We asked our editors, staff members, and authors to share with us their favorite books, of any genre, that were published in 2016. Below is a sampling of what they shared with us. We hope you find our spectrum of picks inspiring, and a much-needed kickstart to 2017. From all of us at Sundress Publications, we wish you a happy (and well-read) new year.
Fox Frazier-Foley is author of two prize-winning poetry collections, Exodus in X Minor (Sundress Publications, 2014) and The Hydromantic Histories (Bright Hill Press, 2015), and editor of two anthologies, Political Punch (Sundress Publications, 2016) and Among Margins (Ricochet Editions, 2016). She is co-creator, with Hoa Nguyen, of the forthcoming Tough Gal Tarot deck and book. Fox is founding EIC of the indie-lit press Agape Editions, which is an imprint of Sundress Publications (a registered 501(c)3 non-profit organization) dedicated to publishing literary works that engage with concepts of the mystical, ecstatic, interfaith/intercultural, and the Numinous.
Jennifer Fitzgerald’s The Art of Work, from Noemi Press
“Jennifer Fitzgerald’s The Art of Work (Noemi Press) provides a much-needed viewpoint in the literary industry, not only of class struggle and systemic socioeconomic oppression that has marginalized generations of American laborers, but of the beauty, resourcefulness, and determination that some of America’s most marginalized individuals are able to demonstrate time and again, in life and in art. In fact, those very qualities of working-class life that Fitzgerald seeks to honor—that resourcefulness, tenacity, and capacity for taking joy in beautiful things—are performed, in new ways, by each poem in the book. May “I Hear A Voice Calling from On High” become a self-fulfilling prophecy in its closing lines, “motherfuckers/ are about to listen up.”
Leah Silvieus’s chapbook Anemochory, from Hyacinth Girl Press
“Leah Silvieus’s chapbook Anemochory (Hyacinth Girl Press) is at once quietly elegiac and ruthlessly beautiful. The at-times-Dickinson-esque language remains simple, yet the emotions Silvieus’ words manage to convey are vast. There is no absence that is unaccounted for, no sense of loss or grief that remains unexplored. With an aptitude that recalls Wallace Stevens’ for embedding psychic abstraction into strange, delicate imagery, Silveius reveals to us a world in which all things intersect, drifting into and out of one another: “I walked again into/ the undifferentiated cold/ and from nowhere/ song.”
T.A. Noonan is a writer, artist, witch, and translator whose books include The Bone Folders, Petticoat Government, four sparks fall: a novella, and The Ep[is]odes: a reformulation of Horace. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Whiskey Island, LIT, Reunion: The Dallas Review, Ninth Letter, Phoebe, and Open Letters Monthly, among others. She lives in Florida and serves as an Associate Editor of Sundress Publications, the Development Director of the Sundress Academy for the Arts, and the Founding Editor of Flaming Giblet Press.
The Trouble with Humpadori by Vidhu Aggarwal, from The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective
“This postcolonial vispo-linguo ((social(media)) circus/discotheque of a book came out in January, and I’m still exploring its wild, winding depths. If that sentence doesn’t convince you to buy it immediately, nothing will.”
Wringing Gendered We by Nicole Oquendo, from Zoo Cake Press
“A body is never enough—“some of me is missing and some of me is too much”—until it is more than an “a” and becomes “a whirlwind and somewhere spiraling in that force there’s the rest of me.” Who knew that such a tiny chapbook could cut so precisely to the queer viscera and the fluid(ity) pulsing within?”
Jane Huffman is a current MFA candidate in Poetry at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop and serves as the staff director for Sundress Publications. Recent poems can be found in Witness, The Common, and The Adroit Journal.
Everything We Always Knew Was True by James Galvin, from Copper Canyon Press
“With light-handed humor and an observant eye toward the landscapes of the American west and midwest, Galvin’s latest book delivers an exploration of self, memory, intimacy (and other everythings) with the skeptical confidence that the title promises; this book is True with a capital T: ‘My father coughed up a few bats / And that was that.'”
Float by Anne Carson, from Penguin Random House
“This book is another of Carson’s successful experiments in subverting the way poetry can be written and read. Twenty-two chapbooks reside inside a clear box–they float, so to speak–and readers can pick them up in any order. Like many formally innovative texts in Carson’s body of work, Float is about myth-making, and with this text, she gives us the tools we need to weave our own myths from her fragments.”
