5 June 2022 Poetry Releases to Shop Now

June 2022 poetry releases promise to represent the height of the genre, with highlights including classic anthologies, prize-winning collections, and much-anticipated books. These collections explore weighty, ever-present themes like the role of human connection, gender, religious identity, and more. 


1. The True Account of Myself as a Bird by Robert Wrigley 

Release Date: June 14


In his twelfth published collection, Robert Wrigley takes inspiration from the classic poetry of W.H. Auden, crafting the book around Auden’s famous musing, “All we are not stares back at what we are.” Yet for Wrigley, this line comes to embody urgent, modern concerns—like an ever-changing planet and how humans cope with the climate crisis—alongside more timeless questions of mortality.


2. Human Resources by Ryann Stevenson

Release Date: June 14


Ryann Stevenson’s innovative and surprising Human Resources won the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize and was selected by Henri Cole. In the debut collection, Stevenson considers gender, loneliness, consumerism, and self-improvement through the lens of technology and AI. The speaker of the collection creates female-coded “bots,” including a floating head and a smart oven. Through this futuristic approach, Stevenson contemplates societal and capitalist influences on gender, both charting a horror-filled, likely path forward and daring to resist and reimagine it.


3. Lives by C.J. Evans

Release Date: June 14


Selected by the beloved Victoria Chang as the winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, Lives considers the poetic nuance and significance of everyday, ordinary realities, finding beauty in these small, simple details. These poems linger in a kiss, a sip of tea, and a look out the window, using these seemingly inconsequential moments as opportunities to ponder larger questions.


4. Our Ancestors Did Not Breathe This Air by Afeefah Khazi-Syed, Aleena Shabbir, Ayse Angela Guvenilir, Maisha Munawwara Prome, Mariam Eman Dogar, and Marwa Abdullhai 

Release Date: June 15


Written by six college friends who met as students at MIT and now live in different cities across the country, Our Ancestors Did Not Breathe This Air is an ambitious example of collective poetry, with each piece sparking conversation and connection. Since the poems harken back to an earlier friendship, they’re laced with nostalgia and reverence for the past: The collection not only revisits college, but also immigration journeys, religious traditions, and family histories, from Venezuela to India. The result is a poignant exploration of diaspora and identity. By exploring their rich and complicated origins, these poets gain a deeper understanding of their present and write toward their futures. 


5. If We Must Die: The Essential Claude McKay by Claude McKay

Release Date: June 28


While Claude McKay’s poems date back to the Harlem Renaissance, this new anthology—with an introduction by former Cave Canem director Nicole Sealey—showcases their continued relevance and power. As someone who lived in both Jamaica and the U.S., McKay’s poetry considers Black identity, prejudice, and the concept of race across different countries, both celebrating African heritage and striking back at bigotry. This anthology is an enduring, evocative volume fit for any collector of poetry. 


Happy reading!

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5 Poetry Collections to Listen to This National Audiobook Month

June marks National Audiobook Month, and poetry stands out as the perfect genre to help you celebrate. After all, poetry is known for its sense of rhythm, sound play, and experimentation with different types of rhyme, all of which rely on poems being read aloud. Plus, a poet’s words often hit harder when read in their own voice, a special experience that these audiobooks offer. Gain a deeper appreciation for some of the recent and most striking poetry releases by downloading them to listen to as part of your daily routine. 


1. Unraveling by Brandon Leake


Brandon Leake became the first spoken word poet to win America’s Got Talent, catapulting spoken word to a larger, national stage. The audiobook edition of Unraveling makes it easier and more enjoyable to indulge in Leake’s craft, with each poem serving as its own high-energy performance. Unraveling is the perfect collection to listen to when starting or ending your day, as its poignant poems reflect on self-love, meditation, and compassion. 


2. Time Is a Mother by Ocean Vuong


Time Is a Mother, Ocean Vuong’s fourth published collection, has already gained recognition for being the beloved poet’s most intimate and emotional release yet. The book’s diaristic nature makes listening to it even more powerful, as Vuong chronicles the shocking, complicated grief following his mother’s death and considers weighty, fascinating themes like diaspora and immigration. 


