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Meet Us By The Roaring Sea

By Akil Kumarasamy

In the near future, a young woman finds her mother’s body starfished on the kitchen floor in Queens and sets on a journey through language, archives, artificial intelligence, and TV for a way back into herself. She begins to translate an old manuscript about a group of female medical students—living through a drought and at the edge of the war—as they create a new way of existence to help the people around them. In the process, the translator’s life and the manuscript begin to become entangled.

Along the way, the arrival of a childhood friend, a stranger, and an unusual AI project will force her to question her own moral compass and sense of goodness. How involved are we in the suffering of others? What does real compassion look like? How do you make a better world?

The Bird Tattoo

By Dunya Mikhail

Helen is a young Yazidi woman, living with her family in a mountain village in Sinjar, northern Iraq. One day she finds a local bird caught in a trap, and frees it, just as the trapper, Elias, returns. At first angry, he soon sees the error of his ways and vows never to keep a bird captive again.

Helen and Elias fall deeply in love, marry and start a family in Sinjar.  The village has seemed to stand apart from time, protected by the mountains and too small to attract much political notice. But their happy existence is suddenly shattered when Elias, a journalist, goes missing. A brutal organization is sweeping over the land, infiltrating even the remotest corners, its members cloaking their violence in religious devotion. Helen’s search for her husband results in her own captivity and enslavement.

She eventually escapes her captors and is reunited with some of her family. But her life is forever changed. Elias remains missing and her sons, now young recruits to the organization, are like strangers. Will she find harmony and happiness again?

Dunya Mikhail’s The Bird Tattoo chronicles a world of great upheaval, love and loss, beauty and horror, and will stay in readers’ minds long after the last page.

Chrome Valley

By Mahogany L. Browne

A highly anticipated volume from critically acclaimed poet Mahogany L. Browne, Chrome Valley is at once a luminous hymn and a battle cry. Spanning the course of her own life as well as embodying centuries of virulent history, this collection pays solemn tribute to the women who came before her. Musically effervescent yet cutting poems capture the peculiar joys and pangs of Black girlhood: “you ain’t had freedom / ’til you climb on a bus 62 / & head to the closet mall / for a girl fight”; while others explore the inherent grief of motherhood, rhythmically intoning names like the tolling of a church bell: “Because Lesley McSpadden / Because Mamie Till / Because a Black mother know ain’t no song for that empty in ya belly.” Transcendent and grounded, funny and furious, the poems within bring depth to a movement, announcing Mahogany L. Browne as one of the most important poetic voices of our time.

You Could Make This Place Beautiful

By Maggie Smith

In her memoir You Could Make This Place Beautiful, poet Maggie Smith explores the disintegration of her marriage and her renewed commitment to herself in lyrical vignettes that shine, hard and clear as jewels. The book begins with one woman’s personal, particular heartbreak, but its circles widen into a reckoning with contemporary womanhood, traditional gender roles, and the power dynamics that persist even in many progressive homes. With the spirit of self-inquiry and empathy she’s known for, Smith interweaves snapshots of a life with meditations on secrets, anger, forgiveness, and narrative itself. The power of these pieces is cumulative: page after page, they build into a larger interrogation of family, work, and patriarchy. You Could Make This Place Beautiful, like the work of Deborah Levy, Rachel Cusk, and Gina Frangello, is an unflinching look at what it means to live and write our own lives. It is a story about a mother’s fierce and constant love for her children, and a woman’s love and regard for herself. Above all, this memoir is an argument for possibility. With a poet’s attention to language and an innovative approach to the genre, Smith reveals how, in the aftermath of loss, we can discover our power and make something new. Something beautiful.

Chain-Gang All-Stars

By Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

The explosive, hotly-anticipated debut novel from the New York Times-bestselling author of Friday Black, about two top women gladiators fighting for their freedom within a depraved private prison system not so far-removed from America’s own.

