In Full Velvet, Jenny Johnson (Sarabande, February)
Sarabande’s Marketing and Publicity Director Ariel Lewiton recently gave me a sneak peek at some of their 2017 titles, and I admit to falling in love with the soft, sensual cover of Johnson’s forthcoming debut poetry collection. Inside, Johnson, a Whiting Award winner and the 2016-17 Hodder Fellow, writes an intellect that digs in and expands. Poems wind through dyke bars, barbershops, diners, and Southern rivers, revealing a nature that is familiar, and yet wholly singular.
Dear Friend, from My Life I Write to You in Your Life, Yiyun Li (Deckle Edge, February)
Yiyun Li has a phenomenal new essay out in the latest issue of A Public Space; having had the privilege of reviewing it prior to publication, I couldn’t be more excited about an entire collection of Li’s nonfiction work. Described as being written “over two years while the author battled suicidal depression,” the book promises pages of crystalline insight into how we endure through literacy.
Common Ancestor, Jenny Irish (Black Lawrence, January)
I got hooked on Jenny Irish when I read her story, “Borning,” in the Fall 2016 issue of The Georgia Review, so I was glad to find out she has this collection of prose poems forthcoming next month. It’s an elusive form, and I’ll never stop being fascinated by writers who can do it well. Besides that, Cynthia Hogue claims, “She scrutinizes violence with rare sangfroid,” making this book from Irish sound both devastating and necessary.
The Art of Death, Edwidge Danticat (Graywolf, July)
I’ve been a huge fan of Graywolf’s Art of series since I read The Art of Recklessness by Dean Young. Back then, I wished Graywolf would release a boxed set of these small books on creative writing aesthetics, so I could own all of them at once. What happened was better: new ones kept coming out, including this simultaneously grave and illuminating title from Danticat.
Assistant Fiction Editor Natalie Mesnard was the Web Edition editor for the Summer 2015 and Summer 2016 issues of Ninth Letter Online. She earned her MFA from the University of Illinois and is now based in Ossining, New York. Her fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and book reviews have appeared online and in print with journals such as Copper Nickel, The Gettysburg Review, Green Mountains Review, The Journal, Kenyon Review Online, and Tampa Review. She can be found online at nataliemesnard.com.
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