3. Olio Live by Tyehimba Jess


Tyehimba Jess’s Olio, which won a Pulitzer Prize, could be called one of poetry’s most ambitious and significant releases of all time. It could also be called one of the most musical—the sprawling collection elevates the voices of influential but largely forgotten Black performers from the pre-Civil War era to World War II. Olio takes readers on a soulful and searing journey told through hymns, blues, and work songs, showcasing how these musical traditions encompass Black struggle, tradition, and resistance. Olio Live, recorded at the Minetta Lane Theatre, brings together multiple narrators and piano accompaniment to fully embody these musical roots. 


4. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head by Warsan Shire


Warsan Shire has collaborated with Beyoncė on Lemonade and Black Is King, a testament to how she’s explored the sonic and multimodal power of poetry throughout her career. Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head, which Shire published in 2022, takes a heartbreaking look at a neglectful upbringing, as well as a young woman’s resilient journey to motherhood in spite of it. The collection reads like poetry but also like memoir, making Shire’s pivotal narration even more impactful. 


5. The Hurting Kind by Ada Limón


Ada Limón became the host of The Slowdown, an award-winning poetry podcast, in 2021. Fans tune in from all over the world to listen to Limón’s thoughtful, soothing narration—and now they’ll get to hear her read the audio edition of The Hurting Kind, her most recent collection. In The Hurting Kind, Limón pays tribute to sensitive people, those most connected with the natural world, and those processing grief. The result is a radically empathetic and comforting book you’ll want to listen to no matter what you’re going through. 


Happy listening! Need more recommendations? Check out last year’s National Audiobook Month roundup.

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Life Changing Poems for Hard Times

The Greatest Poems from our Powerful Life Poetry series.

Read by Shane Morris

0:00 – Defeat by Khalil Gibran
3:20 – A Psalm of Life by H. W. Longfellow
6:15 – If by Rudyard Kipling
9:33 – Invictus by William Ernest Henley
11:15 – Desiderata by Max Ermann

Music by Tony Anderson, Chris Coleman & Whitesand
Highway by Whitesand: https://spoti.fi/35878mY

#poems #wisdom #inspirational

Summer Writing Prompts to Help Your Creativity Shine

Writers know that all-too-familiar feeling. Staring at a blank word document, desperately waiting for inspiration to strike. The dreaded writer’s block. 


Oftentimes, we’re simply unsure where to start. As summer begins, though, the sunny season provides endless creative writing opportunities. From nostalgia to the natural world, summer is a dynamic time to write poems. 


Here are some summer-themed prompts to inspire your poetry:


Explore nostalgic summer memories by establishing a rich sense of place.


Summer is characterized by nostalgia. Take advantage of the season by digging into a specific personal memory. Be sure to paint the scene through rich imagery, focusing on all five senses. The smells of a beach, salt water wafting through the air, the grounding sensation of sand between your toes. The refreshing cold air of an ice cream shop you biked to with your friends every season, the feeling of wind blowing through your hair on the ride there. 


What do you miss about these uniquely joyful times? How do they compare and contrast with present-day experiences? What deeper messages about place and time can you explore? Whether your memories are joyful or melancholy, interpreting them through a poetic lens can provide you with a new perspective. 


Write a poem inspired by National Great Outdoors Month.


June is National Great Outdoors Month, which provides countless avenues for writing nature poetry. Are hiking trails or botanical gardens accessible where you live? Consider visiting these locations for inspiration. Observe the environment around you. Take notes on local flora and fauna to research what they symbolize, and consider incorporating them into your work.


Ask yourself: how can you connect the change in season to your life? What kind of metaphors can you include in your poetry based on the environment around you?


If you enjoy posting your poems on social media, be sure to use the hashtag #nationalgreatoutdoorsmonth so readers can find your pieces. Also, if you include details about a specific location, tag the location’s Instagram account. They might share your work!


Use your creativity to communicate climate change from different perspectives. 


Although we generally associate summer with optimistic themes, seasonal record-high heats, wildfires, and floods remind us of the not-so-bright side of summer. 


Have you witnessed environmental degradation where you live? How have the devastating effects of climate change impacted you and your community? Do you experience eco-anxiety? Ground your work in the societal, human, and emotional implications of climate change. Include a call-to-action in your piece, inspiring your readers to make a difference.


Conversely, imagine a summer in which environmental destruction no longer exists. Are you relieved by the milder summers? Do you feel safer? Think about what wildlife may experience—writing from an animal’s perspective can help you and your readers develop a deeper connection and sense of empathy with nature. 


Hopefully, these prompts have encouraged you to express your creativity. Spend some time under the sun and let the words flow. Happy writing! 


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