2021 Forthcoming Poetry Books by Queer People of Color

Full-length and chapbooks are included in this list. Last updated: 4/27/2021





Autumn House Press


speculation, n. Shayla Lawz (Fall 2021, price TBD). Shayla Lawz is a writer and interdisciplinary artist from Jersey City, NJ. She works at the intersection of text, sound, and performance and has presented work at Brown University, RISD, and Pratt Institute. Her writing appears or is forthcoming in Aster(ix), McSweeney’s Quarterly, and The Poetry Project, among others. She is a graduate of Brown University’s MFA program and has received fellowships from Jack Jones Literary Arts, Cave Canem, The Digital Studies Center at Rutgers-Camden and The Center for African American Poetry and Poetics. Currently, she lives in Brooklyn, NY where she teaches in the department of Humanities and Media Studies at Pratt Institute. Her debut collection of poetry / performance titled speculation, n. was chosen by Ilya Kaminsky for the Autumn House Poetry Prize and will be published fall 2021.


Black Lawrence Press

Black Under by Ashanti Anderson (September, $9.95, pre-order for $7.95). The poem from which Black Under derives its title opens with a resounding declaration: “I am black and black underneath.” These words are an anthem that reverberates throughout Ashanti Anderson’s debut short collection. We feel them as we navigate her poems’ linguistic risks and shifts and trumpets, as we straddle scales that tip us toward trauma’s still-bloody knife in one turn then into cutting wit and shrewd humor in the next. We hear them amplified through Anderson’s dynamic voice, which sings of anguish and atrocities and also of discovery and beauty.

Black Under layers outward perception with internal truth to offer an almost-telescopic examination of the redundancies—and incongruences—of marginalization and hypervisibility. Anderson torques the contradictions of oppression, giving her speakers the breathing room to discover their own agency. In these pages, declarations are reclamations, and joy is not an aspiration but a birthright.


BLF Press


This is Not About Love by Krystal A. Smith (April 6, price $14) explores the complexities of human emotion and relationships via memory, experience, and imagination. Smith reminds us that love is not a singular emotion, and romantic relationships are not paramount to happiness.


Ginger Bug Press


I Need This to Not Swallow Me Alive by Dena Igusti and Esther Lee (TBD, price $13). Dena Igusti (they/he) is a queer Indonesian Muslim poet, playwright, and producer born and raised in Queens, New York. They are the author of CUT WOMAN (Game Over Books). They are the co-founder of Asian multidisciplinary arts collective UNCOMMON;YOU and multimedia platform Short Line Review. They are a 2018 NYC Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador and 2017 Urban Word Federal Hall Fellow. They are a 2019 Player’s Theatre Resident Playwright for their co-written Off-Broadway production SHARUM. Their choreopoem, CUT WOMAN, was featured at Prelude Festival 2020. They are a 2020 Seventh Wave Editorial Resident, 2020 Ars Nova Emerging Leaders Fellow and part of Spotify Sound Up’s 2020 cohort. They are a Converse All Stars Artist. Their work has been featured in BOAAT Press, Peregrine Journal, and several other publications. They have performed at The Brooklyn Museum, The Apollo Theater, the 2018 Teen Vogue Summit, and several venues internationally.


ESTHERFROMNEWYORK (she/he/they) is Queens born and raised, gender fluid, Korean-American multifaceted artist with a concentration in photography and digital art. Their work often centers the intersectional identities and narratives among the Asian Diaspora and the queer community. Lee was the photographer and Creative Director of After the Incision, published by Adolescent Content; a photo essay by Dena Igusti and Lee based on Igusti's book Cut Woman which explores what it means for Igusti to live with the trauma of female genital mutilation. The pair frequently work together as co-founders of Uncommon;You alongside Mohammad Murtaza. They are the 2019 Summer Elings Grant Recipient, Issa Rae and Powderkeg Teen Movie Contest First Round Select, and Zachary Doss Memorial Fellowship Finalist. Featured works include Kay Jewelry, Parade, Converse, Shortline Review, Dazed Fashion, No Borders Journal, Broadway World, Playbill, Pride, and NYFW.


Gold Line Press


Mother Tongue by Chaelee Dalton (Date TBD, price TBD). Chaelee Dalton is a poet and educator based in New York. They are the author of the forthcoming chapbook Mother Tongue, which was selected by Diana Khoi Nguyen as the winner of the Gold Line Press Poetry Chapbook Contest. Other work is published or forthcoming in the Penn Review, Sonora Review, Impossible Archetype, Careless, and more. As an educator, Chaelee works with youth of all ages at the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem. Informed by their background in both physics and educational equity research and organizing, Chaelee creates and teaches STEM curricula that centers the histories and experiences of Black and brown scientists.


