From the Graywolf Poetry Desk
Graywolf enjoys publishing an aesthetically broad range of poets. The hope is that the list reflects at least some of the scope and range of contemporary poetry—an impossibility, admittedly, with ten poetry titles a year, but something worth failing at. As the poetry editor, I delight in creating conversations and debates by offering very different voices, all in the same catalog. I feel we have done our jobs when Claudia Rankine, Tony Hoagland, Fanny Howe, Dana Gioia, Elizabeth Alexander, Jeffrey Yang, and Matthea Harvey exist (if not coexist) in the same year or couple of years, along with international poets such as Saadi Youssef, Kathleen Jamie, Tomas Tranströmer, Vénus Khoury-Ghata, and Liu Xiaobo.
The 2011 Graywolf poetry list includes an exhilarating collection of titles—from Nick Flynn’s return from memoir to the shores of poetry with The Captain Asks for a Show of Hands, to debut poet Dilruba Ahmed’s narratives on nationality and immigration in Dhaka Dust; from the longest-running Graywolf poet, Tess Gallagher, with her forthcoming Midnight Lantern: New and Selected Poems, to centenarian poet Dorothea Tanning, the dazzling visual artist, with her second poetry book, Coming to That. And Tom Sleigh’s triumphant return to the Graywolf list, this time with his poetry. And Fanny Howe’s austere, brilliant lyrics in her latest, Come and See. And French poet Bernard Noël’s Robert Fagles Prize–winning The Rest of the Voyage, translated by Eléna Rivera. And... and...
Our ongoing challenge is to suggest that these poetries speak to one another, that these various voices have something to say to one another. That someone who comes to the Graywolf list through Jane Kenyon might find that Mary Jo Bang has an alternate, or even complementary, experience to offer. Someone who enters with the biting wit and lyricism of D. A. Powell might find a counterpoint in the meditations of Linda Gregg.
Sometimes they turn back
and I see a thread
connecting my room
—from "Solitude" by Saadi Youssef (translated by Khaled Mattawa)
Jeff Shotts is a senior editor at Graywolf Press.