4 July 2023 Releases to Heat Up Your Reading List

July is a month of poetry you can’t miss. With titles releasing from Cave Canem award winners, National Book Critics Circle finalists, and several promising debut poets, the names are big—and the topics these books confront are even bigger. Subjects like intimate partner violence, grief, and queerness come alive as both systemic and deeply personal, as these writers contend with the structural reasons for these issues while also speaking from their vulnerable, lived experiences. 


Place also plays a pivotal role this month: Readers will travel physically and in time, reading scenes from the Jim Crow South, the Midwest, and rural Alaska. Think of this reading list as an exercise in broadening your perspective and getting in touch with some of the best voices in the poetry genre today. 


Landlocked by Julia McConnell 

Release date: July 1


In Landlocked, Julia McConnell writes against stereotypes and popular narratives, carving out a sense of Oklahoma that’s unabashedly queer. She juxtaposes oil rigs, churches, and long, vacant highways with lesbian bars and libraries, asserting that each of these spaces reflects what it means to be from Oklahoma. Reviewer and poet Lisa Wells described Landlocked as a “strange, violent, and glittering ephemera of America’s forgotten places.” It’s also a command for readers to honor these places with their attention and care, and—like the collection’s speaker—to inhabit the transient, emotionally charged border between embracing home and wanting to escape it. 


Because You Were Mine by Brionne Janae

Release date: July 4


Brionne Janae previously won the Cave Canem Northwestern University Poetry Prize and the St. Botolph Emerging Artist Award with her book Blessed Are the Peacemakers. With Because You Were Mine, Janae builds on this legacy and continues to establish herself as part of a new generation of powerful, confessional poets. The collection is a look at how the ways that we grow up inform our lives forever. Janae depicts childhood trauma and harm through difficult but necessary imagery, linking these early experiences to later reckonings with intimate partner violence, especially within queer relationships. While Because You Were Mine doesn’t end with a feeling of resolve or triumph, it’s a realistic, ongoing, and bold representation of self-love, reparenting, and survival. 


Binded by H. Warren

Release date: July 11


In this debut from a rising trans poet, H. Warren represents binding as both a physical act and a metaphor. The cover depicts a person binding their chest, which is a scene that the collection returns to again and again throughout its pages. However, the book also takes on the concept of binding as an illustration of the forces that trans and gender-nonconforming people face in their daily lives. What does it mean to be bound by politics, transphobia, and violence? In addition to asking this emotional and timely question, Binded also asks more hopeful questions—like how community and found family can be an antidote to this daily persecution and a loving resistance.  


So to Speak by Terrance Hayes

Release date: July 18


Terrance Hayes is one of the most awarded figures in the poetry genre, with honors from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the MacArthur Foundation. He’s also invented wholly new poetry forms—like the golden shovel—as well as reinvented and modernized classics like the sonnet. So to Speak, his sixth poetry collection, is a look back on Black histories and futures, from Jim Crow to Lil Wayne. Hayes—who has been called an “oracle” by reviewers and scholars—questions what it means to speak and to impact language on a poetic scale. 


Happy reading!