An illustration of people tending plants around a large book

“The inner world was made of women,” writes Kirun Kapur ’97 in her second and latest collection of poems. Women in the Waiting Room (Black Lawrence Press), a finalist for the National Poetry Series, draws from Hindu mythology, a sexual assault hotline, the art world and Kapur’s own life to tell of women’s public and private pain. Kapur is poetry editor of The Drum Literary Magazine and a visiting writer at Amherst. Her first book, Visiting Indira Gandhi’s Palmist, was published in 2015.

Even Shorn (Sarabande Books) is the first collection of poems from Isabel Duarte-Gray ’09 and the latest installment in the Sarabande Series in Kentucky Literature. Raised in a rural area of the Bluegrass State, the author sharply contrasts its poverty and violence against ideas of pastoral beauty and bounty. Considering the pattern on a quilt, for instance, she writes: “a snake’s tongue is a trigger finger / Man’s tongue pleases no one.” Duarte-Gray is now a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard, studying Latinx literature, poetry and ecocriticism.

There Is Still Singing in the Afterlife, asserts the title of JinJin Xu ’17’s limited-edition debut chapbook (Radix Media). “When I say words out loud they become real,” the poet writes, and her words have garnered her the inaugural Own Voices Chapbook Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s George Bogin Memorial Award, among other honors. Originally from Shanghai, Xu is now an M.F.A. candidate at New York University and is also a filmmaker.

Illustration by Christine Rösch