The Anthologist: A Compendium of Uncommon Collections


Among the many new books published every month is a shelf full of notable anthologies, each one showcasing the work of writers united by genre, form, or theme. The Anthologist highlights a few recently released collections, including Helal If You Hear Me edited by poets Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo.

Edited by Elizabeth J. Coleman, Here: Poems for the Planet (Copper Canyon Press, April) features poems that address climate change and environmental degradation along with a guide to environmental activism written by the Union of Concerned Scientists. Contributors include Mary Oliver, Robert Hass, and Ross Gay. “It is my heartfelt hope that [these poems] will inspire readers who ask themselves, ‘But what can I do?’ to see that there is a way forward,” writes the Dalai Lama in a brief introduction.

The third volume of the BreakBeat Poets series, Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket Books, April) collects poems by Muslims who are women, queer, genderqueer, nonbinary, and/or trans. Edited by poets Fatimah Asghar and Safia Elhillo, the anthology includes work by Ladan Osman, Tarfia Faizullah, Warsan Shire, and Angel Nafis. Elhillo writes in her introduction to the book, “The writers in this anthology demonstrate the sheer cacophony of Muslimness, of Muslim identities, of Muslim people.”

In What My Mother and I Don’t Talk About: Fifteen Writers Break the Silence (Simon & Schuster, April), Melissa Febos, Kiese Laymon, Carmen Maria Machado, and Leslie Jamison, among others, share essays about their loving, complicated, nonexistent, or painful relationships with their mothers. Editor Michele Filgate writes, “My hope for this book is that it will serve as a beacon for anyone who has ever felt incapable of speaking their truth or their mother’s truth.”

In Making Mirrors: Writing/Righting by and for Refugees (Olive Branch Press, May), poets Jehan Bseiso and Becky Thompson collect work by well-established poets, as well as refugees Thompson met while teaching poetry in refugee centers in Greece. In one poem in the book, Abbas Sheikhi, who took one of Thompson’s classes, writes, “We were in a boat / we were afraid of the darkness / the waves sent us to the sky / and the sky cried for us.”

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  • April 9, 2019