Hirshfield's latest collection (her first since being elected Chancellor of the Acadmey of American Poets in 2012), The Beauty ruminates on the place the body holds in the natural world. Beginning with poems like "My Skeleton," "My Proteins," "My Eyes," the collection goes on to explore mortality, memory, and time, intermingling observations about aging with the poet's own theories on beauty and our moral and societal imperative to remain wholly and entirely ourselves. Hirshfield's work is always a revelation, and this new book only adds to its collective beauty. Buy a copy if you haven't. Buy several.
Map: Collected and Last Poems by Wislawa Szymborska
Perhaps the most important book of poetry to appear in translation this year. Map brings together almost every poem ever published by Nobel Prize Winner Wislawa Szymborska. Her characteristic wit and candor reminds me of a more elevated Billy Collins, while her interest in rhythm and musicality will makes me wish I could read her in the original Polish. A translator in her own right, Szymborska spent much of her life writing and editing for prominent literary magazines in Poland, and was politically active from the first days of her career. Her death in 2012 was a deep loss for her nation-- and for literature in general. I like to think of her new book as a collection as well as a celebration, and I hope you'll love it as much as I do.
I realize now, having come to the end of the post, that I've only written about books by women, and that if you were to just read this, you would walk away with the impression that there isn't any new or exciting work out there by male poets. Not so! There are some great books coming out by some big names, including The Lunatic by Charles Simic, How to Be Drawn by Terrance Hayes, and Deep Lane by Mark Doty, not to mention the new John Ashbery, Breezeway, coming May 12th from Ecco Press. A long wait, I know, but you should have plenty of things to read until then. Enjoy!