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Staff Picks April 2022 — Write. Change History. Repeat.

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A Testament to Life & Death / Peter deGraft-Johnson (Verve Poetry Press, 2022)

The poems in deGraft-Johnson’s long-awaited debut exude gravitas as well as nimble musicality, almost ballet dancer-like in their ability to carry the reader from story to story, point to point, person to person. The poet, also known as The Repeat Beat Poet, explores hope, power and the ways in which people living in a society structured to be violent towards Blackness affects their relationship with both the external world and their own selves. 

—Chosen by Troy Cabida

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Dear Memory / Victoria Chang (Milkweed Editions, 2021) 

Sometimes you pick up a book and realise it’s one you’ll keep returning to for the rest of your life. Dear Memory is a collection of vignettes and letters written to the poet’s past lives and to people she’s known. In between are haunting paper collages pieced together from family photos, postcards, immigration forms, maps, and handwritten lines of fragmented poetry. A sepia-toned photograph of Chang’s parents by a riverbank is overlaid with these lines: ‘If I dip my hand in, / I will change history.’ A powerful poetic archive of memory, migration, arrivals and departures.  

—Chosen by Nina Powles 

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Intertitles: An Anthology at the Intersection of Writing & Visual Art / edited by Jess Chandler & others (Prototype Publishing, 2021)

This anthology showcases how writing can be pushed as a medium. The playful, clever, and unique pieces create an essential “textbook” for anyone wanting to explore the boundaries of writing. Some personal highlights include works by Inua Ellams, Anais Duplan, CAConrad, and Jesse Darling. Artfully curated by the editors at Prototype Publishing, this anthology opens up exciting spaces for the future of writing as an artistic craft. 

—Chosen by Elspeth Walker