In American Journal, published by Graywolf Press in association with the Library of Congress, former U.S. poet laureate Tracy K. Smith selects and introduces fifty poems that examine and pay tribute to the diversity of experiences that make up the United States—stories from rural and urban communities, the grief and losses of war, the triumph of immigrants, and lessons learned from history. Taking its title from a poem by Robert Hayden, the first African American appointed as consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, this anthology includes the work of Jericho Brown, Natalie Diaz, Aracelis Girmay, Joy Harjo, Marie Howe, Layli Long Soldier, and Natasha Trethewey, among others. This timely anthology welcomes readers to connect to poetry through storytelling, as Smith states in the introduction: “This is why I love poems: they invite me to sit down and listen to a voice speaking thoughtfully and passionately about what it feels like to be alive.”
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