2021 Forthcoming Poetry Books by Queer People of Color

Full-length and chapbooks are included in this list. Last updated: 1/5/2021

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.

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.

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.


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.”


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.”

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.