in biological phenomena, Molberg's poems examine complexities of relationships with parents and the faultiness of certainty about earthly permanence.--
In poems inspired by and sometimes borrowing their forms from the novena, a nine-day Catholic prayer addressing and seeking intercession from the Virgin Mary, Jacques Rancourt explores the complexities of faith, desire, beauty, and justice. Novena is a collection that invites prayer not to symbols of dogmatic perfection but to those who are outcast or maligned, LGBTQ people, people in prison, people who resist, people who suffer and whose suffering has not been redeemed. In Novena, the Virgin Mary is recast as a drag queen, religious icons are merged with those who are abolished, and spiritual isolation is scrutinized in a queer pastoral.