There's no worse feeling than getting to the airport and discovering you don't have a book. I realize that by using an e-reader, you can avoid this problem entirely, but for those of us who prefer the printed page, it can be totally demoralizing to have to enter one of those airport bookstores, where all the titles look equally ... meh. Of course, if you're traveling, you might come up with all kinds of excuses about why packing books is a no, but when that long flight is before you, all concern about baggage weight goes out the window. Fortunately, you can avoid all these problems and feel like the rockstar of your next flight by choosing a book of poetry.
OK, so some of these might be the size of a slim novel. Fine. There's still something sort of mystical about reading poems above the clouds. Worried about the distractions of crying babies or hyper-vigilant flight attendants? Not to worry. Unlike the novels or pop nonfiction you find at airport newsstands, these seven books of poetry contain ample and organic pauses — plus they're guaranteed to hold your interest. A bonus: you're guaranteed to finish them by the time you hit the next tarmac.
'Madness' by sam sax
Terrance Hayes called this winner of the 2016 National Poetry Series "astounding." This is an evocative and necessary book that wades through the labyrinth of mental health care and interrogates what it means to be "diagnosed" in our country today.
'You're The Most Beautiful Thing That Happened' by Arisa White
If I could ask one poet to do her own audiobook voice work, it would be Arisa White: she is absolutely hypnotic. You can read this book and be electrified at the three-dimensional emotion leaping off the page — but as soon as you're connected to internet, check out this recording of her reading stat.
'American Flowers' by Tyler Flynn Dorholt
I can't think of a better book to read on a cross-country flight. Though poems are a big part of American Flowers, Dorholt is a photographer and painter, too, and his dizzying lyrics are complemented by the striking snapshots captured by his lens.
'Afterland' by Mai Der Vang
Winner of the 2016 Walt Whitman award, Mai Der Vang's poetry depicts the harrowing and captivating Hmong exodus from Laos. The New Yorker lauds Afterland's, "atmosphere of impending marvels," naming it "... among the most satisfying débuts by an American poet in some time.”
'MyOTHER Tongue' by Rosa Alcalá
Publisher's Weekly writes of Alcalá's book: "These are poems full of duality—English is simultaneously an interloper and a lover: 'English had a hooptie/ that was the joint. Now my mother goes gaga/ over our cute babies.'"
A book about borders and class, language and family, MyOTHER Tongue is one you'll be reading for years to come.
'Calling A Wolf A Wolf' by Kaveh Akbar
Writer Eduardo C. Corral says of this upcoming debut, "In Calling a Wolf a Wolf, Kaveh Akbar exquisitely and tenaciously braids astonishment and atonement into a singular lyric voice. The desolation of alcoholism widens into hard-won insight: ‘the body is a mosque borrowed from Heaven.’" Pre-order this September release now — it's guaranteed to be a must-read.
'Lessons On Expulsion: Poems' by Erika L. Sánchez
Readers, listen up! Sánchez, author of the much-anticipated novel I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, is a commanding poet of astonishing acclaim whether she's tackling race, religion, or sexuality. We hear she's writing a collection of essays, too, and, frankly, we can't wait.