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The Best Recent Poetry Books To Buy

20 March 2020 | Billie Manning

Not only is reading a fantastic way to spend time during self-isolation or social distancing, but many poets are in a precarious position right now – support them by buying these fantastic books. If you're in London, why not order from these independent book shops doing delivery during the COVID-19 crisis?

The Air Year, Caroline Bird
The sixth collection from the ever-productive and ever-brilliant Caroline Bird sees the book's speaker in a time of flux – stuck in freefall, hitting branches on the way down a cliff face, frozen in time on a street corner. As always, Bird's writing is deliciously surreal, and each poem merits many re-readings, each reading revealing a new layer of meaning.
If you only read one poem: Mid-air

RENDANG, Will Harris
This début collection has been much-anticipated and doesn't disappoint. The book travels across the world, allowing us small snapshots of the poet's view and is a great way to travel across time and space while stuck in your bedroom. The collection spans a joyfully diverse range of forms from the first, a found poem which introduces to us the title, and continues to surprise and delight all the way through.
If you only read one poem: Mother Country

Deaf Republic, Ilya Kaminsky
A modern-day epic presented as a two-act play, Deaf Republic is an incredibly inventive collection which took Ilya Kaminsky fifteen years to perfect. The story of a country in political unrest, It's perfect reading for turbulent times and many of the poems will resonate right now.
If you only read one poem: We Lived Happily During The War

After The Formalities, Anthony Anaxagorou
After The Formalities explores Anaxagorou’s British-Cypriot heritage, as well as fatherhood and family. A series of prose poems tiptoes back and forth across the heady mix of tenderness and fear that parenthood inspires, and delves into the generational tensions it can rouse. A spiky, stuttering, punchy poem on the reality of living in a country where overt racism is on the rise juxtaposes with a garrulous, smooth prose poem on the insidious racist remarks that non-white people living in Britain have always experienced. To read our full profile of Anthony Anaxagorou, click here.
If you only read one poem: After the Formalities

Flèche, Mary Jean Chan
2019's winner of the Costa book prize plays out several battles: that between past and present, between mothers and daughters, between grief and joy, between repression and longing. The writing is as arrow-sharp as the needles used in fencing, one of the book's motifs, as it describes the tensions that occur during a queer awakening.
If you only read one poem: The Window
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