Graywolf


The Renunciations by Donika Kelly (May 4, price $16) is a book of resilience, survival, and the journey to radically shift one’s sense of self in the face of trauma. Moving between a childhood marked by love and abuse and the breaking marriage of that adult child, Donika Kelly charts memory and the body as landscapes to be traversed and tended. These poems construct life rafts and sanctuaries even in their most devastating confrontations with what a person can bear, with how families harm themselves. With the companionship of “the oracle”—an observer of memory who knows how each close call with oblivion ends—the act of remembrance becomes curative, and personal mythologies give way to a future defined less by wounds than by possibility. In this gorgeous and heartrending second collection, we find the home one builds inside oneself after reckoning with a legacy of trauma—a home whose construction starts “with a razing.”


Guernica Editions

The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak by Grace Lau (May 1, price $20.00 Canada, $17.95 US, £11.95 UK). The poems in The Language We Were Never Taught to Speak explore the many identities, both visible and invisible, that a body contains. With influences from pop culture, the Bible, tech, and Hong-Kongese history, these pieces reflect and reveal how the stories of immigrants in Canada hold both universal truths and singular distinctions. From boybands that show the way to become “the kind of girl a girl could love” to “rich flavours that are just a few generations of poverty away,” they invite the reader to meditate on spirituality, food, and the shapes love takes.


Independently Published


leaves and their tree: a poetry collection by Paris Jessie is a collection reads like a cycle of seasons. It is a reflection of the swirling life experiences, self-discovery, love and heartache that we shed and grow through. Yet, all still remains a part of who and how we become, in some way. Expressed in three separate parts are joys and aches of the mind, heart, body and spirit. Though written from a LGBTQ+ perspective, these poems resonate with all hearts, for all healing.


Metonymy


Good Arabs by Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch (September 21, price TBD). Eli Tareq El Bechelany-Lynch is a queer Arab poet living in Tio’tia:ke, unceded Kanien’kehá:ka territory (Montreal). Their work has appeared in The Best Canadian Poetry 2018 anthology, GUTS, carte blanche, the Shade Journal, The New Quarterly, Arc Poetry Magazine, Room Magazine, and elsewhere. They participated in the Banff Centre’s ‘Centering Ourselves’ BIPOC residency, and they were longlisted for the CBC poetry prize in 2019. You can find them on Twitter and Instagram @theonlyelitareq.


Moon Tide Press


Flower, Grand, First by Gustavo Hernandez (March, price TBD). Gustavo Hernandez is the author of Flower, Grand, First (Moon Tide Press, 2021) and From His Arms (Ghost City Press, 2020). He was born in Jalisco, Mexico and lives in Southern California.


Nightboat Books


Villany by Andrea Abi-Karam (Fall 2021, price TBD). Andrea Abi-Karam is an arab-american genderqueer punk poet-performer cyborg, writing on the art of killing bros, the intricacies of cyborg bodies, trauma & delayed healing. Their chapbook, THE AFTERMATH (Commune Editions, 2016), attempts to queer Fanon’s vision of how poetry fails to inspire revolution. Under the full Community Engagement Scholarship, Andrea received their MFA in Poetry from Mills College. With Drea Marina they co-hosted Words of Resistance [2012-2017] a monthly, radical, QTPOC open floor poetry series to fundraise for political prisoners’ commissary funds. Selected by Bhanu Kapil, Andrea’s first book is EXTRATRANSMISSION [Kelsey Street Press, 2019] a poetic critique of the U.S. military’s role in the War on Terror. Simone White selected their second assemblage, Villainy for forthcoming publication. Andrea toured with Sister Spit in 2018 and has performed at RADAR, The Poetry Project, The STUD, Basilica Soundscape, TransVisionaries, Southern Exposure, Counterpulse, Poets House, Radius for Arab-American Writers. With Kay Gabriel they are co-editing an anthology of Radical Trans Poetics forthcoming from Nightboat Books in 2020. They are a leo currently obsessed with queer terror and convertibles.


Imagine Us, The Swarm by Muriel Leung (May 4, price $16.95). Following the death of the poet’s father, Imagine Us, The Swarm contemplates vengeance, eschews forgiveness, and cultivates a desire for healing beyond the reaches of this present life. In this collection of essays in verse, Leung reconciles a familial history of violence and generational trauma across intersections of Asian American, queer, and gendered experiences. Moving between the past and the present, Leung imbues memories with something new to alter time and design a different future.


Persea Books


A Better Life by Randall Man (April, $15.95). Poet Randall Mann is the author of Complaint in the Garden (2004), which won the Kenyon Review Prize in Poetry; Breakfast with Thom Gunn (2009), finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the California Book Award; Straight Razor (2013), finalist for the Lambda Literary Award; and Proprietary (2017) a finalist for the Northern California Book Award and Lambda Literary Award. He is also the author of a book of criticism, The Illusion of Intimacy: On Poetry (2019), as well as co-author of the textbook Writing Poems (2007). Influenced by Philip Larkin, Elizabeth Bishop, and Donald Justice, Mann’s poetry—at once vulnerable, unflinching, and brave in its ambivalence—explores themes of loss, attraction, brutality, and expectation. Of his preference for working in form, Mann says, “Form helps me approach more comfortably the personal, helps me harden argument.”


