5 FOR 2015: 5 Poetry Books We're Excited To Read In 2015


1. Said the Manic to the Muse, Jeanann Verlee

Jeanann Verlee is definitely a WTR favorite. She was published in Volume Three, performed at our one-year anniversary & at our NYC Poetry Festival show, and was the poetry guest-editor for our latest Spotlight Series feature, Fragments of Persephone. Her collection is guaranteed to be outstanding. Read her poem "How did the author die?" from Volume Three here!

WTR: Describe your collection in six words.
Jeanann: A foray into grief, sabotage, madness. 


If you could only say one sentence for the rest of your life, what would it be?
You are all you ever need. 


What poetry collection are you most looking forward to in 2015? 
Pelican by Emily O’Neil

2. Blood Medals, Claudia Cortese

Claudia's work is so vicious and vibrant - she writes girlhood as gorgeously fucked up, dolls-with-no-eyes hideous. Blood Medals follows Lucy, a shitty little princess that we can't help but adore. We're publishing two of her Lucy pieces in our next Spotlight Series, Shedding Skins, and three of them in Volume 5 of WTR, so stayed tuned!


WTR: If this chapbook had a taste, what would it be?
Claudia: Hot pink and lime green—the taste of Jell-O and Skittles and Swedish fish, all those too-sweet
candies that made us feel like a grotesquery of sugar; the chapbook would also taste of mud and metal:
the blood in our girl-mouths after our faces were shoved into the playground dirt.


If Lucy wrote a chapbook about you, what would it be called?
Fuck you or You Don’t Know Me, and it would likely not be about me but, rather, to me.


What poetry collection are you most looking forward to in 2015?
Terrance Hayes’ How to Be Drawn.


3. The Crown Ain't Worth Much, Hanif Abdurraqib

We first heard of Hanif Abdurraqib after he was named a finalist for the Button Poetry chapbook prize - his gorgeous poem "Ode to Drake, Ending with Blood on a Field" utterly stunned us. You can read four of his poems, published in Hands Up Don't Shoot here. We know you're as excited for his full-length collection as us!

WTR: If your chapbook was a conversation, who is speaking to who?
Hanif: I went into this collection really hoping to have a conversation about the fragility of black life, and how to heal after that fragility is repeatedly proven. I continue that hope in saying that I want, more than anything, for this collection to be a conversation between my life and experiences, and anyone who is searching for something that says this trauma is real, and you are not alone in your healing.


What is your favorite line from "The Crown Ain't Worth Much"?
"Nothing knows the sound of abandonment like a highway does / not even God" 
(read the poem here)


What poetry book are you most looking forward to in 2015?
Ohhhhhh my. Such a heavy question. I almost feel guilty picking just one, because there are so many that I'm excited to get my hands on this year. I'll settle on Nate Marshall's Wild Hundreds, because that's the Homie, and I deeply believe in how he writes with pride about where he's from and who he is.

4. Chloe, Kristina Hayes

Kristina's blog is a staple of the Tumblr poetry community, and her success is definitely well-deserved. In Chloe, Kristina has managed to capture the woes and joys of young womanhood in a way that very directly hits those who read her work.  We're lucky enough to publish some of her work in Volume 5 (out this summer!) and very much look forward to all the healing Kristina will bring to the world. 

Check out her work on her blog, or buy Chloe now!

WTR: Describe your collection in seven verbs. 
Kristina: Advise, become, change, gravitate, progress, illuminate, forgive. 


What was the hardest thing about writing Chloe, the character? 
I keep saying that Chloe is me and she is, and that was hard to write. I had to say to myself, "Okay, you're not perfect. What are your bad habits, what are your flaws, what can't you stand about yourself? Now, give me more of that." It was like holding up a mirror to myself and writing what I saw, which was difficult because we naturally want to romanticize and edit and erase ourselves. 

And it's always hard to write characters that feel genuine and well-developed, whether you're writing a short story or a series. And it was even harder for me because Chloe, the book, isn't a novel; it's poetry and the collection focuses entirely on her. I had to introduce her in a way so that the reader was immediately on her side and rooting for her and completely invested in her. I had to make them care. I still don't know if I got it completely right, but I'm happy with what it is. I don't write novels and I don't see myself ever writing them. I give all the credit in the world to those who are able to write full-length books, because dealing with Chloe, the character, was kind of a nightmare at times. 


What poetry collection are you most looking forward to in 2015? 
So many! Can I name more than one? I'm going to, I'm sorry, I can't choose just one. Clementine Von Radics's, Jeanann Verlee's, and Andrea  Gibson's. ALSO, all the books coming out this spring/summer through my first publisher, Where Are You Press. 

5. Hook, Peter LaBerge

We've loved Peter's poetry since our early days  (check out Anesthetic, published in Volume One of WTR) and we can't wait for Hook to be released. Melding an exploration of the dynamics of Matthew Shepard and Bobby Griffith's story and Peter's more personally intimate poems, Hook is set to become a favorite in 2015's queer literature. 

WTR: What is being hooked in Hook?
Peter: Shame, secrets, self-hatred, anxiety, desperation, violence, beauty, attraction, secrets, regret, sensuality, secrets, openness, and peace. In that order.

What is your favorite thing about Sibling Rivalry Press?
The people. 100%. The publishers, Seth and Bryan, and my hilarious editor D., have been my rock(s) throughout this entire process. I love them to pieces. (Also, need I mention Ocean Vuong published a chapbook with SRP while in college? Don’t even talk to me about that – I’ll freak out.)


What poetry collection are you looking forward to reading in 2015?
The amount I am looking forward to reading Richie Hofmann’s Second Empire is probably unhealthy. Wait – yup. It’s unhealthy.


Curated by // Yasmin Belkhyr
Want to write your own Five for 2015?