The poems of award-winning poet Yona Harvey’s much anticipated You Don’t Have to Go to Mars for Love follow an unnamed protagonist on her multidimensional, Afro-futuristic journey. Her story stretches the boundaries normally constraining a Black female body like hers. Half superhero, half secret identity, she encounters side-slipping, speculative realities testing her in poems that appear like the panels of a comic book. Music directs readers through large and small emotional arcs, constantly re-troubled by lyric experimentation. Harvey layers her poems with a chorus of women’s voices. Our hero gets captured, escapes, scuba dives, and goes interstellar, and she emerges on the other end of her journey renewed, invoking the gods.
Inspired by Albert Camus’s seminal Myth of Sisyphus, Major Jackson’s fifth volume, The Absurd Man, subtly configures the poet as “absurd hero” and plunges headfirst into a search for stable ground in an unstable world. We follow Jackson’s restless, vulnerable speaker as he ponders creation in the face of meaninglessness, chronicles an increasingly technological world and the difficulty of social and political unity, probes a failed marriage, and grieves his lost mother with a stunning, lucid lyricism.