New and forthcoming

The Penguin Book of the Prose Poem

Jeremy Noel-Tod

The last decades have seen an explosion of the prose poem. More and more writers are turning to this peculiarly rich and flexible form; it defines Claudia Rankine's Citizen, one of the most talked-about books of recent years, and many others, such as Sarah Howe's Loop of Jade and Vahni Capildeo's Measures of Expatriation, make extensive use of it. Yet this fertile mode which in its time has drawn the likes of Charles Baudelaire, Oscar Wilde, T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein and Seamus Heaney remains, for many contemporary readers, something of a mystery.

The history of the prose poem is a long and fascinating one. Here, Jeremy Noel-Tod reconstructs it for us by selecting the essential pieces of writing - by turns luminous, brooding, lamentatory and comic - which have defined and developed the form at each stage, from its beginnings in nineteenth-century France, through the twentieth-century traditions of Britain and America and beyond the English language, to the great wealth of material written internationally since 2000. Comprehensively told, it yields one of the most original and genre-changing anthologies to be published for some years, and offers readers the chance to discover a diverse range of new poets and new kinds of poem, while also meeting famous names in an unfamiliar guise.

The House with Only an Attic and a Basement

Kathryn Maris

'But back to the summer day the spike
grazed my brother's scalp: I slept beside him
in his racing car bed and my father woke me
and slapped my face, thinking, I assume, of sex,
whereas I was already thinking about death.'

Urban, suburban, observant, obsessive and wickedly witty, the poems in Kathryn Maris's third book range over such subjects as parenthood, marriage, adultery, the politics of children's sports contests, female incarceration and psychoanalysis. The House with Only an Attic and a Basement is that rare thing: a darkly funny collection of poems that courses with keen intelligence, yet carries its sophistication lightly so that it is a pleasure to stride along with every poem.

Asylum

Sean Borodale

Like his two previous books, Asylum was written live on-site; in this case deep within the caves, mines, quarries, geological and archaeological horizons of the Mendip hills in Somerset. The poems stage modes of exile in the darkness of earth, enacting solidarity with those others who have made their journey into the underworld – Dante, Orpheus, blinded Oedipus, Euripides. These are semi-dramatic voicings, staged across the thirty-mile theatre of the Mendip subterranean: each an act of recovery, of rescue. Traversing the broken, collapsed, eroded stones, looking for voices that express the damaged and the damned, Asylum pays homage to the darkness of the human cave: its memories and ancient histories, and to its more contemporary signals – internationally-owned quarries, abandoned coal mines, decommissioned Cold War bunkers.

As with Bee Journal and Human Work, these poems take on the nature of the experience recorded. Written blind, as it were, the diction here becomes mineral, deeply tactile – hard and granular, alert to sound in its own blackness. Descending underground with the poet is to enter a theatre of heightened senses, and these extraordinary poems feel both unearthed and unearthly.

Don't Call Us Dead

Danez Smith

Award-winning poet Danez Smith is a groundbreaking force, celebrated for deft lyrics, urgent subjects, and performative power. Don’t Call Us Dead opens with a heartrending sequence that imagines an afterlife for black men shot by police, a place where suspicion, violence, and grief are forgotten and replaced with the safety, love, and longevity they deserved back here on earth. Smith turns then to desire, mortality—the dangers experienced in skin and body and blood—and a diagnosis of HIV positive. “Some of us are killed / in pieces,” Smith writes, “some of us all at once.” Don’t Call Us Dead is an astonishing and ambitious collection, one that confronts, praises, and rebukes America—“Dear White America”—where every day is too often a funeral and not often enough a miracle.

history is what it is. it knows what it did.
bad dog. bad blood. bad day to be a boy

color of a July well spent. but here, not earth
not heaven, we can’t recall our white shirts

turned ruby gowns. here, there’s no language
for officer or law, no color to call white.

if snow fell, it’d fall black. please, don’t call
us dead, call us alive someplace better.

we say our own names when we pray.
we go out for sweets & come back.

—from “summer, somewhere”

One Hundred Poets, One Poem Each

Peter MacMillan (and others)

A prize-winning translation of the most widely known and popular collection of Japanese poetry.

Hyakunin Isshu is the most famous and popular collection of Japanese poetry, and the first work of Japanese literature ever to be translated into English. Compiled in the fourteenth century, the book is a collection of one hundred waka poems (a precursor of haiku), dating back to the seventh century. It's had a huge influence on Japanese culture ever since it was first published, and is considered one of the three most important works of Japanese classical literature along with The Tale of Genji and Tales of Ise.

The Penguin Book of Haiku

Adam L. Kern (and others)

The first Penguin anthology of Japanese haiku, in vivid new translations by Adam L. Kern.

Now a global poetry, the haiku was originally a Japanese verse form that flourished from the sixteenth to nineteenth centuries. Although renowned for its brevity, usually running over three lines in seventeen syllables, and by its use of natural imagery to make Zen-like observations about reality, in fact the haiku is much more: it can be erotic, funny, crude and mischievous. Presenting over a thousand exemplars in vivid and engaging translations, this anthology offers an illuminating introduction to this widely celebrated, if misunderstood, art form.

Adam L. Kern's new translations are accompanied here by the original Japanese and short commentaries on the poems, as well as an introduction and illustrations from the period.

