Gretchen Primack’s “Visiting Days” is a collection of persona poetry taking on the perspective of people who have been or are incarcerated. This is a tricky theme to explore for an author who has never been behind bars, but Primack, whose career is in prison education programs, manages to create a coherent body of work that illuminates without exploiting.

Sokunthary Svay

Svay’s poetry depicts her experiences in a startlingly vivid and emotional way. It is easy to feel her annoyance at being repeatedly mistaken as Chinese and her pain from the loss of her brother, who readers know is dead but not exactly how or why. Svay is a gifted writer who transports readers from the Bronx to Cambodia with ease.

Emma Chang

Yet, even though the consequences of race are prominent throughout “The Old Drift,” Serpell creates characters whose existence doesn’t hinge solely upon their racial struggles.

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“The Pervert” left an indelible mark on my true trans soul in the form of a watercolor brushstroke.

Alex Honnold

When I watch Alex Honnold climb, it makes me crave that perfect solitude, the simultaneous rootedness and weightlessness he experiences when the sum total of his existence in that moment hinges on putting one foot in front of the other.


Although the sentences are sparse, each word of “Music for Mister Moon” is laden with the theme of camaraderie and lost childhood.

Maryse Meijer

She alternates long, tumbling sentences with short, clipped ones, like someone desperately trying to avoid thinking about what they’re recounting.


In her writing but in our conversation, too, Dorene O’Brien quietly educated me. On what it means to be a writer and on what it means to cull stories from the world. It was a privilege to have culled hers, here.

Robert Fieseler

“Tinderbox” is the product of the discovery of one of these quiet but salient fractures: the Upstairs Lounge fire.


The book is a tempest, directionless and unpredictable, and within that mess sentences often jump out for their succinct loveliness.