5 January 2024 Collections to Start Your Year

The poetry collections publishing in the first month of 2024 bode well for it being a good year. From a new release by one of poetry’s most award-winning voices to the final installment in a favorite poetry trilogy, this month’s collections are highly anticipated and worthy of being read right away. Move these titles to the very top of your TBR. 


The Music Was Just Getting Good by Alicia Cook

Release date: Jan. 9


The Music Was Just Getting Good marks the third and final release in Alicia Cook’s beloved mixtape collection trilogy. Cook returns to the creative form that’s become her signature, with each poem representing a track and including a related song from her personal playlist. She also pairs each poem with a blackout poem, also called an erasure, taking her original verse and reinventing it. As always, Cook writes with vulnerability and candidness about mental health, grappling with difficult emotions while still leaning toward optimism. This collection goes a step further than the mixtape trilogy’s previous installments, confronting an even more painful and personal theme: how we cope when we’re forced to move on before we’re ready. 

Life on Earth by Dorianne Laux

Release date: Jan. 9


Pulitzer Prize finalist and Guggenheim fellow Dorianne Laux builds on her poetic legacy with Life on Earth, her seventh poetry collection. Within its pages, Laux once again exhibits one of her best-known literary qualities—her ability to make simple moments and images come alive and take on grand thematic meaning. Images like slow-falling snow and a pack of crows become jumping-off points for Laux’s meditative muses on mortality, aging, joy, and loss. Above all, Life on Earth both struggles with and celebrates the ephemeral, showcasing the fragile, shifting nature of our days. 


Besaydoo by Yalie Saweda Kamara

Release date: Jan. 9


Besaydoo was the winner of the 2023 Jake Adam York Prize and has already garnered praise from Ross Gay, who called the collection “a prayer, a prayer for all of us.” The deep spiritual and revolutionary impact of Besaydoo comes from its call for liberation, its celebration of legacy and ancestry, and its comfort in occupying multifaceted spaces and identities. Yalie Saweda Kamara writes from Oakland but harkens back to her roots in Sierra Leone, with images and language infinite enough to span the diaspora. 


Creature by Marsha de la O.

Release date: Jan. 9


Marsha de la O.’s Creature evokes creatures of all kinds, from horses to hummingbirds. Observing these different forms of life and imagining their realities is a window into writing about painful human realities and how those mirror the natural world around us—from the death of the author’s father to the heavy, all-consuming experiences of grief and self-destruction. 


Theophanies by Sarah Ghazal Ali

Release date: Jan. 16


Sarah Ghazal Ali’s towering Theophanies, winner of the Alice James Award, takes on patriarchy at its most fundamental and devastating levels. Ali ruminates on how faith, history, and family can sharply reinforce dangerous gender norms, investigating both the Qur’an and the Bible and making the point that womanhood itself is reverent and sacred. Along with considering a specific religious feminine experience and a specific Pakistani feminine experience, Ali considers and finds holiness in the self, interrogating what it means to be the speaker in her own poetry and life. 


Let these releases start your year on an inquisitive, open-hearted note. Happy reading!