Penguin


Mutiny by Phillip B. Williams (September, price TBD). Phillip B. Williams is the author of Thief in the Interior, winner of the 2017 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and a 2017 Lambda Literary award, and finalist for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature (Poetry) and a Thom Gunn Award from the Publishing Triangle. He received a 2017 Whiting Award, 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and a Kenyon Review Writers Workshop fellowship. Phillip is the co-editor in chief of the online journal Vinyl. He currently teaches literature and creative writing at Bennington College.


Red Hen Press

Ghost in a Black Girl's Throat by Khalisa Rae (April 13, $16.95) is a heart-wrenching reconciliation and confrontation of the living, breathing ghosts that awaken Black women each day. This debut poetry collection summons multiple hauntings—ghosts of matriarchs that came before, those that were slain, and those that continue to speak to us, but also those horrors women of color strive to put to rest. Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat examines the haunting feeling of facing past demons while grappling with sexism, racism, and bigotry. They are all present: ancestral ghosts, societal ghosts, and spiritual, internal hauntings. This book calls out for women to speak their truth in hopes of settling the ghosts or at least being at peace with them.


Sunset Press


Lone Lily by Tariq Thompson (April, $7.50). Tariq Thompson is a Black poet from Memphis, Tennessee. He currently attends Kenyon College as a rising senior with a major in English, a minor in History, and a concentration in African Diaspora Studies. He busies himself in the literary world by working as both a Kenyon Review Associate and Intern, and by running F.U.B.U., a workshop for creatives of color. In his free time, Tariq will most likely be found reading, writing, humming, playing Pokemon & watching sitcoms. His debut collection of poetry, How Could I Be Lonely?, explores the meaning of community through Black history, and seeks to intertwine notions of past, present, and future.


University of Georgia Press


Divine Fire by David Woo (March 1, $19.95). How to find wisdom and spiritual sustenance in a time of crisis and uncertainty? In Divine Fire, David Woo answers with poems that move from private life into a wider world of catastrophe and renewal. The collection opens in the most personal space, a bedroom, where the chaotic intrusions of adulthood revive the bafflements of childhood. The perspective soon widens from the intimacies of love to issues of national and global import, such as race and class inequality, and then to an unspoken cataclysm that is, by turns, a spiritual apocalypse and a crisis that could be in the news today, like climate change or the pandemic. In the last part of the book, the search for ever-vaster scales of meaning, both sacred and profane, finds the poet trying on different personas and sensibilities-comic, ironic, earnest, literary, self-mythologizing- before reaching a luminous détente with the fearful and the sublime. The divine fire of lovers fading in memory-"shades of the men in my blood"-becomes the divine fire of a larger spiritual reckoning. In his new book of poems, Woo provides an astonishing vision of the world right now through his exploration of timeless themes of love, solitude, art, the body, and death.


University of Pittsburgh


Gumbo Ya Ya by Aurielle Marie (September 21, price $18). Douglas Kearney said, “Some writers write poetry to flex what they can do. Aurielle Marie writes reckoning poems themselves come to work. Gumbo Ya Ya kicks with this lit lit magic, this insistent electricity, pages what sweat ink, bleed it, weep it, drip it. Aurielle Marie will cuss, but an Aurielle Marie poem can curse; that what she has seen, felt, or known, is trans-amplified in the room she gives the poem to do what it’s gonna do. Gumbo Ya Ya is Aurielle Marie’s Dirty-Dirty grimoire drawn from a vernacular trickbag at once up to something and down for whatever. These poems are spell weaving. They are bound to work you.”


Vital Narrative Press


Don't Forget to Water the Flowers by Jasmin Lankford (January, price TBD). Jasmin Lankford is a creative communicator, writer and world wanderer native to Florida. She is a lover of literature, leopard print and the City of Light. Her debut poetry collection, “Don’t Forget to Water the Flowers,” is forthcoming 2021 with Vital Narrative Press. She currently works in social media marketing and participates in the Tampa Bay poetry community. Previously, Jasmin has managed an entertainment magazine as Editor-in-Chief and worked in marketing at the corporate global headquarters of the world's largest furniture manufacturer. She graduated from the Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications at the University of South Florida. Jasmin studied Creative Writing in France at the American University of Paris. She has led writing workshops for adult and youth programs such as the Heard ‘Em Say Youth Arts Collective. She has shared her work at local and international poetry events and is also an active member of Kitchen Table Literary Arts.

Jasmin’s poetry is rooted in healing from trauma. She uses extended metaphors to blend the ocean with blooming flowers, touching on endangered species and pollution. Her work has been published in Kissing Dynamite, Parentheses Journal and elsewhere.



*All writers have agreed to be on this list. If you want to recommend someone for this list, please email Luther the author name, title, price, press (self-published is fine), drop date. If recommending someone other than yourself, please include contact information. Email Luther at luther@shadeliteraryarts.org.