The Anthologist: A Compendium of Uncommon Collections

From the March/April 2024 issue of
Poets & Writers Magazine

Among the many new books published each season is a shelf full of notable anthologies, each one showcasing the work of writers united by genre, form, or theme. The Anthologist highlights a few recently released or forthcoming collections, including Spellbound: Poems of Magic and Enchantment.

The Weird Sister Collection: Writing at the Intersections of Feminism, Literature, and Pop Culture (Feminist Press, February 2024) assembles selections from Weird Sister, a blog launched in 2014 to bridge mainstream cultural and feminist criticism while featuring more diverse perspectives and literary fare. Edited by blog founder Marisa Crawford, the anthology mixes reviews, interviews, essays, and images by Eileen Myles, Morgan Parker, and more than three dozen others who are equally “at home in the mall and in the library,” as Weird Sister puts it.  

Sure to charm readers, Spellbound: Poems of Magic and Enchantment (Knopf, March 2024) offers a catalogue of mystical arts as imagined in verse across cultures and eras. A Cherokee spell mingles with Shakespeare, contemporary Indian poet Manohar Shetty, and others in sections titled for dimensions of the craft, from “Prestidigitation” to “The Poet as Magician.” Poetry, according to editors Kimiko Hahn and Harold Schechter, is one “form of wizardry.”  

In Mamas, Martyrs, and Jezebels: Myths, Legends, and Other Lies You’ve Been Told About Black Women (Black Lawrence Press, April 2024), editors Jan Boulware, Rondrea Mathis, Clarissa West-White, and Kideste Mariam Yusef traverse the gap between the lives of Black women and cultural ideas about Black womanhood. Essays, interviews, and a few playlists explore and upend stereotypes. Contributors also consider the ways in which Black women form “the backbone of the Black family and community,” as the press puts  it. Contributors include Nafeesah Allen, Danielle Monique, and Renée Westbrook.  

Ada Limón’s signature project as the twenty-fourth poet laureate of the United States includes editing You Are Here: Poetry in the Natural World (Milkweed Editions, April 2024), which collects verse by fifty-two poets commissioned to write new work for the anthology. Lush with lyricism and striking imagery, these poems by Jericho Brown, Diane Seuss, and others contemplate seascapes, backyards, national borders, and built environments where life sings beneath the surface.