2017-18 Poetry Book Club Reading List

Poetry is Not a Luxury Book Club

2017 – 2018: Voices of the Silenced, Voices of the Resistance


September 27    

Erika L. Sánchez, Lessons on Expulsion: this powerful debut poetry collection explores what it means to live on both sides of the border―the border between countries, languages, despair and possibility, and the living and the dead

October 25

We will be joined by Cynthia Manick, author of Blue Hallelujahs. When people ask me about Blue Hallelujahs, I say it asks the question “If you’re breathing what makes you alive? What does the heart eat? It eats the blues, ink on skin, brown bodies in kitchens, peaches, stars, and home.” 

Read a Selection of Cynthia Manick's Poems

November 15     (3rd Wednesday because of Thanksgiving)

Mai Der Vang, Afterland: a powerful, essential collection of poetry that recounts with devastating detail the Hmong exodus from Laos and the fate of thousands of refugees seeking asylum.

No Meeting in December

January 24        

Richard Blanco, Looking for The Gulf Motel: this collection chronicles Blanco’s life as a child born into the milieu of his Cuban exiled familia, and delves into early questions of cultural identity and their evolution into his unrelenting sense of displacement and quest for the elusive meaning of home

February 28      

As part of Big Blue Marble's One Book, One Philadelphia Celebration, we'll be exploring contemporary African American poetry about The Great Migration, including work by: Terrance Hayes, Tyehimba Jess, Crystal Williams, Elizabeth Alexander, and Lyra Van Clief-Stefanon. All of these poets were writing in response to The Migration Series by artist Jacob Lawrence. We'll be projecting his work as we read.

 March 28           

Cathy Linh Che, Split:  In this stunning debut, we follow one woman's profoundly personal account of sexual violence against the backdrop of cultural conflict deftly illustrated through her parents' experiences of the Vietnam War, immigration, and its aftermath

April 25            

Juan Felipe Herrera, Notes on the Assemblage:  Exuberant and socially engaged, reflective and healing, this collection of new work from the nation's first Latino Poet Laureate is brimming with the wide-open vision and hard-won wisdom of a poet whose life and creative arc have spanned chasms of culture in an endless crossing, dreaming and back again

May 23            

Amal al-Jubouri,  Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation: Rebecca Howell’s translation of Iraqi author Amal al-Jubouri contextualizes America's occupation of Iraq through the Qur'an's story of Hagar. The poems mirrors Hagar's desperate running between Safa and Marwah, as we pace frantically between pre- and post-occupation Iraq.

June 27           

Ocean Vuong, Night Sky with Exit Wounds: In his haunting and fearless debut, Vuong walks a tightrope of historic and personal violences, creating an interrogation of the American body as a borderless space of both failure and triumph

July 25

Janine Joseph, Driving Without a License: an undocumented Filipina-American discovers present-day California, teen culture, car culture, prejudice, love, blue-collar and white-collar work, and marriage in Joseph’s absorbing, detailed, and timely debut