Recommendations

Nearly ninety years after its first publication, this celebratory edition of The Weary Blues reminds us of the stunning achievement of Langston Hughes, who was just twenty-four at its first appearance. Beginning with the opening “Proem” (prologue poem)—“I am a Negro: / Black as the night is black, / Black like the depths of my Africa”—Hughes spoke directly, intimately, and powerfully of the experiences of African Americans at a time when their voices were newly being heard in our literature. As the legendary Carl Van Vechten wrote in a brief introduction to the original 1926 edition, “His cabaret songs throb with the true jazz rhythm; his sea-pieces ache with a calm, melancholy lyricism; he cries bitterly from the heart of his race.

Paperback, 128 Pages, Knopf, February 2015

Founded in 2009, the Second Sunday Poetry Series has become one of the leading poetry events in the Los Angeles area. This anthology collects 54 of the more than 100 poets who have appeared over the last ten years–from L.A.’s unofficial poet laureate, Brendan Constantine, to the spiritual and complex Meg Day, to the late Nita Donovan, converted from a Stepford Wife to published poet and spoken-word artist. This is an indispensable cross section of the poetry scene in L.A. in the second decade of the 21st Century.

Paperback, 115 Independently Published, November 2019

In his new collection, Jeffrey McDaniel confronts the insular and expansive qualities of loss. With electric language and surrealistic imagery, McDaniel’s poems deliver the quotidian elements of middle-age life while weaving us in & out of childhood and adulthood alongside body and mind. The tragic and life affirming share the same page and the same world, reminding us how close corruption can be to innocence; domesticity to fantasy; aging to youth.

Paperback, 65 Pages, Pitt Poetry Series, February 2020

In these poems, the joys and struggles of the everyday are played against the grinding politics of being human. Beginning in a hotel room in the dark of a distant city, we travel through history and follow the memory of the Trail of Tears from the bend in the Tallapoosa River to a place near the Arkansas River. Stomp dance songs, blues, and jazz ballads echo throughout. Lost ancestors are recalled. Resilient songs are born, even as they grieve the loss of their country. Called a “magician and a master” (San Francisco Chronicle), Joy Harjo is at the top of her form in Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.

Paperback, 160 Pages, W. W. Norton & Company, January 2016 

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