Alta’s Best Poetry 2019

Works by West Coast poets Katie Peterson, Ishmael Reed, Luis J. Rodriguez, and Tennessee Reed reveal our shared humanity.

Alta publishes work from acclaimed West Coast poets meant to inspire and reveal insights into life across California and the West. Here are four poems from 2019, which include titles by a father and his daughter, a reflection on creativity and prison, and an examination of marriage. To borrow a line from Luis J. Rodriguez, we hope “the blood” of these poems “is what flows in all art, stages, films, books.”

This poem by Katie Peterson appears in her book A Piece of Good News. Peterson’s honors include the Howard Mumford Jones Prize, the New Issues Poetry Prize, and the Rilke Prize.
This poem by Katie Peterson appears in her book A Piece of Good News. Peterson’s honors include the Howard Mumford Jones Prize, the New Issues Poetry Prize, and the Rilke Prize.
YOUNG SUH

Paul Bowles

By Katie Peterson

Ishmael Reed reflects on four decades of change—and humanity—in his North Oakland neighborhood.
A new poem by Ishmael Reed. His latest honors include the Alberto Dubito Award for International Poetry and the AUDELCO award for theaterre.
JASON HENRY

Pluato and Luca Walk Into a Bar

By Ishmael Reed

Oakland's Tennessee Reed is the author of six books of poetry.
Tennessee Reed is the author of six books of poetry, including City Beautiful, Airborne, and Electric Chocolate.

Like an Old Friend Whom You Had Given Up for Dead Rain Returns to Oakland

By Tennessee Reed

Luis J. Rodriguez was poet laureate of Los Angeles from 2014 to 2016. He is also the author of eight books of poetry.
Luis J. Rodriguez was the poet laureate of Los Angeles from 2014 to 2016. He’s the author of eight books of poetry and the founding editor of Tia Chucha Press.
ARLENE MEJORADO

Make a Poem Cry
By Luis J. Rodriguez

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