Donna Vorreyer is the author of two full-length collections of poetry: Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (Sundress Publications, 2016) and A House of Many Windows (Sundress Publications, 2013), as well as seven chapbooks. She currently serves as reviews editor for the journal Stirring: A Literary Collection.
Kaveh Akbar’s Portrait of the Alcoholic, from Sibling Rivalry Press
Hoa Nguyen’s Violet Energy Ingots, from Wave Books
“There are some books that very elegantly show us the storm to frame the lightning. Hoa Nguyen’s Violet Energy Ingots shows us a world that is all lighting, that clouds are useless if they’re withholding the rain from us, and that the energy is the whole show. Her use of language, of dominant music and skill, knocked me down. These are inelegant times, and nobody expressed that idea better than Nguyen this year. I will be keeping this book close to me for a long time.”
“We are at war; we might be at war forever, even though we have gotten pretty good at ignoring this fact. Sharif entreats us to look, and these poems are unflinching in their beauty and terribleness. Sharif builds the book around vocabulary terms from a Department of Defense manual, showing us all too plainly how easily the violent language of war becomes our everyday language if we’re not careful. This is an important book of poems.”
Blackacre, by Monica Youn, from Greywolf Press
From Amorak: “If all I’d taken from this book was the fact that “Blackacre” is a legal term for an unnamed plot of land involved in a court proceeding, sort of a pastoral version of John Doe, that would be enough. It’s such a great word, and I can’t believe I’ve never heard it before. But of course that’s not all I gained from this dense, rich, complex, brilliant book full of ekphrastic and pastoral poems. Youn manages the big questions, whether personal, political, or artistic, with a deftness and intelligence that steals the breath.”
Margaret Bashaar‘s first book, Stationed Near the Gateway, was released by Sundress Publications in 2015, and she recently published her third chapbook, Rungs (Grey Book Press, 2015), written with Lauren Eggert-Crowe. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming from journals such as New South, Rhino, The Southeast Review, Copper Nickel, and Menacing Hedge, among others. She lives in Pittsburgh, where she edits Hyacinth Girl Press and co-runs the award-winning arts anarchy event, FREE POEMS, with Rachael Deacon.
There Should Be Flowers by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza, from Civil Coping Mechanisms
“When a collection of poetry touches me as Joshua Jennifer Espinoza’s most recent book, There Should Be Flowers (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2016) has, I just want to run out into the world, crying and shoving the book in question into the hands of strangers on the street. But since strangers on the street are not often keen on sobbing women handing them books, I will try to explain why. Espinoza’s poetry doesn’t just move, it fucking glides. I most often find when reading poetry that the thing I ache for is a sense of musicality, and all of her work thrives in this space. She’s deft to a point of your whole body moving and twisting with her lines. She loving and carefully unseats your insides all throughout There Should Be Flowers. I could go on and on and on forever about this book.”
Sarah A. Chavez is a mestiza born and raised in the California Central Valley, is the author of the chapbook, All Day, Talking (dancing girl press, 2014). She holds a PhD in English with a focus in poetry and Ethnic Studies from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln. Her work can be found or is forthcoming in the anthologies Bared: An Anthology on Bras and Breasts and Political Punch: The Politics of Identity, as well as the journals North Dakota Quarterly, The Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and The Boiler Journal, among others. Her manuscript, This, Like So Much, was an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Quercus Review Press Poetry Book Contest. A selection from her chapbook manuscript All Day, Talking won the Susan Atefat Peckham Fellowship. She is a proud member of the Macondo Writers Workshop.
Blood Sugar Canto by Ire’ne Lara Silva, from Saddle Road Press
“Ire’ne Lara Silva’s poetry collection, Blood Sugar Canto (Saddle Road Press, 2016), is a relentless and passionately reflective look at being an intersectional and fully-realized human being with diabetes, presenting both a physically and emotionally resonant experience of the realities of diabetic embodiment. As in much of silva’s work, her use of incantatory repetition and the full range of line lengths creates a meditative urgency which invites readers to love and try to understand that which we are encouraged to look away from.”