Weaving Sundown in a Scarlet Light: Fifty Poems for Fifty Years

By Joy Harjo

Over a long, influential career in poetry, Joy Harjo has been praised for her “warm, oracular voice” (John Freeman, Boston Globe) that speaks “from a deep and timeless source of compassion for all” (Craig Morgan Teicher, NPR). Her poems are musical, intimate, political, and wise, intertwining ancestral memory and tribal histories with resilience and love.

In this gemlike volume, Harjo selects her best poems from across fifty years, beginning with her early discoveries of her own voice and ending with moving reflections on our contemporary moment. Generous notes on each poem offer insight into Harjo’s inimitable poetics as she takes inspiration from Navajo horse songs and jazz, reckons with home and loss, and listens to the natural messengers of the earth. As evidenced in this transcendent collection, Joy Harjo’s “poetry is light and elixir, the very best prescription for us in wounded times” (Sandra Cisneros, Millions).

The Rupture Tense

By Jenny Xie

Shaped around moments of puncture and release, The Rupture Tense registers what leaks across the breached borders between past and future, background and foreground, silence and utterance. In polyphonic and formally restless sequences, Jenny Xie cracks open reverberant, vexed experiences of diasporic homecoming, intergenerational memory transfer, state-enforced amnesia, public secrecies, and the psychic fallout of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. Across these poems, memory―historical, collective, personal―stains and erodes. Xie voices what remains irreducible in our complex entanglements with familial ties, language, capitalism, and the histories in which we find ourselves lodged.

We Are Mermaids

By Stephanie Burt

Stephanie Burt’s poems in We Are Mermaids are never just one thing. Instead, they revel in their multiplicity, their interconnectedness, their secret powers to become much more than they at first seem. In these poems, punctuation marks make arguments for their utility and their rights to exist. Frozen isn’t simply another Disney animated musical but “the Most Trans Movie Ever.” Mermaids, werewolves, and superheroes don’t just fret over divided natures and secret identities, but celebrate their wholeness, their unique abilities, and their erotic potential. Flowers in this collection bloom into exactly what they are meant to be―revealing themselves, like bleeding hearts, beyond their given names.

With humor and insight, Burt’s poems have always cherished and examined the things of this world, both real and imagined objects of fascination and desire. In this resplendent new collection, her observation and care flourish into her most fulfilled book yet. These poems shake off indecisiveness and doubt to reach joys through romance and family, through nature (urban and otherwise), and through imaginative community. We Are Mermaids is a trans book, a fangirl book, a book about coming together. It’s also Burt’s best book.

Illuminations

As Long As She Likes

By Ellen Bass

Ellen Bass

On the way to the cemetery, I slept.
Not in the limousine that carried my mother’s coffin
but out cold in a van, the family all talking around me.
I was exhausted from her suffering, her pleas—
help me and enough, enough
and trying to get the morphine to stay in the ditch of her gums.
How could I not have studied this in advance?
The way my mother learned to give shots in nursing school,
plunging the needle into an orange
then practicing on the other girls.
God only gives you strength for one day at a time.
How many times did I hear her say this?
Ask yourself, can I make this day?
And then she made her last day.
On the way back, the driver got lost. As we circled unfamiliar
fields and trees dizzy with blossoms, we began to imagine
we could buy some land.
Horses. A lake. Everything seemed possible.
And hilarious. We were a little hysterical,
driving into the luxury of the future.
I’ve never returned to my mother’s grave.
But I see her every day. Here she is in short boots,
coming back from the beach with a jar of seawater.
Each morning she feeds me a spoonful. Minerals.
It’s something she read in the Pleasantville Press.
Here she’s wrapping pints and quarts in that same paper,
sliding them into brown bags.
She’s counting out coins into the customers’ hands,
careful to touch their palms.
And here in her bathrobe on a Saturday night. The store just closed.
She bites into a hoagie, steak and onions, sips a beer.
Tomorrow morning she can sleep late. There’s a law
in New Jersey that liquor stores have to close on Sunday.
A blessed law that lets my mother sleep . . .
and then sit down with a cigarette and black coffee,
one strong leg crossed over the other.
She can sit there as long as she likes.

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