Poetry, Poetry Criticism & Poetry Biography

Books in this online selection represent only a sliver of what we offer in the store. If you've got a particular book in mind and want to check on its availability, call us at 415-362-8193.



   
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and then we became
devorah major
Reaching from the kitchen table to the stars, ruminations on who we are, and how we became who we are.
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Lost Profiles
Memoirs of Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism
Philippe Soupault
A literary retrospective of a crucial period in modernism—the transition from Dada to Surrealism––via portraits and encounters with its literary lions, including Joyce, Proust, Reverdy, Apollinaire, Crevel and more by the co-founder of the Paris surrealist group.
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Buck Studies
Poems
Douglas Kearney
Dynamic poet, performer, librettist, and professor Douglas Kearney's works speak to those who are listening to what our living, material language has to say about race and history. At the hub of Buck Studies is a long mash-up of the stories of Herakles, the Greek bad-man, and that of Stagger Lee, the black bad-man.
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My Private Property
Mary Ruefle
Marvelous prose poems inside! Colorful pinwheels of sadness (or happiness) spinning throughout, and the titular poem about shrunken heads—what more could a reader ask for? —Recommended by Cassie, City Lights Books
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Envelope Poems
Emily Dickinson, Jen Bervin, Marta Werner
Although a very prolific poet, Emily Dickinson (1830–1886) published fewer than a dozen poems. Instead, she created small handmade books. In her later years, she stopped producing these, but she continued to write a great deal, and at her death she left behind many poems, drafts, and letters.
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Selected Works
Justin Chin, Jennifer Joseph
A Bay Area legend who knew how to excite readers, make them laugh, leave them devastated. Then, make them fall in love (with him), say "Heck yeah!" & clap their hands until it hurt—it still hurts. A beautiful soul taken too soon. —Recommended by Jared
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Calamities
Renee Gladman
In what I'd call 'metafictional literary essays', Renee Gladman references parts of her life and writing, with distance, as if she is an observable thing that we can spectate with wondrous glee. I 'nerd out' over the sentences she's meticulously crafted. It is clever, honest, entertainingly mundane, and so good.
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Anybody
Poems
Ari Banias
In Anybody, Ari Banias takes up questions of recognition and belonging: how boundaries are drawn and managed, the ways he and she, us and them, here and elsewhere are kept separate, and at what cost identities and selves are forged. Moving through iconic and imagined landscapes, Anybody confronts the strangeness of being alive...
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Save Twilight: Selected Poems
Pocket Poets Number 53
Julio Cortázar
Newly expanded edition of a classic: the first and only collection of Cortázar's poetry to appear in English.
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Jane
A Murder
Maggie Nelson
Maggie Nelson has a lot of fans on staff at City Lights, and I'm the latest member to join the club. Nelson compellingly portrays the murder of her aunt using a mix of memoir, theory, and poetics. Suggest reading "The Red Parts" (a nonfiction account by Nelson) first. —Recommended by Stacey, City Lights, Publishers
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Old Angel Midnight
Jack Kerouac
"The only book I've ever written in which I've allowed myself to say absolutely anything I want."—Jack Kerouac
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Look
Poems
Solmaz Sharif
Starting with the title itself, Sharif's goal is lterally to pull apart the sterile language and phrasing taken directly from military strategy, analysis, and description, and reveal the complications of life affected by war. This is an astonishing book. —Recommended by Chris, City Lights Publishers
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Bukowski in a Sundress
Confessions from a Writing Life
Kim Addonizio
Behold the memoir of sex-positive rebel Kim Addonizio! This book moves from gritty/funny/sexy, to emotionally raw, in swift seamless strokes. By the end, you will feel that Kim is an old friend whom you know far too well, but who you think the world of because she's way cooler than you are. —Recommended by Jared, City Lights Books
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Dated Emcees
Chinaka Hodge
"These are poems to read every day. To make mantras from. They are the best poems you've ever read."––Daveed Diggs, star of Hamilton

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