The Definitive List of Must-Read Poetry Books from 2016 (So Far)


Double Zero, Chris Hosea (April; Prelude)

Chris Hosea’s second collection — and the first from the editors at Prelude — is excellent, and it recalls John Ashbery’s assessment that in reading Hosea’s poems, “[o]ne feels plunged in a wave of happening that is about to crest.” (Ashbery selected Hosea’s work for the 2013 Walt Whitman Award.) If Hosea’s work is a cresting wave, it’s one that is composed of the porous matter of a philanoiac American life. More than once, I felt as if I had tuned into a radio broadcast of subconscious cosmopolitan chatter:

say afterlife pastel castle sigh sigh
spoilers fall there so few was it lust
chivalry undead learned shorthand late
her shoulder buzz cuts afternoons

Just as often the poems are clear and philosophically argumentative; or maybe a moment of narrative lucidity refreshes the page:

You missed out, you know it. You in fact just are this missing, sodden archive of unlogged roads traveled. Where were you two weeks ago this past Friday. Who saw you. What was spoken. Hit record, though, you may as well turn your back away. You have to turn your back to look forward to what you haven’t heard, to crouch toward that.

If there is a pre-millennial hyper-modernist mode of contemporary American poetry, one that offers a refined vacancy — or in some cases, a film of art-damaged spirituality — Hosea could be its most formally precise purveyor. – JS