Marcela Sulak's selections:
Burn Lake by Carrie Fountain (Penguin)
This was a National Poetry Series winner, but I've been a fan of Carrie Fountain's incisive, funny, moving and biting social commentary, her astonishing line breaks (they look so normal) and her astute understanding of human nature, for years. This book masters the long history of class conflict (sections are introduced by 16th century letters of Don Juan de Onate) and the short history of inter-generational conflict (mother and daughter shopping in the mall in New Mexico). My favorite poems include teenagers musing about what a miracle is during a wildfire in a vacant lot the opening night of the local McDonald's, and insights into the logic that leads two girls to lock themselves in the trunk of a car while their parents get drunk during a Superbowl party. Reading this book reveals joints in the world you'd never suspected, as well as the glow of grace that emanates from them.
Tocquiville by Khaled Mattawa (New Issues)
I've rarely, if ever, read anything like this by someone writing in English. Part poetry of witness, part lyric, the collection is global in scope, and as deep as your most secret thoughts and fears. It will take you where you've never imagined there was to go, and it will take you to those places in yourself with which you are so familiar, you don't even notice. The territory is not comfortable, but our guide is one of the most sensitive, compassionate and intelligent people writing today.
Multiverse by Mike Smith (BlazeVOX)
Twenty-four poems that are really incantations or spells: each is mind-bending in its ability to make the familiar seem slightly strange, but strangely moving, as well. You would enjoy them all even without knowing that each of the twenty-four poems in this book are anagrams of one another. No letters have been added or left out.
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Marcela Sulak, poet, translator and scholar, is the author of Immigrant, and the chapbook Of All The Things That Don't Exist, I Love You Best. She directs the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University, where she is an assistant professor of English.