I’ve presented VS here before; it’s a wonderful poetry podcast that gives voice to minority poets and shows how poetry can be accessible to everyone. Since there are so many great authors taking part on to the podcast, and many of them are published, I figured I’d make everyone’s life easier and compile these works to bring them into the spotlight, where they deserve to be.
Here is a list of the books published, or soon-to-be published, by the authors who have been invited to the season one of VS, including the hosts.
Soft Science by Franny Choi
The book comes out in April, and here is a small preview of what you can expect from it: “Franny Choi’s Soft Science offers an exceptional exploration both of all that comprises the intimate and of all that consumes the communal in our lives. Whether tracking the adventures of the ‘cyborg’ or eavesdropping on conversations between sisters, it’s all the same world. These striking poems ring through with a singular voice, creating a society that helps us understand our own. When you open a book of poems, ‘isn’t that what you came to see?’ Choi builds a world not only of striking beauty and lucid politics, but also, most importantly, with love.” —A. Van Jordan
Until then, you can read Choi’s chapbook, Death By Sex Machine.
Don’t Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
In this book, which is not Smith’s only work—they have also written [insert] boy, and Black Movie—the author brings to light racism in America, and the opening poem speaks with the afterlife voice of black men shot by the police. Danez Smith was a finalist for the National Book Award for Poetry in 2017, and they have become the youngest person to ever receive the Forward Prize for Best Poetry Collection.
Electric Arches by Eve Ewing
Ewing was the first author invited to the podcast, and you might have seen news of her not too long ago related to an adaptation of Marvel’s Ironheart. Electric Arches speaks of womanhood, by means of poetry and prose, with Chicago as the starting point, and an unspecified future as main subject. You can also read her nonfiction work, Ghosts in the Schoolyard, a study on racism and school closures on Chicago’s South Side
Citizen Illegal by José Olivarez
The son of Mexican emigrants, Olivarez brings to the page the beauty and struggle of carrying a Mexican heritage in America. Using humour as a tool, he talks race, immigration, gentrification, and class, painting lives with words. He also hosts his own podcast, called The Poetry Gods.
He has co-written Home Court.
If They Come For Us by Fatimah Asghar
Asghar is of Pakistani descent, and a co-creator of the web series Brown Girls, which has been nominated for an Emmy.
In If They Come For Us, Asghar tells stories of being a young Pakistani Muslim woman in America. She has also published the poetry book After.
The Dozen by Casey Rocheteau
The Dozen is the debut book of Rocheteau, divided into four sections with 12 poems each, and it speaks of the oppressions of the world, in an invitation to shake off our prejudices and concepts.
When My Brother Was An Aztec by Natalie Diaz
This is Diaz’s debut, and it lays out on its pages the Mojave life with vivid imagery, filled with metaphors and pungent words. The author was born and raised in Needles, California, on the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation, and has directed a language revitalization programme with the last Mojave speakers in Mohave Valley, where she now lives.
She has won several awards and honors.
I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez
This is not a collection of poems; you can find Sanchez’s poetry in several places, including Lessons on Expulsion, or the anthology Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poems for the Next Generation, but this YA novel is too good to be left out of here. I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter tells the story of Julia who, as the title mentions, is not the perfect daughter. Not like her sister, Olga. Then Olga dies and Julia has to deal with her own grief, and her mother’s, who seems to have channelled all of her pain into pointing out how inadequate Julia is. With the help of a friend, Julia embarks on a journey to discover the true person hidden behind her sister’s apparent perfect demeanour, and find the truth of her own self.
neckbone: visual verses by avery r. young
This book is still to be published, and it’s young’s debut. His poetry defies rules. Intertwined with art, it’s a new language in itself. Young is an artist and educator from the West Side of Chicago.
Under The Knife by Krista Franklin
Some of Franklin’s narrative has halts, unfinished sentences. Maybe it is an invitation to meditation, maybe it is the author asking us to finish her thoughts ourselves. It is a biography of sorts, and it leaves us with many questions and considerations. She is a visual artist and has also written the chapbook Study of Love & Black Body, and you can find her work in various poetry collections, magazines, and exhibitions.
Don’t let yourself stop at the books, though: these authors have a lot more going on, so make sure you check each of them out! You can find some of their poems at the Poetry Foundation website, and don’t forget to listen to the podcast, which features other poets still working on their first publication.
Also, season 3 has just started, so go to your podcast provider and get to listen!