Savor a selection of poetry books authored by contributors to Alta Journal. This category, which appears in a special guide in our Fall 2021 issue, includes works by poets Tennessee Reed, Ada Limón, and Tess Taylor, and a spotlight on Forrest Gander.
The subject of this multiform text is acclaimed poet David Biespiel’s Jewish upbringing in Texas and the question that haunts him as an adult: Can he ever really leave home? A 2019 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle’s Balakian award and a past Stegner Fellow, Biespiel weaves together scenes from his childhood with meditations on family, love, and mortality. A Place of Exodus is literary nonfiction that transgresses genres, crossing into poetry, memoir, and critical theory. Kelson Books, September 2020, 202 pages, $20 paperback
The new edition of Ada Limón’s award-winning debut celebrates the 15th anniversary of Lucky Wreck’s original release and offers an updated introduction by Limón in which she addresses her attachment to the book, its impact on her life, and how she has grown as a writer. The importance of family and learning how to cope with loneliness, loss, and tragedy, among other themes, remain as pertinent as when Limón first grappled with them. Autumn House Press, March 2021, 88 pages, $17.95 paperback
Tennessee Reed’s seventh poetry collection, Califia Burning, spans more than three decades and includes some of her earliest verse—published when she was just 10—as well as new works. In “California Burning 2017–2018,” Reed details the terror of a California wildfire season: “Will smoke days become the West’s new snow days? / When an early morning dagger of red light / cuts through my curtains / I think of what I want to save in case I have to evacuate.” Dalkey Archive Press, November 2020, 228 pages, $17.95 paperback
Tess Taylor’s Rift Zone draws its name from the cracks in the earth and the histories they hold. The collection ponders the gaps between the historic violence of California and Taylor’s tender childhood in the suburbs, occurrences simultaneously in conflict with and dependent on each other. Rift Zone lays bare these contradictions, giving voice to both their limitations and their possibilities. Red Hen Press, April 2020, 112 pages, $16.95 paperback