Hera Lindsay Bird

Hera Lindsay Bird

New Zealand's best-selling poetry collection, from the mysterious force behind such classics as 'Monica' (as in, the one from Friends) and 'Keats is Dead so F**k Me from Behind'

this impressive debut has established Hera Lindsay Bird as a good girl......with many beneficial thoughts and feelings......

with themes as varied as snow and tears, the poems in this collection shine with the fantastic cream of who she is................juxtaposing many classical and modern breezes

Bird turns her prescient eye on love and loss, and what emerges is like a helicopter in fog......or a bejewelled Christmas sleigh, gliding triumphantly through the contemporary aesthetic desert.........

this is at once an intelligent and compelling fantasy of tenderness......

heart-breaking and charged with trees......without once sacrificing the forest............

whether you are masturbating luxuriously in your parents' sleepout..........

..........or pushing a pork roast home in a vintage pram...................

this is the book for you.............................................

heroically and compulsively stupid..................................................................

...........................................................whipping you once again into medieval sunlight.


PRAISE FOR HERA LINDSAY BIRD

'I think there's a pretty strong case which suggests Hera Lindsay Bird is like the most exciting newish poet in NZ' - Steve Braunias

'On more than one occasion, while working through a poem, I have found myself asking, what would Hera Lindsay Bird do?' - Bill Manhire

'Hi, dear, we have to say how much we enjoyed, if right word, the Hate poem. Really made us think, loved the line about the ancient cannon' - Text message from Ashleigh Young's mum

'The wickedest problem in Hera Lindsay Bird is not sex but taste' - John Newton

Penguin Modern Poets 6

Maggie Nelson (and others)

The Penguin Modern Poets are succinct, collectible, lovingly-assembled guides to the richness and diversity of contemporary poetry, from the UK, America and beyond. Every volume brings together representative selections from the work of three poets now writing, allowing the seasoned poetry lover and the curious reader alike to encounter our most exciting new voices.

Volume 6, Dark Looks, features the work of Maggie Nelson and Claudia Rankine, the two American poets who, in hybrid books bridging the divide between poetry, lyric prose, life-writing and theory such as Bluets, The Argonauts, Don't Let Me Be Lonely and Citizen, have transformed the literary landscape over the last 15 years, alongside that of Denise Riley, who for decades has been exploring closely related concerns - motherhood; identity and oppression; loss; the language and words that build, or assault, our selves - as one of the best-kept secrets of British poetry, now fittingly recognized by a string of shortlistings and awards. These are writers who combine deep thought with deep feeling to illuminate our world, how we suffer in it, how we resist it, and how we can live with and love it.

The Poetry Pharmacy

William Sieghart

As heard on BBC Radio 4, the essential prescriptions from William Sieghart's poetic dispensary

When we're grieving, when we're broken-hearted, and when we find ourselves struggling to understand the things we're feeling, we long for the connection poetry can provide. To find the right poem at that crucial moment, one capable of expressing our situation with considerably more elegance than we could muster ourselves, is to discover a powerful sense of complicity, and that precious realization: I'm not the only one who feels like this.

In the years since he first had the idea of prescribing short, powerful poems for all manner of spiritual ailments, William Sieghart has taken his Poetry Pharmacy around the length and breadth of Britain, into the pages of the Guardian, onto BBC Radio 4 and onto the television, honing his prescriptions all the time. This pocket-sized book presents the most essential poems in his dispensary: those which, again and again, have really shown themselves to work. Whether you are suffering from loneliness, lack of courage, heartbreak, hopelessness, or even from an excess of ego, there is something here to ease your pain.

bone

Yrsa Daley-Ward (and others)

'yrsa daley-ward's 'bone' is a symphony of breaking and mending. an expert storyteller. of the rarest. and purest kind - daley-ward is uncannily attentive and in tune to the things beneath life. beneath the skin. beneath the weather of the everyday.' nayyirah waheed. author of salt. and nejma

'You will come away bruised.
You will come away bruised
but this will give you poetry.'

Raw and stark, the poems in Yrsa Daley-Ward's breakthrough collection strip down her reflections on the heart, life, the inner self, coming of age, faith and loss to their essence. They resonate to the core of experience.

'Sharing is her form of survival ... A powerful collection of a woman facing tumultuous inner and external battles head on, delivered with a hard-hitting directness, yet with inflections of optimism throughout' i-D Magazine

'Bone has been one of my favourites so far' Florence Welch

Doctor Who: Now We Are Six Hundred

James Goss (and others)

RETIRING

On days I don’t want to Doctor much
I worry that I shall lose my touch
All that running down those corridors
Thwartings of tyrants and dreadful bores
Brave rescues from the Foul Monster’s Lair
And firm trouncing all the Demons There.

Chaos never ends, oh that’s the shame
So yes I tire of just one more game.
Sometimes when the same old fight begins
I fear, just once, I’ll let Evil win.
And then, on second thought, perhaps I won’t
Because they’re Monsters, and so I don’t.
On days like that I don’t think at all
That being the Doctor’s so bad after all.

Poems of Gratitude

Emily Fragos

For centuries poets in all the world's cultures have offered eloquent thanks and praise for the earth and its people. Both an emotion and a conscious practice, gratitude is a cherishing of what is over what has been or could be. It celebrates the joy in our lives while acknowledging the sorrows and losses that give that joy its keenness. The voices collected here range from Horace to Herrick, from Wordsworth and Keats, Yeats and Frost, to Czeslaw Milosz, Constantine Cavafy, Primo Levi, Langston Hughes, Anne Sexton, Nikki Giovanni, and many many more. Devotional lyrics drawn from the major religious traditions offer their perspectives, alongside poetic tributes to autumn and the harvest season that draw our attention to nature's bounty and poignant beauty as winter approaches.

You can never have enough books…

Sign up for news on our latest and greatest reads