Books

New & Noteworthy Poetry, From First Peoples to Posthumous Ashbery

Recent poetry titles of note:

WOLF LAMB BOMB: Poems, by Aviya Kushner. (Orison, paper, $16.) Kushner channels the prophet Isaiah, “lone / crooner in the wildnerness,” and recasts his “raving mad” vision for a post-9/11 age of terrorism and geopolitical conflict.

LIVING NATIONS, LIVING WORDS: An Anthology of First Peoples Poetry, edited by Joy Harjo. (Norton, paper, $15.) Harjo, a member of the Muscogee Nation, is the first Native American to serve as U.S. poet laureate; this anthology highlights work from a range of other Indigenous poets.

PERSONHOOD, by Thalia Field. (New Directions, paper, $16.95.) A hybrid of essayistic fragments and poetic lines exploring the toxic relationship between humans and the animal world by way of myth, metaphor and science: “the forests have changed, the temperatures, / whole species gone north or south.”

WORLDLY THINGS, by Michael Kleber-Diggs. (Milkweed, $22.) The full-throated poems in this debut collection see the world whole, allowing daily intimacies against a backdrop of social injustice: “Neighbors chatting while sirens / gathered in volume, urgency.”

PARALLEL MOVEMENT OF THE HANDS: Five Unfinished Longer Works, by John Ashbery. Edited by Emily Skillings. (Ecco, $29.99.) A posthumous collection showing the poet, who died in 2017, at work in the long form he loved.

What we’re reading:

The urbanist William H. Whyte was once asked to name his three favorite cities. Thomas Dyja borrows Whyte’s response — NEW YORK, NEW YORK, NEW YORK — for his latest book, tracing New York’s transformation over decades. As a native New Yorker, I was wary. Dyja is known as a novelist. His previous nonfiction book, “The Third Coast,” was about his native city, Chicago. But having come to New York to attend Columbia, he has now spent more than half his life here. And his book, which jumps from J-51 housing subsidies to Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” proves he belongs.

Taking readers on a psychedelic express subway ride, from pre-1970s fiscal crisis to post-pandemic, he identifies unsung heroes of the city’s retrenchment, renaissance, reformation and reimagination. His coda echoes E. M. Forster’s “only connect,” while reminding readers that we’re all walking a high wire like Philippe Petit, “maintaining our balance between Order and Disorder.”

—Sam Roberts, obituaries reporter

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